The Complete Bleeding Cool Top 100 Power List of 2018

Here you go folks, in full, the Top 100 Power List of Comics, 2018 Edition.

Every year, Bleeding Cool runs its Top 100 Power List of members of the English-speaking comic book industry, weighted towards the direct market. It is judged by all manner of attributes, the ability to influence what comics exist and sell, but also the willingness to use that power in the industry to affect things, and the ability to retain said power if a job is taken away. Which is why you will see a number of people on a higher spot than their bosses.

The Power List rewards those who combine roles, creator, publisher, distributor, retailers, those who are double and triple threats, and also where power is concentrated in one person rather than being spread out among many. Some powerful organisations or groups, where power is diffused amongst several individuals, may drop down or drop out altogether.

It does not measure talent or likeability, respect or fairness, and it does not intend to represent diversity or balance. All it does is note power, used for betterment — or detriment — in the English speaking comic book world.

The list was created in consultation with a number of senior figures in the comics industry, and I thank them for their help. Although because they all disagree, they’ll all think the final list is wrong. If you really hate this list, then do the obvious thing. Write your own. But, for now, here are the top one hundred…

 

1. Pam Lifford. (NEW ENTRY) Pam Lifford was named President of Warner Bros. Global Brands and Experiences in September of this year. With twenty-five years experience in this field, including twelve years at Disney, in her first year at WB Consumer Products, she increased business by 47%. The restructuring by Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara, means that DC now rolls up under Lifford along with other areas of the business, including WB Consumer Products, Themed Entertainment and Global Franchise. In her new role, Lifford is expected to take DC to a larger, global stage, including their DC Streaming Service. And she appears to have hit the ground running, with Batman’s penis landing on her desk almost on day one. Reaction internally to her – or what people think she wants at DC has been massive, with a new censorial shroud over the publisher. Books have been cancelled all over the place, editorial decisions are under the spotlight as no one wants to be the new Batman Damned – or indeed the new Border Town. Lifford has overseen swift, brutal decisions and no one is immune to her decisions.

2. Dan Buckley. (UP) Promoted from Marvel Publisher to full-time Marvel President this year as John Nee took the Publisher role, Dan Buckley has the reputation of being the connecting glue of Marvel Comics, where TV meets games meets comics meets merchandise. It all goes through him, as long as he gets his Rocket Raccoon toys for his kids. He runs Publishing and Animation with heavy input into almost everything. Losing influence over the films has seen him concentrate more on the rest of the company, including the comics, which has also led to convergences across Disney media, including recent appearances in Wreck-It Ralph 2 and keeping the Spider-Verse in the comics zone. Just as Star Wars inched open the book market for Marvel, so Conan may do it further in 2019.

3. Dan DiDio. (DOWN) Publisher of DC Comics. It was reports of Dan DiDio calling up Diamond Comic Distributors demanding that the marketshare statistics be recounted over the Batman Not-Wedding and Action Comics #1000 months where Marvel still had a majority marketshare – and Diamond actually did recount and the fingers shifted slightly (but not enough) that reminded me about DC Comics Publisher Dan DiDio’s reputation for micro-management that had faded in recent years. DiDio did a lot of stepping up this year as DC Comics underwent ructions of change, with imprints for younger readers, exclusive comics deals (and exclusive comics) for both Walmart and Target and the Batpenis – which, internally, Dan DiDio took full responsibility for. And still survived. It was under his direction that DC regained its ‘meat and potatoes’ tone, and he managed both the loss of Geoff Johns, the official promotion of his co-publisher Jim Lee, and a moving of Presidents. DiDio however, remained firm, and even made the harshest cancellation of all – of his own New Age Of Heroes title created with Kenneth Rockafort, Sideways, despite getting the best reviews of h,is career…

4. Eric Stephenson. (STAY) Publisher of Image Comics, no one has quite the power – and willingness to use it – to take a completely unknown comic book creator and make them the talk of the town as well as pulling mainstream comic creators from their Marvel and DC teat. He is the go-to choice for the A-List creator looking to own their own work, as well as where Mark Millar took his Netflix imprint Millarworld. Stephenson is the bottleneck through which all comics are approved for publication or not, and he also seeks out new talent, keen for a diverse group of creators on the stage at Image Expo these days. This last year has seen prominent launches include  Die, Die Die Die, Ice Cream Man, Man-Eaters, Farmhand, Unnatural, Flavor, Magic Order, Prodigy, The Dead Hand, Analog, Skyward, The Weatherman, Gideon Falls and Cemetery Beach and more, blossoming in a way they never could have elsewhere. But not even Eric can make new issues of Saga appear from thin air…

5. Isaac Perlmutter. (DOWN) Chair of Marvel, now owned by Disney, and even with Marvel Studios split off from his purview, he still wields extraordinary power at the comic book publisher. From both key appointments and publishing drives, his reputation for cutting anything that whiffs of not making money saw two books chopped this year before they were rapidly relaunched when the trade paperback figures came in. The spotlight on him from his association with Donald Trump and his criticised work regarding the Veterans Department, has brought new eyes on his dealings with other Marvel employees, putting them to use dealing with his personal legal spats. He also seems to have failed to fulfil Disney’s desire to legislatively restrict more content from the 1920s falling into public domain in 2019.

