“Writers and artists build by hand little worlds that they hope might effect change in real minds, in the real world where stories are read. A story can make us cry and laugh, break our hearts, or make us angry enough to change the world.”
~ Grant Morrison, SuperGods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human
Comic books have captivated the minds of readers for decades now. Talented writers from all walks of life have decided to make their mark on the world by writing comic books. Whether it’s for DC, Marvel, Image or any other imprint, many have created some of the best stories ever told. Stories that have inspired movies, novels, video-games, merchandise, and most importantly: People. There are a great many comic book authors, but there are a few who have tremendously changed the game when it comes to the genre. Now, there is an absence of great writers like Stan Lee on this list. That man and others who have shaped the very fabric of comic book history deserve a post of their own. That being said, here are some of the most legendary comic book authors whose contributions are still remembered today.
When it comes to a being a master of all writing mediums, you don’t get much better than Neil Gaiman. Gaiman has written short stories, novels, comic books, audio theatre scripts, and screenplays for film. Born in 1960 and hailing from England, Neil Gaiman was reading books and thinking of stories from a very young age. He read all sorts of classical literature with a particular draw to the writings of C.S. Lewis’ in The Chronicles of Narnia and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Yet still, he enjoyed reading Batman comics along with such epics. He started out studying Journalism, but when he stumbled upon a copy of Swamp Thing by Alan Moore he said that it was “the last straw”. He would spend regular visits to comic book stores to seek inspiration and read the stories. His first book was a biography of the band Duran Duran, and after many other pieces like this began to form a friendship with Alan Moore and that was when he broke into writing comics. Since then he has written numerous novels and graphic novels alike; such as The Graveyard Book, Sandman, Stardust, American Gods, and Coraline. He is the winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards, as well as Newberry and Carnegie accolades. His writing has chilled readers, inspired writers and will continue to do so on into the future.
Warren Ellis was born in 1968 in Essex. Ellis studied at South East Essex Sixth Form College where he wrote comics for the college magazine Spike. Prior to making his career in comic book writing he ran a bookstore, a pub, and a record store. He wrote for British magazines before joining Marvel in 1994. His first full run on Marvel was the 2099 imprint and Excalibur, a British superhero series. It was after this that he wrote his amazing run on Wolverine, revolutionizing the character at the time with up and coming artist Lienil Francis Yu. He would jump from DC, to Image, to Wildstorm comics writing runs on Hellblazer, Planetary, and Injection. In 2014 he relaunched Moon Knight in the Marvel Universe and once again revamped the character and made Moon Knight who he is today. He also wrote video games such as Dead Space, Hostile Waters, and Cold Winter. This is a man who can take a story and bring it to the next level and for that we are thankful.
Call him crazy, call him a genius, call him whatever; Frank Miller’s contribution to the comic book world is astounding. Born in Maryland in 1957, Miller always loved reading comics while growing up. He would write and sketch his own ideas until he broke into the business and worked his way to writing for Marvel, initially working on Spider-Man. Sales for Daredevil comics at the time weren’t the greatest, but Miller saw potential in the character and was made the head penciller for Daredevil comics where he created the character of Elektra. He wrote Daredevil: Born Again, which is an authoritative addition to the characters mythos and many elements have made it’s way to the Netflix Original Series we have today. Skyrocketed by the popularity of his writing Miller went on to write legendary graphic novels such as 300, Sin City, The Dark Knight Returns, Ronin, and many more (most of which have been adapted to film). Miller was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2015 where he stands as a proud framer of the comic book industry.
Scott Snyder (no relation to Zack Snyder of Worlds of DC) is perhaps one of the greatest creators currently on the forefront of the comic book writing scene. At the age of nine, at summer camp, a counselor read Eyes Of The Dragon by Stephen King which inspired his love for story telling. He graduated college with a degree in Creative Writing but worked at Disneyworld as a custodian, until he auditioned as some characters at the park.
“It did a world of good for my writing … All the things I ended up writing about, those things that are deeply frightening to me—fear of commitment and growing up, fear of losing loved ones, the wonder and terror of falling in love—all of it was constantly being played out all around me in this weird, cartoonish, magnified way at Disney.”Snyder, regarding his time at Disney
He began to write prose fiction, but made the jump to comics writing for Marvel and later hit his stride writing at DC/Vertigo creating American Vampire, and writing for heroes such as Superman and Swamp Thing. Many regard his greatest work as the New 52 run on Batman with Greg Capullo. His storytelling is something to behold and it will be particularly fun to see where his work takes him in the future.
Mark Millar is one for knocking it out of the park no matter what the source material. Born in 1969 in Coatbridge, Scotland; Mark Millar grew up in a large family. He had an older brother who would buy him comics books from the local comic book shop. His first comic he read was the issue of Spider-Man where Gwen Stacy was killed. He said that Alan Moore and Frank Miller were the greatest influences on his work, as well as other greats like Garth Ennes and Warren Ellis. When he was 18 he interviewed Grant Morrison who told him he should go into comic book writing and pursue his dream. In the ’90s Millar rose in popularity until he eventually started writing for DC and Marvel and then went on to creating stories of his own. Known for conceiving stories where heroes lives, values, and moral are compromised; he’s given us amazing stories such as Civil War, Superman: Red Son, Superior, Kingsman, Kick-Ass, Old Man Logan, and Nemesis. He’s one of the most prolific authors on this list and any comic book fan should read his work.
