Kate Kotler writes for Bleeding Cool;
One of the really cool things about writing for Bleeding Cool is that for about six months out of the year, I get to spend a lot of time traveling to comic conventions. Once at a convention, I get to spend a lot of time schmoozing and talking shop with comic creators.
And, as I love comics, I also love sitting down with creators and talking about their work. One of the things I've been thinking about this convention season is how many of my absolute favorite creators – artists and writers, alike – are really underappreciated by both the industry and fans. These are gals and guys who are doing really awesome, innovative, beautiful work. And, I figured – since I have all these eyes on me at the moment – maybe one of the things I could do with that infamy would be to introduce you to some of my favorite creators who I think need more recognition and appreciation.
Of course I'd be interested to hear who is on your list of underappreciated artists. (Comment on the forum or Tweet at me who you think should be on this list!)
- Sara Pichelli – The Ultimate Spider-Man is beautifully drawn. Miles Morales is drawn so expressively, his face in particular, communicates where words would not be adequate. While Sara has been getting mad-props for her work on this series since 2011, she's been working in comics for quite some time and has a slew of other titles she needs to be recognized for.
- Hope Larson – While she has been getting much more press since her graphic adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time was announced, I feel like Hope's innovative and girl-positive work has been largely overlooked by the industry because they're so busy focusing on the work of her husband. And, really, that's a shame – as I've been reading books by Hope since I had the pleasure to interview her in 2009, and she's a beautiful illustrator and storyteller.
- Laura Martin – Colorists are always over looked by the industry, and they shouldn't be. Having a good or bad colorist will make or break a book's success. And, Laura Martin is among the crème de la crème of colorists – an Eisner winner, a Harvey nominee – her work is superior to most of her contemporaries. You know if her name is on a book, it'll be beautiful.
- Danielle Corsetto– Is the artist and writer of one of the best, funniest web comics out there (Girls With Slingshots). I hear rumor that she's branching out and will be launching a new project with a solid indie publisher soon, I hope it's true – because the world needs more Corsetto.
- Ann Nocenti – Ann has a long history as a pioneer for women in the comics industry. At a time when few women were writing or editing superheroes, she was creating new ones and writing stories for big, established capes in the Marvel Universe. Ann recently returned to superhero comics after a 15-year absence, taking on the reboot of the Green Arrow's story line for DC Comics in March 2012.
- Josh Adams – Josh is an amazing artist. Simply put, he takes after his Dad in the "super talented artist" department. Currently, Josh is drawing one of my favorite books – the IDW Doctor Who series. I really, really wish the industry would pick up on what an amazing artist this man is and give him the opportunity to create superhero legends of his own.
- Mark McKenna – From the mid-80s on, you can trace Mark's work on superhero titles like The Avengers, The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Hellblazer, X-Men, Punisher, Silver Surfer – the list goes on and on. Most recently, Mark has been working on two creator owned projects which really, really deserve a lot more attention than they're getting. Combat Jacks and Banana Tail.
- Paul Storrie – Paul is probably best known for his work on Gotham Girls. And, that's a shame. This man writes amazing stories and comics publishers should be throwing work at him, and fans should be demanding books written by him. (Personally, I would love to see him writing Captain America.)
- Mike Norton – Now that the whimsical Battlepug has won an Eisner will the industry and fans start to pay more attention to Mike Norton? I surely hope so, as Revival is an amazing title, an innovative take on Zombie lore, which -currently- IMHO, is being wayyyyyy the fuck under appreciated.
- Chris Mitten – While Wasteland, Queen and Country and Criminal Macabre are all pretty celebrated and noteworthy indie titles, Chris isn't recognized nearly enough for his contribution to these titles. I would love to see more projects featuring his amazing line work.
Under appreciated comic creators is a topic I actually talk about a lot -in real life- with my friends, who are also big-ass comic nerds. There are two friends whose comic knowledge I respect highly (also both new Bleeding Cool contributors) who I asked to contribute names to this list.