6. Raina Telgemeier. (UP) The best-selling comic book creator in America, with her graphic novels constantly topping the bookseller lists as she owns Scholastic Book Fairs. Marvel and DC Comics don’t come close to this comic book phenomenon. Printing presses are being reserved for her two 2019 volumes, a how-to-create-comics volume called Share Your Smile for April and her new comic book memoir Guts for September. This is the closest America comes to the Asterix phenomenon in the rest of the world.

7. Tom King. (UP)  What a year for Tom King, Mister Miracle, Walmart, Heroes In Crisis and the Batman wedding. Able to tell the kind of stories that have never been told about Batman before, pick his artists, get them spin-off books of their own, even get rid of his editor if need be. No comic book creator has as great a say as Tom King right now. What he wants, he’s getting – and if not, he knows seven ways to kill you where you’re standing.

8. Joe Quesada. (DOWN) He used to be modern face of Marvel Comics, though Joe Quesada has managed to grab a little of that magic. Nevertheless as Chief Creative Officer at Marvel, Joe Quesada is heavily associated with the publisher and has stepped up to take a more proactive role within the publisher. The Marvel Creative Committee no longer advises the films but still has a strong influence across other media which all feeds into the comics these days Still a guiding force at creative summits, the legacy of Secret Wars in the series still being published show his fingerprints. A strong political player at the publisher, he can also bring his still-much-in-demand artistic skills to push one particular project over another.

9. Brian Michael Bendis. (UP) His move to DC Comics via Diane Nelson shook the company to its core and everyone started fighting over their own fiefdoms as Bendis annexed the Superman titles, introduced an unprecedented creator-owned line at the publisher, and kicked off his own imprint of superhero titles with Wonder Comics. He has also seen other creators associated with him come to the publisher, including Kelly Sue De Connick, David F Walker and Matt Fraction (though his projects have yet to be confirmed). 

10. David Gabriel. (DOWN) Senior Vice President of Sales at Marvel, David Gabriel is still getting his one major death-per-quarter once made that there was a scheduled character death every quarter to bump up sales has held true at the publisher ever since. The man who founded the New York City Comic Book Museum back in 1999 is in charge of pushing the public perception of the Marvel superhero across media, and has considerable editorial input as well to create the kind of comics that he can make everything sit up and take notice of.

11. Mike Richardson.  (DOWN) Co-owner and President of Dark Horse Comics, this year saw him sell a chunk of the company to Chinese investors, putting them on the board. This will increase Dark Horse’s access to the Chinese market as well as bringing Chinese IP to the USA, but it is no longer the largest comic book publisher owned by one man. They have lost some licenses of late, but with Stranger Things, Fight Club 3 and Hellboy on the rise, they continue to benefit from their pioneering of gaming art tie-in titles.  Look for a new studio deal in the new year, more films and TV shows for 2019, new comic lines and a new talent programme, with Mike Richardson still given autonomy within the publisher.

12. CB Cebulski. (DOWN) Editor-In-Chief of Marvel Comics, he has one of the keenest eyes for new talent in the comic book industry and his role as EIC has seen him travelling the world, representing Marvel, finding new creators, doing deals with Japanese rock bands and basically getting the Marvel word out and about like never before. At home, he has been keeping the plates spinning, doing what Marvel needs to do to stay top dog, bringing back the Fantastic Four, finding a new way to relaunch the X-Men and keeping up with the TV, movies and now games…

13. Scott Snyder. (DOWN) Taking on some of the Geoff Johns role at DC Comics, Scott Snyder has carved out a solid slice of DC Comics courtesy of Metal, No Justice, The Batman Who Laughs and his ongoing Justice League series topping the charts. He has become a mentor to other creators, and a guide for the future shape of the DC Universe, while still writing books that sell extraordinarily well. He has a habit of standing up against the suits until they came round to his way of thinking, justified by sales and critical acclaim. Despite all this he remains a sensitive creator, leading him to keep fighting for what he has. Look for Bendis’ creator-owned deal at DC to be quite inspiration for Snyder going forward as well…

14. Robert Kirkman. (DOWN) Chairman of Skybound, and partner at Image Comics, Robert Kirkman‘s Walking Dead continues to be a monster market performer, even if it is slightly down in prominence than in previous years. Coupled with strong performances from his other titles, Robert Kirkman still has the power to up-end the comic book scene, such as the surprise launch of DIE DIE DIE this year with Chris Burnham, circumnavigating the solicitation process by throwing lots of money at it. Will anyone match him for April Fool’s Day?

