Our every four years countdown of your all-time favorite comic book writers and artists continues!
Here are the next five artists that you voted as your favorites of all-time (out of roughly 1,008 ballots cast, with 10 points for first place votes, 9 points for second place votes, etc.).
20. J.H. Williams III – 613 poitns (5 first place votes)
J.H. Williams III first worked on a few small comic companies in the early 1990s, then got his first somewhat major project for Milestone Comics, drawing Deathwish (looking at the pages now, you can barely tell it is Williams). The Williams we all know and love developed over a few short stints on various books for DC (paired with inker Mick Gray) before the duo drew the short-lived (but acclaimed) series Chase with writer D. Curtis Johnson.
Then the duo were chosen to work on Alan Moore's Promethea. Williams started off amazing on Promethea, but by the time the series ended, he was on a whole other level and was now pretty much using the style he is currently known for.
Williams drew the bookends of Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers event and then drew the Batwoman feature on Detective Comics with Greg Rucka, which ultimately led to Williams writing and drawing Batwoman's own ongoing series for a few years.
Look at the stunning opening people had to the first issue of Batwoman's Detective Comics feature...
The design work! The power! The creativity! The fluidity! The storytelling! It's an astonishing piece of work and that's just a typical piece of work by Williams. That's just "everyday" J.H. Williams! That's how amazing he is. His most recent major project was a Sandman miniseries with Neil Gaiman.
19. Jim Steranko – 629 points (6 first place votes)
A student of comic book history, Jim Steranko is the type of guy who looks at a situation and when he is told, "This is the way we always do things" he counters, "Well, why not do THIS instead?" A solid character artist, Steranko's greatest strength has always been his stunning layouts. His layouts are sharp and clever TODAY - back in the late 1960s they were downright revolutionary. Here is the classic sequence from Captain America #113 where the Avengers and Nick Fury have been captured by Hyrda after attending Cap's funeral (at least they THINK he's dead). As it turns out, though, Cap is not dead and he's coming back to just in time to save his friends in some of the most stunning pages of the era...
This was after Steranko had already made a name for himself on Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., particularly in his willingness to experiment with stuff like psychedelia in his comics.
The crazy thing is that pretty much Steranko's entire Marvel career took place in about four three years (not counting a pair of assignments in the early 1970s) and yet he was so amazing that he is still remembered as one of Marvel's greatest artists.
18. Todd McFarlane – 693 points (12 first place votes)
If you had to pick the three artists who most defined the look of Spider-Man, obviously Steve Ditko is one of them (since he, you know, created the look of Spider-Man) and then John Romita, for the changes he made to the book after he took over from Ditko that defined the look of Spider-Man for years, but Todd McFarlane is clearly the third. From the moment he took over Amazing Spider-Man with issue #298 (after a run on Incredible Hulk, which, in turn, followed a stint at DC Comics on a few projects, like Infinity Inc.), the dynamic designs of McFarlane wowed comic book fans and literally changed how Spider-Man would be drawn from that point on.
From the little things (like drawing Spider-Man's web line thicker) to the larger things (drawing Spider-Man as almost a contortionist in the air), McFarlane's designs defined an entire generation of Spider-Man comic books.
Not just his character design work (which led to Venom becoming the breakout character that he was - without McFarlane's design of Venom, with the spooky teeth, it is doubtful that Venom ever would have been so famous) but the way he laid out pages. He broke free of the traditional panel arrangement that most Spider-Man artists were using at the time and made the stories seem to fill to the edge of the page.
What people now forget is just how TIMELY McFarlane was on Amazing Spider-Man. There is a good chance that the momentum of his artwork would not have had as much of an impact if he wasn't consistently delivering it on time. He penciled Amazing Spider-Man #298-323 without missing a single issue. Most remarkably about that run is that #300 was 40 pages and that #304-309 were BI-WEEKLY! In fact, it was only a second bi-weekly event that saw him miss his first issue of Amazing, as Erik Larsen stepped in to alternate issues with him for a few issues.
McFarlane then launched Spider-Man, which he wrote and drew, making it the highest-selling single comic book issue in the history of comics at the time. He wrote and drew the book from #1-14 and then a finale in #16 when he left Marvel to launch Spawn for Image Comics. He drew Spawn for another year or so before essentially retiring from interior work. He still draws a lot of covers for Spawn and other special projects, while being a major toy maker and a key part of Image Comics as a writer and a behind-the-scenes figure.