Picking a favorite writer is licking picking which of your children is your favorite. You can do it, but you find yourself a bit uncomfortable with it as well. Having read comics since the late ’70s, I’ve seen many writers come and go, styles and depth of the writing, the quality, and scale, all changing and growing as the audience and medium has grown and changed. Things that delighted and dazzled in the ’80s and ’90s seem quaint today. A recent re-read of The Infinity Gauntlet proved that, as well as Secret Wars.
Some writers can stand the test of time, though it always comes down to preference. You can give the nod to such luminaries as Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Jamie Delano, Grant Morrison, and many others with the breadth of what they’ve accomplished. And they’ve all produced some fantastic works that I find exhilarating to this day to be sure.
But when I get down to my favorite writer, it really comes down to a very tough choice of John Byrne and Keith Giffen. Both have made major impacts on the overall structure of their respective publishers that they worked with, though Byrne worked with both of the big two and helped redefine Superman after the Crisis on Infinite Earths. I’m a huge fan of his works, particularly his Fantastic Four run, Alpha Flight with its first dozen issue and his creations with Next Men and more.
But I always give the edge to Keith Giffen. Giffen, of course, gets plenty of positive accolades for many works over the years, especially working with JM DeMatteis on Justice League International, the overall effect of Lobo and his time spent on Ambush Bug delight for different reasons. I’ve read so many works of his over the years that it’s easy to lose track of them all.
But what stands above all else for me is his work on the Legion of Super-Heroes. A lot of that is of course for his extended art run on the book in working with Paul Levitz. But what really defined him for me was his work on the Five Years Later storyline, one that still seems to be quite controversial all these years later and has, to my knowledge, never been compiled in trade form. which is an absolute shame as it’s one of the most intriguing looks at this particular property that takes the clubhouse kids that had grown up and really forces them to deal with the harsh reality of the universe at hand. With beautiful illustrations, great pacing and a tone that separated it from anything else being done at DC Comics at the time – and decades of the property itself that came before it – it’s a defining work that continues to make an impact on me years and years after reading it.
A writer is not just one work, he’s the totality of it all and the experience it all brings. Over his lengthy career, he’s produced a wide breadth of material and continues to be involved in a lot of projects and ideas that delight and find a strange sense of fun that makes him my favorite writer out there.