15. Geoff Johns. (UP) He may have dropped from CEO of DC Comics, but he is still co-writing the DC movies, the Doomsday Clock comic which is setting out the near future for the DC Comics Universe, relaunching Shazam for the upcoming movie, with Legion and the Justice Society of America being revamped too. And there’s still The Three Jokers from Black Label and Johns’ announced-but-undetailed imprint The Killing Zone, set to match Brian Bendis‘ Wonder Comics line. We will see…

16. Kevin Feige. (DOWN) Head of Marvel Studios, and while how may not be talking to the comics side of the publisher, they follow his lead, his whom, his instinct. Which is why the current Marvel lineup is now full of Captain Marvel, Skrulls, Infinity Wars and Avengers. Expect a bump for Spider-Man to come through the year. And all the people on the mutant books wondering what the Disney buyout of Fox is going to mean for the comic books they will get to publish.

17. John Nee. (NEW ENTRY) Publisher of Marvel Comics. A low public profile for a man in such a position, Nee has a long experience as Publisher of Wildstorm, SVP of Business Development at DC, CEO of Cryptozoic, he ha an unmatched breadth across disciplines, media and brands – especially in comics –  and seems to know everyone as a result. A strong political player he oversees the health of the comics line, keeping up quality, managing budgets and guiding marketing.

18. John Cunningham. (UP) SVP of Sales, Trade and Marketing at DC Comics. Still getting massive coverage of DC Comics in the mass media, though Courtney Simmons may have taken a few opportunities for herself here. A very political operator, he is adept at playing folk off against each other and keeps his cards well hidden until he pulls them out, mid-meeting.

19. Steve Geppi. (UP) President and sole owner of Diamond Comic Distributors. He’d be higher on this list if he behaved like the censorious Steve Geppi of old he seems to allow the invisible hand of the marketplace to do most of that work now. He has been taking a stronger hand on the tiller with less distraction from his museum and other business interests this year. He has recently allowed more publishers into his Premier Publishers club, with Boom and Dynamite joining the throng, with Oni, Valiant, Action Lab and Lion Forge looking on from outside wondering what on earth they have to do…

20. Donny Cates. (UP) Marvel’s wunderkind, he was snatched from the smaller and creator-owned press and has had a glorious year as he gave Marvel a best-selling Thanos and Venom series, burning through multiple printings without the aid of any anniversaries, as well as being trusted by Marvel to lead their Marvel Knights book, something that will have had a lot of importance for CCO Joe Quesada.. Now he looks set to do it again with Guardians Of The Galaxy, all the time while keeping his creator-owned books at AfterShock, Image and Vault spinning and selling the TV and movie rights. The hottest writer in comic books right now.

21. Tom Brevoort. (STAY) Executive Editor and Senior Vice President of Publishing at Marvel Comics, overseeing Marvel’s line, and as a strong public face of Marvel Comics with a strong and active social media following. One of the longest standing employees at the publisher, to all intents and purposes, he is Marvel Comics, though a more public role from EIC CB Cebulski has challenged that this year. He also remains the keeper of The Book, green lighting pitches from hopeful editors and creators alike.

22. Jim Lee. (DOWN) CCO and publisher of DC Comics, taking Geoff Johns’ title at the publisher this year, he is often dismissed as some kind of artistic figurehead of DC Comics. But he repeatedly. He is always on hand to give the big books a big boost, including Bendis’ first Superman story in Action Comics #1000 – and its cover. Find him on the most premium of DC Comics titles – even if Immortal Men was anything but. Now, whatever happened to Milestone, Jim?

23. Marie Javins.  (UP) Named one of the 29 Women Who Took Over The World In 2018 as part of Refinery 29’s Matriarchy Power List, she’s been dubbed by people I’ve spoken to as the ‘editor of choice’ at DC Comics. A remarkably accomplished Group Editor of the Justice League titles at DC, keeping Scott Snyder (and many others) happy and making the Hanna Barbera books far better than they had any right to be – will Marvel try and steal her back in 2019?

