33. David Aja - 371 points (1 first place vote)
Another high-riser who was not even on the 2010 extended list, Aja was already an acclaimed artist whose work was a focal feature of Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker's epic Iron Fist run (Aja's depiction of martial artistry was stunning), but obviously things kicked it up to another notch when Aja and Fraction teamed up on Hawkeye.
Aja has tried all sort of different storytelling techniques and it has been a hell of a treat to see such an accomplished artist so effortlessly mix things up with the results remaining engaging even as he experiments wildly.
His most famous experimental issue is Hawkeye #11, told from the perspective of Hawkeye's dog...
32. Dave Gibbons - 383 points (3 first place votes)
It says a lot about how amazing Dave Gibbons was on Watchmen with writer Alan Moore that it's almost thirty years later, he's done tons of excellent work since then and still that series holds such a powerful hold over readers.
The detail Gibbons put into Watchmen is legendary. There’s a sequence set in the past when the heroes were still all pretty naive (Rorschach was not even using his scary voice as of yet), and Gibbons gives us, ALL IN THE BACKGROUND, a beautiful depiction of Doctor Manhattan flirting with the Silk Spectre, all while his wife is right next to him. As the panels go by, not one doesn’t show some sort of interaction in the background of the panel – all of it is important to their characterizations, but none of it is central to the main story being delivered in those panels – so Gibbons basically was giving us two stories at once. The one Moore is telling with the speech balloons at the “front” of the panel, plus the one Gibbons is telling in the “back” of the panel through body language.
That's the sort of thing you get from Gibbons on pretty much every project he does. He isn't content with just being an excellent artist on the "main" story, his work always has those little background touches. He's such a master.
31. Fiona Staples - 384 points (8 first place votes)
I am not actually positive about this, but I'm pretty sure that this is the biggest debut of any artist or writer on the list. A big congrats to Fiona Staples to go from not placing in 2010 to nearly the top 30!! It's funny, I totally forgot that we did a spotlight on Staples back in 2009 when Frazer Irving chose her as his choice of an artist he wanted to see people pay more attention to. You got your wish, Frazer!
Staples is one half of the amazing creative team on Saga, where she and writer Brian K. Vaughan have created a number of compelling characters that we'd like to follow through a rather unvarnished fantasy world where a young couple (Alana and Marko) is on the run with their baby. Slowly but surely, Vaughan and Staples populated their world with a variety of fascinating characters. Most notable are the the bounty hunters who hunt down the couple and their child and the robot prince who is tasked with their capture, as well, in an official governmental capacity.
On Saga, Staples' designs are excellent, her character work is sublime and she is an amazing storyteller. Vaughan sure is lucky to be working with her.
Here we see Alana, Marko and their nanny try to head for a rocketship forest to find a way to get away from the people tracking them down...