This week saw the release of “Invincible” #100, marking the second comic book series that Robert Kirkman has written that has reached 100 issues. Just recently, Kirkman’s collaborator on “The Walking Dead,” Charlie Adlard, joined Kirkman on 100 straight issues of zombie survival series (Adlard joined with issue #7). In honor of Kirkman’s rare feat of writing 100 consecutive issues of multiple series, we thought it would be fun to spotlight the other North American comic book writers and pencillers who have spent at least 100 consecutive issues on their respective series.
NOTE: For the sake of this feature, we are counting runs as consecutive even if a creator has missed as many as three issues in a row, provided that the total run still exceeds 100 issues with those missing issues deducted from the total. In addition, we are counting runs that continued after series are re-named or re-numbered. Plus, in cases where a creator did not know which issue his work would end up in, we’re just counting the general group of titles as one big ol’ whole. Finally, we are counting concurrent runs toward issue totals.
We’ll count up from the lowest to the highest…
Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso on “100 Bullets” (“100 Bullets” #1-100)
Writer Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso began work on their Vertigo series, “100 Bullets” in 1999. The pair had worked together before on a detective miniseries, “Jonny Double.” “100 Bullets” began as a bit of a “high concept” book — a mysterious stranger approaches people and provides them with proof that the troubles in their life are due to one person. He then provides them with a gun and 100 untraceable bullets and leaves them to do what they feel is necessary. As the series progresses, though, we see that the seemingly unconnected early storylines are all part of a masterful crime saga. Risso’s striking artwork fits the noir style of the book perfectly, and Azzarello sets up the various pieces in this intricate game of chess wonderfully. While most other Vertigo titles have fill-in artists to stay on schedule, “100 Bullets” notably worked with Risso’s schedule, allowing him to draw every issue until its finale in 2009.
Stan Lee on “Amazing Spider-Man” (“Amazing Spider-Man” #1-100)
In one of the most famous examples of a book changing direction while maintaining one writer, “Amazing Spider-Man” went from Stan Lee working with the book’s co-creator, artist Steve Ditko, to John Romita Sr. about 40 issues into the series’ run. Ditko’s control of the book extended far beyond the artwork, though, as he was the driving force behind the plotting of the series. When Ditko left, Lee had to become the main plotter of the book, and the style of the book definitely changed to a more mainstream approach geared towards Romita’s artwork. Things were much less bleak and there was room for the young characters in the series (Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson, Gwen Stacy, Harry Osborn and Flash Thompson) to have some fun. Eventually, Romita cut back on his involvement in the title and other artists, most notably Gil Kane, filled in for extended chunks of time. Kane was the penciler on Lee’s final issue, which left the incoming writer (Roy Thomas) with quite a pickle — Spider-Man had grown six arms! Lee actually returned to the book less than a year later for a short, lesser-known second run before Gerry Conway took over writing duties full-time.
100 ISSUES AND COUNTING
Robert Kirkman on “Invincible” (“Invincible” #1-100)
This week, Robert Kirkman reached 100 issues on his second title, “Invincible.” It is fitting that the 100th issue details what happened when the title character goes along with a plan to “help” the Earth through drastic measures. However, the measures are far more drastic than he intended and perhaps now the world’s greatest hero might be seen as its worst villain. That’s par for the course in this series, as Kirkman is constantly playing with our expectations, right back to the beginning when we learned that the seemingly ideal father to our young superhero was anything but.
Charlie Adlard on “The Walking Dead” (“The Walking Dead” #7-current (#106))
Tony Moore drew the initial “Walking Dead” arc at a time when no one knew if the series would last past those six issues. With Moore’s departure from the title, Robert Kirkman needed an ongoing artist. In Charlie Adlard, he lucked into a great one. Adlard had already found success working on a variety of comics (perhaps most notably Topps’ “X-Files” series) but on “The Walking Dead,” he has taken his talents to a whole other level both in world-creating and character development. Take Michonne, for instance. In her earliest appearances, so much of what we knew about her came from how Adlard drew her. It is remarkable that he’s managed to keep up with the more-or-less monthly output without missing a single issue.
Peter David’s second stint on “X-Factor” (“X-Factor” #1-50, #200-current (#250))
The numbering is obviously a bit confusing (and if you count the “Madrox” miniseries as part of this run, then it is already up to 105 issues) but suffice it to say that Peter David has firmly taken a hold of what the world now knows of the comic book title “X-Factor.” Originally a vehicle for the original five X-Men, after 100 issue of X-Factor Investigations, I think the book is now best known for Peter David’s work developing characters like Madrox, Strong Guy and Polaris, as well as new favorites like Layla Miller. Here’s to hoping Peter David can continue on for 100 more issues! Get well soon, PAD!
Robert Kanigher on “All-American Men of War” (“All-American Men of War” #17-117)
Robert Kanigher began writing “All-American Men of War” as soon as the series was launched as its own title in 1953 (confusingly, the title originally continued the numbering of a previous series, “All-American Western,” which in turn had continued from “All-American Comics,” but then after a couple of issues with the original numbering they decided to start over, but instead of starting with #1, they began with #2). He took a break in the mid-teens before returning with #17 and continuing on the title until it ended with issue #117. The book starred generic war stories until Kanigher invented one of the first recurring war comic characters, Gunner and Sarge. Gunner and Sarge would go on to have their own series in “Our Fighting Forces.” In #82, Kanigher introduced Lt. Johnny Cloud, the “Navajo Ace” who starred in the series until it ended.
ROUGHLY 102 ISSUES
Robert Kanigher on “Our Fighting Forces” (“Our Fighting Forces” #1-104)
“Our Fighting Forces” was one of DC’s many war comic anthology, and one of the first to adopt a main character as Kanigher’s Gunner and Sarge were the book’s title characters from #46 until #94. There were other characters, including the Vietnam War Lieutenant Hunter, who starred in the comic from #99-105.
