This might be a little nerdy; it’s hard to tell when one is so close to it. But I like cataloguing my comic book collection. I like having the list, including author, artist(s), company, imprint. It might be a bit sad, but I don’t care.
It means that I can examine my collection and revel in its numbers and order. And, no, I’m not an accountant.
It also means that I can provide a countdown of the creators responsible for the greatest number of comics in my collection.
I tend to be story based, so the main people are going to be writers. I have favourite artists, a topic I am trying to finish posting about, but they don’t have the pull of a good storyteller for me. Just outside of the top ten, we have Peter Mililgan, Greg Rucka, John Ostrander, Stan Sakai and James Robinson. Milligan is there mostly due to Shade, The Changing Man; Rucka has Queen & Country, some Detective Comics, Gotham Central; Ostrander fills up with Suicide Squad and The Spectre; Sakai is there by Usagi Yojimbo alone, which should earn him special praise; and Robinson gets close (losing by one comic) due to Starman, Firearm, Leave it to Chance and some WildCATS issues, and assorted singles. So, who is in the top ten?
10. Mark Millar – 173
After a slow start, co-writing with Grant Morrison on the likes of Aztek and The Flash (each comic is attributed to both writers separately, so the figures don’t add up, but this is my collection and my rules, so shut up), but running up through the ranks with his great run on Swamp Thing, The Authority, Ultimate X-Men and, of course, The Ultimates.
9. Priest – 186
I don’t recall when I got the Priest habit (if you’ll pardon the pun), but it seems I got it bad, as a large number of his books have made their way into my collection. His incredibly enjoyable run on Black Panther makes up the bulk, with the rest of the cancelled-too-soon books: Xero, Quantum & Woody, The Crew, Deadpool … A great talent deserving of more work and recognition.
8. John Byrne – 196
A surprise to see the current villain of the internet in my list. It seems strange to remember a time when he produced good comics rather than inflammatory remarks about Jessica Alba. I haven’t read his Namor or West Coast Avengers in a while, but I enjoyed them at the time, but his Next Men and especially his Fantastic Four run are worthy entrants to anybody’s collection, and I have a soft spot for his Sensational She-Hulk, back when he actually knew how to be funny.
7. Brian Michael Bendis – 226
I don’t recall if it was the internet or Warren Ellis, but I’m glad they switched me onto Bendis. Jinx and Goldfish were great discoveries of the world of Bendis conversation, and his Fortune & Glory is simply hilarious and mandatory reading for anyone interested in Hollywood. His high showing for a recent entry into ‘Writer-I-Like’ status is due to pumping out some long runs on good comics: Sam & Twitch, Alias, Daredevil and Powers are all excellent reads, with intriguing characters in dramatically interesting situations, drawn in wonderfully moody styles. He may be ubiquitous in the current Marvel output, but that doesn’t detract from his body of work.
6. Peter David – 224
The Incredible Hulk under the pen of PAD was a delight. It wasn’t all brilliant; the Joe Fixit stories I found hit and miss, and Liam Sharpe dragged the series down after the great stretch of the Keown and Frank issues, which were the crème de la crème of the series, but here was a book that was intelligent and funny and not afraid to do powerful and startling changes to a major Marvel character. So, issues #340–467 (minus some non-PAD written issues, but plus annuals & one-offs) account for the bulk of books PAD is responsible for. I also have his Spider-Man 2099 and X-Factor (both series) and I used to have more by him prior to a purge – Supergirl with Gary Frank, Aquaman – that is perhaps too flattering towards his, for me, unevenness as a writer. Still, gotta love his Hulk, particularly for Rick Jones, the funniest character in the Marvel U.
5. Alan Moore – 250
Like many others, I was blown away by Watchmen, and sought Moore comics (ho, ho) wherever I could, including Swamp Thing, which is the longest run of a single book. Most of his work is in finite series, which makes the high placing even more impressive: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Top Ten, Promethea, Tom Strong, Supreme, 1963, Smax, V for Vendetta, Miracleman … For my money, the greatest writer of comic books, bar none (even if he did work for Rob Liefeld for a while), and it’s a crime to see his work butchered by Hollywood, but we will always have the untouched genius in the comics themselves, so it’s not all bad.
4. Garth Ennis – 296
The bizarre mix of raw, in-your-face storytelling with tenderness from Ennis has been charming me since Hellblazer. Prolific yet never pedestrian, Ennis is an amazing writer, able to produce personal epics (Preacher), mainstream-ish epics (Hitman), excellent mini-series (Unknown Soldier, Born, Fury, 303), and still redefine a worn-out Marvel character in the Punisher. He can write conversations or action, the fantastical or the reality of war, he can write funny or emotional, and he keeps up the quality, which is remarkable.
3. Grant Morrison – 305
The mad, comic book sex god of writing, Morrison got his story hooks in me early on, when I first read Zenith in 2000AD. His explosion on the American comic book scene produced some brilliant work (Animal Man, Doom Patrol, Flex Mentallo), and things have never been the same since. From Arkham Asylum to the personal world of The Invisibles, from turning Oscar Wilde into an action hero in Sebastian O to refining and reinvigorating major franchises of the Big Two (JLA and New X-Men), and still producing his wonderfully quirky little bits of Morrison (Vimanarama, We3) before taking on the absurdly ambitious maxi-series where the team doesn’t meet (Seven Soldiers). He is a phenomenon.
2. Warren Ellis – 317
My disturbed devotion to the internet Jesus, apart from constantly posting about his output, should be obvious from his placing in the list of authors with most books in my collection. The simple fact is that his books connect with my sensibilities more than other authors, and his books are nearly always the sort of stories I want to read. He constantly tries new things and searches out new avenues, he talks openly about his craft in a refreshing manner, and he produces a lot of quality with quality artists. Currently, there’s Desolation Jones, Fell, Planetary and Nextwave; but the bulk winner is his masterpiece, Transmetropolitan. That doesn’t mention the rest of his output: The Authority, or Stormwatch, to his Marvel stuff (Excalibur, Wolverine, Thor, Druid, Hellstorm, Doom 2099, Ultimate Fantastic Four), his pop singles (Red, Reload, Mek, Ministry of Space, Two-Step), or his creator work with smaller publishers, like Scars or the Apparat line. And still I keep buying his work.
And who is at number one, in a list that has Alan Moore, Garth Ennis, Grant Morrison and Warren Ellis in the top five?
1. Chris Claremont – 352
Guess which comic book series got me into the world of comic books?
Yes, I was an X-Men junkie and proud of it. Ever since my first taste of Claremont’s mutants, I was hooked. The characters, the story, the themes, all connected to my isolated teenage self, and were everything I wanted from a comic book at the time. The Uncanny X-Men and The New Mutants hold a special place in my heart that can never be moved, even with all Claremont’s faults. So, basically, if it is an X-book, and Claremont wrote it, I tried to get my grubby hands on it: The Uncanny X-Men (and Classic X-Men, with the back-ups drawn by John Bolton, helping me to read comics that I wouldn’t be able to afford), The New Mutants (I carried on with the Louise Simonson run and, God help me, the Liefeld run, but they are no longer part of the collection), the assorted annuals, specials and mini-series, Excalibur and the first ten issues of the original Wolverine solo title. Obviously, I bought a warehouse full of other mutant comics over the years, before having my eyes opened to other things (which have subsequently been donated to a children’s ward in a local hospital about 6 years back), but these comics cannot be replaced or removed, as they form the basis of my comic book experience, whatever that might say about me.