This page contains a list of the greatest American Comic Artists. The pantheon dataset contains 174 Comic Artists, 56 of which were born in United States. This makes United States the birth place of the 2nd most number of Comic Artists.
The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary American Comic Artists of all time. This list of famous American Comic Artists is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of American Comic Artists.
With an HPI of 75.72, Stan Lee is the most famous American Comic Artist. His biography has been translated into 84 different languages on wikipedia.
Stan Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber ; December 28, 1922 – November 12, 2018) was an American comic book writer, editor, publisher, and producer. He rose through the ranks of a family-run business called Timely Comics which would later become Marvel Comics. He was the primary creative leader for two decades, leading its expansion from a small division of a publishing house to a multimedia corporation that dominated the comics and film industries. In collaboration with others at Marvel—particularly co-writers/artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko—he co-created iconic characters, including superheroes Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Ant-Man, the Wasp, the Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, the Scarlet Witch, and Black Widow. These and other characters' introductions in the 1960s pioneered a more naturalistic approach in superhero comics, and in the 1970s Lee challenged the restrictions of the Comics Code Authority, indirectly leading to changes in its policies. In the 1980s he pursued the development of Marvel properties in other media, with mixed results. Following his retirement from Marvel in the 1990s, Lee remained a public figurehead for the company, and frequently made cameo appearances in films and television shows based on Marvel characters on which he received an executive producer credit, which allowed him to become the highest grossing person in film of all time. He continued independent creative ventures into his 90s until his death in 2018. Lee was inducted into the comic book industry's Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1995. He received the NEA's National Medal of Arts in 2008.
With an HPI of 65.88, Joseph Barbera is the 2nd most famous American Comic Artist. His biography has been translated into 51 different languages.
Joseph Roland Barbera ( bar-BAIR-ə, BAR-bər-ə; Italian: [barˈbɛːra]; March 24, 1911 – December 18, 2006) was an American animator, director, producer, storyboard artist, and cartoon artist who co-founded the animation studio and production company Hanna-Barbera. Born to Italian immigrants in New York City, Barbera joined Van Beuren Studios in 1927 and subsequently Terrytoons in 1929. In 1937, he moved to California and while working at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Barbera met William Hanna. The two men began a collaboration that was at first best known for producing Tom and Jerry. In 1957, after MGM dissolved their animation department, they co-founded Hanna-Barbera, which became the most successful television animation studio in the business, producing programs such as The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, Top Cat, The Smurfs, Huckleberry Hound, and The Jetsons. In 1967, Hanna-Barbera was sold to Taft Broadcasting for $12 million, but Hanna and Barbera remained heads of the company. In 1991, the studio was sold to Turner Broadcasting System, which in turn was merged with Time Warner, owners of Warner Bros., in 1996; Hanna and Barbera stayed on as advisors. Hanna and Barbera directed seven Academy Award films and won eight Emmy Awards. Their cartoon shows have become cultural icons, and their cartoon characters have appeared in other media such as films, books, and toys. Hanna-Barbera's shows had a worldwide audience of over 300 million people in the 1960s and have been translated into more than 28 languages.
With an HPI of 64.79, Carl Barks is the 3rd most famous American Comic Artist. His biography has been translated into 38 different languages.
Carl Barks (March 27, 1901 – August 25, 2000) was an American cartoonist, author, and painter. He is best known for his work in Disney comic books, as the writer and artist of the first Donald Duck stories and as the creator of Scrooge McDuck. He worked anonymously until late in his career; fans dubbed him The Duck Man and The Good Duck Artist. In 1987, Barks was one of the three inaugural inductees of the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame. Barks worked for the Disney Studio and Western Publishing where he created Duckburg and many of its inhabitants, such as Scrooge McDuck (1947), Gladstone Gander (1948), the Beagle Boys (1951), The Junior Woodchucks (1951), Gyro Gearloose (1952), Cornelius Coot (1952), Flintheart Glomgold (1956), John D. Rockerduck (1961) and Magica De Spell (1961). He has been named by animation historian Leonard Maltin as "the most popular and widely read artist-writer in the world". Will Eisner called him "the Hans Christian Andersen of comic books." Beginning especially in the 1980s, Barks' artistic contributions would be a primary source for animated adaptations such as DuckTales and its 2017 remake.
With an HPI of 62.23, Matt Groening is the 4th most famous American Comic Artist. His biography has been translated into 61 different languages.
