Hello. You've reached the 100 Greatest American Comic Book Artists Site, sponsored by Atlas Comics. Before we begin we thought we'd give you a little background. A lot of "best" lists simply drop a group of names on you and leave it at that. We'd like to explain something of the criteria behind how we chose the gentlemen listed below - that way it'll be easier for you to argue with our choices. First, we need to set the ground rules about who is available for consideration. The people on this list must have worked primarily in American comics; hence, you will not see Moebius, Phillipe Drullliet, or any of the fine Japanese artists currently populating the stands. Second, the comic book industry is our pool, so even though many excellent strip artists began or worked a portion of their career in the comic book industry, you won't find a Walt Kelly or Lyman Young listed. We've also made an arbitrary decision to rule out underground artists. Don't ask why, but this excludes, among others: Robert Crumb, Gilbert Sheldon and Spain Rodriguez. Beyond this, there are no exclusions, except to say that this is strictly an list of artists. There are no bonus points for also being an excellent writer or editor, or for work outside comic books. Within this framework, there were four areas of consideration:
1 - TECHNIQUE
This category covers the basic elements of good drawing. Among the myriad of qualities we look for are: draftsmanship, rendering, unique use of light and shade, body language and expressiveness of characters, individuality of style, and how well each is applied. Illustrative artists (Neal Adams, Reed Crandall), of course, are judged on quite a different criteria than those that use "cartoon" elements (artists as diverse as Bill Sienkiewicz or John Stanley) in their work.
2 - STORYTELLING
Comics has a visual language of it's own, and it is absolutely imperative to utilize it properly and expand upon it. Staging, communication of action and emotion, readability, panel flow, and overall application of technique in service of the STORY are paramount. Most of the artists on this list are so accomplished in this regard that most readers never notice the mechanics behind it.
3 - ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Pure creativity is what we're looking at here. What came out of the fertile brow of these artists? Interesting characters, places, designs, stories and visual invention merit special attention.
4 - LONGEVITY
This seems fairly obvious - how long was their influence or era of popularity? How active were they? 10 years of intense application may outweigh 30 years of competent but unspectacular work, but many of the best artists also lasted the longest.