24. Brian Azzarello.  (NEW ENTRY) Has an uncanny ability to pick and choose the comic books that will make the most fuss. His work with Frank Miller and Lee Bermejo has hit the headlines and its hardly a coincidence.  He gets comic books press – whether they, or the company, wants it or not. His rumoured relaunch of Suicide Squad in 2019 will do the same, if only for the proposed identity of one of its new members…

25. Brian Cunningham. (DOWN) Group Editor of the Superman books, while also editing Doomsday Clock for DC Comics, and The Green Lantern, it’s his job to keep the peace between certain factions at the publisher, and encourage everyone to play nice – and in Brian Bendis, Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison, all telling the same story. Just about. If only he could have kept DC Nation going…

26. Frank Miller. (UP) Possibly the best known living comic book writer and artist, through a mixture of films based on his comics and using his name in their titles, as well as the legacy of Dark Knight Returns, his name attachment to The Master Race – however nebulous his involvement with the comic book actually was – saw it rocket to the top in sales. Having got health issues under control, Miller has more Batman and Dark Knight plans for DC with Superman: Year One on the way, and more Sin City and 300 plans for Dark Horse which are likely to keep him near the top of this list if they continue to sell in the same way.

27. Sana Amanat. (UP) Marvel Vice president of Content and Character Development Director, co-creator and editor of Ms Marvel, she is a very strong voice internally and Marvel and a face for the publisher to the rest of the world. Her ten years at the publisher combined with her media profile and involvement with new projects at the publisher reaching out to new audiences, with Marvel Rising and Secret Warriors most prominent now. She did much to counter criticism of CB Cebulski when made Editor-In-Chief as well.

28. Bobbie Chase. (NEW ENTRY) VP and Executive Editor of the Zoom and Ink lines at DC Comics, that has been running for over a year and will see publication very soon. DC Comics has invested in these imprints as the future for the line, taking successful writers from Young Adults and Children’s novels, teamed them with established comic book artists and given them the keys to the DC Comics kingdom, and incorporating the uber-successful DC Super Hero Girls line as well. If DC Comics has 2020 vision, this is it…

29. David Steinberger. (UP) In charge of ComiXology, the digital comic book distributor and publisher, the market has been . ComiXology has proved a very strong way for people far from comic shops or bookstores to connect with their favourite stories, and has seen the likes of The Wicked + The Divine, Ms Marvel and Critical Role target a far larger audience than print would have allowed them. And ComiXology’s creation and promotion of such titles has changed the rules by which people can successfully publish.

30. Bob Harras. (DOWN) Editor-In-Chief of DC Comics line. This is more of a managerial role than at rival publishers, but Harras has a strong reputation for keeping the comic books coming out on time and enforcing stringent penalties for those who don’t. A strong relationship with Jim Lee going back decades, Harras plays certain favourites among the creative teams and ensures Scott Lobdell will always have a comic to write at DC if he wants one.

31. Grant Morrison, OBE. (NEW ENTRY) Editor-in-chief of Heavy Metal Magazine, with a TV adaptation of his Happy TV series airing, a Wonder Woman graphic novel and a revived The Green Lantern topping the charts, it’s s a good time to be Grant Morrison. And he’s finally topped Mark Millar on this list as well. A highly prized writer, he chooses his work sparingly and with care and with editors who know to get the hell out of his way. Magician, musician and marketer, each step he makes seems out of kilter with every other step, but when you look back there is just a straight line. Successfully and unpredictable, he is the very definition of the words commercial and artist.

32. Nick Landau. (UP) The owner of Titan Comics, the second largest comics publisher owned by one man, Nick Landau adds to this portfolio by also owning Titan Magazine and the Forbidden Planet chain of comic book stores. He has the reputation of a micro-manager at Titan Comics and is both the commissioner and gatekeeper of every comic book that goes through this publisher, with a range of licensed, creator-owned and translated comics work from Rivers Of London to Doctor Who to Robotech to Tank Girl. Losing the Games Workshop and the disappearance of Diablo may be dents in that reputation.

33. Sean Murphy. (UP) Writer/artist on the smash hit comic book series Batman: White Knight series which outperformed all expectations this year that has seen him given the DC Comics keys to sequels and spinoffs at his leisure. Basically right now he gets to do what he wants (as long as it doesn’t include showing off Harkey Quinn’s nipples.)

34. Jeff Lemire. (UP) Comic book writer/artist with a wide spread of work across publishers, is about to extend that with his DC Comics/Dark Horse crossover with Black Hammer and the DC Universe, coming in the light of the new TV series announcement and his work,m coming to an end on transdimensional comic book The Terrifics for DC, all while keeping his many other creator-owned comic book plates spinning as he steps in and out of other media. Well, he does have to keep Caitlin DiMotta busy…

35. Courtney Simmons. (UP)  Senior Vice President of Publicity for DC, she survived the transition from Diane Nelson to Thomas Gewecke to Pamela Lifford. She was principal for Batman getting his wedding promoted everywhere (even if he didn’t have one) and for Action Comics #1000 becoming a major media event, all the time while also dealing with various scandals breaking out across the publisher, leading the response to Batman: Damned.