Matthew Abram Groening ( GRAY-ning; born February 15, 1954) is an American cartoonist, writer, producer, and animator. He is the creator of the comic strip Life in Hell (1977–2012) and the television series The Simpsons (1989–present), Futurama (1999–2003, 2008–2013, 2023–present), and Disenchantment (2018–present). The Simpsons is the longest-running U.S. primetime-television series in history and the longest-running U.S. animated series and sitcom. Groening made his first professional cartoon sale of Life in Hell to the avant-garde magazine Wet in 1978. At its peak, the cartoon was carried in 250 weekly newspapers. Life in Hell caught the attention of American producer James L. Brooks. In 1985, Brooks contacted Groening about adapting Life in Hell for animated sequences for the Fox variety show The Tracey Ullman Show. Fearing the loss of ownership rights, Groening created a new set of characters, the Simpson family. The shorts were spun off into their own series, The Simpsons, which has since aired 745 episodes. In 1997, Groening and former Simpsons writer David X. Cohen developed Futurama, an animated series about life in the year 3000, which premiered in 1999, running for four years on Fox, then picked up by Comedy Central for additional seasons. In 2016, Groening developed a new series for Netflix, Disenchantment, which premiered in August 2018. Groening has won 13 Primetime Emmy Awards, 11 for The Simpsons and 2 for Futurama, and a British Comedy Award for "outstanding contribution to comedy" in 2004. In 2002, he won the National Cartoonist Society Reuben Award for his work on Life in Hell. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 14, 2012.
With an HPI of 61.91, Jack Kirby is the 5th most famous American Comic Artist. His biography has been translated into 48 different languages.
Jack Kirby (born Jacob Kurtzberg; August 28, 1917 – February 6, 1994) was an American comic book artist, writer and editor, widely regarded as one of the medium's major innovators and one of its most prolific and influential creators. He grew up in New York City and learned to draw cartoon figures by tracing characters from comic strips and editorial cartoons. He entered the nascent comics industry in the 1930s, drawing various comics features under different pen names, including Jack Curtiss, before ultimately settling on Jack Kirby. In 1940, he and writer-editor Joe Simon created the highly successful superhero character Captain America for Timely Comics, predecessor of Marvel Comics. During the 1940s, Kirby regularly teamed with Simon, creating numerous characters for that company and for National Comics Publications, later to become DC Comics. After serving in the European Theater in World War II, Kirby produced work for DC Comics, Harvey Comics, Hillman Periodicals and other publishers. At Crestwood Publications, he and Simon created the genre of romance comics and later founded their own short-lived comic company, Mainline Publications. Kirby was involved in Timely's 1950s iteration, Atlas Comics, which in the next decade became Marvel. There, in the 1960s, Kirby created many of the company's major characters, including the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Ant-Man, Thor, Iron Man, the X-Men, the Silver Surfer and the Black Panther, among numerous others. Kirby's titles garnered high sales and critical acclaim, but in 1970, feeling he had been treated unfairly, largely in the realm of authorship credit and creators' rights, Kirby left the company for rival DC. At DC, Kirby created his Fourth World saga which spanned several comics titles. While these series proved commercially unsuccessful and were canceled, the Fourth World's New Gods have continued as a significant part of the DC Universe. Kirby returned to Marvel briefly in the mid-to-late 1970s, then ventured into television animation and independent comics. In his later years, Kirby, who has been called "the William Blake of comics", began receiving great recognition in the mainstream press for his career accomplishments, and in 1987 he was one of the three inaugural inductees of the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame. In 2017, Kirby was posthumously named a Disney Legend for his creations not only in the field of publishing, but also because those creations formed the basis for The Walt Disney Company's financially and critically successful media franchise, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Kirby was married to Rosalind Goldstein in 1942. They had four children and remained married until his death from heart failure in 1994, at the age of 76. The Jack Kirby Awards and Jack Kirby Hall of Fame were named in his honor, and he is known as "The King" among comics fans for his many influential contributions to the medium.
With an HPI of 61.42, Bob Kane is the 6th most famous American Comic Artist. His biography has been translated into 42 different languages.
Robert Kane (born Robert Kahn ; October 24, 1915 – November 3, 1998) was an American comic book writer, animator and artist who co-created Batman (with Bill Finger) and most early related characters for DC comics. He was inducted into the comic book industry's Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1993 and into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1996.
With an HPI of 59.30, Steve Ditko is the 7th most famous American Comic Artist. His biography has been translated into 37 different languages.
Stephen John Ditko (; November 2, 1927 – June 29, 2018) was an American comics artist and writer best known for being co-creator of Marvel superhero Spider-Man and creator of Doctor Strange. He also made notable contributions to the character of Iron Man with the character's iconic red and yellow design being revolutionized by Ditko. Ditko studied under Batman artist Jerry Robinson at the Cartoonist and Illustrators School in New York City. He began his professional career in 1953, working in the studio of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, beginning as an inker and coming under the influence of artist Mort Meskin. During this time, he then began his long association with Charlton Comics, where he did work in the genres of science fiction, horror, and mystery. He also co-created the superhero Captain Atom in 1960. During the 1950s, Ditko also drew for Atlas Comics, a forerunner of Marvel Comics. He went on to contribute much significant work to Marvel. Ditko was artist for the first 38 issues of The Amazing Spider-Man, co-creating much of the Spider-Man supporting characters and villains with Stan Lee. Beginning with issue #25, Ditko was also credited at the plotter. In 1966, after being the exclusive artist on The Amazing Spider-Man and the "Doctor Strange" feature in Strange Tales, Ditko left Marvel for a variety of reasons, including creative differences and unpaid royalties. Ditko continued to work for Charlton and also DC Comics, including a revamp of the long-running character the Blue Beetle, and creating or co-creating the Question, the Creeper, Shade the Changing Man, and Hawk and Dove. Ditko also began contributing to small independent publishers, where he created Mr. A, a hero reflecting the influence of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. Ditko largely declined to give interviews, saying he preferred to communicate through his work. Ditko was inducted into the comics industry's Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1990, and into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1994.
