Comics / Spotlight

Making the Leap: From Indie to Mainstream and Beyond

By Dan Horn
April 17, 2011 - 15:12

This is a fantastic age for comic book readers. Just when it seemed that crossover madness was threatening to desensitize us all to wondrous world of superhero comics altogether, a new breed of writer came along and showed us that there are plenty of untapped sagas left in the mainstream comic book reservoir. Rick Remender came from FEAR Agent to revitalize Marvel's lineup with books like The Punisher, Uncanny X-Force, and Venom, and Mike Carey, seemingly out of left field, made the jump from metaphysical indie books like Crossing Midnight and Lucifer to X-Men Legacy, the most compelling X-book on the market at this moment. Here are three more of my favorite creators who have only just recently made the leap from other comic book and literary realms to rejuvenate the Big Two.

Nick Spencer

The Morning Glories scribe went mainstream with series like DC's THUNDER Agents (read my review of this title here) and Marvel's Iron Man 2.0, but perhaps his most impressive feat is bringing a depth and a comprehensive continuity to these titles that is difficult to find within other mainstream comics. It may be said that long-running self-contained arcs are hazardous within comic books, especially after recent and exhausting runs by writers like Grant Morrison on the Batman books and Ed Brubaker on Captain America books, but Spencer's success is testament to his elevation of the graphic serial to an art form. His is the craft of assembling smart epics without toeing the line of philosophical surrealism and gobbledygook. Nick's ability to stay anchored in the somewhat concrete, though fantastic, world of comic book heroism and real-world espionage and terrorism allows for some of the most compelling stories in the medium's history. His respect for the world of comic books is more than evident through his earnest narratives and exemplary character studies.

Nick's current and upcoming books: Morning Glories, Infinite Vacation, THUNDER Agents, Iron Man 2.0, Jimmy Olsen, Secret Avengers

Scott Snyder

Fresh off of kickstarting the noteworthy Vertigo series American Vampire, an unexpectedly refreshing bloodsucker saga of love, of horror, and of the American experience, Scott Snyder took the reigns of a Detective Comics in dire need of galvanization (read my review of this title here).  Not unlike Spencer's work, Snyder seamlessly interlaces convergent plots into a complex narrative, encompassing the darkness at the heart of Gotham City and that same darkness which eats away at the young naïveté of Gotham's newest protector to wear the Batman cowl, Dick Grayson. But it doesn't end there. Snyder does a bit of remodeling, reincorporating long lost characters, tying up mythology's loose ends, and fleshing out characters who haven't seen the glare of the spotlight in years. Also, Snyder's knack for suspense is uncanny. I've called him the Hitchcock of the medium before, and it's no exaggeration. Scott Snyder slowly, yet deliberately, tightens the screw of dread until the head is sheared completely off of it. His work is intelligent, exhilarating, and extensive.

Scott's current and upcoming books: American Vampire, Detective Comics, Batman: Gates of Gotham

David Liss

David Liss made a very different kind of leap to mainstream comics. His foray into Marvel's superheroes is relatively unprecedented given his past work, consisting of critically acclaimed historical novels such as A Conspiracy of Paper and The Devil's Company. David brings his literary flare to his current comics work, Black Panther: The Man Without Fear, weaving a spellbinding tale of immigration, urban violence, and self-discovery unlike any other (read my review of this title here). Surprisingly, Liss also imbues his Black Panther with a respectful amount of comic book traditions, incorporating super-powered brawls and hero cameos aplenty. Black Panther's supporting cast is convincingly and, many times, heartrendingly human. Liss also has a penchant for writing some really fantastic plot twists.

David's current and upcoming books: The Darkening Green (novel), Black Panther: The Man Without Fear

Last Updated: March 10, 2022 - 22:00

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