36. Nicola Barrucci. (UP) Dynamite Entertainment of New Jersey is the largest comics publishing company owned by one man – Nicky. He also owns Dynamic Forces and is rumoured to have fingers in comics-focussed websites as well. With a mixture of strong licenses and pulp reimaginings of the public domain, Barrucci maintains a solid marketplace share and comic book indusry presence.

37. Jeph Loeb. (UP) Writer of Teen Wolf and Commando, his first love was comics, and he managed to combine both careers and loves on Smallville and Heroes before becoming the go-to man for Marvel TV series. Head of Marvel TV, and the shows he managed to get on air heavily impact Marvel Comics offerings for the year. The film/TV divisions being at loggerheads has diluted his impact, as has the Netflix dropping of shows, but the upcoming Disney Plus and Hulu possibilities may reverse that.

38. Ross Richie.  (DOWN) Publisher of Boom! Studios, now co-owned by Fox Studios, he continues to grow the company as they publish a mixture of originated work, licensed work and celebrity name titles, all with an eye to future media exploitation. They have continued the Adventure Time titles past the lifespan of the show, grabbed a bunch of licenses previously associated with Dark Horse and was canny enough to make sure something as successful as Lumberjanes was not creator-owned….

39. Kieron Gillen. (UP) Writer of smash digital hit The Wicked + The Divine with Jamie McKelvie. and has just followed it with Die with Stephanie Hans, as well as Star Wars for Marvel, Uber and Cinema Purgatorio for Avatar and Pete Cannon for Dynamite, he is a writer much in demand and able to pick and choose his future.

40. Mark Doyle. (UP) The man behind Black Label and the smash hit that is Batman Damned at DC Comics – and all that came with it, as well as Vertigo and Young Animal. If he can find a future for Black Label post-Batpenis, DC could be his. Being married to Boom Studios’ Executive Editor Jeanine Schaefer also given him access to a much wider group of talents than he may have encountered by himself.

41. Mark Millar. (DOWN) The man who sold Millarworld to Netflix, he continues to have an extraordinary ability to attract A-List artists to his projects even if they are no longer creator-owned, recently including Kevin Smith on Hit Girl. Money talks. His ability to launch a book has been lessened however, as The Magic Order with Oliver Coipel was only a hit when he got Reed POP to order 100,000 of the first issue and warehouse them, in return for a trip to C2E2. Prodigy‘s launch with Rafael Albuquerque was relatively ignored.

42. Jason Aaron. (UP) Lead writer from Marvel of The Avengers and Thor, with the War Of The Realms event coming, Aaron has been the connective tissue between the Alonso and the Cebulski EIC reigns as the publisher recently resolves all the threads begun by Marvel Legacy with the return of the Fantastic Four, the Infinity Wars series, Avengers 1,000,000 BC and War Of The Realms on the schedules. Will Jason have a similar role in writing the following chapter for Marvel Comics?

43. Nick Spencer. (NEW ENTRY) Everyone apart from Ta-Nehisi Coates has forgotten Secret Empire, leaving Spencer to pick up the Slottless Spider-Man and reinvent the comic as a flatshare sitcom with his friends from Superior Foes. And sales success has been his, challenging Tom King‘s Batman on a number of occasions, regularly Marvel’s best-selling title and retailers finding themselves selling out and re-ordering repeatedly. It’s like the good old says of Superior Spider-Man…

44. David Steward II. (NEW ENTRY) Owner and founder of St Louis publisher, Lion Forge, a comics publisher recently undergoing its own restructuring, he sells himself as a photographer done good but is also the son of multi-billionaire David Steward, Chairman and Founder of World Wide Technology, Inc, with vast potential resources and funding opportunities to draw upon.

45. Jamie Rich. (DOWN) Group Editor of Batman and one recruited to the fold by Tom King over a spat with the Bat/Cat proposal, Rich edits DC’s most prominent and best-selling group of books and with the ability to spin them off into all sorts of chart-busting books. Being EIC at Oni Press, running DC Vertigo and writing his own comic books over the years have stood him in good stead even when it’s now all about billionaires punching each other on Gotham’s rooftops.

46. Kelly Sue DeConnick. (UP) Writer of Bitch Planet and Pretty Deadly, a strong voice in the comics industry fuelled with the Captain Marvel movie based on her take on the character, she remains a font for advice, support and comradeship, and her production company with Matt Fraction, Milkfed, continued to develop new comics and adapt and represent them for other media.

47. Stanley Lau. (UP) The effect that a cover by Stanley Lau can have on a comic book, especially if it concerns a young woman character, should not be underestimated and has a significant effect on the weekly charts. If he goes the way of J Scott Campbell and creates, markets and sells more of his own work than he does already, there’s no limit as to where he goes – but be warned, the likes of Joshua Middleton and Stjepan Sejic are nipping at his heels.

