The Combined Best Comics & Graphic Novels of 2022!


Over the last 5 months there have been many, many websites with “Best of 2022” lists concerning comic books, manga and graphic novels. If you’ve looked at a few, you may have noticed some of the same books on different lists and seen some unique to only that list.

I went through 213 different URLs with “Best Of” Lists regarding comics and combined them into a spreadsheet. There are almost 3,280 different listings of books from these websites. I should note that I’ve included books that were given honourable mentions. In short, if somebody thought it was a good book that you should check out, it’s on here.

This year the #1 book was Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton, published by Drawn & Quarterly. Ducks was picked more than double the amount of times than the #2 book. I’ve been doing these lists since 2015 and no #1 book had that big of a spread between it and the #2 book. This is the 2nd time Kate’s book was #1 on this list, with Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection being tied for that spot in 2015. Congratulations to the very talented and intelligent Kate Beaton for making paying off your student loans pay you.

Ducks by Kate Beaton - Best GN of 2022

The #2 book was Fantastic Four: Full Cirlce by Alex Ross (Abrams ComicArts). It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth by Zoe Thorogood (Image Comics) and The Night Eaters, Book 1: She Eats the Night by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda (Abrams ComicArts) tied for the 3rd spot. The Nice House on the Lake by last years shout out James Tynion IV, Álvaro Martínez Bueno and Jordie Bellaire (DC Comics) are your top 5 recommended books of the year.

Below are all the books with 5 mentions or more.