Sal Buscema on “Spectacular Spider-Man” (“Spectacular Spider-Man” #134-238)
What was perhaps most impressive about Sal Buscema’s extended run as the artist on “Spectacular Spider-Man” (which included a particularly notable stint with writer J.M. DeMatteis) was the fact that for nearly the entire run, Buscema both penciled and inked his work. So even with him basically doubling his work, he never missed an issue. His run ended with an interesting experiment in contrasting styles, as his pencils were inked by Bill Sienkiewicz towards the end of his stint on “Spectacular.”
Keith Giffen on “Justice League International” (“Justice League”/”Justice League International””/Justice League America” #1-60, “Justice League Europe” #1-35, “Justice League”/”Justice League International”/”Justice League America Annual” #1-5, “Justice League Europe Annual” #1-2, “Justice League Quarterly” #1-3)
Little did anyone know when Keith Giffen took on the main Justice League title in 1987 that he would soon be in charge of a whole section of the DC Universe. The Justice League soon became an international organization, a new Justice League for the 1980s. The book became so popular that it was soon given a spin-off. Justice League International would now be the American branch of the Justice League while the new title, “Justice League Europe,” would be the European branch of the League. The titles were eventually given a third companion, a quarterly book where stories featuring both the teams would be told (along with back-ups by different creators). Giffen was paired with J.M. DeMatteis as scripter over Giffen’s plots. DeMatteis was just as key toward the success of the title as was Giffen, but when “Justice League Europe” began, DeMatteis only helped launch the title as Giffen was soon joined by new scripters, first William Messner-Loebs and then Gerard Jones. So while Giffen worked on 105 issues of the Justice League titles, DeMatteis “only” worked on roughly 80 issues.
105 ISSUES AND COUNTING
Mike Baron on “Nexus” (“Nexus” #1-3, “Nexus” #1-80, “Nexus: The Origin,” “Nexus: Alien Justice,” “Nexus: Wages of Sin,” “Nexus: Executioner’s Song,” “Nexus: God Con,” “Nexus: Nightmare in Blue,” “Nexus: Space Opera”)
Working mostly with artist Steve Rude (co-creator of Nexus), Mike Baron has created a fascinating universe where the main character grapples with notions of morality (his powers were given to him under the condition that he kill a certain amount of bad guys every “cycle”). Soon, the comic became more and more about the refugees created when the lead character (Horatio Hellpop) kills off tyrants. With the tyrants dead, their subjects need some place to go and Hellpop ends up taking them all in. The book then eventually becomes more about the assimilation of all of these refugees in a futuristic world than anything else.
Terry Moore on “Strangers in Paradise” (“Strangers in Paradise” Vol. 1 #1-3, Vol. 2 #1-13, Vol. 3 #1-90 (Abstract Studio)
Terry Moore’s “Strangers in Paradise” was one of the biggest independent hits of the 1990s, which surprised many when it first debuted a small, self-published three-issue miniseries in 1993. The series follows the lives of two best friends, Francine and Katchoo, who are about as close as you can get — although Katchoo would like them to be even closer (you know, romantic-like).
That alone would cause enough dramatic tension for a series, but Moore also added newcomers David and Casey, who were part of this almost/sorta/kinda love quadrangle, while Moore introduced a number of other interesting supporting characters over the years who gained more prominence as the book went on.
Moore’s greatest asset was his handling of emotional issues and character interactions. If he was not so good at it, the book would have collapsed under the weight of all the soap opera-esque love stories. Luckily, Moore grounded the work, so it felt real.
106 ISSUES AND COUNTING
Robert Kirkman on “The Walking Dead” (“The Walking Dead” #1-current (#106))
The selling point of Robert Kirkman’s “The Walking Dead” is essentially that it tells the story of what happens in a zombie movie after the closing credits finish. What do you do in a world overrun by zombies? How do you manage to form some measure of society in a situation like that? That’s the problem facing Rick Grimes as he wakes up from a coma to discover that the world has changed much since he was shot on duty as a police officer. He manages to find his wife and son who have joined a sort of collective, led by Rick’s former partner. The group is tight-knit with an interesting mix of personalities. Rick soon takes over as the leader of the group, which leads to conflicts. 106 issues later, you can believe that the conflicts have just gotten greater and greater and greater…
Paul S. Newman and Tom Gill on “The Lone Ranger” (“The Lone Ranger” #38-145)
After the first 37 issues just reprinted the Lone Ranger comic strip, writer Paul S. Newman and Tom Gill came in to do the first all-new Lone Ranger comic stories, and they did a great job for over a decade. Gill’s work, in particular, stood out, especially since Gill rarely, if ever, left New York. He famously noted that his impressive ability to draw realistic horses was learned from a $1 “How to Draw Horses” book.
Paul Levitz on “Legion of Super-Heroes” (“Legion of Super-Heroes” ##281-313, “Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes” #314-325, “Legion of Super-Heroes” #1-63)
Paul Levitz had had a short run on the “Legion of Super-Heroes” a few years before he took over, and even in that short run he showed a glimpse of what was to come, with his intricate plotting and layered storytelling. When he finally got a chance to do the book full-time, he took that approach — and did an even better job. Working initially with artist (and eventually co-plotter) Keith Giffen, Levitz took his large cast and used them to make the book feel like almost a space soap opera, with all of the character interactions taking center stage (while of course having a lot of great action, as well).
As the series re-launched as a direct market book in the mid-1980s, Levitz slowly made the book more and more adult. By the time Giffen returned to the title (he had left after the first story arc in the relaunched series), the book was very adult in nature. Once the series ended, Giffen would pick the story up, launching it five years into the future and going even darker, but it is worth noting that the final year or so of Levitz’s Legion was fairly dark in and of itself. But it was an earned darkness. Levitz clearly knew these characters well and he developed them to the point where obviously conflicts were going to arise and the fascinating thing was watching the conflicts boil to the surface and see how these long-time “super friends” could handle what was thrown at them.