48. Chris Ryall. (DOWN) The Prodigal Son has returned to IDW Entertainment, now it has divested itself of Greg Goldstein (who dropped off this list faster that you could say ‘the appointment of legal counsel’) – but while he departed earlier in the year as EIC, he has returned as Publisher and EIC of IDW, struck down but returned mightier than ever before. It’s been a very long time since Movie Poop Shoot for Kevin Smith, but he wields his influence widely. Will he be able to bring back Dirk Gently?

49. Mike Mignola. (UP) Creator of Hellboy and showrunner of the Mignolaverse at Dark Horse, the only license with no danger of leaving Dark Horse, with an upcoming movie reboot and a Hellboy Day all to itself, Mignola may have never had as high a profile, especially as he has returned from his painting sabbatical.

50. Marjorie Liu. (NEW ENTRY) Novelist-turned-comics writer, the first woman to win Best Writer at the Eisners this year, the powerhouse behind chart-topping Monstress, she also let a path of superheroes at Marvel and is most associated with X-23. A headline grabber, she also teaches a course at MIT on comic book writing and participates at the VONA/VOICES Workshop at UC Berkeley. She is shaping the comics that are told now and influencing the voices to come.

51. Rick Remender. (UP) Writer and co-creator of Deadly Class, Black Science, Low, Deadly Class, Tokyo Ghost and more from Image Comics, he has shown a strong ability to get the best talents, strong sales and backed by media deals that will push his prominence even further. If you are looking for the next Mark Millar, with slightly less sexual assault (in the comics), here’s your man.

52. Chris Powell. (DOWN) Retailer turned VP Retailer Services at Diamond Comic Distributors, Chris Powell has spearheaded a number of initiatives in the comics distribution industry, encouraging and incentivising retailers to launch new stores or expand, by persuading publishers to offer them very attractive terms. When you see a store opening another location, this was down to him making it at attractive an option as possible and helps him run the Red Queen’s Race against the decline of print and comic stores closing. He also pushes increased technology into stores allowing them to monitor stock and increase it where needed.

53. Gail Simone. (NEW ENTRY) Leading comic book writer, advisor, social media presence and whose Women In Refrigerators continues to impact all over the place, Simone has also become showrunner of the Lion Forge line of superhero comic books. With a massive social media following and an uncompromising attitude, Simone always brings a lot to the party.

54. Ta-Nehisi Coates. (DOWN) Writer of Black Panther, as well as a literary activist, he has brought attention to this comic alongside the release of the movie, and has created a small but new fanbase for Marvel comic books. His work on Captain America

55. Jeff Krelitz. (NEW ENTRY)  The man who holds the keys to Heavy Metal Magazine, and licenses heavy metal bands for comic book lines. Combined that gives him the biggest lines at Comic-Con and can bat above his weight when recruiting talent. Who else would Grant Morrison have said yes to be EIC of, aside from Heavy Metal? He has monetized one of the best pools of brand good feeling among comic book creators.

56. Nick Lowe. (UP) Editor of Marvel’s Spider-Man titles, currently having quite the revival courtesy of the likes of Nick Spencer, Humberto Ramos, Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman and Chip Zdarsky, with some help from Venom and Spider-Verse movies. The only Marvel comic that can go toe to to with DC’s Batman on occasion, and Lowe is the man who steers the line to the top.

57. James Killen. (DOWN) Buyer at Barnes & Noble for forty years, he specialises in the sci-fi and comics lines which still present a strong face to the public for comic books. His picks and decisions have a remarkable impact on the way comic books appear to the masses, even if Barnes & Noble has a lesser presence in book sales in recent years.

58. Jordan D. White. (DOWN)  Marvel’s X-Men Group Editor after launching their Star Wars line, he’s leading the Uncanny X-Revival that has seen the main title go weekly, sent the O5 back, brought back Scott Summers, and try to create an X-line that the movie guys may even vaguely recognise while setting up events for 2019. He also maintains a strong social media presence with a genial and fanboyish personality.

59. Dave Marshall. (DOWN) Editor-in-chief of Dark Horse Comics, now with an added Chinese investment boost, his choices, recommendations and picks have just been given a few espresso shots for 2019. As Fox licenses jump one by one to Boom Studios, Marshall will be looking to replace them with newer options. Stranger Things for 2018 and Minecraft for 2019 are two of the more prominent, and they are also well in with Critical Role

60. William Christensen. (UP) Publisher and owner of Avatar Press, and publisher of Bleeding Cool. One of the few comics publishers Alan Moore will work with, as well as a roster in including Kieron Gillen, Christos Gage, Max Brooks, Kevin O’Neill, he has plenty to announce in 2019.

