Coming from a colorful career as an escape artist, magician, and musician, Jim Steranko first created Spyman for Harvey Comics before going to Marvel in the mid-1960s, when he electrified comics fans with his work on “Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” In 1976 he produced the hard-boiled graphic novel Chandler: Red Tide and also pursued a successful career as a paperback cover artist (most notably the Shadow series). He has gone on to do conceptual art for films as well as produce occasional comics covers.
Dave Stevens created the Rocketeer, the retro adventure hero of 1980s indie comics and 1991 movie fame. The Rocketeer combined Stevens’ love of 1930s movies, the golden age of aviation, and 1950s pinup girl Bettie Page. Before becoming a professional artist, Stevens contributed amateur illustrations to early Comic-Con program books in the 1970s. His first professional gig was as Russ Manning’s assistant on the Tarzan comic strip in 1975. Stevens later worked as an animator at Hanna-Barbera and a storyboard artist on projects including Raiders of the Lost Ark and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video. Stevens was the first recipient of the Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award in 1982, and he won an Inkpot Award and the Kirby Award for Best Graphic Album in 1986.
Curt Swan drew Superman for nearly 30 years, from 1955 to the mid-1980s. For many fans, Swan’s version of Superman is the definitive one. He’s also known for his work on Jimmy Olsen,Legion of Super-Heroes, and World’s Finest, featuring team-ups of Superman and Batman.
Popular manga creator Rumiko Takahashi is said to be the bestselling female comics artist in history, with hundreds of millions of her books sold around the world. Takahashi's first published work was the one-shot Katte na Yatsura in 1978. Later that year her first major work began being serialized, Urusei Yatsura. She went on to create such classic works as Maison Ikkoku, Ranma ½, InuYasha, One Pound Gospel, Mermaid Saga, and Rumic Theater. Several of her works have been animated. The year 2008 marked the 50th anniversary of Weekly Shōnen Sunday and the 30th anniversary of the first publication of Urusei Yatsura, and Rumiko Takahashi's manga work was honored in It's a Rumic World, a special exhibition held from at the Matsuya Ginza department store in Tokyo.
Considered the father of the “new realism” style, French cartoonist Jacques Tardi began his comics career in 1970, with stories for Pilote and later Metal Hurlant. He is best known in the U.S. for his Adele Blanc-Sec series and the graphic novels West Coast Blues, The Arctic Maurauder, Bloody Streets of Paris, Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot, and the Eisner Award-winning It Was the War of the Trenches and Goddamn This War.
Osamu Tezuka was the dean of Japan’s comics (manga) and animation (anime) industries from 1947 until his death in 1989. He created such wide-ranging series as Astro Boy (Mighty Atom), Kimba the White Lion (Jungle Emperor), Adolf, Phoenix, and Black Jack. With many of these works now available in U.S. editions, his following and influence among Americans continues to increase, over 20 years after his death.
Roy Thomas helped Jerry G. Bails found Alter Ego, the first real comic book fanzine. From 1965 to 1980 he wrote and edited for Stan Lee at Marvel (X-Men, Avengers, Invaders, Conan the Barbarian, Red Sonja et al.) and served as editor-in-chief from 1972 to 1974. From 1980 to 1986 Roy wrote for DC, mostly titles he co-created such as All-Star Squadron and Infinity, Inc. In 1999 Roy revived Alter Ego for TwoMorrows Publishing.
Don Thompson and his wife Maggie are among the legendary founders of comics fandom. Lifelong fans of science fiction and comic books, they met in 1957 and published their first fanzine, Comic Art, starting in 1961. In 1967 they launched Newfangles, one of the first fanzines devoted to the doings of comics fandom. In 1972 the Thompsons started writing a column for the Buyer’s Guide for Comic Fandom, which later became the Comics Buyer’s Guide (CBG). They ran CBG together from 1983 until Don’s death in 1994. Under their direction, it became essential reading as the industry’s main fan-oriented news magazine. Don was also the co-editor (with Richard Lupoff) of the 1970 book All in Color for a Dime, which got many a comics fan interested in the medium’s Golden Age.
Maggie Thompson and her late husband, Don, are among the legendary founders of comics fandom. Lifelong fans of science fiction and comic books, they met in 1957 and published their first fanzine, Comic Art, starting in 1961. In 1967 they launched Newfangles, one of the first fanzines devoted to the doings of comics fandom. In 1972 the Thompsons started writing a column for the Buyer’s Guide for Comic Fandom, which later became the Comics Buyer’s Guide (CBG). They ran CBG together from 1983 until Don’s death in 1994, after which Maggie continued to manage CBG until it ceased publication in 2013. Under their direction, it became essential reading as the industry’s main fan-oriented news magazine. Maggie has received the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award and the Friends of Lulu “Woman of Distinction” Award. Maggie is a regular contributor to Comic-Con's Toucan Blog; click here to read her monthly posts.
Swiss artist Rodolphe Töpffer is known for his histoires en images, picture stories that are considered predecessors to modern comic strips. His works included Histoire de M. Jabot (1833), Monsieur Crépin (1837), Monsieur Pencil (1840), and Le Docteur Festus (1846). These works were distinctively different from a painting, a political cartoon, or an illustrated novel. The images followed clear narrative sequences over a course of many pages, rather than just a series of unrelated events. Both text and images were closely intertwined. Originally, he drew his comics purely for his own and friends’ amusement. One of his friends, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, liked them so much (especially the Faust parody) that he encouraged Töpffer to publish his littérature en estampes ("graphic literature"). His stories were printed in various magazines and translated into German, Dutch, English, Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish.
Although he didn’t create any famous characters or have long runs on any well-known comics titles, Alex Toth is revered among comics artists for his sparse yet eloquent drawing style and his storytelling techniques. In animation, his character designs for shows such as Space Ghost and Jonny Quest have influenced many a modern cartoonist.
Morrie Turner created the Wee Pals comic strip in 1965. When Wee Pals first appeared, bringing black characters to the comics pages was by no means an easy task. At first, only five major newspapers published the strip. It was not until 1968 and the tragic assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. that Wee Pals achieved nationwide acceptance. Within three months of Dr. King’s death, Wee Pals was appearing in more than 100 newspapers nationwide. In 2012 Turner was the recipient of Comic-Con’s Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award. He also has the distinction of having been one of the handful of pros at the very first Comic-Con in 1970.
Alberto Uderzo was a struggling French cartoonist with several unsuccessful strips under his belt when he hooked up with writer René Goscinny to create Asterix the Gaul in 1959 for the first issue of Pilote, a comics weekly. After Goscinny died in 1977, Uderzo continued to produce Asterix albums on his own.
As a pioneer in the graphic novel, Lynd Ward produced six wordless novels in wood engravings from 1929 to 1937. His first novel, God's Man, was followed by Madman's Drum, Wild Pilgrimage, Prelude to a Million Years,Song Without Words, and Vertigo. All six books have been collected in a two-volume slip-cased edition by Library of the Americas.
Cartoonist Bill Watterson created the strip Calvin and Hobbes, which was syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate from 1985 to 1995. The wildly popular series featured the highly imaginative little boy Calvin and his stuffed tiger, Hobbes, who came to life only with Calvin. In 1986, Watterson became the youngest cartoonist ever to receive the National Cartoonists Society's Reuben Award—the industry's highest honor. Watterson refused all merchandising for the characters, and after its 10-year run, he ended the series, saying that he had done all he could with Calvin and Hobbes. The final strip ran on December 31, 1995.