Brian Michael Bendis
Brian Michael Bendis is known for working on almost anything Marvel. Bendis hails from Cleveland, Ohio and was born in 1967. At the age of 13 he fostered the desire within himself to work within the comic book industry and began making his own comics. Originally starting out as an artist, Bendis made his way to writing gritty crime and noir comics. Bendis headed over to Image comics where Todd McFarlane sought him out to give him reigns over Sam & Twitch, a Spawn spin-off comic. Soon after, Bendis would make the jump to Marvel, writing for The Amazing Spider-Man and later become one of the largest contributors to the Marvel Ultimate Universe, creating Miles Morales Spider-Man. He has worked on Daredevil, Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men, Avengers, The Fantastic Four, and created Jessica Jones. At a time where a lot of creators had left Marvel, Brian Michael Bendis helped give Marvel a lift. After all of this, in November 2017, Bendis announced he will be working exclusively with DC Comics in which we wait in anticipation.
Mike Mignola was born in 1960 in Berkeley, California. It wasn’t until the 1980s that he started his comic book career writing for Red Sonja before heading over to Marvel to do inks for a number of popular characters like the Daredevil, Power-Man, Iron Fist, The Incredible Hulk, Alpha Flight, and Rocket Raccoon. Like most artists, he would eventually swap to DC drawing the Phantom Stranger, World of Krypton, and Batman: Death In The Family. He’s responsible for some amazing team-ups and fun crossover events. However, in the end he did what he was most famous for and that was leave DC and create one of the most endearing comic book characters of all time: Hellboy. ‘Big Red’, Abe Sapien, and the B.P.R.D. are all part of what has been called the “Mignola-Verse” featured in Dark Horse comics. Mignola’s signature art style and darkly creative story telling have put Hellboy on the map; garnering a movie starring Ron Perlman, a sequel and a reboot on the way. Mike Mignola will go down in the books as a highly imaginative creator who has done much for the comic book world as a whole.
Few people have had their hands in literally every DC comic book property like Geoff Johns has. Johns was born in Detroit, Michigan in January 1973. As a child, him and his brother found a box of comics in his grandmother’s attic. They read the tales of Superman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and Batman. Johns wanted pursue a career in film so later in life Johns called the office of Richard Donner looking for an internship. While being transferred to another agent, Donner accidentally picked up the phone, yet still conversed with young Geoff Johns. Johns was then able to work in the film industry, helping produce Richard Donner films. At this time he met DC comics personnel who invited him to tour DC and suggest ideas. Johns pitched the idea of Star and S.T.R.I.P.E. which was a series based on the Star Spangled Kid, where he created the character of StarGirl (based on his deceased sister). Finally Johns began to write the characters he loved so much growing up. Johns increased in popularity until he became the President and CCO of DC Entertainment; piloting much of the comic, TV, video game, and film iterations of all DC properties. Just this year he stepped down as DC President and created Mad Ghost production company in order to produce film and TV properties based on DC comics. The majority of the good stuff DC has produced recently has been overseen by Geoff Johns. His story is one of a young man who achieved his dream of writing for the comics he loved.
Grant Morrison is a creator who truly loves his craft and believes it can do much good for the people of Earth. Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1960, Morrison went to school at Allan Glen’s School where they rejected his first art portfolio and told him to work in a bank. Despite this, at the age of 17, he had published work for the character Gideon Stargrave for Near Myths, one of Britain’s alternative comics. In the early ’80s he was in a band called The Mixers, and wrote sporadically for British comics when he proposed an idea to DC involving the Justice League and Jack Kirby’s New Gods titled Second Coming. It was never commissioned, but led to his writing for DC comics and subsequent work for both Marvel and Image later in his life. Lauded for his incredibly imaginative and fun twists on classic characters, Grant Morrison wrote amazing stories such as Batman: R.I.P., Final Crisis, All Star Superman, The Mystery Play, and DC One Million; As well as runs on Doctor Who comics, and Spider-Man. He also created Happy!, a comic about a disgraced police detective with a small flying blue unicorn in his head, which has it’s own TV show on SyFy. Morrison has been awarded by the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his contributions to the arts. He is a visionary man and one which many creators aspire to become.
Alan Moore is perhaps the most legendary comic book author to date. Alan Moore was born in Northampton, in 1953. As a young boy going into manhood he tore through novels of all kinds despite growing up in a poverty-stricken community with markedly low literacy. He would be inspired by the British and American comics of the day; yet never made the leap to writing until later in his life. After being kicked out of his university, he went from job to job until he finally started to work in an office of a contractor. Longing for something more creative he ditched his job and started to write and illustrate his own comics. He would get work writing for numerous British magazines until finally breaking into the mainstream writing for Judge Dredd and other comics of the time. He would do freelance work for anyone (Marvel, Vertigo, DC, etc). In the ’80s he hit his stride doing work for DC on Swamp Thing, Spectre, Deadman, and Constantine. It wasn’t until 1986 that he would create what some may call his magnum opus: Watchmen. Few comics could attain the literary depth that Watchmen had attained. This comic has not been out of print since it was released and is among other amazing classics of Moore’s such as V For Vendetta, League of Extraordinary Gentleman, and Batman: The Killing Joke. Alan Moore is the definition of a legendary comic book author who pioneered the way comics have been written and captivated the minds of many.