Comic art is constantly evolving. And so far, the 2010s have proved to be a decade that's left fans with more "four-color" eye candy than ever, whether you like Marvel, DC or indie comics. There's no real status quo anymore when it comes to how comic books are expected to look. Artists now have more freedom of expression and more scope to hone their craft while they work, even when they're drawing for "The Big Two".
With so much going on in the world of comic art, it's not easy to narrow down the list of great artists you can currently read. So here's a list of the Top 10 sequential artists you should be checking out - this decade at least. This list is not exhaustive by any means. But it's a great start.
9 Tyler Crook
Fans of horror comics who haven't read Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook's Harrow County from Dark Horse yet should really pick it up. Bunn's storytelling is creepy, intense and gently human, all at the same time. And it was all brought to life by Tyler Crook's moody and atmospheric watercolor brushstrokes.
Tyler also did amazing work on Dark Horse's BPRD: Hell on Earth, Oni Press's 6th Gun and Dark Horse's Bad Blood. He still produces his work without digital enhancement and every stroke reflects his unique sequential panache, with just the right amount of terror mixed into his palette.
8 Tradd Moore
The co-creator of The Strange Talent of Luther Strode and more recent contributor to the Silver Surfer mythos, Tradd Moore, creates his own unusual, often weird and psychedelic worlds that bend reality through his use of extreme perspective and hard-hitting angles.
This combined with near-perfect linework makes for images that jump off the page, hit the reader in the face (in a good way) and then pull them in. Moore is also the youngest artist on this list, meaning there's still a whole lot of time for him to evolve, even beyond the amazing work he's currently producing.
7 Adrian Alphona
This talented Canadian artist was one-half of the duo that made Runaways such a resounding success. His fine, constant line weights work incredibly well when they're complemented by a great colorist like Christina Strain, who was also a valuable contributor to Brian K Vaughn's classic series about a group of misunderstood superpowered teens who hit the road on the run from their villainous parents - now a major TV series.
While Runaways doesn't exactly fit into the 2010's category, Adrian's more recent and notable work includes Ms. Marvel and Uncanny X-Force. Uncanny X-Force signalled Adrian's return to comics in 2013 after a hiatus. He's one of the few artists who is able to tell a story effortlessly and convey emotion with sensitivity while pulling off an incredible level of detail using stark, minimalist lines.
6 Fiona Staples
Another Canadian who's wracked up some serious creative cred over the last decade, Fiona Staples burst onto the scene when she took on Brian K Vaughn's Saga - a dystopian adult sci-fi epic that pulls no punches in its dialogue or visuals. Staples is a digital artist whose straight-edged lines with a subtly comical edge have made her style instantly recognizable.
Other well-respected titles she's brought to life include Archie, T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents, and North 40. She's won numerous accolades including an Eisner, a Hugo, a British Fantasy Award, and more.
5 Dean Ormston
Ormston is a British artist who, like so many comics greats from across the pond (Brian Bolland, Glenn Fabry, Alan Moore, and many more), did a lot of work for British comics stalwart 2000AD before he started working on American comics.
His eerie, dark lines created just the right amount of suspense and shade for the likes of Judge Dredd and Harke & Burr. He also notably drew part of Neil Gaiman's final farewell to the Dream King in Sandman: The Kindly Ones from DC's Vertigo, along with a few other successful Vertigo titles. In the 2010s though, Dean Ormston's work helped craft the expressive, moody storytelling style readers have come to love in Black Hammer with Jeff Lemire.
4 Ryan Ottley
Ryan Ottley is best known for his long run on Image's Invincible with Robert Kirkman. Ryan never failed to deliver unbelievable action with his angular lines and "cartoony" sensibilities, which made Invincible an instant classic. Ryan was discovered by Kirkman on comic art forum Penciljack and the rest, as they say, is history. Ryan has now moved to Marvel and is adding his singular flair to Amazing Spider-Man - a Marvel flagship.
One of the things that's made many great comic artists stand out through the years is instantly recognizable style. And Ryan Ottley has that in droves.
3 Sean Murphy
Known for Chrononauts with incorrigible Scot, Mark Millar, Joe the Barbarian with another legendary Scot, Grant Morrison, and his own controversial creation, Punk Rock Jesus, Sean Gordon Murphy brings loose and powerful energy to every line and brushstroke. And he doesn't only create impactful, emotive artwork, Murphy is also an accomplished writer.
One of his most admired recent works is Batman: White Knight, which turns the Batman/Joker relationship completely on its head, reversing the two characters' polarity in a striking "What If?" scenario. There's something about Murphy's style that resembles a throwback to children's book illustrations from the mid-2oth century. Perhaps that's where the Murphy Magic found its roots.
2 Amanda Conner
The second woman on the list, and one of the most accomplished artists working in comics today, Amanda Conner, has been drawing sequential pages for a long time. She started out in the late 1980s, doing various assignments for Archie Comics and Marvel. Throughout her career, she's worked for many publications including the sadly departed Mad Magazine and Harris's Vampirella. Conner has also done advertising illustration and design work for the likes of Arm & Hammer, ABC's Nightline and Playskool.
Amanda is best known for her unforgettably quirky images of great DC female characters like Power Girl and Harley Quinn, who she imbues with a mischevious charm that could only be described as "the Conner Effect". This Kubert School Alumnus clearly loves her job. It's apparent in every whimsical line and every cheeky smile she draws.
1 Greg Capullo
Throughout his illustrious career, Greg Capullo has worked on the cover of the Korn album Follow the Leader, Image's Spawn, Marvel's X-Force, his own creator-owned title, Creech, and of course, Batman. Like Stuart Immonen and a few other great artists, Capullo's style has been fluid over the years. If you compare his earlier work on Spawn to his recent work on Batman: Last Knight on Earth, for example, you might not realize that both titles were drawn by the same artist, even though they both have eye-popping aesthetic appeal.
This is just one of the qualities that have made Capullo a constant in comics excellence since the '90s. And with the 2020s just around the corner, it looks like he'll probably break into that top 10 too.