With an HPI of 58.75, Winsor McCay is the 8th most famous American Comic Artist. His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.
Zenas Winsor McCay (c. 1866–71 – July 26, 1934) was an American cartoonist and animator. He is best known for the comic strip Little Nemo (1905–14; 1924–26) and the animated film Gertie the Dinosaur (1914). For contractual reasons, he worked under the pen name Silas on the comic strip Dream of the Rarebit Fiend. From a young age, McCay was a quick, prolific, and technically dextrous artist. He started his professional career making posters and performing for dime museums, and in 1898 began illustrating newspapers and magazines. In 1903 he joined the New York Herald, where he created popular comic strips such as Little Sammy Sneeze and Dream of the Rarebit Fiend. In 1905 his signature strip Little Nemo in Slumberland debuted—a fantasy strip in an Art Nouveau style about a young boy and his adventurous dreams. The strip demonstrated McCay's strong graphic sense and mastery of color and linear perspective. McCay experimented with the formal elements of the comic strip page, arranging and sizing panels to increase impact and enhance the narrative. McCay also produced numerous detailed editorial cartoons and was a popular performer of chalk talks on the vaudeville circuit. McCay was an early animation pioneer; between 1911 and 1921 he self-financed and animated ten films, some of which survive only as fragments. The first three served in his vaudeville act; Gertie the Dinosaur was an interactive routine in which McCay appeared to give orders to a trained dinosaur. McCay and his assistants worked for twenty-two months on his most ambitious film, The Sinking of the Lusitania (1918), a patriotic recreation of the German torpedoing in 1915 of the RMS Lusitania. Lusitania did not enjoy as much commercial success as the earlier films, and McCay's later movies attracted little attention. His animation, vaudeville, and comic strip work was gradually curtailed as newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, his employer since 1911, expected McCay to devote his energies to editorial illustrations. In his drawing, McCay made bold, prodigious use of linear perspective, particularly in detailed architecture and cityscapes. He textured his editorial cartoons with copious fine hatching, and made color a central element in Little Nemo. His comic strip work has influenced generations of cartoonists and illustrators. The technical level of McCay's animation—its naturalism, smoothness, and scale—was unmatched until the work of Fleischer Studios in the late 1920s, followed by Walt Disney's feature films in the 1930s. He pioneered inbetweening, the use of registration marks, cycling, and other animation techniques that were to become standard.
With an HPI of 58.24, Will Eisner is the 9th most famous American Comic Artist. His biography has been translated into 36 different languages.
William Erwin Eisner (March 6, 1917 – January 3, 2005) was an American cartoonist, writer, and entrepreneur. He was one of the earliest cartoonists to work in the American comic book industry, and his series The Spirit (1940–1952) was noted for its experiments in content and form. In 1978, he popularized the term "graphic novel" with the publication of his book A Contract with God. He was an early contributor to formal comics studies with his book Comics and Sequential Art (1985). The Eisner Award was named in his honor and is given to recognize achievements each year in the comics medium; he was one of the three inaugural inductees to the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame.
With an HPI of 58.11, Don Rosa is the 10th most famous American Comic Artist. His biography has been translated into 35 different languages.
Keno Don Hugo Rosa (), known simply as Don Rosa (born June 29, 1951), is an American comic book writer and illustrator known for his Disney comics stories about Scrooge McDuck, Donald Duck, and other characters which Carl Barks created for Disney-licensed comic books, first published in America by Dell Comics. Many of his stories are built on characters and locations created by Barks; among these was his first Duck story, "The Son of the Sun" (1987), which was nominated for a Harvey Award in the "Best Story of the Year" category. Rosa created about 90 stories between 1987 and 2006. In 1995, his 12-chapter work The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck won the Eisner Award for Best Serialized Story.
Pantheon has 56 people classified as comic artists born between 1863 and 1987. Of these 56, 27 (48.21%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living comic artists include Matt Groening, Don Rosa, and Frank Miller. The most famous deceased comic artists include Stan Lee, Joseph Barbera, and Carl Barks. As of April 2022, 8 new comic artists have been added to Pantheon including Richard Corben, Larry Lieber, and John Buscema.
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Which Comic Artists were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Comic Artists since 1700.