Please Weigh In On Your Favourite Superman Creators!

We should actually be doing this all the time, Internet. And I don’t even know why we aren’t. But let’s start, because Superman is awesome! Why, he can fly, and everything!

Let’s all do four.

Number one for me, both categories, is Jerry and Joe. Rough, vibrant ideas punching you in the face! Nothing like it.

Okay, better do four outside that…because if there’s anybody out there who doesn’t put Jerry and Joe as tops in this book, you may be visiting the wrong blog.

Okay, four each, outside the masters. To quote Millar, “poofs first” (this means writers):

Apostle #1: The sainted Maggin, who dared to have Lois fall in love with Clark, and who himself loved Lex Luthor, maybe even a little too much.

Apostle #2: Cary Bates, of course.

Apostle #3: You’re not ready for this, but…it’s got to be John Byrne. Superman’s world through Clark’s eyes…that was a neat idea. …No YOU shut up!

Apostle #4: Kurt Busiek and Geoff Johns, for their wonderful “Clark Kent: Reporter!” series in OYL. I wouldn’t’ve complained if it had gone on for TYL.

And, artists, AKA the ruggedly masculine ones:

Apostle #1: Are you kidding? Curt Swan. So many pictures of Clark Kent getting into elevators….!

Apostle #2: Without a doubt, Jack Kirby. His Superman faces blow my mind. DC erred, egregiously.

Apostle #3: Neal Adams. World’s most mindblowingly dynamic Superman.

Apostle #4: Throwing you a curve ball, it’s the man who made me believe in Metropolis as a place again — Adam Kubert.

Jerry and Joe top all, of course…and I’m not just saying that, just take a look, or read a caption! But even if you don’t agree with this patently-obvious truth…

Let’s hear your views!

Grudgingly, I have to admit that if you don’t esteem Jerry and Joe…well, then, you get two more spots to screw around with. Fair enough. You’re crazy, in my estimation, and ought to be locked up. But tastes, unfortunately, differ.

So…

Well?

Let’s have it!

19 responses to “Please Weigh In On Your Favourite Superman Creators!

  1. Well, Jerry and Joe are sure as hell on top of my list. Nothing quite matches the crude intensity of those old Superman strips – those guys were literally telling the story of their lives.

    Breaking it down to apostles, my tastes are pretty similar here:

    Apostle 1 – Elliot S! Maggin, who wrote the best damn Luthor ever!
    Apostle 2 – I’m with ya on Cary Bates too.
    Apostle 3 – Denny O’Neil, who admitted he had a hard time relating to Superman. However, I love the storyline where all the Kryptonite on Earth turned to iron and the Sand Creature absorbed a good portion of Kal’s powers. I wish those two developments were explored more fully in later stories.
    Apostle 4 — Grant Morrison. All-Star Superman is portraying the Pre-Crisis Superman of my dreams.

    As for John Byrne, I’ll grant that he’s probably the fourth most influential person in Superman history after Jerry, Joe and Mort. But, I always thought his Clark Kent was just a bit too macho!

    As for the artists,

    Apostle 1 – Well, yeah …Curt Swan.
    Apostle 2 – Well, yeah again … Jack Kirby
    Apostle 3 – Hard to argue with Neil Adams, considering how much I love Superman vs. Muhammad Ali
    Apostle 4 – I want to put either Byrne or Frank Quitely, but my heart tells me to go with Jose Garcia Lopez for all those great issues of DC Comics Presents.

    Fun!!

  2. “Nothing quite matches the crude intensity of those old Superman strips – those guys were literally telling the story of their lives.”

    My friend, Chabon couldn’t’a put it better.

    Denny wrote some unbelievable Superman stories, that’s for sure…and, hah! Byrne’s “macho” Clark! Yes, that’s funny. I considered Grant (and Kirby too! Lover of Superman’s compassion!) as a writer, but Byrne’s thoughtful Clark, and BuJohns’ gleefully-depowered Clark (shades of Maggin!) just caught me too much at the right time in my life.

    Wrong thread, but: Lois McMaster Bujold to write Superman! YESSS! I SCORE!!!

    Keeper, why is it just you and me talking about the Superman Apostles? We should make it a full-on meme. But…except…

    Who in the hyell is gonna argue with Cary Bates, or Curt Swan?

    It’s probably too easy. How about a favourite Superman story? Non-Jerry/Joe, of course. I’ve got mine: “The Man Who Was Buried On Page 34!” Yeah, that’s the kind of Morrison I’d be…

    Oh no wait, Keeper! “The Kind Of Morrison I’d Be”!!! What a meme…!

    Hm, but maybe later.