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby on “Fantastic Four” (“Fantastic Four” #1-102, Annuals #1-6)
The series that launched the “Marvel Age” of comics, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby worked together on “Fantastic Four” from 1961 until 1970, when Kirby left Marvel to work at DC for a few years. During their time together on “Fantastic Four,” they introduced so many new characters that it is nearly impossible to count — but let’s try! Besides the members of the FF themselves (Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Girl, Human Torch and the Thing), the pages of “Fantastic Four” saw the introduction of Doctor Doom, Silver Surfer, Galactus, Black Panther, the Skrulls, the Inhumans and many more brilliant additions to the Marvel Universe.
Gaylord DuBois on “Roy Rogers Comics” (“Roy Rogers Comics” #1-108)
For over a decade Gaylord DuBois regaled young readers with his western adventures starring the famed movie cowboy, Roy Rogers.
John Buscema on “Conan the Barbarian” (“Conan the Barbarian” #26-126, “Conan Annual” #2-7, “Giant-Size Conan” #2)
A comic book adaptation of “Conan the Barbarian” was clearly right up John Buscema’s alley, but when Marvel was given the opportunity to do a comic book based on Robert E. Howard’s hero, they were unsure that it would be a success. Therefore, they did not want to pay Buscema’s higher page rate for a book that might very well be a flop. Well, after 25 issues of Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith goodness, Marvel knew it had a hit on its hands, and when Smith departed, Buscema was given the chance to work on the comic he was born to draw.
ROUGHLY 110 ISSUES
Craig Boldman and Rex Lindsey on “Jughead” (“Archie’s Pal Jughead” #89-201)
Craig Boldman and Rex Lindsey began working together on “Archie’s Pal, Jughead” with issue #89, which introduced Jughead’s rival (and perhaps love interest) Trula Twyst and the pair worked together on the title with only minor interruptions through “Jughead’s” 200th issue. Alex Simmons came in to write a four-parter that broke Boldman’s run up, but Lindsey remained on the title.
Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley on “Ultimate Spider-Man” (“Ultimate Spider-Man” #1-111)
Probably the most fascinating thing about Mark Bagley’s 111-issue run on “Ultimate Spider-Man” is the fact that Bagley only intended to stay on the book for a single arc or two. He had already had a long stint on “Amazing Spider-Man,” so he was not looking to do another long Spider-Man run, but he ended up enjoying the book so much that he stayed on the title for 111 issues! Credit has to go to writer Brian Michael Bendis, who made the series so compelling that both Bagley and readers wanted to stick around to see what Bendis would come up with next, whether it be a great new take on Mary Jane Watson or the introduction of Kitty Pryde as Peter Parker’s girlfriend! Bendis has remained on the title after Bagley’s departure, while Bagley would return to finish the story of Ultimate Peter Parker in “Ultimate Spider-Man” #153-160.
ROUGHLY 112 ISSUES
Dan Parent on “Veronica” (“Veronica” #100-212)
Dan Parent likely started a little bit before “Veronica” #100, but for the sake of ease, I’ll just act as if he began his run there. Since then, he has been the primary writer and artist on the title and he has introduced a number of fascinating concepts, including guest appearances from the singing group The Veronicas (complete with a download code for an MP3 of a Veronicas song) and the introduction of the first gay teen in the Archie universe, Kevin Keller (when “Veronica” came to a close in 2012, Parent went over to a new ongoing series starring Kevin Keller that Parent writes and draws).
Sal Buscema on “Incredible Hulk” (“Incredible Hulk” #194-309)
Sal Buscema’s stint on “Incredible Hulk” is rather remarkable when you consider that he worked with three distinct writers. Usually, editors try to pair new writers with new artists to make the change in direction more evident, but with the Hulk, while writers like Len Wein, Roger Stern and Bill Mantlo all made their mark on the title, Sal Buscema was constant on the art duties.
Jack Cole on “Plastic Man” (“Police Comics” #1-90, “Plastic Man” #1-26)
Jack Cole was one of the most inventive artists of the Golden Age, and he really went hogwild with his creation, Plastic Man, within the pages of “Police Comics” and Plastic Man’s own title.
Plastic Man could basically become anything — so that gave an artist as creative as Cole a lot of freedom to draw basically whatever he wanted to draw, so he would use Plastic Man to tell all sorts of bizarre, slapstick-y stories that hold up surprisingly well to this day.
ROUGHLY 117 ISSUES
Dick Dillin on “Justice League of America” (“Justice League of America” #64-183)
Similar to Sal Buscema above, Dick Dillin’s extraordinary run on “Justice League of America” (remember, this is a team book. Rarely do artists last that long on team books. They’re notoriously annoying to draw, since there are so many different characters in each issue) stands out even more when you realize how drastically different the writers were during his run. He began the series working with Gardner Fox, but before long he was working with a variety of young writers like Denny O’Neil, Mike Friedrich, Len Wein, Steve Englehart and Gerry Conway. Each of those writers brought a tremendously different approach to the title, and yet Dillin was able to adapt to each writer’s style as well as the changing times itself. Dillin managed to keep the book looking current even though he had been on the book for nearly two decades when he tragically passed away from a heart attack while working on #184. Think about it — he took over from Mike Sekowsky and was followed by George Perez. Talk about two different generations of artists! And yet Dillin was able to bridge the gap between generations beautifully.
ROUGHLY 120 ISSUES
Rex Lindsey on “Jughead” (“Archie’s Pal, Jughead” #89-214)
As noted earlier, Lindsey stayed on the title as the artist even when Boldman took an arc off, remaining on the book until it ended in 2012.
