By Chris Arrant
At both major superhero comic publishing power-houses DC and Marvel there exist a core group of creators that serve as the most valuable players and the engines for both companies' comics. Marvel recently identified its key writers with December's "Architects" announcements, but what about their counterparts – both across town at DC as well as their collaborating artists?
It's with that idea in mind that I've put pen to paper – or in this case finger to keyboard – to draw out the top talent in several categories. This exercise follows in the footsteps of Marvel's recent "Architects" announcement and "Young Guns" from years past, while taking a big picture look at both major companies' talent roster in five categories: writers, artists, special teams' creators, future franchise players and overlooked creators. Using sales charts, creator workloads as well as reader sentiment, I've compiled this list.
Take note: this looks at the talent pool based strictly on each company's primary lines of titles – the company-owned superhero lines.
They're where the ideas start, and where ideas turn into plots that turn into scenes and then dialogue. Both DC and Marvel have in-person meetings (called "summits") with their top writers to plan out story-arcs and goals for the future of individual titles, groups and lines as a whole. With the rise of readers following creators just as much as they follow characters, writers have become a key selling point as well as behind-the-scenes and behind-the-scenes coordinators with editors.
While writers might be the ones who come up with the initial ideas, its artists who take these scripts and turn them into actual comics. Good artists are measured by their ability to not only have a great style, but to focus the ideas presented by the writer into a form readers can understand. They're the comics equivalent to a film director – as well as casting, lighting, sets and most any other job you can think of.
In American football, Special teams are players that are used for specific situations – while not on the field full-time like an Offensive or Defensive player, they provide a key role that is a game-changer. In the world of Marvel & DC, they both have creators who might not work monthly on the publisher's primary super-hero line but might do so for guest issues/arcs or unique circumstances. In some cases its creators who can't do a monthly book, while others simply have outside commitments. Regardless, these key players in the Big Two's creative line-up are all game-changers.
FUTURE FRANCHISE PLAYERS:
Both Marvel and DC have had diamonds in the rough; some creators take time to find their right project, while others only blossom when they jump to work for the other company. Sometimes it’s a creator getting the right opportunity, while in other situations is simply a matter of a creator being more invigorated by a specific group of characters. For instance, Geoff Johns was a solid creator while working at Marvel on the Avengers, but didn’t become "the" Geoff Johns until he settled in at DC. These creators are those that have displayed all the skills to jump into our previous categories of "Top Writers" and "Top Artists" once given the right project, the right collaborator and the right time.
Probably the hardest category to identify and the one most open to debate, my list of "Overlooked creators" are those that are former Top Creators who haven't been given a place at the table, or someone from our previous category "Future Franchise Players" who've been in a holding pattern for the right opportunity. It's true that there's only so much room at the top, but each of these creators are contenders are ones under-used by their publishers and waiting for their chance.
What do you think? Where did I go right – and where did I go wrong? Tell us in the comments section.