61. Shea Fontana. (NEW ENTRY) Lead creative on the DC Superhero Girls initiative at DC Comics, this repurposing of DC Comics icons for a new generation, has inspired DC Comics to spin off both Ink and Zoom imprints for Young Adult and Kids readers. The book continues to be a monster seller as it spins off across media. Her choices for the characters that get picked and chosen can revive the characters in the public mind and sow the seeds for success decades to come.

62. David Macho. (NEW ENTRY) Agents, especially for Spanish comic book artists working in the USA, he’s the man who keeps many a book at Marvel and DC on the rails under challenging schedules. He’s not alone in that game but he’s the longest serving and most prominent.

63. Benny Potter and Rob Jefferson (DOWN) – YouTubers going under under the names Comicstorian and Comicsexplained. They have more YouTube subscribers than any other focused comic book video commentators (Benny pips it) and keeps the comic book commentary going even when other media tempt. Strong appreciation for comic books from these two can make a noticeable difference in the comic book stores.

64. Matthew Rosenberg. (NEW ENTRY) One of the writers of the new Uncanny X-Men series, he maintains a variety of comics across publishers, fingers in Black Mask Comics and innovative marketing techniques that make him a bit of a one man band when it comes to comics.

65. Pepe Larraz. (NEW ENTRY) A needle-mover for Marvel Comics, his comic style is the closest to a modern version of what the Image Comics guys did back in the day, a kinetic approach to action adventure with detail, direction, speed, pleasing features and innovative panel use. Just off Extermination for Marvel, he’s currently being repurposed by them for cover duty, before he picks his next superstar project.

66. Fiona Staples. (NEW ENTRY) Saga is taking a break for a year. This is more of a Fiona Staples move than a Brian K Vaughan move (though his Legendary deal must be a factor). As a result, comic book fans are in mourning, as are comic book retailers and Image Comics have dropped a percentage point or two on the monthly charts until the comic returns. Fiona gets to work on some different material in the interim while also taking more of a break. And the comic book industry waits for her return to Saga…

67. Mike Marts. (NEW ENTRY)  Editor-In-Chief of AfterShock Comics. TKO and WAALLC are launching, and competing for the same kind of creator-owned titles that Aftershock are publishing, who also have to deal with a newly financed Dark Horse Comics, Chris Ryall returning to IDW and the continuance of Vault, Oni Press Black Mask. But AfterShock still manages to find biggish name creators – and the potential of biggish media deals to match. Marts continues to use his experience of editing the big Marvel books to land the sizeable fishes

68. Renfamous. (NEW ENTRY)  A cosplayer-turned-confidant of the comics industry. While 2018 was full of comicsgate hate expressed towards comic book creators, Renfamous took on the role of the Sin Eater and actively sought out that attention, drawing them away from their usual targets. If comic creators across the industry felt a collective sigh of relief that the hatred felt like it was getting less, Renfamous was part of that reason, serving as a single-handed teflon-coated lightning rod and giving everyone else a break. She is set to earn the fruits of her labour.

69. Charlie “Spike” Trotman. (UP) Cartoonist and publisher as Iron Circus Comics, the largest comics publisher in Chicago, she sponsors the “Creators For Creators” grant and has monetised the crowdfunding-as-pre-order continually and longer than anyone else, raising millions directly from readers. She’s also been able to publish erotic comic books at a time when a new puritanism is challenging such moves again.

70. James Tynion IV. (NEW ENTRY) A rising central voice at DC Comics, alongside his mentor Scott Snyder, this comic book writer is using the Batbooks as a way to build a lot of what will be DC Comics through 2019, while his work on Hellblazer is being stripped for DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow. Expect a monotonous list of announcements going forward with his name attached.

71. Jon Goldwater. (NEW ENTRY) Co-CEO of Archie Comics, Goldwater has seen a revival of the brand grow, from relaunching Archie in a Young Adult direction, chasing newspaper headlines, creating horrific and political spinoffs and seeing the Riverdale TV show find a whole new audience for the Archie comic books. He has overseen the re invention of what an Archie Comic book could be across today’s society. Next stop, India…

72. Tim Lenaghan. (DOWN) Vice President of Purchasing at Diamond Comic Distributors. You would like a book in Diamond’s Previews catalogue? And into the direct market of comic book stores? The buck stops with him. He is directly involved with anything that goes on in the direct market of comic stores and the bookstore market to whom Diamond supplies. He negotiates contracts with comic book publishers and has direct power over almost every one of them.

73. Caitlin DiMotta. (UP) A partner at Katz Golden Rosenman LLP , specialising as an attorney in entertainment law, and more specifically with comic book creators, including Ed Brubaker, Rick Remender, Kelly Sue DeConnick, and Chip Zdarsky. A well-regarded negotiator with publishers, with merchandising, and with media rights, she’s been responsible for some very attractive deals and an extra zero on the end of some paycheques. A lawyer who’s liked? That’s a very powerful attribute to have indeed.