Chuck Dixon on “Robin” (“Robin” #1-5, “Robin II: The Joker’s Wild” #1-4, “Robin III: Cry of the Huntress” #1-6, “Robin” #1-100, “Robin Annual” #2-6, “Robin 80-Page Giant” #1)
In a recent poll at Comics Should Be Good, readers were asked to pick their favorite Tim Drake stories. Overwhelmingly, they chose stories written by Chuck Dixon who essentially owned the character throughout the 1990s, from Drake’s introduction until Dixon finally left the series in 2000. First, Dixon wrote three successful miniseries starring Robin, and just when it seemed like Robin might be stuck in that sort of “just good enough to star in miniseries” state, Dixon launched a successful ongoing series that lasted nearly 200 issues. Dixon created an engaging supporting cast for Tim, including one of Dixon’s greatest creations, the wannabe superhero Spoiler, who soon became Robin’s girlfriend.
Roy Thomas on “Conan the Barbarian” (“Conan the Barbarian” #1-115, “Giant-Size Conan” #1-5, “Conan Annual” #1-7)
Roy Thomas worked hard to get Marvel to agree to do comics based on Robert E. Howard’s Conan character, and Thomas was proven right when the series became a massive success. Thomas stayed with the series until he left Marvel in 1980.
Tom DeFalco on “Spider-Girl” (“Spider-Girl” #1-100, “Amazing Spider-Girl” #1-30, “Spectacular Spider-Girl” #1-4)
The little book that could, “Spider-Girl” spun out of a “What If…?” story that Tom DeFalco did with Ron Frenz about what would have happened if Spider-Man’s daughter had lived. It showed a future world where Spider-Man’s daughter May Parker becomes a superhero herself to pick up where her father Peter (now retired) had left off. The idea got itself its own title, part of a line of future comics. The line collapses but somehow “Spider-Girl” kept going.
It was canceled something like 1,634 times, but it kept getting reprieves, as DeFalco’s tales of a young teenager girl resonated with readers and it gave Marvel something they really didn’t have otherwise — a strong comic book starring a female character (well, at least the times when She-Hulk was also canceled Marvel did not have another good book starring a female character). DeFalco is excellent when it comes to handling teen dynamics and Spider-Girl was a realistic portrayal of teendom, while also being a fun for the whole family type of all-ages book that we see too few of nowadays. After a remarkable 134 issues, the book finally came to a close a few years back.
Gaylord DuBois on “The Lone Ranger” (“The Lone Ranger” #11-145)
This is an odd one, since DuBois did not actually write the main series. However, he wrote a back-up series called “Little Hawk,” about a Native-American in the days before Columbus. The back-up series lasted 134 issues.
Peter David on “Incredible Hulk” (“Incredible Hulk” #331-467, “Incredible Hulk Annual” #16-20
What was probably most consistent about Peter David’s run on “Incredible Hulk” was that there was no consistency to the series. David was constantly taking the book in different directions, and it made for an eventful ride for readers. When he took over the book in 1986, the book was in the middle of a storyline, but David picked it up without missing a beat, and soon turned the book into a sort of odd road trip book, with Bruce Banner, Rick Jones and Clay Quartermain traveling together. At this time, the Hulk had become grey again, appearing at night rather than when Banner became angry.
After an encounter with the Leader, the Hulk was feared dead, but he soon popped up in Las Vegas, working as a bouncer named Joe Fixit. Eventually, Hulk hit the road again, and Dale Keown joined the book. He and David combined for an impressive run together, and during this run, David made probably his biggest change to the comic, having Doc Samson merge the various Hulk personalities (Banner, Grey Hulk and Green Hulk) together to form one powerful green Hulk whose personality was controlled by Banner.
Mark Gruenwald on “Captain America” (“Captain America” #307-443, “Captain America Annual” #8, 10, 12)
Mark Gruenwald came to “Captain America” in an interesting way: Mike Carlin was writing the book and Gruenwald was editing the title. Then, “The Thing” needed an editor, so Gruenwald took over editing “The Thing” and brought Carlin over to write it, leaving “Captain America” available. Gruenwald then had Carlin take over as editor of “Captain America,” with Gruenwald writing the title. Gruenwald stayed on the book for about eight years, writing well over a hundred issues of the title.
His run included the introduction of a number of new supporting characters, such as Diamondback, US Agent and Demolition Man. A big part of Gruenwald’s “manifesto,” as it were, for his run on Cap was to introduce new villains for Cap, and while the Serpent Society really has not endured much past Gruenwald’s own run, Crossbones has been a successful villain, still having an important role in the Captain America title today. Gruenwald also wrote a story where Steve Rogers was replaced as Captain America by John Walker, who would later become US Agent while Diamondback became Captain America’s girlfriend. Gruenwald ended his run by having Captain America’s Super Soldier Serum turn against him, and he appeared to have died in Gruenwald’s last issue.
ROUGHLY 140 ISSUES
Robert Kanigher on “Star Spangled War Stories” (“Star Spangled War Stories” #22-164)
Like many other DC war comics, “Star Spangled War Stories” began life as a typical war anthology, with new adventures featuring new characters each issue. Like the other DC war comics, it eventually decided to feature a recurring lead character. Unlike the other titles, though, who settled on a lead feature and stuck with it, “Star Spangled War Stories” was all over the place before found its leading man. First off, Mlle. Marie got a shot at the lead feature. Her stint was very short-lived. “The War That Time Forgot,” which pitted soldiers against dinosaurs and the like, proved more successful, running from #90-137. Then Enemy Ace, about a German pilot during World War I, became the lead.
With #151, though, Kanigher and Joe Kubert brought over a character that they had invented over in “Our Army At War” — the Unknown Soldier. The Unknown Soldier became the lead feature in the title from #151 until the title was re-named “Unknown Soldier” with #205. It remained that way until it was canceled with #268. Despite the book starring one of his creations, Kanigher took a break on the book with #164. He returned to the title a few times over the years, but never for extended runs.
