Last year was an amazing year for comics. So many stars rose to fame as did many titles. Although many of us know the titles and/or characters, many of us do not know the names and faces behind these works. Many of these creators have been in the industry for years. Now, when I say creators, I am talking about the artists, writers, colorists, inkers, and letterers who use their amazing talent to bring magic to the pages. It’s like, five mini lion bots come together to form one super-bot! Haha sorry, couldn’t resist throwing that in there. (Let’s see how many people can guess the movie and subject of that last line). Enough of my cheesy jokes, time to meet your creators!
10 Modern Comic Creators that Rocked 2019
10. Tom King – Writer
King made many fans angry due to his “Batman Wedding” issue. However, he is still considered to be one of the best writers in the field. King started out as an intern at both DC and Marvel where he worked with the legend, Chris Claremont. Before being a multiple Eisner Award Winner, King was a CIA officer with the Counter-Terrorism Unit, with Iraq and Pakistan being some of his duty stations. After proudly serving his country, he came face to face with something that no one is ever fully ready for, parent-hood. Just like any parent, he wanted to be around his family as much as possible, so he decided to leave the CIA. Although many would cringe at the thought of leaving such an amazing job, King would later use his experiences to give life to his characters. Some work that he based his past on is Mister Miracle and The Sheriff of Babylon.
9. Mitch Gerads – Penciler/Artist/Inker
Mitch Gerads is the other half of the King/Gerads Mister Miracle duo. Gerads graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a BFA in Graphic Design. Soon afterward, he started working on illustrations for big box brands like Cheerios, Trix, Lucky Charms, Teddy Grahams, and many more. Besides making jokes on King’s behalf on Twitter, Gerads has won multiple Eisner Awards, worked on Batman and Strange Adventures, and even co-created The Activity and The Sheriff of Babylon. Currently, you can find him working on multiple projects for DC Comics.
8. Jen Bartel – Illustrator/Artist
There are only a handful of artists that I have met, and I am honored to say Jen Bartel is one. She is sincere and very modest about her work. I have seen her give away computerized drawing tablets to young aspiring artists, in order to help them achieve their dreams. Bartel co-created Blackbird, for which she won an Eisner Award, and worked with Marvel and Image comics. For the movies Captain Marvel and Birds of Prey, Bartel created fabulous footwear using the colors and signs of Captain Marvel and Harley Quinn. Her work normally focuses on drawing strong ladies, bringing them to the forefront of comics. I still think many great things will come from Jen in the near future.
7. Donny Cates – Writer
If you do not know this name, then you might as well go back under your rock. Donny Cates is the rock star of Marvel Comics, with the Midas touch. Do not let his age fool you, he is an old soul who has brought back that dark, edgy, noir feel to comics. Some of his work includes the current Thor series, God Country, and Atomahawk. Since signing exclusively with Marvel, Cates has been working non-stop on multiple titles showing no signs of slowing down just like an ever charged Energizer Bunny. Although he is known to be the edgy bad boy of Marvel, he is known for also being very generous. While comic shops are feeling the pain of the economy, Cates swooped in and paid for all the books at a local shop that patrons had on hold. Imagine the relief felt by that store owner. I can see Cates achieving many more accolades in the near future, just give him room and he will shine!
6. Matt Wilson – Colorist/Inker
I do not think people give colorists the credit they deserve. Colors are what first attracts fans to comics. The way the colors bring out certain features or allude to others is a key component to being one of the best. According to CBR, Matt Wilson is one of the best in his field, as well as one of the most sought after colorists. Matt Wilson originally started out with Zylonol, a color studio before proceeding to work under his own name. Since then he has done some great work with DC, Marvel, Image, and Dark Horse. Wilson takes coloring seriously. He feels that the use of the right color palette will help the reader connect with the story in a deeper way. Just like smells can remind you of old memories, color can touch you in an emotional way. Movies connect with the use of film and sound. Unfortunately, those items can’t be used in comics, so he focuses on the color. Each scene he helps create must not only color the emotions of the characters but of the scene itself. Like the others above, Matt Wilson is also a fellow Eisner Award Winner.
5. Saladin Ahmed – Writer
A Detroit native, this writer has climbed the ladder, slowly making his way to the top. With a BA in American Studies, an MA in English and an MFA, it’s no wonder why Saladin is such a decorated writer. Saladin, nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel, won the Locus Award for Best First Novel, and of course a 2018 Eisner Award winner for Best New Series. He is credited with working on Marvel’s Black Bolt, Exiles, Amazing Spider-Man, Absolute Carnage, and a few other titles. However, he is also a skilled poet who has had many of his works published in various anthologies. His work on Magnificent Ms. Marvel and Miles Morales: Spider-Man is new and exciting, helping keep these names relevant in every way.
4. Al Ewing – Writer
Ewing is a British writer who started writing for 2000AD, mostly working on Zombo and Judge Dredd. Once at Marvel, Ewing worked on Mighty Avengers, New Avengers, U.S. Avengers, Ultimates, and Loki: Agent of Asgard. Another series that he is currently working on, and one of my favorites, is the Immortal Hulk run. He is able to create arcs and intertwine them in ways only seen by the likes of Kevin Feige. His style is unique in the sense that he likes to focus on lower-rated characters, giving them time to shine just like the bigger named ones. This is easy for him due to having such tremendous knowledge of the Marvel Universe. Once you know all the prior arcs, its easy to work off them and expand them for newer readers. I can’t wait to see what else he has in store for the mean, green, machine, The Immortal Hulk!
3. Chip Zdarsky – Artist/Writer/Illustrator/Journalist
Canadian born Steve Murray known better by his pen-name Chip Zdarsky is a man of many talents. In order to separate his earlier work from his comic-related work, he created the new name and persona of Chip Zdarsky. According to Steve, Chip is meant to be “a sad-sack cartoonist persona that lives in his mom’s basement, paints figurines for money, has restraining orders against him.” (The Globe and Mail) Chip first started publishing his own works called Monster Cops and Prison Funnies. Now he is a multiple Eisner and Harvey Award recipient, with his book Sex Criminals hitting the number one spot in Time Magazine’s List of Top Ten Comics and Graphic Novels of 2013.
2. Stanley Lau – Artist
Better known to the world as Artgerm, Stanley was born and bred in Hong Kong where he was formally trained in graphic design. Artgerm is very active in the art community, even co-founding Imaginary Friends Studio, a world-acclaimed art studio that works with Capcom, DC, Marvel, and other industry giants. His work carries a certain look that once you see, you know it belongs to him. I have collected many of his covers due to the grace, softness, and beauty that comes with his art. If you would like to see some of his art, you can click HERE. Trust me you will not be disappointed at all! For those who aspire to be like Artgerm, he is currently running a full-time diploma course on Digital Design through 3DSense in Singapore. Further details are on his page.
1. Jonathan Hickman – Artist/Writer Extraordinaire
I had to save the best for last. Hickman has brought back the X-Men to the fans in ways we never thought possible. His House of X and Powers of X runs were simply amazing! People who stopped reading comics returned once they read HOX and POX. Many of the artists and writers here started drawing and focusing their studies on the various forms of their craft. Hickman took another route and received a degree in Architecture and then focused on Web Development. Obviously, that is not the final road he took. He soon started writing and drawing for Image comics and then Marvel where he is now the “Head of X”. He earned this moniker due to spearheading the relaunch of the X-Men series. Following the Dawn of X series, Hickman has created an entirely new universe for the X-Men.
Hope you enjoyed reading a little about your favorite creators. While there are hundreds more to include, I only did 10 for today. If you want an artist to be added, or simply think none of these artists should be on the list, comment below! I love hearing from people and I always respond back.
Remember, although one person gets the majority of the recognition, there is a whole team behind them.
Till Next Time, Happy Hunting!