Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Best Comic Writers? Artists.

So last night, ol' Alex and I were having dinner and a few beers. Talk turned, inevitably, to comics. We discussed Kyle Baker's great interview, linked previously here. Specifically, we started talking about a part I didn't copy and paste, wherein Mr. Baker talks about how he hates collaborating with writers. Writers unthinkingly as artists to draw things, that, if they drew themselves, they'd know not to ever do. Alex mentioned a try-out comic a friend had done for DC, written by Mark Waid. There was a bit in the script that said something like "800 people appear from another dimension. You're the artist, you figure it out." It might seem reasonable at first, but do you go to the TV repairman and ask for him to make your TV fly? Then Alex said, "Almost all great writers also draw."

I protested. At first. But then we looked into it. We started listing the best comic writers. We started with five. They were all artists. Then we went to ten. Artists still. More and more and more, all of them at least CAN draw, whether they draw comics or not. Many of them have laid out pages in at least sketch format when writing. Don't believe me? Check this list and TRY to deny it.

Alan Moore
Grant Morrison
Dan Clowes
Chris Ware
Frank Miller
Art Spigelman
Neil Gaiman
Peter Bagge
Mike Mignola
Jaime Hernandez
Gilberto Hernandez
Ed Brubaker
Charles Schultz
R. Crumb
Will Eisner
Dave Sim
Paul Pope
Darwyn Cooke
Kyle Baker
Matt Wagner
Mike Allred

You can even go down to the Willinghams, the Scott Morses . . .heck, I don't care for Bendis, really, but when he's on, he's on.

All these guys either are artists or have been before. Doesn't it blow your mind? This isn't to say it's impossible to be a good comic writer without being an artist. Garth Ennis and Bryan K. Vaughn are probably the best two examples of non-artist writers. When they bring their A-game, they're probably better than a few guys on the list above.

But the evidence is pretty overwhelming. Writers that can't draw at all tend not to be the best comic writers. You cannot deny, can you?

17 Love Letters:

Blogger alex said...

Joe Wrote: "Then Alex said, "Writers who don't draw are bad comic writers."



I said that almost all great writers drew as well...

I never said anyone was "bad".

Don't get me pilloried here, Rice...


7:41 AM

Blogger Joe Rice said...


9:09 AM

Blogger T. said...

Interestingly enough, on the other end of the spectrum some of the worst writers imaginable are also artists:
Jim Lee
Valentino (ever read Shadowhawk/Vampirella? blech!)
and many others.

I guess the pure writers are good for midrange product while artists give you one extreme or the other.

1:34 PM

Blogger Eliot Johnson said...

i'd take Morse over most of those people on that list. He's incredible.

9:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Except, t., that the artists you listed are notorious for style over substance, and have never excelled at all in layout or storytelling. I don't think they really count.

Others worth mentioning:

David Lapham
Phil Hester
Dave Gibbons (I haven't actually read anything of his drawn by another, but he's a damn good writer.)

9:50 PM

Blogger Joe Rice said...

I love Morse's art and he seems like and awesome person. His writing hasn't quite ever worked for me, outside of his Plas fill-ins. There's . . .an odd rhythm that doesn't quite work.

5:33 AM

Blogger Joe Rice said...

Good additions, Unknown Poster. Especially Lapham.

6:46 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Unknown Poster recommends Spaghetti Western and Barefoot Serpent as examples of Scott Morse awesomeness.

10:43 AM

Blogger Joe Rice said...

I own them both and enjoyed them both. But I still wouldn't pile his praise in the writing column.

10:58 AM

Blogger Eliot Johnson said...

Visitations is the best of Morse's work to me. There are many that you can add to your list, but the gravest ommisions are James Kochalka (perhaps the most important voice in alternative comics) and Stan Sakai (easily one of the ten greatest comic creators ever).

7:13 PM

Blogger Joe Rice said...

Excellent catches on both, EJ. Can I call you EJ? There was a guy at my school growing up called EJ. He was a throwback. You aren't.

12:49 PM

Blogger Eliot Johnson said...

most real life people call me E, but you're a non-real internet comic nerd, so EJ can work.

nope i'm not a throwback at all, i must concur.

12:06 AM

Blogger Joe Rice said...

This guy even had a sloping brow!

5:18 AM

Blogger Eliot Johnson said...

would i be impressed if i knew what a sloping brow was?

8:59 PM

Blogger Joe Rice said...

Depends on how awesome you think cavemen are.

9:02 PM

Blogger Eliot Johnson said...'s just a brow that slopes. I thought it was code for something different.

i'm not very fond of cavemen except for johnny damon.

11:06 PM

Blogger Joe Rice said...

Johnny's blessed with a cool name and unusually handsome features in the caveman milieu.

5:22 AM


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