47. Gail Simone – 208 points (1 first place vote)
Gail Simone's work for years has maintained a delightful balance between humorous and darkness. She basically has a way of finding the humanity in dark stories, while at the same time, having enough dark stuff happen in her work that that humanity has to work to show itself. Perhaps the best example of this approach was in her acclaimed run on Secret Six, where she had a group of supervillains working together as team, primarily Deadshot, Catman and Scandal Savage.
The key element to the series was the emotional connections that these rogues shared with each other (Bane became a major cast member in the ongoing series, as well. Other characters came and went, as well, with Simone/Scott creation Jeannette being the other longest-lasting new addition). So a scene could be filled with sweetness and sadism at the same time.
Simone is currently having great success with Domino at Marvel, where she continues that mix between light and dark with her own particular spin on Domino's luck powers. Yes, she has luck powers, but what was done to her to bring those powers about?
Little bitter and a little sweet, all mixed into a tremendous comic book tasting. It is a difficult balance to strike and it was one that Simone has struck well for years.
46. Jaime Hernandez – 214 points (3 first place votes)
Jaime Hernandez has been telling the story of his famed creation, Maggie, for over thirty years now, and what is particularly amazing to me is the way that he has been using that history to make the comics even stronger in recent years. Take the brilliant "The Love Bunglers," where Maggie gets a second chance at love with Ray, her former love interest (most famously from "The Death of Speedy Ortiz" in the early 1980s). Hernandez has done such wonderful work with Maggie over the years that we know her as well as we know any longtime friend or family member. We know how she works. We know her quirks. We know her best qualities. We know her worst qualities. And all of them are at play when she gets involved with Ray again, with both now middle-aged. Hernandez's skills are readily apparent in the control he maintains over their interactions, both with the dialogue and also his incredible skills with characterization. It's stunning, really, to see how good he was with these characters thirty years ago and yet he is even BETTER now!
That said, I can't help but also want to show off the tremendous ending of the most famous Love and Rockets story of all time, the aforementioned "The Death of Speedy Ortiz." Look at how well Hernandez wrings every possible emotion out of these pages...
Such beautifully haunting work.