This list is my top 150 that I wrote down on May 8, 2007 (I actually wrote down 214, but weâ€™re cutting it off at 150). Iâ€™m not a particularly consistent fella, and Iâ€™m sure the list would vary wildly depending on what day I formulated it on. In fact, looking back at it now (January 25, 2008), I can’t believe the order I put some stuff in! It’s really just an excuse to systematically talk about a lot of cartoonists I like, and hopefully turn my readers on to a lot of good stuff they may not have seen before.
Some things to keep in mind:
1) This list is based on nothing other than my fleeting opinions of May 8, 2007. This is not a list of the most influential cartoonists, or most prolific cartoonists, or best draftsmen, or the best storytellersâ€¦ just a list of the 150 cartoonists I felt were the best all-around cartoonists on this particular date. Some of them donâ€™t draw, and just write comics. Some of them donâ€™t write, and just draw comics. Most of them do both the writing and drawing.
2) There are some serious gaps in my knowledge. Although there are some non-US cartoonists on the list, by knowledge of comics is unfortunately skewed towards that which has been available in the US. Also, there are many, many more men than womenâ€¦ just as there have traditionally been more male than female cartoonists. In spite of being a web cartoonist, I really havenâ€™t adequately experienced the wide world of webcomics eitherâ€¦ there are so many of them, I wonder if anyone really has?
3) If I know you, you arenâ€™t on the list. I donâ€™t want to open that can of worms, and I canâ€™t really be objective about the work of my friends, so although some of my comrades would certainly have made this list if they were considered, they werenâ€™t.
Basically, an accurate title for this would be The 150 Greatest Cartoonists I Donâ€™t Know, Based on My Limited Knowledge, and Only Accurate for the Date of May 8, 2007 Countdown! Letâ€™s just call this ridiculous endeavor The 150 Greatest Cartoonists Countdown!, huh? The list on this page will be gradually updated as I work my way through it.
#150 James Kochalka
#149 Art Adams
#148 Alex Toth
#147 Debbie Drechsler
#146 Patrick Smith
#145 Bill Wray
#144 Steven Weissman
#143 Rick Altergott
#142 Harold Gray
#141 Al Hirschfeld
#140 Archer Prewitt
#139 J.H. Williams III
#138 Frank Quitely
#137 Osamu Tezuka
#136 Gene Colan
#135 John Porcellino
#134 Paul Hornschemeier
#133 Anders Nilsen
#132 Steve Ditko
#131 Al Jaffee
#130 Hunt Emerson
#129 Dori Seda
#128 Yoshihiro Tatsumi
#127 Milt Gross
#126 Dennis Eichhorn
#125 Evan Dorkin
#124 A.D. Condo
#123 Frederick Opper
#122 Eric Drooker
#121 Gustave Verbeek
#120 Spain Rodriguez
If I’m not mistaken, those artists are all Americans. If you want to see more talents, visit Lambiek’s website Comiclopedia – http://lambiek.net/artists/index.htm –
all written in the English language. There you’ll find out more about cartoonists all over the world, including American artists like Will Eisner. Perhaps I’m prejudiced, but if you ask me, at least 25% of the best artists should be Europeans. Don Lawrence for instance, Hans Kresse, Jean Giraud, HergÃ©, Paul Cuvelier. Those are giants in their own right. Well, to be honest, Japanese artists are hot these days, but I can’t name one. Choosing 150 greatest cartoonists is a hell of a job, so I wish you much inspiration.
Thanks for the comment, Orson! Of what’s above so far, 128 & 137 are Japanese and #130 is English. Lambiek is indeed a great resource, and by far the most international resource for comics artist biographical data online (and probably anywhere)… I actually link to them all the time, since they are frequently the only resource for biographical data on a lot of the cartoonists in the Crumbling Paper archive of old newspaper comics on this site. I’ll have a lot more Europeans on the list as it progresses, but as I say above, my knowledge of comics is pretty North-American focused. Definitely note the above disclaimers! This list is really as arbitrary as they come… it just gives me a good excuse to talk about cartoonists I like. I wish I had a better knowledge of European and other world comics, but I’m pretty much limited to what gets translated and I’m lucky enough to run across. I’m a huge fan of a lot of the L’Association stuff that has been translated in the US.
This list is great fun – It’s cool to see someone’s list of favorite cartoonists, especially when you have such a geat affection for the stuff, as demonstrated by all the neat things on your site (the monkey cartoon – with the demons – the fine Gasoline Alley … ).
I’ve just discovered Jim Kochalka and he is very good. His little book together with Jeffrey Brown is cool (Jeffrey Brown was just down here in Orlando btw at A Comic Store) and then of course, there’s SUPER ****ERS :-) the American Elf and the Kochalka dairies.
Two manga artists (very different from each other) I’ll suggest : The excellent Takesi Obata, known lots of places now for Deathnote (together with its fine writer, Tsugumi Ohba); Obata’s approach is similar to the art of Rip Kerby, the classic American strip, a style you don’t see much of, by Alex Raymond, perhaps the best of American cartoon artists. And the loveable Aya Nakahara, for Love Dot Com.
I’m sure you’ll be mentioning Osamu Tezuka.
I’ll follow up with some British suggestions – how about Ms Augusta (artist: Dominic Poelsma, writer: Angus McGill); the artist for “Barry McKenzie” which appeared in Private Eye (writer: the future Dame Edna) and another British favorites, Flook by Wally Fawkes (principal writer: George Melly.)
And I won’t even begin to mention, yet, MY American favorites – esp since your list just gets to 120. Except to say that I’m glad to see that the immortal Steve Ditko is on there. And who DID create Sweeter Gwen?
And of course, don’t leave out Frank Godwin (Rusty Riley), Roy Crane (Buz Sawyer, Tubbs, Easy) … oops, now I’m starting another list.
Your site is wonderful. A box of delights. I’m just beginning to play around with it. Seattle cartoonist and graphic designer Jim Gill sic’d me on it.
Thanks much for the comments and king words, Byron! Glad you’re enjoying the site.
Kochalka is indeed a great cartoonist… his sketchbook diaries are fantastic, and I adore his Fancy Froglin comics. I dig some of Brown’s stuff too. Crane is way up on the list, I assure you. Godwin I like but I need to read more of. The others I am totally unfamiliar with. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for Obata, Nakahara, Poelsma & Fawkes.
Already got to Tezuka at 137… he’d be very likely to be higher on the list if I’d read more than some of his delightful Astro Boy comics… I haven’t read any of his stuff aimed at adults yet. Here’s the link, although I didn’t have time to write much of anything that day: