Comics are fun and flashy, they’ve got great art, and you gotta love the mythology created over years and years of writing. Back in the day comics were all about the visuals and the writers of such comics were sort of workhorses. But nowadays they are regarded as equally important. After the comic industry crash in the 90s due in large part to the overall emphasis of style over substance; comic companies like DC and Marvel have prioritized talented writers to craft a story that will then be dressed by the color visuals and art style or the then chosen artist. We’ve talked about legendary comic book authors before, but here are 5 more relatively new to the game writers worth checking out.
Matt Fraction, born Matt Fritchman was born in Chicago Heights, Illinois. Matt grew up reading comics and comic strips favoring comics such as Peanuts and Doonesbury. Fraction was reading DC comics until Crisis On Infinite Earths hit shelves which turned him over to becoming a major Marvel fan due to the dense nature of the story, (which I can’t really argue with; that story is a slog). Fraction ended up working at the comic retailer Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find. From there he started working at Ait/Planet Lar and IDW Publishing. He worked with other creators he met at a Warren Ellis forum while working at Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find. He was known first for his creator-owned work on The Five Fists of Science. And from there He started doing some work for Marvel comics. Fraction was paired with Ed Brubaker on The Immortal Iron Fist and later on Uncanny X-men. Brubaker left the series later on leaving Fraction alone to finish the job to some acclaim. Fraction would go on to write The Invincible Iron Man which led him to work as a consultant on set of Iron Man 2 as well as writing the video game adaptation. Fraction began rolling forward into bigger and better projects creating one of the greatest Hawkeye comics with David Aja starting with Hawkeye: My Life As A Weapon. In 2013 him and Chip Zdarsky would go on to create Sex Criminals for Image Comics catapulting him into even more recognition amongst the comic community. After Sex Criminals concluded Fraction made the jump to DC where he and Steve Lieber revived the classic character of Jimmy Olsen in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen: Who Killed Jimmy Olsen. Matt Fraction is one of the greats appearing on the comic scene today and I’m anxious to see what he’ll turn out next.
Suggested Reading: Hawkeye: My Life As A Weapon, Sex Criminals, Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen: Who Killed Jimmy Olsen
Gail Simone, born in Oregon; became a hairdresser and a student of the theatrical arts. She founded a website in 1999 called Women In Refrigerators criticizing the common comic book trope of killing, raping, or traumatizing a female character in order to give their male counterpart motivation, this was all spurred on by Green Lantern #54 in which Kyle Raynor’s girlfriend Alexandra was murdered and stuffed into a refrigerator. This website garnered much attention for her and helped her get a foot in the door of the comic industry where she started out scripting comics for The Simpsons for Bongo Comics. Yet after this she moved into the mainstream and worked on Deadpool for Marvel and continued on into his relaunch as Agent X; yet she left the series after a conflict with one of the editors. It was then that she moved on to DC comics and began to make her mark writing for the all-female group consisting of Oracle, Black Canary, The Huntress, and Lady BlackHawk who are known as The Birds of Prey. Her trajectory from here skyrocketed as she began to work on Action Comics, Villains United as a tie-in for Infinite Crisis, and Teen-Titans. By this point she had revitalized the characters of Hawk and Dove and Catman. In addition to this she worked on DC’s Wildstorm characters, the former imprint of Jim Lee. It was here that she worked on Gen13 as well as Welcome to Tranquility. After this she left her mark as Wonder Woman’s longest-running female writer following Joye Hummel years prior. She created The Power Within, a kick-started comic focusing on bullying and then went on to work on Batgirl during DC’s New 52 reboot. Following this she worked on The Movement and did some work for Dark Horse Comics writing Lara Croft and then over to Dynamite where she wrote on Red Sonja. Simone is known perhaps as one of the most influential female comic writers of all time and a writer who had a big hand in creating the DC Universe as we know it today. In recent years she has written for animated TV shows such as Justice League: Unlimited and Batman: The Brave and The Bold and continues to work in that industry to this day.
James Tynion IV
James Tynion IV has always been around in my consciousness, I’ve read a lot of comics written and co-written by him. But I didn’t quite piece together that he is basically responsible for most of my enjoyment of comics since I started reading them. James Tynion IV was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he studied creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College. Tynion then met Scott Snyder and began studying under him. Snyder asked Tynion to co-write the back-ups for Batman after the New 52 company wide re-launch. Tynion contributed much to this incredibly popular and critical comic run. Tynion and Snyder worked on American Vampire and Batman Annual #1 working with artists Rafael Albuquerque and Jason Fabok. Tynion worked solo on Night of the Owls spin-off Talon and even worked on Red Hood and the Outlaws. Tynion then worked on his first original series The Eight Seal for Mark Waid’s digital comic publishing company Thrillbent. After that Tynion was named head author on Batman Eternal, a sprawling saga fleshing out much of Gotham and it’s full cast of characters. He went on to write on Constantine, 2016s Detective Comics Run, and the fun favorite Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Tynion also published a number of titles across not only DC but BOOM! Studios creating the comic series The Woods, as well as continuing more work for Thrillbent. Tynion recently has done some work on Batman: Black and White as well as becoming sole writer along with artist Jorge Jimenez on Batman. James Tynion IV has been largely in the background for a while, working on small stories and characters that really flesh out the world of whatever he’s working in and it’s exciting to see what he’ll do with the reigns of Batman as it continues on.
