I discovered Kirby late. Real late. I don't think I cared so much as a child but in my adult age I was blown away by his dynamic artwork. It's just jumps of the page with a kinetic energy unlike anything I've seen. I first learned of his work through those grey scale Fourth World reprints and loved it. The only thing I appreciate of those old Fantastic Four stories is amazing artwork. My Kirby collection is small, sadly, but I have bought all those gorgeous Fourth World Omnibus' and will be picking up his OMAC and Demon Omnibus' coming later this year.
2. JH Williams III
The first time I saw him in a Julius Schwartz tribute, it didn't leave much of an imprison. I thought it was good but it didn't leave a mark. Then in the pages of Seven Soldiers of Victory #0 I was astounded. The panel layout, design, character movements and expressions. This surely was "an artists artist." Promethea is quite possibly the most beautiful comic book ever done. And if you've ever seen it and studied it you would probably agree.
3. Frank Quitely
I see lots of fans diss on him for "ugly characters" but I see beauty. Really, I do. I love his Lois Lane. I enjoyed his Jean Grey. I see him fill simple panel layouts with beautiful artwork. The characters on page come to life under his pencil. Frank does so much with so little that its criminal. All Star Superman is my definitive Superman and I loved We 3. Like Kirby I don't own much of Quitely's work but what I do have I cherish. He is a genius.
4. Ai Yazawa
I've become obsessed with Ai Yazawa. Lots of non manga fans would have you believe that American artists can do anything and everything better and Ai Yazawa proves that wrong. No one, and I mean no one, knows fashion like her. Helps she was a fashion major. Her punk rockers look like they came out of 70s UK and her trendy dressed hipsters are all stylish. When I started reading Nana I was taken in my her character design, their expressions, and her storytelling technique. It was also the first time I really was taken by the fashion of the characters. Their looks were as much a part of them as their actions. Nana is the best fucking comic book being published today. I'm just saying...
5. Kenichi Sonoda
There's an 80s cool to Kenichi Sonoda's work. And also an unabashed style of cute girls and big violence. It helps that he is really good at the action scenes. How good? The man's a gun freak so reading Gunsmith Cats its a tutorial on gun brands, lingo, gunsmithing, and proper usage. Plus fast cars and racing. He can also do some seriously cool sci-fi as he was one of the main designers on Bubblegum Crisis. Kenichi isn't the fanciest mangaka out there and his work is straight to the point. But I get a charge out of it.
6. Frank Miller
Miller's the first comic creator I knew by name. First as writer and than as one hell of a crazy artists. His men were big and bulky, his woman sexy in a pulp fashion. Millers work is cinematic in nature. That's why it lends so easily to live action. Ronin, 300, and Sin City all have a style of recognizable and unique. He is a master at what he does.
7. Ross Campbell
All chance here. The than manager of my comic shop tossed Wet Moon volume 1 on me because I bought several SLG titles at the time. Loved the art style. Ross's characters are beautiful and real. If Ai Yazawa draws the best fashions in comics than Campbell's my second pick because his goths and punks do look like they've been making their on clothes or shopping for rivethead fashions. You can tell, character design, mannerisms, and facial expressions are a must with me.
8. Akira Toriyama
Say what you want about Dragonball but do note the following: Over 85 million Dragonball graphic novels sold( thats dated information, with the constant reprints its probably over 100 million), the DVDs of the cartoons based on his work are still top sellers, and Dragonball is the most popular weekly series of all time. Being serialized in Shonen Jump Weekly for over a decade and having its highest numbers at this time. Coincidence? Yeah... going from around six million to having the need of Naruto, Bleach and One Piece to sell half that number is a coincidence. Toriyama is like the manga version of Kirby. Big and larger than life. At least, with Dragonball-I admit to not having read any of his other works. But with 42 volumes of Dragonball I put him in my top ten because his work is filled with a dynamic energy that just captures my imagination.
9. Sam Keith
Ask me what my fav Sandman arc is and I'll tlel you, whatever Sam Keith drew. Yeah, nto Gaimans best stories but Keith's artwork trumsp everythign else. And I admit, I'm nto a big fan of his writing, his artwork just captivates me. It's like a childrens nightmare on acid. I remember first getting to know him through Mtv's Maxx adaption. Then buying those books and more. Good times.
10. Nick Cardy
I've only ever seen Nick Cardy's work in color on covers and online. Everything I own are in Showcase volumes. And I love 'em. First in the few House of Mystery work he did which was a couple stories and many covers and than on Teen Titans. I don't care about Marv Wolfman and Perez's run(though I do like me Perez), give me Bob Haney and Nick Cardy. Cardy's work just exuberant. It has those touches of what made Neal Adams huge but maintains that light heartedness of old school. If DC published a Showcase of his Romance books, I'd buy it. Hell, I might buy an Aquaman one with his work.
Other favorite artists include: Kevin Maguire(Justice League), Paul Smith(Uncanny X-Men), George Perez(Wonder Woman), Dave Cockrum(Uncanny X-Men), Neal Adams(Green lantern/Green Arrow), Koshi Rikdo(Excel Saga), Tohru Fujisawa(GTO), Adam Warren(Empowered), Edurado Risso(100 Bullets), Adrian Alphona(Runaways), Jim Lee(Batman), John Byrne(Uncanny X-Men), Georga Tsuka(Luke Cage-Hero for Hire), Curt Swan(Superman), JG Jones(Wonder Woman), Dave Lapham(Young Liars), Rags Morales(Identity Crisis), John Cassaday(Astonishing X-Men), Marshall Rogers(Detective Comics)and more.