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I don’t think “influential” is as interesting as trying to figure out who is going to be the big influence on the NEXT generation. To which Geoff Johns, BMB, etc. all belong, along with BKV, Dan Slott, etc.

Just my $0.02.

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Lairdofdarkness said on August 11th, 2009 at 6:44 am

From a British Perspective, I would have to add Pat Mills, Alan Grant and John Wagner. Their stories in 2000ad influenced many people whose only access to comics was the weekly Brit ones. Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar and Garth Ennis all added to that but then went onto American success. Those three may have only had limited success over the pond (Alan Grants Batman run was brilliant though, helped by the wonderful art of Norm Breyfogle) however they have produced consistently high work for decades and continue to do so today.
Not sure who I would remove from your list to add them in though…

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I can’t believe nobody has mentioned Steve Englehart. He wasn’t that great a writer but, yes, he was hugely influential. His Dr. Strange run? People were trying to copy that for decades afterwards.

Doug M.

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[…] Stan Lee. There was a ferocious debate in Justin’s post about how much credit Stan deserves versus Steve Ditko or Jack Kirby, but The Man worked with both […]

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I’d definitely drop-kick Geoff Johns off the list in favor of Eisner. This is like deciding to put Kelly Clarkson on a “Most Influential Singers” list and leaving off Tina Turner. 🙂

Other than that…hmm. You’re right. 21 is a small number. 🙂 I feel like Marv Wolfman narrowly edges out Len Wein, mainly because I think “Crisis on Infinite Earths” was a helluva gutsy call, and I’d say that Jim Shooter should replace his mentor, Mort Weisinger, but those are both such tough calls that I wouldn’t complain about it going the other way.

And to Prankster and anyone else who wants to bring up the “Lee or Kirby/Lee or Ditko/Lee or Heck/Lee or Colan/Lee or whoever you want to arge had all the real talent” debate…comics is a collaborative form. Stan Lee’s respective collaborations, on Spider-Man, X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Thor, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Daredevil, and so many of the Marvel comics of that era worked an alchemy that made the resultant comic better than the sum of the parts of the creators that made it. Stan Lee was blessed to work with some of the most talented artists in the industry, and they were blessed to work with a brilliantly imaginative writer with a gift for dialogue. “And”, not “but”. It is not a contest as to who was better, but a joy to read the collaboration that resulted. We might list Kirby or Ditko in the “artist” category, but any good comics artist has a tremendous influence on the story as it’s told and acts as a second writer in a lot of ways. The distinction is purely an arbitrary one, and should in no way be seen as diminishing their contributions to the story.

In short, hurray for everyone! 🙂

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On the matter of Lee/Kirby: I don’t think anybody would deny that Kirby was ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to the FF being a success. John put it best at calling it “alchemy”: From newsprint into solid gold imagination.

But Stan’s not on the list “because he wrote Fantastic Four” (although, to refute one of Prankster’s points above, Stan’s two-page outline for the first Fantastic Four still exists, and while Kirby certainly hammered it into a streamlined shape, most of the intial concepts do seem to be Lee’s). It’s for the specific *elements* that the book pioneered that you can point at as being Lee’s contribution — the casual shared universe, the creeping reality, the self-referential dialogue, the superhero as a blessing and a curse.

I could also argue that Lee putting so much faith in Kirby was innovative and influential in and of itself. Even EC’s Gaines and Feldstein, who seem to have treated their artists pretty well, put the words on the page first and told the artists to fill in around ’em. The Marvel Method may have been born of necessity, but Stan institutionalized it when he realized artists had more to contribute that just pictures to a script.

The final nail in the coffin of “Kirby is everything and Lee is nothing” is, of course, Spider-Man, which Kirby even got a crack at but go rejected.

I am totally not putting Kirby down, because then I’d have to hit *myself* with rocks. But it’s a list of writers, and I had to ask myself “Was Jack Kirby’s greatest contribution to comics the unprecidented grandeur and scope he brought to the page, and the pure vitality that poured from his pencil every time it touched papeer, and the bold experimentation that forced his collaborators to step up their game, or was it what he brought to the writing?” And that’s no contest.

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Let’s be clear here: I’m not saying Lee did nothing. Just that Kirby (and Ditko, and the rest) did a LOT of the storytelling on their respective books. The Kirby-Lee (and Ditko-Lee) relationship was not the usual writer-artist relationship.

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Dominic Delemanske said on August 11th, 2009 at 3:23 pm

I would have thought that Marv Wolfman would have made the list as well since you had Chris Claremont. Drop Johns in favor of Wolfman since he really did set the stage with the original Crisis and his work on Teen Titans during the 80’s which at the time was a top selling book that was rivaling X-Men for sales and just some superb writing with storylines like the Judas Contract.

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Herge.

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[…] inspired at least one T21L. It could be argued that Bird’s list was itself a direct response to another list of the top 21 most influential comics writers, and therefore shouldn’t receive the credit for influencing the creation of the T21L you’re […]

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[…] 21 Influential Mainstream Comics Writers (For Better or Worse) by Justin Zyduck. You can do much worse than use this list of comics writers as an entry-point into […]

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Come to think of it, Lee could keep his place on the list if you argue that “taking credit for things and hyping your image” is itself a point of influence.

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[…] there, special internet friends. Justin again. I can do more than just make lists and slight Will Eisner’s contributions to comics as a medium, you know! I can also talk a little bit about the superhero comics that grabbed my imagination by […]

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Mark Gruenwald.

John Ostrander.

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[…] …21 writers who changed mainstream comics for better or worse. […]

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[…] you are not familiar with any of the names that are on this list, then you’re missing a lot in terms of great story telling. Don’t listen […]

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