Book Title Count Writer Artist Publisher
Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands 58 Kate Beaton Kate Beaton Drawn & Quarterly
Fantastic Four: Full Circle 28 Alex Ross Alex Ross and Josh Johnson Abrams ComicArts
It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth 26 Zoe Thorogood Zoe Thorogood Image Comics
The Night Eaters, Book 1: She Eats the Night 26 Marjorie Liu Sana Takeda Abrams ComicArts
The Nice House on the Lake 25 James Tynion IV Álvaro Martínez Bueno and Jordie Bellaire DC Comics
Squire 23 Nadia Shammas and Sara Alfageeh Sara Alfageeh Quill Tree Books
One Beautiful Spring Day 20 Jim Woodring Jim Woodring Fantagraphics
Do A Powerbomb! 19 Daniel Warren Johnson Daniel Warren Johnson and Mike Spicer Image Comics
Wash Day Diaries 18 Jamila Rowser Robyn Smith Chronicle Books
Little Monarchs 18 Jonathan Case Jonathan Case Margaret Ferguson Books
Monkey Meat 17 Juni Ba Juni Ba Image Comics
Batman/Superman: World’s Finest 17 Mark Waid Dan Mora, Travis Moore and Tamra Bonvillain DC Comics
Immortal X-Men 17 Kieron Gillen Lucas Werneck, Michele Bandini, David Curiel and Diijo Lima Marvel Comics
AXE: Judgment Day 17 Kieron Gillen Valerio Schiti and Marte Gracia Marvel Comics
Catwoman: Lonely City 17 Cliff Chiang Cliff Chiang DC Comics
Talk to My Back 17 Yamada Murasaki Yamada Murasaki Drawn & Quarterly
Saga 16 Brian K. Vaughan Fiona Staples Image Comics
Step By Bloody Step 16 Si Spurrier Matías Bergara and Mattheu Lopes Image Comics
Clementine 16 Tillie Walden Tillie Walden Image Comics
X-Men: Red 16 Al Ewing Various Marvel Comics
Keeping Two 16 Jordan Crane Jordan Crane Fantagraphics
Frizzy 15 Claribel A. Ortega Rose Bousamra First Second
Acting Class 15 Nick Drnaso Nick Drnaso Drawn & Quarterly
Chainsaw Man 15 Tatsuki Fujimoto Tatsuki Fujimoto VIZ Media
The Human Target 14 Tom King Greg Smallwood DC Comics
Swim Team 14 Johnnie Christmas Johnnie Christmas HarperAlley
Victory. Stand!: Raising My Fist for Justice 14 Tommie Smith and Derrick Barnes Dawud Anyabwile Norton Young Readers
Birds of Maine 14 Michael DeForge Michael DeForge Drawn & Quarterly
Time Zone J 14 Julie Doucet Julie Doucet Drawn & Quarterly
The Many Deaths of Laila Starr 14 Ram V Filipe Andrade BOOM! Studios
Eight Billion Genies 13 Charles Soule Ryan Browne Image Comics
Nightwing 13 Tom Taylor Various DC Comics
Public Domain 13 Chip Zdarsky Chip Zdarsky Image Comics
Miss Quinces 13 Kat Fajardo Kat Fajardo and Mariana Azzi Graphix
Enter the Blue 12 David Chisholm David Chisholm Z2 Comics
Flung Out of Space 12 Grace Ellis Hannah Templer Abrams ComicArts
Isla to Island 12 Alexis Castellanos Alexis Castellanos Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Men I Trust 11 Tommi Parrish Tommi Parrish Fantagraphics
That Texas Blood 11 Chris Condon Jacob Phillips Image Comics
The Flash 11 Jeremy Adams Various DC Comics
Shuna’s Journey 10 Hayao Miyazaki Hayao Miyazaki First Second
She-Hulk 10 Rainbow Rowell Rogê Antônio, Luca Maresca, Takeshi Miyazawa and Rico Renzi Marvel Comics
Thieves 10 Lucie Bryon Lucie Bryon Nobrow
The High Desert: Black. Punk. Nowhere—A Memoir 10 James Spooner James Spooner Harper
Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow 10 Tom King Bilquis Evely and Mattheus Lopes DC Comics
Lore Olympus 10 Rachel Smythe Rachel Smythe Random House Worlds
Who Will Make the Pancakes 10 Megan Kelso Megan Kelso Fantagraphics
Chivalry 10 Neil Gaiman Colleen Doran Dark Horse Books
Sir Ladybug 10 Corey R. Tabor Corey R. Tabor Balzer + Bray
Detention 9 Tim Hensley Tim Hensley Fantagraphics
Sabretooth 9 Victor LaValle Leonard Kirk and Rain Beredo Marvel Comics
Reckless: The Ghost in You 9 Ed Brubaker Sean Phillips and Jacob Phillips Image Comics
Poison Ivy 9 G. Willow Wilson Marcio Takara, Brian Level, Atagun Ilhan and Arif Prianto DC Comics
Welcome to St. Hell: My Trans Teen Misadventure 9 Lewis Hancox Lewis Hancox Graphix
Amazing Spider-Man 9 Zeb Wells Various Marvel Comics
Messy Roots: A Graphic Memoir of a Wuhanese-American 9 Laura Gao Laura Gao Balzer + Bray
Goodbye, Eri! 9 Tatsuki Fujimoto Tatsuki Fujimoto VIZ Media
Reckless: Follow Me Down 9 Ed Brubaker Sean Phillips and Jacob Phillips Image Comics
Look Back 9 Tatsuki Fujimoto Tatsuki Fujimoto VIZ Media
The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza 9 Mac Barnett Shawn Harris Katherine Tegen Books
A Righteous Thirst for Vengeance 9 Rick Remender André Lima Araújo and Chris O’Halloran Image Comics
Spy x Family 9 Tatsuya Endo Tatsuya Endo VIZ Media
Fine: A Comic About Gender 9 Rhea Ewing Rhea Ewing Liveright
The Good Asian 9 Pornsak Pichetshote Alexandre Tefenkgi and Lee Loughridge Image Comics
The Flamingo 9 Guojing Guojing Random House Studio
Always Never 9 Jordi Lafebre Jordi Lafebre and Clémence Sapin Dark Horse Books
Invisible 9 Christina Diaz Gonzalez Gabriela Epstein Graphix
Cat + Gamer 8 Wataru Nadatani Wataru Nadatani Dark Horse Books
The Tryout 8 Christina Soontornvat Joanna Cacao and Amanda Lafrenais Graphix
Crickets 8 Sammy Harkham Sammy Harkham Commonwealth Comic Book Company
Akane-Banashi 8 Yuki Suenaga Takamasa Moue VIZ Media
The Liminal Zone 8 Junji Ito Junji Ito VIZ Media
Mamo 8 Sas Milledge Sas Milledge BOOM! Studios
Detective Comics 8 Ram V Rafael Albuquerque, Ivan Reis, Danny Miki and Dave Stewart DC Comics
Moon Knight 8 Jed MacKay Allesandro Cappuccio, Federico Sabbatini and Rachelle Rosenberg Marvel Comics
Action Comics 8 Phillip Kennedy Johnson Riccardo Federici, Will Conrad, Dale Eaglesham, Mike Perkins, and David Lapham DC Comics
Once & Future 8 Kieron Gillen Dan Mora and Tamra Bonvillan BOOM! Studios
Days of Sand 8 Aimée de Jongh Aimée de Jongh SelfMadeHero
Galaxy: The Prettiest Star 8 Jadzia Axelrod Jess Taylor and Cris Peter DC Comics
Love and Rockets: The First Fifty: The Classic 40th Anniversary Collection 8 Gilbert, Jaime and Mario Hernandez Gilbert, Jaime and Mario Hernandez Fantagraphics
Kaiju No. 8 8 Naoya Matsumoto Naoya Matsumoto VIZ Media
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin 8 Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird and Tom Waltz Esau Escorza, Isaac Escorza and Ben Bishop IDW Publishing
Wingbearer 8 Marjorie Liu Teny Issakhanian Quill Tree Books
Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths 7 Joshua Williamson Various DC Comics
Suzanne: The Jazz Age Goddess of Tennis 7 Tom Humberstone Tom Humberstone Avery Hill Publishing
As a Cartoonist 7 Noah Van Sciver Noah Van Sciver Fantagraphics
The Thing: The Next Best Thing 7 Walter Mosley Tom Reilly and Jordie Bellaire Marvel Comics
The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton 7 Kyle Starks Chris Schweizer Image Comics
Joseph Smith and the Mormons 7 Noah Van Sciver Noah Van Sciver Abrams ComicArts
The Third Person 7 Emma Grove Emma Grove Drawn & Quarterly
Batman 7 Chip Zdarsky Jorge Jimenez and Tomeu Morey DC Comics
Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons 7 Kelly Sue DeConnick Phil Jimenez, Gene Ha, Nicola Scott and Hi-Fi DC Comics
Twin Cities 7 Jose Pimienta Jose Pimienta Random House Graphic
The Aquanaut 7 Dan Santat Dan Santat Graphix
What Is Home, Mum? 7 Sabba Khan Sabba Khan Street Noise Books
Devil’s Reign 7 Chip Zdarsky Marco Checchetto and Marcio Menyz Marvel Comics
Smahtguy: The Life and Times of Barney Frank 7 Eric Orner Eric Orner Metropolitan Books
The Department of Truth 7 James Tynion IV Various Image Comics