    Okay, favourite Superman story. WAIT! First Superman story, then favourite Superman story!

    My first is also Bates/Swan/Colletta – “The Monster From 10,000 A.D.!” or something like that…something about a bus, and magic Bat-window-wipers…

  3. I’ve got it! After you answer this one…

    The meme is, you give a character, and then ask people to answer “first story, favourite story” for that character…and then you pass it on with a different character! You receive Superman…you pass on Daredevil…

    That’s good, right?

  4. Kirby? Really?

    Oh well, here’s my list:

    Writers:

    1. Alan Moore: He didn’t write many Superman stories, but “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” and “For the Man Who Has Everything” get him into the top four regardless of volume. Plus, his “Supreme” stories can be considered pseudo-Superman stories.

    2. Elliot S. Maggin: I like his Superman novels better than his comic book stories, but he brought something enduring (if a bit too worshipful) to Superman.

    3. Grant Morrison: All-Star Superman hits it out of the park. The man “gets it”.

    4. Geoff Johns & Kurt Busiek- The most interesting Superman stuff in 20 years. Nuff said.

    Artists:

    1. Curt Swan: STILL the definitive Superman.

    2. Garcia Lopez: He didn’t do alot of Superman stories, but the ones he did were just outstanding in their dynamism and expressive faces.

    3. Alex Ross: Nobody captures the authority and rugged strength of the Shuster-era Superman quite like Ross.

    4. Jerry Ordway: The only thing I liked about Byrne’s dreadful reboot was Jerry Ordway’s artwork on Adventures of Superman. Ordway’s square-jawed interpretation of Superman really DOES seem like a “Man of Steel”…and I’ve always appreciated his flair for evoking classic illustration styles (of the Alex Raymond/Hal Foster era).

  5. Mark, thanks for chiming in! Big fan of your blog!

    (But Ross? Really?)

    Hmm, allow me to puzzle your choices whilst I nap…back soon.

  6. My first Superman story is also the first super-hero comic I remember owning – World’s Finest 168 which featured the return of the Composite Superman.

    It was written by Cary Bates and drawn (I believe) by Curt Swan. What was most notable about the story was that CS totally beat up Superman, Batman and Robin and only lost through a last-minute change of heart. A great introduction to super-hero comics!

    My favorite Superman story is, natch, Superman vs. Ali. A Neal Adams epic that spanned the stars!!!

    The meme sounds great, by the way. (As does the Sub-Mariner idea … )

  7. I’d give Jerry Siegel two votes, one for his role as creator of Superman, and another for his late Fifties to middle Sixties emotionally fraught return to the Superman mythos. Siegel’s rage and despair at being subordinate to the bilious Mort Weisinger combined with his passionate love for his own creation produced some of the most wildly inventive and yet human and empathetic stories ever done with the character. Admittedly some of them are as delirious as a Red K hallucination…but that’s not all there is to them, and the cariacature of his later stories as just bizarre and loopy is a gross misreading.

    I also can’t let this go by without a vote for Edmond Hamilton. If Siegel’s Superman is a fevered domestic sitcom, then Hamilton’s is lonely and elegaic. Some favorites by EH include “Superman Under the Red Sun” from Action #300 and “The Last Days of Superman” in Superman #156 (surely a template for All-Star Superman!) but the pinnacle for me is “The Showdown Between Luthor and Superman” from Superman #164. (Maggin may have loved Luthor too well…but Hamilton identified with Luthor, the same way Alan Moore identified with Adrian Veidt.)

    It’s tempting to be contrarian here and fill out the list with names such as Robert Bernstein, Otto Binder, and the prophetic Alvin Schwartz…but no single one of them is as uniquely defining of Superman as Siegel and Hamilton; instead they fill in the rest of the spectrum between those two positions. (And with Binder I’m actually a bigger fan of his Fawcett Captain Marvel work.)

    Maggin, yes of course…and I’m going to say Kirby for the way he wrote Superman rather than for how he drew him. Kirby took a character who had become a little too cozy and comfortable as a conservative establishment figure and deliberately set out to unsettle him, to place him in situations where he’d be slightly off-balance. Anyone who’s Black or Jewish or Asian or Gay would recognize the predicament: you go for years and years thinking you’re totally assimilated into the mainstream and everything’s fine…then one offhand remark or unexpected circumstance makes you realize nope, you’re still an outsider and you always will be no matter how polite everything is on the surface. Kirby starts his Superman off with that sort of moment in Forever People #1, and the rest of his treatment of the character deals with the repercussions.

  8. I’m shamefully ignorant about early Superman—I just haven’t read it, so I’m going to have to go with some more recent creators, all post-Byrne.