Jesse Marsh on “Tarzan” (“Tarzan” #1-153)
After leaving Walt Disney Studios in 1948, where he had worked on a number of Disney films, Jesse Marsh went to work for Western Publishing as the first artist to create new Tarzan comic books (until then, they just reprinted the comic strip). His partnership with writer Gaylord DuBois started with issue #2 of the Tarzan series in 1948 and did not cease until Marsh had to retire due to poor health in 1965 with #153. By then, the series had changed publishers and yet DuBois and Marsh were a constant (Whitman had a distribution deal with Dell Comics, but eventually decided to put the comics out themselves under their Gold Key line of comics). When Marsh passed away in 1966, he left behind a remarkable legacy of seemingly simple yet deceptively complex artwork that inspired legions of future comic book greats, including his successor on the title, Russ Manning.
ROUGHLY 170 ISSUES
Stan Lee on “Millie the Model” (“Millie the Model” #18-189)
“Millie the Model” was one of the few humor magazines that Stan Lee actually had an extended run on. Obviously, he worked on all of them, but he started a bit later on the other ones. “Millie the Model,” though, he got in a lot earlier, working with artist Dan DeCarlo for a memorable run that segued into an even longer run with Stan Goldberg. It was on “Millie the Model” that Stan Goldberg began to draw in the style of Dan DeCarlo.
173 ISSUES AND COUNTING
Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier on Sergio Aragones’ “Groo the Wanderer” (“Groo the Wanderer” #1-8, “Groo the Wanderer Special” #1, “Groo the Wanderer” #1-120, “The Death of Groo,” “The Life of Groo,” “Groo” #1-12, “Groo” #1-4, “Groo & Rufferto” #1-4, “Groo Mightier than the Sword” #1-4, “Groo Death & Taxes” #1-4, “Groo 25th Anniversary Special,” “Groo Hell on Earth” #1-4 and Groo The Hogs of Horder” #1-4)
Like “Cerebus,” “Groo the Wanderer” began life as a parody of Conan the Barbarian, only Groo actually stayed that way. The brainchild of legendary “MAD Magazine” cartoonist Sergio Aragones, “Groo” (which is co-plotted and drawn by Aragones and scripted by Mark Evanier) depicts the dim-witted Groo, the most feared swordsman on the planet, but also one of the most accident-prone humans on the planet. He wanders the globe, unintentionally causing havoc wherever he goes. After nine issues between two independent comic book companies, Aragones and Evanier settled in for a 120-issue stint at Marvel Comics. The pair has continued to work on the character on occasion since 1996, most recently with Dark Horse Comics.
Dick Dillin on “Blackhawk” (“Blackhawk” #64-241)
If Justice League fans were impressed with Dick Dillin’s “Iron Man” run, they would be even more impressed with his even longer stint on “Blackhawk.” Dillin was around when Blackhawk was first introduced by Quality in the 1940s and he eventually picked up the main gig with issue #64. When the title was purchased by DC Comics, they had no reason to mess with the great work Dillin was doing on the title, so he just kept on keeping on, drawing the series almost all the way until it was canceled by DC Comics in the early 1970s. What I am unclear about is whether his collaborator, writer Dick Wood, made the transition to DC with Dillin. I can’t find any record of it. So Dick Wood very easily could be featured on this list, as well. I just don’t know.
ROUGHLY 178 ISSUES
Larry Hama on “G.I. Joe” (“G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” #1-155, “G.I. Joe: Special Missions” #1-28)
For a generation of readers, their introduction to comic books was through Larry Hama’s “G.I. Joe” comic books, based on the ultra-popular toy line (complete with hit TV series). Hama was involved on both ends. He would create the personalities for the action figures and then he would write them in the comics with interesting adventures that would give kids a much greater attachment to the “lives” of their toys than any toy line ever before. Hama is currently doing an excellent job with a series for IDW where he picked up where he left off at Marvel. He’s up to “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” #186 now.
180 ISSUES AND COUNTING
Brian Michael Bendis on “Ultimate Spider-Man” (“Ultimate Spider-Man” #1-133, “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” #1-15, “Ultimate Spider-Man” #150-160, “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” #1-current (#20))
As noted earlier, Brian Michael Bendis continued on “Ultimate Spider-Man” without Mark Bagley. First Stuart Immonen handled the art duties. Then Bendis relaunched the title as “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” with artist David Lafuente, where the stories took on an almost team book quality as Aunt May took in teen heroes Iceman and Human Torch (as well as Gwen Stacy, who was already living with May and Peter). Eventually, Bendis had Peter Parker die in battle. Bendis then relaunched the title again with artist Sara Pichelli, now starring a brand new hero, Miles Morales, who also had gained superpowers from a spider that was genetically engineered in a similar fashion to the one that bit Peter Parker.
185 ISSUES AND COUNTING
Bill Willingham on “Fables” (“Fables” #1-125, “Jack of Fables” #1-50, “The Literals” #1-3, “Fairest” #1-6, “Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall,” “Fables: The Last Castle” and “Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland”)
“Fables” is Bill Willingham’s epic story concerning the adventures of the inhabitants of Fabletown, all characters who come from fairy tales and folklore, like Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, Little Red Riding Hood, etc.
They live in Fabletown because they were driven out of the magical world that they used to live in (called the Homelands), by an evil villain known as the Adversary, who has conquered most of the Homelands. The early stories followed mostly Snow White, who was the aide to the Mayor of Fabletown (Old King Cole) and Bigby Wolf (the Big Bad Wolf), who was the Sheriff of Fabletown, and their Sam and Diane relationship.
While the storylines of the book result in the basic framework of the comic, the key to the book is the character work that writer Bill Willingham does with the characters. Willingham slowly develops characters, and moves them from small roles to big roles without any real warning, so pretty much every character in Fables could be considered the star of the book.