Jen Aprahamian knows superheroes. My first experience with Jen was when she handed me a glossy pamphlet she put together on who/what Thanos is and why it was uber-important that we saw him at the end of The Avengers. She was handing this out to n00bs at a local Ladies' Night. Girlfriend still pulls all 52-titles of the "New 52." Organizer of the new Aw Yeah Ladies' Night at Aw Yeah Comics in Skokie, IL – Jen is a comics junkie with pull lists at four of the five major comics retailers in the city. She is one of my most favorite people.
- Kate Leth – fearless, witty, and unapologetically awesome. Kate does super cute shorts for the web, and is a talented artist who's been featured in Womanthology and Locke & Key. Not only is this lady talented, she's great at infusing important messages into her work — I love that she uses sequential art to talk about feminism, mental health, and LGBTQ issues.
- Stacie Ponder – another multi-talented lady — artist, writer, filmmaker. She kickstarted her webcomic, RPG, into a collected volume, you'll see her work in the upcoming Womanthology SPACE, and she's also an inker (with Marvel, Archaia, and IDW).
- Ming Doyle – her Twitter bio says she's a replicant, but this is an artist with a soul. Ming is a talented illustrator, and I'm hoping to run into her at a convention soon, because her pinups/commissions are positively fantastic.
- M. Alice LeGrow – this woman's art is hauntingly beautiful, and she charmed me with her first series, Bizenghast. She kickstarted an original action/fantasy graphic novel called The Elephant Book earlier this year, and I can't wait to see it.
- Rachel Deering – this lady knows horror, and loves it, and it's clear from her work that she has a deep passion for the genre. She kickstarted a series, Anathema, which blends classic horror and romance. Rachel is a skilled letterer and writer who has been featured in Womanthology, and her upcoming projects promise to be truly engaging; I'm hoping to see more of her creations on bigger platforms.
Matt Streets has forgotten more about comics than you'll ever know. Matt is manager of one of the busiest comic stores in Chicago, where he also curates his Flash Museum and is frequently asked by the Chicago media to speak on topics comics and geek (though he prefers the word "nerd) related. To give you context of Matt's comic nerd status – he owns a full run of The Walking Dead, including a first printing of #1. (I've started calling him "Mr. Future Comic Bajillionaire Tycoon.")
- Sean Murphy — Murphy finally broke through with stunning work on Grant Morrison's excellent Joe the Barbarian series, and followed it up with more strong work on Vertigo minis for Hellblazer and American Vampire. Currently writing and drawing the wacky, dystopian Punk Rock Jesus series for Vertigo, he seems poised to explode into the mainstream.
- Jeff Lemire — After flying under the radar for years with the incredible Essex County graphic novels, and his own beloved Sweet Tooth series, Lemire showed he could also handle supes, with an overlooked run on Superboy. DC was impressed enough with that work to give him the Animal Man reboot, and he delivered with one of the best of the new 52 titles. If a book has his name on it, it's good, simple as that.
- Chris Samnee — Samnee has a strong, simple style that when done right, nobody ever seems to notice. He's been doing superhero fill-in work for years, but its time someone gave him consistent work on a title to really showcase his prodigious talents.
- Brandon Graham — Graham has been steadily pulling ahead of his indie comics compatriots with unique, unusual works like King City. Currently, he is writing and sometimes drawing the insanely original "relaunch" of Prophet for Image, fusing psychedelic, nightmarish visions of the future with mind-bending plots and storylines.
- Matt Kindt — Toiling in the indie trenches for years, Kindt is finally starting to get the recognition he has long deserved, and is currently penciling and scripting the excellent Mind MGMT series for Dark Horse. With a unique style combining pencil work with watercolors, Kindt has proven to be a master of atmospheric, strange storytelling. Essential reading includes Superspy, Revolver and 3 Story.
A big shout-out should also go to usual Prophet artist Simon Roy, who will probably be on this list next year.
Kate Kotler is a columnist for Bleeding Cool, an Associate Editor of the Geek Girls Network and the host of the Comix Chix podcast. A Chicago based freelance writer, you can follow her personal ramblings on her website or via the Twitters @adorkablegrrl.