    Writers
    1. Johnny Bryne – this was the “classic” era to me. The first time I read Superman; the first writer to interest me in Superman, a character that I had studiously avoided throughout my childhood.
    2. Grant Morrison
    3. Roger Stern – after Byrne left, he was my favorite writer on the Superman “team,” back when DC was, in effect, publishing a weekly Superman comic
    4. Geoff Johns/Richard Donner – I actually never found out how that whole thing ended because I was so irritated with the delays, but what I did read of it gave me goosebumps.

    Artists
    1. Kerry Gammill and Dennis Janke
    2. Jon Bogdanov
    3. Frank Quitely
    4. Jerry Ordway

    Masters, all!

  9. OBVIOUSLY Jerry & Joe go first. Anyone who thought otherwise has obviously never read a Superman comic

    Writers
    1) Grant Morrison
    2) Alan Moore
    3) Maggin
    4) Busiek

    An honourable mention here to Garth Ennis, who’s only written two Superman stories – an issue of Hitman and Hitman/JLA – but got the character as well as any writer ever has.

    Artists
    1) Swan. Of course
    2) Quitely
    3) Byrne. I don’t rate his Superman in retrospect as a writer, but I grew up on his version.
    4) Adams

  10. Writers:

    (1) Grant Morrison — because All Star Superman radiates pure kindness in the face of death, and is still way more fun to read than almost any comic out there.

    (2) Alan Moore — cos his Superman stories were the first to actually work for me, with their loving synthesis of a convoluted history I was completely unaware of.

    (3) Jack Kirby — for all the reasons RAB noted above, and because that wonky wee battle for Superman’s legacy in Kamandi #3 works even when it really shouldn’t.

    (4) An honourable split between Garth Ennis and Joe Casey — Casey’s run isn’t totally classic, but I admired the little thought-experiments he threw in there, and the general sense that he wanted to challenge the character in interesting ways. And yeah, Ennis, that grand Irish pisstaker, somehow has not only love for Superman, but also a damned good idea of how to question that love on the page.

    Artists:

    (1) Frank Quitely — because I’m easy and obvious, yes, but also because Morrison’s take on the character is so-so-so dependant on Quitely’s take on him… without Vince’s talent for giving cartoon strongmen realistic, affecting body language, where would All Star Superman be?

    (2)Jack Kirby — whose actual Superman isn’t the most straight-up interesting Kirby character to look at, maybe, but… I dunno, I love the bizarre worlds Kirby throws the big guy into, and I think a lot of the dynamic that RAB talks about comes through in the conflict between Supes and the groovy clutter he finds himself in page after page. Does the whole weird thing with the pasted-on faces in Jimmy Olsen add to this maybe?

    (3) Curt Swan — who lived that convoluted history I was talking about earlier, and who made it seem graceful.

    (4) Uhm… man is my list ever narrow. There are other artists whose Superman I like (Darwyn Cooke’s poster-perfect icon, Ed McGuinesse’s cartoon fun-guy), but none of them stick with me enough to truly warrant a place here. So… yeah, can you tell which Superman stories I really like?

  11. I’m not a big Superman fan, but Morrison, Busiek, & Johns have made me interested in reading Superman comics on a regular basis for the first time.

    Artists: Stuart Immonen, especially on Secret Identity. Quitely, obviously. Swan drew the definitive Superman, even if I find his art a little bland (pretty, though). I feel the same way about most Superman artists of the ’90s. I like Guedes on the current series.

  12. Jerry and Joe. Important, sure, whatever. Also my FAVORITE Superman run, ever. It’s just so damn pure. “What if there was this guy, and he was strong, and he made the world better.”

    And, yeah, Maggin. Swan, I guess, though I have trouble seeing him working so well when he wasn’t grounding the insanity of the Weissenger Supes.

    Others that nobody talked about much:

    Otto Binder: Because he wrote most of the Superbaby stories.

    I loves me some Superbaby.

    Joe Casey: There was JUST a minute there between crossovers where he was doing this meta-fantastic science fiction-y thing that was based in COOL IDEAS, not… soap opera, or the back and forth squabble about Superman’s origins or other ungood things.

    Ed McGuinness: Big. square, Dick Sprang-y vaguely cubist Superman. And, dang, can dude lay out a page.

    Keith Giffen: All sketchy and skeletal. Drew all the best issues of DC Comics Presents.

  13. all i know is that, right now, i’m borderline obsessed with morrison and quitely’s work.

    the fleischer cartoons also deserve a mention. they are pretty amazing.

    hope all is well!

    :-)

  14. Pingback: Comics Should Be Good! » Steve Gerber, the Son of Satan, and Evil·

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