187 ISSUES AND COUNTING
Erik Larsen on “Savage Dragon” (“Savage Dragon” #1-3, “Savage Dragon” #1-current (#184))
One of the founding members of Image Comics, Erik Larsen created the character who would ultimately become the Savage Dragon while still in elementary school. Over the years, Larsen would re-conceive the character a number of times before finally landing on a superstrong green-skinned alien with amnesia and a big fin on his head. In his series (which began in 1993 and is still published today), Dragon began to work for the Chicago police department and he has had over-the-top adventures ever since, with Larsen taking him to different worlds, realities and even a run at the White House (Larsen memorably had Dragon endorse Barack Obama in 2008).
Amusingly, early on in the series, the Image founders did one month where each creator would work on a different founder’s title. So Larsen wrote and drew Jim Lee’s “WildC.A.Ts” #14 in Fall 1994 while Jim Lee drew “Savage Dragon” #13. However, Larsen eventually realized he did not like the idea of his run being broken up like that, so less than a year later; he wrote and drew his own “Savage Dragon” #13, maintaining his consecutive issue streak.
ROUGHLY 188 ISSUES
Robert Kanigher’s second stint on “Our Army at War”/”Sgt. Rock” (“Our Army at War” #228-301, “Sgt. Rock” #302-422)
After a short break soon after Joe Kubert took over as the editor of DC’s war comics, Kanigher returned to “Our Army at War” and its lead character, Sgt. Rock, to tell stories featuring Rock and Easy Company all the way through the end of the series, by which time it had been renamed “Sgt. Rock” for over a hundred issues.
194 ISSUES AND COUNTING
Jolly Blackburn on “Knights of the Dinner Table” (“Knights of the Dinner Table” #1-current (#194))
What began as just a series of comic strips meant to amuse other role playing gamers has become one of the longest-running comic book titles around. Jolly Blackburn’s tales of a group of role playing friends and their misadventures have amused gamer and non-gamers (okay, mostly gamers) for nearly twenty years!
ROUGHLY 195 ISSUES
Bill Finger on “Batman” (“Batman” #1-170, “Detective Comics” #27-71)
The almost unknown co-creator of Batman, Bill Finger at least was given the assignment of writing the Dark Knight’s adventures for decades. He co-created many other famous characters during his time on the book, as well. Everyone from Robin to the Joker to Catwoman to Penguin to Two-Face to the Riddler, they all appeared first during Bill Finger’s tenure on the Bat-books.
Brian Michael Bendis on the “Avengers” (“Avengers” #500-503, “New Avengers” #1-64, “Mighty Avengers” #1-20, “Dark Avengers” #1-16, “Avengers” #1-34, “New Avengers” #1-34, “Avengers Assemble” #1-8, “Avengers Finale,” “New Avengers Finale,” “Avengers Prime” #1-5, “New Avengers: Illuminati” #1-5, “New Avengers Annual” #1-3, “Dark Avengers Annual” #1, “Dark Reign: The List — Avengers” #1, “New Avengers Annual” #1, “Avengers Annual” #1)
One of the fascinating aspects of Brian Michael Bendis’ eight-year run on the Avengers franchise is how much he “put the pieces back together” before he left. Among the many changes he did to characters, almost all of them were reversed by the time he finished his run. Instead, when Bendis leaves the titles, it will be mostly his addiions that will be remembered, like the way that he transformed one of Marvel’s mid-level books into the biggest franchise in the entire company. It is fitting, then, that he leaves after getting to see the Avengers become one of the biggest comic book movie successes ever, something that would have seemed quite unlikely when he took over the book in 2004.
Bendis essentially blew up the original Avengers, taking them out of their comfort zone and replacing them with a new team that basically put together the most popular Marvel characters all on one team — Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man and Wolverine. Sentry, Luke Cage and Spider-Woman rounded out the roster and those last three saw their profiles significantly increased, especially Luke Cage, who Bendis clearly had a special affinity for. Bendis made the Avengers the centerpiece of the Marvel Universe, and as the Marvel Universe changed over the years, so did the Avengers.
Robert Kanigher on “Wonder Woman” (“Wonder Woman” #32-176, “Sensation Comics” #60-106, “Comics Cavalcade” #23-28)
After William Moulton Marston died, Robert Kanigher took over “Wonder Woman” and eventually took over the Wonder Woman feature in “Sensation Comics” (Joyce Murchison had a short stint before Kanigher took over “Sensation” fully). Kanigher’s tenure opened with stories that were still basically influenced by Marston’s stories (especially with H.G. Peter on art) but after Ross Andru and Mike Esposito took over the art on Wonder Woman, Kanigher took the title in his own unique direction. He famously invented the idea of the “Impossible Story,” where Wonder Woman would team up with herself as a toddler and as a young teen. Eventually, Kanigher re-tooled the book to keep up with the 1960s but soon he was replaced on the title as incoming writer/artist Mike Sewkowsy took the title in a drastically different direction.
Chris Claremont on “X-Men” (“Uncanny X-Men” #94-279, “X-Men Annual” #3-14, “X-Men/Alpha Flight” #1-2 “X-Men” #1-3)
The feat that Chris Claremont achieved with the X-Men is truly remarkable. He took a middling book that was not even monthly when he began writing it (heck, it had recently been in reprints!) and turned it into the most popular comic book franchise in all of comics. Nearly all of the characters he began writing in #94 have become comic book icons, but none greater than Wolverine, who became one of the most popular comic book characters, ever. Claremont also co-created a number of famous characters during his run, like Kitty Pryde, Emma Frost, Rogue and Gambit.