Run on Your New Legs 6 Wataru Midori Wataru Midori Yen Press
Witches: The Complete Collection 6 Daisuke Igarashi and Jamal Joseph Jr. Daisuke Igarashi Seven Seas Entertainment
Ride On 6 Faith Erin Hicks Faith Erin Hicks First Second
Orochi 6 Kazuo Umezu and Molly Tanzer Kazuo Umezu VIZ Media
DC Pride 2022 6 Various Various DC Comics
Salamandre 6 I.N.J. Culbard I.N.J. Culbard Dark Horse Books
The Greatest Thing 6 Sarah Winifred Searle Sarah Winifred Searle First Second
Ultrasound 6 Conor Stechschulte Conor Stechschulte Fantagraphics
One-Punch Man 6 ONE Yusuke Murata VIZ Media
The Projector and Elephant 6 Martin Vaughn-James Martin Vaughn-James New York Review Comics
Chef’s Kiss 6 Jarrett Melendez Danica Brine and Hank Jones Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group
Walk Me to the Corner 6 Anneli Furmark Anneli Furmark Drawn & Quarterly
Daredevil 6 Chip Zdarsky Marco Checchetto, Rafael de Latorre and Matthew Wilson Marvel Comics
The Keeper 6 Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes Marco Finnegan Abrams ComicArts
Jujutsu Kaisen 6 Gege Akutami Gege Akutami VIZ Media
Sakamoto Days 6 Yuto Suzuki Yuto Suzuki VIZ Media
Pinball: A Graphic History of the Silver Ball 6 Jon Chad Jon Chad First Second
It Won’t Always Be Like This: A Graphic Memoir 6 Malaka Gharib Malaka Gharib Ten Speed Press
The Real Riley Mayes 5 Rachel Elliott Rachel Elliott Balzer + Bray
Killing Stalking: Deluxe Edition 5 Koogi Koogi Seven Seas Entertainment
Freestyle: A Graphic Novel 5 Gale Galligan Gale Galligan and K Czap Graphix
Your Pal Fred 5 Michael Rex Michael Rex Viking Books for Young Readers
Forest Hills Bootleg Society 5 Dave Baker Nicole Goux Simon & Schuster
20th Century Men 5 Deniz Camp Stipan Morian Image Comics
The Joy of Quitting 5 Keiler Roberts Keiler Roberts Drawn & Quarterly
Crumbs 5 Danie Stirling Danie Stirling Clarion Books
Rogues’ Gallery 5 Hannah Rose May and Declan Shalvey Justin Mason and Triona Farrell Image Comics
A Frog in the Fall 5 Linnea Sterte Linnea Sterte Peow Studio
X-Terminators 5 Leah Williams Carlos Gomez and Bryan Valenza Marvel Comics
Schappi 5 Anna Haifisch Anna Haifisch Fantagraphics
Ghost Cage 5 Caleb Goellner and Nick Dragotta Nick Dragotta Image Comics
My Aunt Is a Monster 5 Reimena Yee Reimena Yee Random House Graphic
Radical: My Year with a Socialist Senator 5 Sofia Warren Sofia Warren IDW Publishing
Defenders Beyond 5 Al Ewing and Javier Rodriguez Javier Rodriguez Marvel Comics
Katie the Catsitter: Best Friends 4 Never 5 Colleen AF Venable Stephanie Yue and Branden Lamb Random House Graphic
Aquaman: Andromeda 5 Ram V Christian Ward DC Comics
Ice Cream Man 5 W. Maxwell Prince Martin Morazzo and Chris O’Halloran Image Comics
Growing Pangs 5 Kathryn Ormsbee Molly Brooks Random House Graphic
Mazebook 5 Jeff Lemire Jeff Lemire Dark Horse Books
Something is Killing the Children 5 James Tynion IV Werther Dell’Edera BOOM! Studios
What’s the Furthest Place from Here? 5 Matt Rosenberg Tyler Boss, Josh Hickson, Roberto Lopez Ortiz and Sweeney Boo Image Comics
The Well 5 Jake Wyatt Choo First Second
Red Scare: A Graphic Novel 5 Liam Francis Walsh Liam Francis Walsh Graphix
Huda F Are You? 5 Huda Fahmy Huda Fahmy Dial Books
Newburn 5 Chip Zdarsky and Nadia Shammas Jacob Phillips and Ziyed Yusuf Ayoub Image Comics
Heartstopper 5 Alice Oseman Alice Oseman Graphix
Tokyo Revengers 5 Ken Wakui Ken Wakui Seven Seas Entertainment
We Only Kill Each Other 5 Stephanie Phillips Peter Krause and Ellie Wright Dark Horse Books
Iron Man 5 Christopher Cantwell, Kurt Busiek, and Gerry Duggan Various Marvel Comics
My Hero Academia 5 Kohei Horikoshi Kohei Horikoshi VIZ Media

