The countdown continues!
Here are the next three writers that you voted as your favorites of all-time. Click here for the master list of all of the creators listed so far.
6. Alison Bechdel
Bechdel, an American cartoonists, and one of the most groundbreaking and influential cartoonists of all time, is author of the self-syndicated cult comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For. DTWOF ran for an impressive twenty-five years (1983 – 2008) and is both a fantastic comic strip and, perhaps more impressively, a counterculture movement unto itself.
Bechdel became known for her look at LGBT culture, though her personal lens of the every day lives of lesbians in Dykes To Watch out For, a strip that pulled no punches and was refreshingly honest about its subject matter, something not all audiences were used to seeing, and which many audiences were dying to finally see. Drawing largely from her own life there’s an intimacy and honesty in Bechdel’s work that’s both impossible to ignore and completely captivating. And her ability to take both light and dark and filter it in a real world relatable way has helped to cement her as one of the most important voices in LGBT culture and comics. For many less familiar with Bechdel’s work, they will have at least heard of the famous “Bechdel Test” that first began in a Dykes To Watch Out For strip called “The Rule” which set out some rules for choosing whether to see a movie or not (see “The Rule” below).
As an artist that has produced so religiously and regularly (with a 25 year strip you’d have to) Bechdel’s artistic growth is particularly fascinating to behold. And reading her collected Dykes to Watch Out For (Essential Dykes To Watch Out For) is an amazing way to experience that growth as both artist and person.
In more recent years, Bechdel has published two graphic novel memoirs, the first, Fun Home, in 2006, detailing her relationship with her father. Fun Home was a New York Times Best Seller, won an Eisner in 2007, and was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. A musical adaptation of Fun Home was also produced and nominated for a Pulitzer and is actually coming to Broadway in 2015. Bechdel’s second graphic novel memoir, Are You My Mother?, as the title suggests, focused on Bechdel’s relationship with her mother. Published in 2012 it was shortlisted for the Lambda Literary Award, won the 2013 Judy Grahn Award, and an excerpt was collected in the Best American Comics 2013.
Beyond these primary works, Bechdel’s comics have also appeared in The New Yorker, Slate, McSweeney’s, and The New York Times Book Review and Bechdel received both the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2012 and a MacArthur Fellowship Genius Grant in 2014.
Here's a selection of strips from Dykes To Watch Out For:
And here's the infamous "The Rule" aka "The Bechdel Test":
And a few pages of Bechdel's exceptional Fun Home:
5. Kate Beaton
Since Beaton was also featured on the Best Artists List (at #14) this text below is the same, but scroll down to check out more of her work, and if you didn't see her artist's list entry, that can be found here.
Easily one of the most popular webcomic artists of all time, Canadian writer and artist Kate Beaton's webcomic Hark! A Vagrant took the world by storm with her funny, original, and sometimes subversive takes on everything from history and literary classics to superheroes. With a degree in history and anthropology from Mount Allison, Beaton's first Hark! A Vagrant strips back in 2007 were very focused on her own humorous take on historical events but over time her work has blossomed to include many other subjects including "younger self" stories and biting social commentaries, though history is never too far from Beaton's mind.
Known for her simple black and white drawings that focus on facial expressions, Beaton gets amazing mileage out of her pared back style, creating whole worlds of meaning in just a character's face. Her pacing is also top notch, whether she manages to deliver a fully formed idea in as little as 3 panels or as a longer running gag. Beaton runs the gamut not just in genres that she tackles but in intention as well, as her comics range from fun one-off jokes about poop to hilarious biting commentaries like her comics about "Straw Feminists" and "Strong Female Characters" (the latter of which she c0-created with cartoonists Meredith Gran and Carly Monardo).
Hark! A Vagrant struck a real chord with readers and by 2009 she was self-publishing her first volume - Never Learn Anything From History - a collection of her comics from 2007 to 2009 and a book that earned her the 2009 Doug Wright Award for Best Emerging Talent.
In 2011 Drawn & Quarterly collected Beaton's favorite Hark! A Vagrant stories plus some additional content and the volume quickly became a NY Times Best Seller and was featured in Time Magazine as one of the Top 10 Books of the Year (2011). Beaton also won a slew of awards for her work around this time -- an Ignatz and Harvey in 2011 and three more Harveys again in 2012. Beaton has had two cartoons published in The New Yorker and contributed several hilarious stories to Marvel's Strange Tales II. She has a third volume of Hark! A Vagrant due out this year (Step Aside, Pops!) as well as an all-new comic following the adventures of her famous "Fat Pony" - a volume called Princess and The Pony, which is also due out this year.
One of my favorite pieces from Beaton's Hark! A Vagrant, her hilarious "Canadian Stereotype Comics":