Suggested Reading: The Woods, Batman Eternal, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Sean Murphy is a rare author and artist who constantly puts out stellar work. Born in Nashua, New Hampshire, Murphy went to Salem to apprentice as a painter and cartoonist under Leslie Swank. After graduating from Pinkerton academy high school he attended Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and then Savannah College of Art and Design. Before graduating Murphy has worked professionally on a few Dark Horse comic titles including Star Wars. He drew for Bruce Jones on Batman/Scarecrow: Year One, American Vampire with Scott Snyder, and Grant Morrison’s Joe The Barbarian. Murphy also did a run on Hellblazer for Vertigo where he wrote the text and drew the art. He published his own work titled Off Road which won an American Library Association Award for young adults. Murphy then worked on a Vertigo miniseries and passion project Punk Rock Jesus, which tackled themes of religion and politics. Recently Murphy, along with Klaus Janson and Matt Hollingsworth created Batman: White Knight for DC Black Label telling the tale of what would happen if the Joker became sane and launched a political campaign against Batman, which garnered a follow-up title in the same universe titled Batman: Curse of the White Knight.
Suggested Reading: Punk Rock Jesus, Batman: White Knight, Hellblazer
Chip Zdarsky, born Steve Murray, was born in Edmonton, Alberta. Steve Murray invented the pen name Chip Zdarsky as an alter ego for his persona as a writer. When asked about this he said: “I wanted to have a sad-sack cartoonist persona that lives in his mom’s basement, paints figurines for money, has restraining orders against him. And that became a character.” Initially these were kept secret and separate but his initial attempts were quashed not doubt due to his recognition in later years. He developed independent projects such as Prison Funnies, and Monster Cops. He went on to collaborate in many projects across a few independent comic companies including Dark Horse’s Fierce as well as Rumble Royale. Murray dabbled outside of the comic sphere as well working on a weekly advice column titled “Extremely Bad Advice” as well as Tear Jerk where he reviewed purported tear jerker movies to see if they actually can make him cry. Along with a few other creators he co-founded the Royal Academy of Illustration and Design which acted as a studio which ended up producing Rumble Royale. In 2013 he reamed up with Matt Fraction on Sex Criminals which was declared number 1 on Time Magazine’s list of Top Ten Comics and Graphic Novels of 2013, which then went on to win an Eisner Award for Best New Series. Zdarsky went on to relaunch Jughead in conjunction with the new Riverdale relaunch and wrote on the Spider-man series Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-man. Later DC comics announced that Chip Zdarsky would be working on the Batman: Black and White anthology series. Zdarsky, along with Fraction have launched themselves into the comic book stardom and continue to turn out great work.
Suggested Reading: Spider-Man: Life Story, Sex Criminals, Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-man
Rounding off our list of comic book newcomers we’ve got Tom King. Tom King was born in southern California where his mother worked in the film industry. Growing up in this environment cultivated his love for storytelling. When he grew up he would intern for both DC and Marvel and study Philosophy and History at Columbia University. During his internship at DC and Marvel he worked as an assistant to Chris Claremont, acclaimed writer on X-men for years. After 9/11 King joined the CIA and worked for seven years as a counterterrorism operations officer. He quit the CIA and began writing his first novel A Once Crowded Sky with some pages illustrated by Tom Fowler. DC editorial then chose Kind to co-write on Grayson for DC which saw Dick Grayson, the original Boy Wonder and Nightwing, leave the mantel and become Agent 37 of Spyral. King provided important and incredible insights regarding this due to his time spent in the CIA. King relaunched The Omega Men for DC as a team analogous to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. During this time, King and artist Barnaby Bageda became fond of using the 9 panel grid, inspired by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen; which garnered them much critical praise and remains somewhat of a staple for King going forward. King then worked on The Sherrif of Baghdad with Mitch Gerad and other Vertigo properties like Preacher. King created Scalped which was later renamed The Sheriff of Babylon which was inspired by King’s time serving in Iraq. King then orchestrated the Robin War crossover and penned a few one shots. Over at Marvel King was announced as the writer on The Vision which saw the Vision create a family of his own and attempt to live in suburbia with them leading to all sorts of problems and issues. This book won King and Eisner award and caught reviewers by off guard saying it was one of Marvel’s “Biggest surprises”. King continued work on Grayson as well as some other DC titled until DC chose him to take the reigns of the main Batman comic after DC’s Rebirth initiative. Kind wrote 85 issues followed up by Batman/Catwoman. King also launched a Mister Miracle series, an Adam Strange series as well as the Heroes In Crisis DC crossover. Tom Kings work has been praised by many, and rightfully so. His life gives him a unique perspective and his work often deals with trauma and mental health creating a much more vulnerable side to comics and superheroes that haven’t really been seen in recent years.
Suggested Reading: The Vision, Mister Miracle, Heroes In Crisis