The full spreadsheet with pivot tables for books, writers, artists, publishers and more is available here.

Regarding Publishers:

This year Image Comics was the most popular publisher with 89 different titles.

Marvel was 2nd place (again) with 84 different titles.

DC drops from 1st to 3rd with 69 different titles.

VIZ Media moves from 5th to 4th with 56 different titles.

and Fantagraphics gets the 5th spot with 48 titles.

47 Self-Published books made the list too.

The 3 most popular web comics were (again!) Batman: Wayne Family Adventures by CRC Payne, StarBite, Maria Li and Lan Ma (4 picks), The Nib and I’m Fine I’m Fine Just Understand by ND Stevenson trying for 2nd place with 2 picks each.


Where a reviewer/writer wrote ‘best of’ lists for multiple websites, I’ve cross referenced their lists and removed books that were named twice. I did not think it would be fair if those writers could tip the popularity scale by naming the same book(s) over and over again on multiple websites. Sadly, there was an increase of websites publishing lists with no credit to who (or whom) created the list. In those cases I marked them as n/a but the practice of not crediting writers is a shameful one.

If a writer wrote for multiple sites, but one of those sites picks was a group effort, I did not remove books that are listed twice.

I generally did not include lists that were a mixed of prose books and graphic novels unless there were a significant number of graphic novels on the list, or they had a list of GNs only and put a GN on a otherwise list of prose books. I did find there were more lists like that this year, which was one of the reasons it took me this long to finish this. Many YA prose books have Graphic Novel looking covers and I need to examine previews to determine if it’s comics or not. If this continues to be the trend I may need to just focus on GN/Comics only lists.

I did not use lists where the website was not in English and the books appeared to be translated versions.

With inkers and colourists I often, but not always included them within the Artist section. Where there were multiple (usually more than 5) involved in a book, or in the title’s run over the course of the year, various was used instead of listing them all. In some cases I combined those involved even if they worked on the title for different issues. Where the translaters were credited (without me having to really dig for it) are mentioned on column G of the data. The same goes for the editors of anthologies.

For simplicity sake, if a list named a specific comic book issue or specific volume of a graphic novel, I removed those specifics and just listed the series title, with rare exceptions. The same goes with issue #s. My apologies to the reviewers of those books.

Some reviewers included books that were published in 2021 or earlier. Normally the amount of times these books were mentioned isn’t significant, but I am seeing more and more books pop up that were comics series last year and came up again this year as a collected edition. Most notable for this year is The Many Deaths of Laila Starr, which tied for #1 last year, got 14 picks this year.

Most of the lists were general ‘best/favourite books’ of 2022, but I also included lists dedicated to young readers, manga, LGBTQ+, etc… What type list is noted on column B in the spreadsheet.

A small number of lists also had rankings and those are included in Column C.

This list of websites this list is compiled from:

