Top 25 Female Comic Book Writers #25-21

The countdown begins now!!!

Here are the first 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.

25. Raina Telgemeier

What makes Raina Telgemeier such an impressive writer is her ability to just cut right to the core of the human experience. She knows how people think and as a result, no matter who you are, no matter your age, no matter your life experiences, she feels like she is writing directly to YOU.

This was what has made her comics based on her life so appealing to so many people. Her first graphic novel about her life, Smile, detailed her life growing up as she dealt with a major dental injury. You literally see her grow from a kid until a young woman - it's quite an endearing look at a "typical" person's life - all the foibles and fears, but also all the fun and friendships. A particularly interesting aspect of the story is how Telgemeier uses certain popular culture references to connect the story to a certain time. Like her first time seeing the film The Little Mermaid (and how that made an impact upon her desire to become an artist) or her sister playing Super Mario Brothers. These little bits of nostalgia add an interesting piece of lightness to the proceedings. Her most recent graphic novel, Sisters, deals with the relationship between her and her sister (set against the framework of a family trip to a family reunion). You don't need to have had a sister to instantly empathize with the situations that she presents to you in Sisters.

Along with that cutting to the core, Telgemeier's works are always just brimming with HONESTY. She adroitly handles the delicate balance that comes with how you depict yourself and your family when you're telling a story. You obviously don't want to make it look like you were always right, but by the same token, you don't want to idealize the rest of your family either. You want to try to tell the truth as best as you can see it - and there are moments where Raina does not come off well and there are moments where her sister does not come off well. But the thing they ALWAYS come off as is realistic and human. The depiction of Raina's older cousin was especially powerful in this regard, as Raina is willing to show the awful indifference older kids have to younger ones and the painful double-sided feeling of being angry at the older cousin for ignoring her but also searching for any drop of attention she offers. So well depicted (and you have to love the bit where we see a thirteen-year-old's take on what adult conversations are like - it is more or less spot on, to be honest).

This is part of one of my favorite short stories by Telgemeier....

See what I mean about the way that she just cuts right to how people HONESTLY react to situations? And in such a clever way!

In between Smile and Sisters, Telgemeier wrote a fictional graphic novel about a high school drama club and the little dramas that make up teen life (it was called, appropriately enough, Drama).

The driving force of the story is when our hero, Callie, meets two new kids in school who are also into the theater. One of the boys is gay and Telgemeier handles his sexuality wonderfully. Not just in the way that she accurately shows how it is not a big deal, but in the way that Callie, despite absolutely understanding that the boy is gay, can't help but become attached to him anyways, to the point where when he goes to a dance with her, she is hurt when he goes off to pursue a boy. It's the little things that seem like BIG drama when you're a kid, and Telgemeier knows this well.

However, while obviously Callie's romantic entanglements play a big part of the book, a great aspect of the book is the fact that they aren't the end-all/be-all of the story. "Who Callie ends up with?" is not an important answer in this book. She might end up with boy x, she might end up with boy y, she might end up single. It really doesn't matter - her romantic situations do not define her as a character. I love that aspect of the book. The book is filled with cute character moments. Here's a nice example, where Callie shows one of the brothers (who is too shy to try out for the play) that it really isn't that big of a deal to try out...

Adorable. Telgemeier is amazing.

24. Barbara Kesel

Barbara Kesel (then Barbara Randall) started as an editor at DC Comics in the mid-1980s. She assisted Len Wein on Watchmen! Along with Wein, she also helped write DC's massive Who's Who? project. She also started to get the occasional freelance writing assignment, including notably writing the final Batgirl story before The Killing Joke. With her then-husband, Karl Kesel, Kesel created the second Hawk and Dove pairing and she and Karl Kesel wrote their ongoing series. Barbara Kesel has always been known for her strongly developed characters.

Kesel particularly does a strong job with female characters. She has written a number of excellent comics starring female characters. The aforementioned Hawk and Dove is perhaps her most famous, but she also wrote the delightful Ultragirl series for Marvel as well as the charmingly fun Savant Garde series for Image (starring Savant, the explorer sister of WildCATs stalwart, Zealot).

Her ability to create and develop new characters led to her becoming a key piece of the initial creation of the CrossGen universe. She wrote Sigil and The First, but I particularly loved Meridian, about a series of floating cities and the young girl, Sephie, who is given a sigil of great power along with her manipulative uncle. He brings her to his island and tries to control her, but she breaks free...

What an awesome book that was (the Joshua Middleton art sure didn't hurt!). Recently, Kesel wrote an April O'Neil one-shot for IDW.

23. Jen Van Meter

Jen Van Meter has written a number of strong comic books over the years, including a very recent turn on a revamped Doctor Mirage for Valiant that was particularly excellent. However, I don't think she would object much to the idea that she is still best known for her series of Oni Press mini-series starring the Hopeless Savages. Hopeless Savages is about what happens when two punk rockers get together (Parents Dirk Hopeless and Nikki Savage) and then move to the suburbs and have exemplary and extremely out of the ordinary children (with awesome names - Rat Bastard, Arsenal Fierce, Twitch Strummer and Skank Zero - only Zero is still in high school when the series begins).

Hopeless Savages is an absolute delight of a series, from the madcap adventure of the first series to the enthralling romance of the second series to the over-the-top intrigue of the third series. Thank goodness that there's going to be NEW Hopeless Savages stories from Van Meter soon from Oni Press! That news made my week!

A really cool technique that Van Meter used in her Hopeless Savages stories to great effect was the flashback. She would intercut the stories with them frequently. This would allow us to really get to know the characters (sort of like Lost, only this was pre-Lost! Van Meter was there before you, Lost!). It also allowed her to use multiple artists on each issue (the upcoming series will be done in the same fashion).

The third series, which spotlighted Arsenal Hopeless-Savage (the second-oldest member of the family), featured the comic book debut of Sophie Campbell! So here is a flashback featuring Arsenal drawn by Campbell...

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