Perhaps Claremont’s greatest skill was his ability to get the most out of the artists he worked with, with every one helping to change the book a bit, whether it was John Byrne (who actually co-plotted most of his run with Claremont), Dave Cockrum (who also co-plotted the book), Paul Smith, John Romita Jr., Marc Silvestri or Jim Lee (also a co-plotter), Claremont geared the book to his artists’ strengths and the end result was a book that was particularly capable of surviving shifts in the comic book marketplace, maintaining its position as the top title for decades.
203 ISSUES AND COUNTING
Stan Sakai on “Usagi Yojimbo” (“Usagi Yojimbo” #1-38, “Space Usagi” #1-3, “Usagi Yojimbo Color Special” #1-2, “Usagi Yojimbo” #1-16, “Usagi Yojimbo” #1-current (#144))
An anthropomorphic bunny ronin, Miyamoto Usagi wanders 17th Century Japan, often working as a bodyguard (or “Yojimbo,” hence the title). Besides well-developed storylines and strong artwork, Sakai uses his title to educate readers about the history and culture of Japan, leading to the series receiving a Parent’s Choice Award in 1990 for the way Sakai weaves in fascinating facts and legends into his stories. Sakai began work on “Usagi Yojimbo” in 1987. The current volume began in 1996 for Dark Horse Comics. Since Sakai owns the character, he has loaned him out to appear in other works, most memorably the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series.
Gaylord DuBois on “Tarzan” (“Tarzan” #2-206)
As mentioned in the Jesse Marsh piece, DuBois picked up the Tarzan series with the second issue and wrote it for the next 205 issues, taking over the series all the way until DC Comics picked up the license in the early 1970s (Joe Kubert wanted to write and draw the series, so DuBois was out of luck).
Marv Wolfman on the “New Teen Titans” (“New Teen Titans” #1-40, “Tales of the Teen Titans” #41-58, “New Teen Titans” #1-49, “New Titans” #50-130, “Tales of the New Teen Titans” #1-3, “New Teen Titans Annual” #1-2, “Tales of the Teen Titans Annual” #3-4, “New Teen Titans Annual” #1-4, “New Titans Annual” #5-11, “Titans Sell-Out Special,” “New Titans” #0)
In 1980, Marv Wolfman left Marvel for DC and one of the first things he did was re-launch the Teen Titans, a series he had done some work on for DC in the past. Working with artist (and co-plotter) George Perez, Wolfman’s fresh look at the lives of young heroes took many by surprise. Wolfman’s realistic character interactions and Perez’s intricate and dynamic artwork made the New Teen Titans a surprise smash success. The book launched a new direct market-only series in the mid-1980s. This series eventually was re-named “New Titans” (as the heroes were no longer teens). Tom Grummett took over from George Perez for a memorable run on the series, coinciding with a drastic new lineup for the Titans. After DC’s Zero Hour event, Wolfman took one last shot at drastically revamping the lineup, jettisoning most of the classic Titans and replacing them with a mix of then-current DC young heroes, like Impulse, Damage and Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner). The series ended in 1996, nearly two decades after Wolfman introduced the title.
216 ISSUES AND COUNTING
Fred Perry on “Gold Digger” (“Gold Digger” #1-4, “Gold Digger” #1-50, “Gold Digger” #1-current (#145), “Gold Digger Annual” #1-current (#17))
Fred Perry has been writing and drawing “Gold Digger” for nearly two decades. The feature stars Gina Babette Diggers, a sort of super-archaeologist who travels all over the globe and well beyond it (heck, she is rarely even constrained by our own dimension) in search of adventures.
ROUGHLY 217 ISSUES
Robert Kanigher’s first stint on “Our Army at War” (“Our Army At War” #1-220)
“Our Army at War” was one of the many DC war anthologies Kanigher produced work for, though this one soon showed itself to be a bit special when it gained a new lead feature, DC’s most famous war character, Sgt. Rock and his band of misfit soldiers known as Easy Company. Kanigher helped define the prototypical war hero with his work on Rock and Easy Company.
H.G. Peter on “Wonder Woman” (“Sensation Comics” #1-106, “Wonder Woman” #1-97, “Comics Cavalcade” #1-28)
Simply put, for the first eighteen years of her existence, there was only one Wonder Woman artist of any note: Harry George Peter. That’s really all that you need to know. He drew all but a handful of Wonder Woman’s appearances in every comic she was appearing in (we’re talking three different series, here) for nearly two decades.
Gerhard on “Cerebus” (“Cerebus” #65-300)
With “Cerebus” #65, Dave Sim added artist Gerhard to the groundbreaking series. Sim would concentrate on just drawing the foreground figures while Gerhard would draw the intricate backgrounds. The pair continued this set-up for the next 235 issues.
ROUGHLY 237 ISSUES
Robert Kanigher on “G.I. Combat” (“G.I. Combat” #44-288)
“G.I. Combat” was originally a Quality comic, one of the few titles that DC just continued publishing from wherever the last issue left off when it absorbed the publisher and its properties. It was another one of DC’s standard war anthologies until it, too, began featuring a recurring lead feature. In the case of “G.I. Combat,” the lead feature became the tales of the Haunted Tank, the small tank in World War II who is haunted (and thus protected) by the spirit of 19th-century Confederate general J.E.B. Stuart. While you would think that you could only get a certain amount of adventures out of such a concept, Kanigher was able to keep it going for almost two hundred issues. The series did not end until 1987!
Otto Binder on “Captain Marvel” (“Captain Marvel Adventures” #6-150, “The Marvel Family” #1-87)
Working pretty much exclusively with the main Captain Marvel artist, C.C. Beck, Otto Binder soon made a name for himself as the primary Marvel Family writer, co-creating such famous characters as Mary Marvel, Uncle Dudley, Mr. Tawky Tawny, Black Adam and Mr. Mind.
ROUGHLY 250 ISSUES
Wayne Boring on Various Superman titles from 1950-1961
Before Curt Swan became the Superman artist, the honor fell to Wayne Boring. He never completed 100 consecutive issues of either “Action Comics” or “Superman,” but he drew one or the other every month for roughly 11 years before he was phased out in the 1960s.