ABC Canberra
Anime Hunch
Anime Soul King
Asian Movie Pulse
Barnes and Noble
Barnes and Noble
Barnes and Noble
Barnes and Noble
Beneath The Tangles
Big Comic Page
Book Riot
Book Riot
Broken Frontier
But Why Tho?
But Why Tho?
But Why Tho?
Chicago Public Library*1cpl9yo*_ga*NzQ5OTQ3MzIwLjE2NzQwMDQ4Njk.*_ga_G99DMMNG39*MTY3Njk0ODYxMy40LjEuMTY3Njk0ODY0MC4wLjAuMA..
Chicago Public Library*1cpl9yo*_ga*NzQ5OTQ3MzIwLjE2NzQwMDQ4Njk.*_ga_G99DMMNG39*MTY3Njk0ODYxMy40LjEuMTY3Njk0ODY0MC4wLjAuMA..
Chicago Public Library
Chicago Public Library*1kirrze*_ga*NzQ5OTQ3MzIwLjE2NzQwMDQ4Njk.*_ga_G99DMMNG39*MTY3Njk0ODYxMy40LjEuMTY3Njk0ODY0MC4wLjAuMA..
Chicago Public Library*1kirrze*_ga*NzQ5OTQ3MzIwLjE2NzQwMDQ4Njk.*_ga_G99DMMNG39*MTY3Njk0ODYxMy40LjEuMTY3Njk0ODY0MC4wLjAuMA..
Comic Book Club
Comic Book Herald
Comic Book Revolution
Comic Book Revolution
Comic Book Revolution
Comic Book Revolution
Comic Book Yeti
Comic Frontline
Comic Frontline
Comic Frontline
Comic Frontline
Comic Frontline
Comics Beat
Comics Grinder
Comics Wrorth Reading
Comics XF
Den of Geek
Denver Library
Diverse Tech Geek
Diverse Tech Geek
Doom Rocket
Fiction Talk
Film School Rejects
Game Rant
Games Radar
Geek Girl Authority
Geek Hard Show
Geek Network
Geek Vibes Nation
Geekcast Radio
Globe and Mail
Go Book Mart
Go BookMart
Good OK Bad
Good Reeds
Graphic Policy
Horn Book
Horror News Network
Imagination Soup
Imagination Soup
Imagination Soup
Irish Times
Japan Geeks
Joshua Adelglass
Laughing Place
Level Up Entertainment
Library Journal
Lit Reactor
Literary Hub
Locus Magazine
Los Angeles Public Library
Matthew Price
Mercury News
Monkeys Fighting Robots
Multiversity Comics
Multiversity Comics
Multiversity Comics
Multiversity Comics
Multiversity Comics
Multiversity Comics
Multiversity Comics
Multiversity Comics
Multiversity Comics
Multiversity Comics
Multiversity Comics
Multiversity Comics
Multiversity Comics
Multiversity Comics
Multnomah County Library
Nerdy Book Club
Nerdy Book Club
New York Public Library
New York Public Library
New York Public Library
New York Times
New Yorker
Panel Platter
Panel Platter
Panel Platter
Paste Magazine
Pop Culture and Comics
Pop Culture Squad
Pop Matters
Publishers Weekly
Random Thoughts
Reddit r/comicbooks poll
Reddit r/ImageComics
Reddit: culturefan
Reddit: MakeWayForTomorrow
School Library Journal
School Library Journal
Screen Rant
Screen Rant
Screen Rant
Screen Rant
Seattle Public Library
Seattle Public Library
She Reads
Skokie Public Library
Skokie Public Library
Skokie Public Library
Skokie Public Library
Skokie Public Library
Skokie Public Library
Stack Overflow
Texas Public Library
Texas Public Library
The Comics Journal
The Guardian
The Indianapolis Public Library
The Irish Times
The Mary Sue
The Pop Verse
The True Japan,%28Motoo%20Nakanishi%2C%202021%20%E2%80%93%20Present%29%20…%20More%20items
The Turnaround Blog
Toledo Public Library
Toronto Star
Walden Pond Books
Washington Post
What Do We Do All Day
Why So Blu?
Women Write About Comics
Women Write About Comics
Yuri Anime News

Under Appreciated Comic Book Artists

What if I told you the artist that co-created the following characters:

Black Widow
Wonder Man
The Swordsman
The Mandarin
Crimson Dynamo
Titanium Man
The Collector
Count Neferia
Mr. Hyde
Power Man (would later become Goliath, then Atlas)
Living Laser
The Porcupine
The Living Pharaoh/The Living Monolith
The Rainbow Raider
Happy Hogan
Pepper Potts
Alex Summers (would become Havok)
Lorna Dane (would become Polaris)
Dr. Bill Foster (would become Black Goliath)
Captain George Stacy

…is perpetually viewed as a lesser creator?

Don HeckDon Heck doesn’t get the respect he deserves. People often compare Heck to Kirby, Ditko and other creators that were working at Marvel during the 1960s and I think that’s really unfair. I get people look at their respective art/storytelling and prefer Kirby, Ditko, etc.. to Heck and find him the lesser of the bunch.

My argument is regarding his ability to co-create popular, long lasting characters. Many creators have tried to do this, be it for Marvel, DC, or somewhere else. Most attempts fail at reaching the level of success that any of the above list of characters. It’s really, really hard to come up with a character that other writers want to use in shared universe, that in the hands of other creators are entertaining enough that readers will be satisfied enough with the comic they purchased and buy the next one. It’s not like you can tick off a series of boxes in a ‘create a popular character’ manual and get guaranteed success. Don Heck came up with a bunch of those characters, collaborating with a variety of writers and did it for damn near 20 years.

