In the comic book industry, writers are a dime a dozen. Everyone and their dog has a script that’s sure to toss the industry on its ear. But who are the writers that are actually doing it? Who’s making a splash big enough to make waves and who is making more subtle moves that might go unnoticed? We all know the big names in the big companies. We always hear about the Bendises (Is that the correct plural of ‘Bendis’? Bendisies? Bendi?) and the Snyders, but who should you be following that doesn’t get their names plastered all over the comic store? Who are the movers and shakers that aren’t getting their names shouted across social media? This list is here to help.
Stjepan Sejic – Sunstone
Stjepan Sejic is at the top of our list. And really, there are few lists he shouldn’t be on the top of. Currently doing a lot of artwork work for DC (and killing it!), Sejic made this list for writers for his work on Sunstone. Creating the comic himself, taking on the artwork and writing, Sejic crafted a masterpiece with Sunstone. Usually known for his otherworldly creatures and beautiful designs, Sunstone took Sejic’s focus in another direction. Romance. Sunstone featured two women who find each other to itch a scratch – fulfilling their BDSM fantasies in a safe space. It starts off with an agreement. No feelings. Just sex. And there’s plenty of fun in Sunstone, Sejic‘s eye for design extends beyond beautiful creatures to exquisite and sexy leather and latex suits, as well as some of the most expressive characters that take life right there on the page. As the subject matter might imply, this book isn’t work or kid friendly, but as the two main characters, Lisa and Aly, grow closer the sex takes a backseat to one of the most heart-warming romances ever to see a comic book page. With Sunstone, you come for the smut but stick around for the incredible love story. Sunstone has brought readers flocking to Top Cow, folk who don’t read comics at all are finding Sunstone appealing for a multitude of reason. Sunstone is what Twilight wishes it was. Every complaint from the S&M community about Twilight and the awful way it portrays the relationship is relieved with Sunstone. Sejic released Sunstone on his DeviantArt, and it still became a best seller for Top Cow comics. Even while Sejic drives the SuperHero genre forward, his Sunstone comic has started a movement with slice-of-life comics that’s rarely been seen in comics.
Matt Hawkins – Swing/Think Tank/Postal
Speaking of Sejic is a wonderful segue into our next writer that is quietly shaking things up. Matt Hawkins is the COO for Top Cow comics and often a collaborator with Stjepan Sejic. Hawkins and his wife, Jenni Cheung, have a Sunstone-esque comic of their own called Swing. Swing is about a married couple trying to reignite the passion they had earlier in their relationship. They decide to try swinging with other couples. Swing is getting rave reviews and again, like Sunstone, is drawing in a crowd you don’t see in comics. And that can only be a good thing. While yet another slice-of-life book that is bringing change to comics, Hawkins isn’t on this list for that alone. Hawkins’ books are grounded in reality, even when they go off into the fantastical. Postal, Think Tank, Samaritan, his other books exist within the same universe, all touching on different subjects. In that back of every book, Hawkins goes into the science and applications of the subjects of his books. He provides links and some short discussion over where he got the inspirations and how they’re being used in today’s world. Hawkins isn’t just creating engaging and intriguing comics, but making you smarter as he does it.
Steven Skroce – Maestros
Steven Skroce is another double agent on our list, taking on the writing and artwork for his book Maestros. Maestros takes us on a wild ride with the main character, Willy, who is an exiled son of an all-powerful wizard from another dimension. Willy’s father and all of Willy’s siblings are murdered, leaving him to inherit his father’s kingdom and power… And enemies. The Dark Crystal meets Heavy Metal, Maestros is another NSFW comic. Skroce doesn’t just craft a story that twists and turns and leaves you grinning from page to page, but also provides the most gorgeous, visceral, and insane visuals. From inter-dimensional elven courts to horrendous hellscapes and far-too-realistic gore, Maestros is a roller coaster of a comic. Skroce proves, along with the other writers on this list, that comics books are a medium, not a genre. Maestros is hands down one of the best comics you’ll ever pick up.
