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Top 25 Female Comic Book Writers #15-11

The countdown continues!

Here are the next five writers that you voted as your favorites of all-time. Click here for the master list of all of the creators listed so far.

15. Hiromu Arakawa

Hiromu Arakawa (born Hiromi Arakawa, she used the male version of her name as a pen name) broke on to the scene with the highly acclaimed short story, Stray Dog, about a bandit who bonds with a "military dog," subservient genetically mutated hybrids of dogs and humans. The story won her a lot of praise and awards. She took a lot of the themes of Stray Dogs and adapted them to her next work, the smash hit series, Fullmetal Alchemist.

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Fullmetal Alchemist starred two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, who were, well, alchemists. They controversially tried to revive their dead mother through alchemy (human transformations are seriously frowned upon), but fall afoul of the number one rule of alchemy - the Equivalent Exchange. The Exchange basically states that you don't get anything for free in alchemy, for everything you get, you must give something in return. So, in their (failed) attempt to bring their mother back to life, Alphonse loses his body and Edward loses an arm and a leg.

Edward's great skills saves Alphonse's soul, though, but Alphonse becomes ties to a giant suit of armor that belonged to the boys' father (who deserted the family when they were infants). Edward got metal replacements for his legs, and goes to work as a State Alchemist, under the codename Fullmetal Alchemist (because of his arm and leg).

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The brothers strive to find the Philosopher's Stone, the one artifact that will allow them to bypass the Exchange, and get Alphonse his body back and Edward his arm and leg. Meanwhile, of course, there are adventures to be had as Alchemists fighting crime in the city, using Ed's alchemy powers and Alphonse's super strong armored body!

Here is a sequence of Edward using his alchemy skills in action to corral a crook...

After a ten year run of massive sales and critical acclaim, she wrapped up Fullmetal Alchemist back in 2010. Arakawa soon started on her next ongoing series, which showed off her impressive range as a writer. Silver Spoon is the story of a high school student from the city who goes to an agricultural high school with the intentions that it will be so easy that he will be able to do so well in school that he will get into a great college. What he is unprepared for is that while he might be "book smart," he is woefully short of "street smarts" (or "farm smarts, I guess?)...

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However, he's a good kid, so he soon becomes friends with the locals and finds that he may have accidentally ended up where he truly belongs.

14 Becky Cloonan 

American (by way of Italy) writer and artist Becky Cloonan studied art at the School of Visual Art and published mini-comics all through college. She was a part of the Meathaus collective and her first major published work was Channel One: Jennie Zero with writer Brian Wood in 2003. They followed that up with Demo in 2004, which got Cloonan a lot of well-deserved attention (as well as some award nods). In 2011 Wood and Cloonan would collaborate on Demo Volume II, but before that

Cloonan would do a ton of work from her own self-published mini-comics to work on Dark Horse Presents and Buffy The Vampire Slayer for Dark Horse, American Virgin for Vertigo, Flight for Image, Strange Tales for Marvel, Hopeless Savages for Oni, and of course her own OGN with Tokoyopop in 2006: East Coast Rising.

Cloonan was a fast rising star and as a result she has a shocking list of credits for one so young, many of them fascinating and impressive like a notable run on Dark Horse’s Conan The Barbarian (again with Brian Wood), and art duties on Gerard Way and Shaun Simon’s The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys, also for Dark Horse. All this work of course culminated in Cloonan is becoming the first and only woman to ever draw an issue of the main title Batman book (Batman #12, 2012).

But through all this art, Cloonan has never stopped writing, continuing to publish mini-comics, and even some hilarious journal comics, and in 2011 publishing the first book of an “unofficial” trilogy – Wolves. The Mire (which won Cloonan an Eisner, 2012) and Demeter (2013) followed, and the series was collected into a gorgeous single volume – By Chance or Providence -- in 2014.

But in 2014 Cloonan also made the leap to writing work both corporate IP and creator-owned work for others to illustrate. First as co-writer with Brenden Fletcher on DC’s Gotham Academy with Karl Kerschl illustrating, and then the creator-owned Southern Cross from Image with Andy Belanger drawing. Writing more and drawing monthly books less has allowed Cloonan to do even more projects – still exploring her wildly successful self-published work as well as doing covers and art on other projects as she deems fit.

While Cloonan has show to be exceptional at any project she puts her mind to she has especially become known for her ability with horror, subtle or unsubtle. The ability to create real mood and atmosphere and emotional resonance through her imagery. A master of tension and pacing, Cloonan’s work is magnificently difficult to put down thanks to her mastery of storytelling. It’s all rather beautiful as well of course, even the “gross stuff.”

As both a writer and artist Cloonan is also known for her extreme adaptability, tackling anything from iconic characters like Batman and Conan to her own journal comics and finding that sweet spot of a faithful and engaging feeling that is also totally her own.

In Gotham Academy her writing, though still laden with mystery is funny and fresh with a young vibrant pop to it; in By Chance or Providence it’s foreboding and loaded with layered meanings and tragedy; while in Southern Cross it’s playing out as slightly more matter of fact, even as a stunning line of tension boils just beneath the surface.

Since we’re in the writing category today I’m going to sample from things Cloonan has written or written/drawn only. The opening from her self-published Demeter gets me every time:

Here's a short section from Gotham Academy #5:

And the opening pages to the first issue of her new book Southern Cross:

13. Emily Carroll

Since Carroll was already featured on the best artists list (at #22), I've pulled the text from that entry below. But I've included new samples of her work to check out. Also, if you missed her entry on the artist list it's here.

Back in 2010 it seemed like everyone was talking about Emily Carroll's webcomic His Face All Red, and with good reason, it's exceptional (and you can actually read it in full here). It was smart and terrifying, beautifully illustrated, and perhaps most interestingly, Carroll used the way people read on the web to her advantage. The way the comic (and all her webcomics) lay out pay great attention to the empty space, moving along the page and using negative space in smart ways that pace the comic beautifully and raise the tension magnificently.

A lesser artist might have peaked with His Face All Red, but Carroll just kept on going, creating fantastic comic after fantastic comic, many all of them available to read in full for free. She also contributed stories to a series of anthologies like Anthology Project V2, Explorer: The Mystery Boxes, kuš! #9, Little Heart, Creepy #9 (Dark Horse), Fairy Tale Comics (First Second), and The Witching Hour (Vertigo). Her story is Creepy #9 is a personal favorite--at once utterly terrifying and weirdly feminist.

Carroll, a Canadian who nabbed an animation degree from Sheridan College in Ontario, continues to produce exceptional short works for the web and anthologies. Her first book, Through The Woods published by Margaret K McElderry Books, is an absolutely stunning collection of her horror comics. In addition to new material joining her classic His Face All Red, Carroll really thought about how she needed to change her layouts to address the new print format. I'm happy to report that her pacing and layout skills are just as adept in print as they are on the web and the result is a perfectly paced volume. I highly recommend the hardcover as a it's a beautiful book you'll want on your shelf and take down year after year to read again and again.

Here's an excerpt from her short story "The Red Knife" in Creepy #9:

AHHHH! So good!

Go to the next page for #12-11!

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