I think if you were to look at his accomplishments and instead of comparing him against Kirby and Ditko, and instead compare them against everybody else who worked in the comic industry from the late 1930s to today, you’ll find that there are only a tiny handful of creators that have done more in that regard than Don Heck has. Many who’ve done less get a more respect than Don Heck does and I’m not saying they don’t deserve their respect, I’m just saying Don Heck gets a lot less than he deserves. Heck gets compared to Kirby and Ditko and he is the only artist that gets compared that way. Nobody looks at say, Jim Starlin or Walt Simonson and decides they are lesser creators because they weren’t Jack Kirby. Nor should anybody do that and they shouldn’t also do that to Don Heck.

Iron CrossAlso, please note that list above is only a partial list of characters Don Heck created. Earlier today I was researching who created a character named Iron Cross. The character made its debut in Invaders #35, but wikipedia said he appeared in issue #36. Checking on Grand Comics Database and reading the actual comic made it clear the character first appeared in #35. Wikipedia also says Frank Robbins was his co-creator despite not having drawn either comic. Don Heck was the artist who drew the first appearance of Iron Cross.











So I reached out the writer/editor of the comic and co-creator of Iron Cross, Roy Thomas and asked him who co-created Iron Cross with him. Below is his response to my e-mail (reprinted with permission):

Hi Jamie —

The artist who designed and first drew Iron Cross was Don Heck, fitting since he was also the first story-drawing Iron Man artist. Much of THE INVADERS #35 is taken from the abortive LIBERTY LEGION #1 that was prepared but then never published as a stand-alone comic; I had Alan Kupperberg add the sequence at the start of the issue, which of course doesn’t feature Iron Cross.

Thanks for the kind words,

So add Iron Cross to that list of characters that Don Heck co-created. I recognize that the character is not very well known or popular compared to the list of characters above, but he has very occasionally been used by other creators since his creation. The last appearance (outside of reprints) that I could find was a 2011 mini series called Invaders Now! done by Alex Ross, Christos Gage, Caio Reis, Vinicius Andrade and Simon Bowland. A new version of the character was created by James Robinson and Steve Pugh for a 2014 New Invaders series.

Something that’s a part of the Eisner Awards that I really like is the Bill Finger Award. It’s for comic book writers who were under appreciated and is given to a deceased and living creator every year. I wish there was a similar award for under appreciated artists. Personally I think it ought to be named after Harry G. Peter, who we have proof co-created Wonder Woman but is not officially recognized as such. All American editors at that time really didn’t like Harry’s work and didn’t want him drawing the title and only got the job at the insistence of Wonder Woman’s co-creator William Moulton Marston. Among the artists I think should be considered for such an award is Bob Brown, Dick Ayers, Paul Ryan, Alan Kupperberg and Don Heck.

* Image of Don Heck comes from League of Comic Geeks.

Steve Darnall Interview

This is my interview with Steve Darnall. He’s probably best know for co-writing Uncle Sam, a Vertigo book he did with Alex Ross. It is a fantastic book and I’m surprised Darnall didn’t get a lot more mainstream comic writing work out of it. This interview was originally published in May 1998.


An Interview with Steve Darnall
Steve Darnall is best known for teaming up with Alex Ross and writing Uncle Sam, a book published by DC Comics. He also writes a comic called Empty Love Stories and is here to talk to us about comics, politics, his current and upcoming work.


Jamie: What is your book Empty Love Stories about?

Steve Darnall: For practicality’s sake, it’s a satire of old romance comics–and more importantly, about the attitudes many of those romance comics espoused. A great number of those stories of the 50s and 60s were written by middle-aged men–often men needing some money before the next superhero or western script came in–and aimed at adolescent girls. Now, if you were to ask a hundred people at random, “Which demographic do you think should be giving young women advice that will shape their lives forever?” I doubt very much if the first answer on their tongues would be, “Middle-aged men.” It’s absurd. So I just decided to be absurd in the extreme.

In the grand, philosophical sense, it’s about the fear of being alone.


Jamie: How long have you been doing Empty Love Stories?