Al Plastino on Various Superman titles from 1955-1972
Even as Curt Swan took over as the dominant Superman artist, Al Plastino, who had done Superman work as early as the late 1940s, held his own for a time as the alternate Superman artist. First he was Wayne Boring’s alternate (f Boring didn’t draw an issue, Plastino likely did) and then he was Swan’s. The Superman titles made it hard for an artist to build up a consecutive issue streak since they parceled the work out not based on title, but on where they needed some pages. You were just as likely to end up in an issue of “Action Comics” as you were to end up in an issue of “Superman.”
ROUGHLY 263 ISSUES
Sheldon Moldoff on “Batman” (“Batman” #81-203, “Detective Comics” #213-372)
The steadiest of all of the Bob Kane ghosts, Moldoff worked on the Bat-books as “Bob Kane” for decades. You might note that another notable Kane ghost, Dick Sprang, did not make the list. While he certainly had the volume, unlike the other artists on this list Sprang had large gaps of time where he drew no Batman stories, neither “Detective” nor “Batman,” so he did not qualify for this particular list.
Dave Sim on “Cerebus” (“Cerebus” #1-300)
Originally a satire of Conan the Barbarian, this tale of an anthropomorphic aardvark soon moved past superhero parody and on to intricate satirical examinations of politics and religion. Writer/artist Dave Sim began the book in 1977. In 1979, Sim declared that he would continue on the book until issue #300, which would be published in March 2004. That is exactly what happened.
C.C. Beck on “Captain Marvel” (“Whiz Comics” #2-94, Captain Marvel Adventures #6-150, The Marvel Family #1-87)
C.C. Beck was the original artist on “Captain Marvel” and defined the character’s look as the Captain and the Marvel Family became one of the most successful comic book franchises of the 1940s.
ROUGHLY 350 ISSUES
Samm Schwartz on various Archie Comics from 1960-1987
Samm Schwartz would be much higher on this list except that after starting at Archie Comics in the late 1940s and serving there for a while, he went to work for some other companies. His initial stint might actually qualify for the 100 issue marker, as well, however, we’re not clear on the details. When he returned in the 1960s, he stayed until his retirement in the late 1980s. He was responsible for “Jughead,” which he drew for roughly 300 straight issues. Even after the title was relaunched with a new artist, Schwartz remained at Archie for close to a year before retiring.
Curt Swan on Various Superman titles from 1960-1986
Curt Swan’s first work on the Superman titles began in the pages of “World’s Finest” and “Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen.” Soon, Swan became the main Superman artist, drawing at least one story featuring Superman pretty much every month from 1960 until the Man of Steel reboot in 1986. If he wasn’t drawing an issue of “Action Comics,” he was drawing an issue of “Superman.” If he wasn’t drawing an issue of “Superman,” he was drawing an issue of “Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane” or “Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen.” You get the picture. Even after the reboot, Swan kept busy (he did the Superman feature in “Action Comics Weekly”).
ROUGHLY 500 ISSUES
Stan Goldberg on Various Archie Comics from 1968-present
Similarly, Stan Goldberg would be even higher on this list if he had not spent so many years working at Marvel Comics on their Millie the Model and Patsy Walker comics. He did not join Archie full-time until the late 1960s, but he has been working steadily for them ever since, including being the main artist on the flagship Archie title for well over a hundred issues.
ROUGHLY 600 ISSUES
Dan DeCarlo on Various Archie Comics from 1958-2001
Goldberg’s mentor, Dan DeCarlo, started working for Archie Comics in the late 1950s and remained there until the publisher fired him in 2001 due to a copyright dispute over the creation of Josie (of Josie and the Pussycats fame). DeCarlo believed he created the character and sold it to Archie, Archie believed he did it as a work for hire. DeCarlo passed away that same year. It is a shame that that is how DeCarlo’s legacy ended at Archie Comics, as he was clearly the most influential artist in the history of the company. His particular art style because the house style for Archie Comics. That is pretty remarkable when you consider the fact that the Archie character had already been around for nearly two decades by the time that DeCarlo began working on them, and yet his style was so dominant that everyone had to mold their styles to fit him. The aforementioned Stan Golberg, for instance, has been drawing in DeCarlo’s style for over 50 years now!
Carl Barks on Various Disney Comics from 1943-1968
After leaving Disney Studios, where he worked as an animator, Carl Barks settled down for a long, impressive career as a comic book artist for Disney comic books. For the next two and a half decades, he would work on a wide variety of comic books, mostly starring either Donald Duck, Donald’s nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie and two of Barks’ own creations, the oddball inventor Gyro Gearloose and the irascible billionaire, Uncle Scrooge McDuck. Barks was so striking during his time working at Disney comics that despite the books carrying no credits, Barks was known around the world as simply “The good Duck artist.” His fame only grew once people figured out his name.
ROUGHLY 800 ISSUES
Frank Doyle on Various Archie Comics from 1951-1996
After initially trying his lot as a writer and an artist for places like Fiction House and other companies, Frank Doyle eventually realized his talents were more on the writing side of things than as an artist. So in 1951, he began working for Archie Comics full-time as a writer and by the end of the decade he was the main writer at Archie, a role he would maintain until the late 1980s, when his output slowed down in the years before his death.
Right up until his death, though, he was still writing new stories every month. His final Betty and Veronica story was published posthumously. Figuring out exactly how many issues Doyle wrote is difficult, just note that 800 issues is a very rough (and likely low) estimate. He was the regular writer for Archie’s flagship titles of “Archie” and “Betty and Veronica” for decades. He especially enjoyed writing action-oriented stories and he was the one who developed the superhero versions of Archie and the gang that have endured for so many years (Pureheart the Powerful, etc.).
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