Natasha Alterici – Heathen
Another double agent! Natasha Alterici’s Heathen is about a Viking chieftain’s daughter, exiled for her love of another woman, striking out on a quest to find the myths she grew up hearing. Not only a female lesbian Viking, Aydis breaks the cycle of myths, changing the stories so anything could happen. Heathen becomes a challenge to the stories we’ve come to know, turning them upside down, twisting them and bending them in ways that changes what we’re used to while respecting the overall messages of the myths. Alterici’s art draws you in as the story she’s crafted unfolds. The world needs more stories like Heathen, ones that challenge the status quo of well-known myths and the stories they tell. Adapting these myths, bending them, breaking them and putting them back together, showing how they fit in the modern world is how they’re kept them alive. As discussed in a previous post, Heathen was picked up for a movie. Alterici’s Heathen is one of many comics that is taking a nontraditional protagonist and showing the world what can be done with them.
Bryan Edward Hill – Postal
Bryan Edward Hill started off at Top Cow working on expanding the Witchblade universe. He’d eventually come to write with Matt Hawkins on Postal, a book about a small town run by former criminals trying to escape their past. Everyone in town agreed to cease any and all criminal activity after a messy start. But decades later, when the main character, Mark, begins to see patterns and behaviors he can’t ignore, Mark uncovers hidden truths and the secret past to the town of Eden, Wyoming. The comic has garnered attention and is even being made into a series on Hulu. Hill also created Romulus, a comic book about a secret organization that runs the world, and Ashlar, a young woman raised and trained by the order. Ashlar finds herself betrayed by the very group she’s sworn her life to and declares war against them. Hill’s writing grabbed the attention of DC Comics and he’s now in charge of their flagship title Detective Comics, writing Batman and the Bat-family as well as bringing in Black Lightning. Hill’s impressive work and, what seems on the outside, his rocket to the top, proves Hill is definitely someone to keep your eye on. This is only the beginning.
Caitlin Kittredge – Witchblade
Witchblade has a long history, being the longest-running female-led comic, with numerous writers and artists, crossovers and specials. So when Caitlin Kittredge and artist Roberta Ingranata set out to re-imagine the series, they had big shoes to fill. The series previous featured Sara Pezzini who wielded the titular weapon. The weapon often tore apart whatever clothing Pezzini was wearing until the weapon itself covered her in bikini-esque armor. For the first part of its inception, Witchblade catered to the young male crowd of the mid to late 90s. As it grew more popular, the comic grew and changed and became more sophisticated in its design and storytelling. But without a hard reboot, the title was always tied to its origins and couldn’t escape that in the changing climate of the industry. Kittredge took the heart and soul of Witchblade and gave it a much-needed turnaround. Alex Underwood is a different kind of Witchblade, the entire comic taking on a darker version of CW’s Supernatural feel, giving us a comic grounded in the real world that could very much be seen as a live action show some day. Kittredge taking on such a comic that the industry is sure to watch out of the corner of its eye could be a daunting task, but she’s nailed it. With an overall mystery unfolding and characters who can almost be heard in your head as they speak, Witchblade is poised grow beyond what’s predecessor dreamed.
Magdalene Visaggio – Vagrant Queen/Kim & Kim
Magdalene Visaggio is a force of nature that writes comic books. From creator-owned series to DC and Marvel, she’s making her mark in the industry with books like Kim & Kim, Vagrant Queen, Transformers vs Visionaries, Eternity Girl and now Dazzler: X Song. Visaggio brings a flare and wit to comics that is sorely needed. An avid Twitter user, Visaggio gives off a buzz of energy that can be seen in her work. Not only are her characters larger than life with plenty of attitude, but her world-building is fantastic. She’s another on our list that takes nontraditional protagonists and shows how they can be used to craft incredible stories. Each book is another push the industry needs towards making POC, WOC, female and trans protagonists mainstream.
The writers on this list are the tip of the iceberg. Sometimes you have to look for them, but there are incredible writers climbing through comics, independent and Big Two, that are changing the industry in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Every single writer listed here should be followed without delay, their social media feeds filled with insightful and engaging posts with the occasional glimpse into their projects that you won’t get from just picking up the comic books. If you like this list and want to see more like it, hit us up on Facebook or comment below and let us know!