Steve Darnall: The first issue came out in late 1994, another in ’96, a third earlier this year, and we’re planning to reprint issue #1 in July of this year–with another new issue scheduled for January–so that makes almost four years of sporadic loving.


Jamie: Where did you get your start in the comic industry?

Steve Darnall: The embryonic moment came when my friend Alex Ross came to me with an eight-page story he’d done involving the origin of the Human Torch. He wasn’t feeling very confident with his script and asked me to try my hand at it. I did so, we rammed the two scripts together at high speed and suddenly, I’d helped to write a comic book story. Some years later, the story appeared in Marvels #0.

As far as landing a position that suggested I could be in this business for awhile, that came when I took a editorial position at a trade publication called Hero Illustrated in 1993. I learned an awful lot about the industry, worked with some good people, won an Eisner Award and got to cultivate a lot of friendships–some of which I still maintain.


Jamie: Have you ever sent proposals to Marvel and DC? If so what were they?

Steve Darnall: Oh, sure. They were among the many companies that turned down Empty Love Stories–Marvel’s paying the price for that one now! Obviously, Uncle Sam came about in part because of a written proposal. I recently sent something to DC regarding a Batman story, but I hear there’s a long line of folks ahead of me waiting for that character.


Jamie: What inspired you to write Uncle Sam and pitch it to DC Comics?

Steve Darnall: The initial inspiration came from an evening spent over at Alex’s where I mentioned that Sam was one of the few unjustly neglected characters in the DC or Marvel Universes. At that point, the light bulbs over our heads went off. Over the next year or two–a period filled with the Persian Gulf War and the Los Angeles riots and the looming Presidential elections–we discussed the idea that there were really two Americas, the flawless giant we were told about and the rather fragile creature we were seeing in the raw. Then, as the years went by and one of us became a hot property–I’ll let your readers guess which one–Karen Berger approached the hot one about the idea of doing something for Vertigo. Alex brought up “U.S.” and the ball was officially rolling.


Jamie: I’m sure you got some reaction from conservative readers regarding Uncle Sam, how did you deal with them?

Steve Darnall: I accepted them as part of the diversity of opinions that make this nation great and wished they could have directed some of their indignation towards their elected officials, who are doing a far better job of selling us down the river than I ever could.

Actually, there wasn’t a lot of negative feedback brought to my attention, and most of what I did see came from people who’d only read the first issue. In fairness to them, I only read the first half of their letters.


Jamie: I got to ask this.. Who did you vote for in the last election?

Steve Darnall: Let me put it this way: neither Kang nor Kodos.


Jamie: What new books will you be writing?

Steve Darnall: The one thing that remains firmly in place is writing and publishing Empty Love Stories–something of a job in itself these days–and I’m working on getting a new issue written this spring so my artists can have it ready for release next January–just in time for Valentine’s Day. Jeff Smith is scheduled to do the cover. I’m keeping busy freelancing for some other media, in case the powers that be sink comics entirely.

Beyond that, I’ve got a couple of things in the pipeline but nothing so final that I want to talk about it now.


Jamie: As a writer, who are your influences?

Steve Darnall: Oh God…one that leaps to mind is S.J. Perelman. An absolutely brilliant humorist. John Steinbeck. Graham Greene. Howard Zinn. Willie Dixon. Shakespeare. Woody Guthrie. Hunter S. Thompson. The Beatles.

In terms of comics: Will Eisner, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Los Bros. Hernandez.


Jamie: What comics do you recommend to other readers?

Steve Darnall: Of the current crop, my hands-down favorites are Bob Fingerman’s Minimum Wage, and Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting. I’ve never been big on fantasy storytelling but Linda’s work has a great sense of humor and I’m always drawn to that clean, fluid style of art. I thought Ragmop was tremendous; I was really sorry to see it go. Starman has always impressed me: it’s great to see DC publish a book that’s basically about getting along with your father. Let’s see…Palookaville, Manya, Action Girl, Scary Godmother, Bone…I must like Lethargic Lad, since I’m always calling Greg Hyland with story ideas I hope he’ll use…the EC reprints, of course…and of course, anything by Evan Dorkin.