Recently Lebron James referred to the Mount Rushmore of Basketball and that got a lot of sports people talking… not only about who he left off but who would be on the monument for a lot of other sports or even individual sport cities. Now if you are not into sports or giant stone faces, you could look at the discussion as who are the four most important people in whatever group you are talking about.
This of course led me to think about the comic industry and who would be the four faces on our Mount Rushmore. I started rattling off creators in my head and found immediately I didn't have enough space. Then I started justifying who I would leave on and off. I couldn't come up with a solid four that I felt good about… so I figured I'd turn it back to you, the Bleeding Cool readers.
Who would you pick as the four most important people in the history of comics? Here are some of the candidates that I came up with.
Jack Kirby – I'm thinking that this is probably the only one that will be on everyone's list. The man was a creative force for multiple decades. Co-Creating Captain America, The Fantastic Four, The Hulk, The X-Men, The Fourth World, Darkseid and many others. All characters key to Marvel and DC's publishing lines. He was also successful outside of superheroes practically creating the romance comic and excelling at crime, war and westerns. They call him The King for a reason.
Will Eisner – Eisner, along with Kirby, defined and created what comic art should be. He pushed the boundaries and experimented in ways no one else was and now everyone is doing. The Spirit was ground breaking and Eisner was the first to popularize the term Graphic Novel. The only downside is that Eisner's popularity is stronger within the industry and among collectors than to the outside world. Other than for the Spirit, the casual reader may never have heard of Eisner.
Stan Lee – The driving force behind Marvel Comics and the face of the comic book industry for decades. Lee co-created most of Marvel's iconic characters and wrote books that connected with the young and growing readers of the 60s and 70s. There is some debate over Lee's place in comic history and how much credit he deserves compare to how much he was given. I don't think there is a question of whether he belongs on the monument but I think some folks may agree begrudgingly.
Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster – Together they created the first superhero, the one that created a genre, an icon for Truth, Justice and the American Way. It's hard to argue the importance of Superman in the history of comics because you have to wonder if there would be a comic industry if not for superheroes. But, does one creation, even as great as this earn them two spots out of four? It's not like you can separate one from the other.
Bob Kane – Batman may be the single most popular comic character ever created. He's been the lead of multiple movies, television and animation series, toys, t-shits, etc. It's been cool to wear the Bat Symbol longer than it's been cool to read comics. So why isn't Kane an automatic selection? Because of the debate of how much was Kane's creation and how much is owed to Bill Finger.
Steve Ditko – Co-creator on arguably the second most popular character worldwide, Spider-Man along with Doctor Strange, The Creeper, The Question and Hawk & Dove. At a time when Marvel's style was being dictated by Kirby, Ditko drew a skinny superhero with a full-face mask and an odd web pattern that everyone can picture themselves being. Ditko's biggest detractor is his reclusiveness and his insistence of working his political leanings into his work. Had he continued to work in mainstream comics one can only imagine what else he would have come up with.
Julius Schwartz – Having started his career working with the likes of Forest J Ackerman and H P Lovecraft, Schwartz was the perfect editor to bring about DC Comics second age of superheroes. He kept control of the Superman and Batman titles while guiding others in the re-launch of some of their golden age heroes but with an atomic age feel. Schwartz had a huge hand in what DC Comics is today but that hand was played behind the scenes.
Carmine Infantino – An artist and editor, Infantino helped shaped DC Comics Silver-Age by taking the original Flash's Mercury inspired costume and replacing it with something much more sleek and iconic. He also went on to be art director, editorial director and finally publisher. Infantino brought about a lot of good changes in the industry and shepherd in some great talent but he also made the decision to up the price of comics from .15 to .25 cents and some folks still hold a grudge about that.
Frank Miller – He brought about redemption for the Caped Crusader and made comics dark and gritty all because he hated the idea of being older than Batman. Miller turned the comic world upside down and it's never looked back. And then he did it all again with Sin City and 300. Miller may be his own worst enemy here though since in more recent years he's become a bit eccentric and hasn't been hitting the mark as often as he did in the past.
Alan Moore – Has any writer created more concepts and stories that go straight to Hollywood than Moore? From Hell, Watchman, League of Extraordinary Gentleman and V for Vendetta have all been turned into films. Moore is the quintessential mysterious English writer but his constant feuds with publishers may work against him when all is said and done.
So which of these would you pick for the comic book Mount Rushmore? Did I miss anyone that should be here? Can you narrow it down to just four? I'll be watching the message board to see what everyone thinks.