74. Ethan Van Sciver. (NEW ENTRY) Leaving DC Comics after prominent creators refused to work with him anymore, he used the usual mixture of Comicsgate virtue signalling, identity politics and mocking hater videos to raise over half a million dollars on Indiegogo, for his still-upcoming Cyberfrog comic revival. The highest amount raised on crowdfunding by any comic creator in the year, it helps that he can actually draw. This helped him take the position as leading Comicsgate figure as Richard Meyer stepped back, due to his legal case with Mark Waid, and not wanting to give the defence further ammunition.

75. Christina Merkler. (NEW ENTRY) Co-owner of the international comic book discount site DCBS, Diamond Comics’ biggest comics account,  with a major influence as to what comics she recommends to her customers, she is also president of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, able to heavily influence which cases the activist free speech group take on.

76. Greg Capullo (DOWN) artist on Batman, Metal, Reborn and the upcoming Batman: Last Knight On Earth with Scott Snyder, he’s one of the comic artists who can really move that needle, with a strong fan presence. His confirmation of being on the creative roster of Detective Comics #1000 was the most shared on social media and whatever he does, Batman, Creech or Reborn 2, you can expect it to top all manner of charts.

77. Simon Kinberg (DOWN) – producer at Fox most associated with their Marvel superhero line and who has the biggest influence on where the mutants may appear in the movies net, currently with Deadpool, Dark Phoenix and New Mutants in mind. The Disney buyout may have reduced his placement, as other fiefdoms at Disney seem intent on carving it up, and sticking their oar in as to where the mutants go now, but his recommendations have a strong influence on what comic books Marvel publish and when. Even an aborted release date for New Mutants for 2018 still saw Marvel publish a new series to play up to when it would have been.

78. Jordie Bellaire (UP) – Comics colourist extraordinaire and one of the most sought after in her field. A stack of awards, she works on the biggest books in the industry from Vision to Batman to Captain Marvel, to big name creator-owned books like Injection, The Massive and Manhattan Projects, she is also a sounding board and a font of advice for much of the comics industry.

79. Zainab Akhtar (UP) – comic book journalist and publisher behind the Shortbox small press publishing phenomenon, her expressed opinion has a habit of shining a spotlight on some of the industry’s excesses in a way that makes people want to fix them as soon as possible – or face a social media backlash. Whether that’s guest policy at the Lakes International Festival, others’ plans to market a Shortbox rival, or the comic book publishing plans of Abrams regarding Dave McKean, she has an impressive ability to help people see things in a Shortbox way and to action change as a result.

80. Josh Williamson (NEW ENTRY) Writer on Flash, its his ties with Scott Snyder and Tom King, bridging the gap between them, which is so valuable – both to his position on this list and to DC Comics. But 2019 may be his year to fly after the Batman/Flash crossover for Heroes In Crisis. I am told to look to how he is guiding a significant chunk of DC Comics to follow his speedster path.

81. Matt Gagnon. (UP) Editor-In-Chief of Boom! Studios, he’s a major curator of a major line of titles in comics — as well as writer of The Day Men. Matt has lead to expand the publisher into all ages and young adult comic books that have led publishers like DC Comics into similar territories.

82. Gina Gagliano. (NEW ENTRY) Director of Random House Graphic, a dedicated graphic novel imprint, releasing its first graphic novels in 2019, and reporting to Judith Haut, Random House Senior VP. Previously a longtime member of staff at First Second Books, and a programmer of comic book festivals, Gina Gagliano has been writing and arranging major publishing deals for a number of major creators – which may be why you haven’t heard what your favourite creator has been working on for a while now. She is specialising in titles for children and young adults, focusing on both commercial and literary graphic works

83. Hajime Isayama. (NEW ENTRY) Creator of Attack On Titan, the most popular manga in the USA and one of the bests selling comic books of all time. His schedule, his whims, what he signs off on and what he does not, make major marketplace waves.

84. Robbie Robbins. (DOWN) Letterer-turned-co-founder of IDW Publishing, he is now Executive VP and Senior Graphic Artist, setting the look of the comics publisher and still keeping his hand in on the lettering duties. He retains a hands-on role in a tight, small group of IDW execs, as the publisher continues its expanse from comics into games, TV, and film.

85. Kat Salazar. (DOWN) Director of PR and Marketing at Image Comics,  the success of many titles this year has come from getting new properties in front of as many eyes as possible, and this is visible by the number of best-of notes that Image has been getting at the end of the year. She also sets the tone for whenever Image Comics has to apologise for whatever one of the creators on its books has gone and said now…

86. Dan Slott. (DOWN) He may have dropped off Amazing Spider-Man (with a soupcon of Spider-Geddon) but he relaunched Fantastic Four to acclaim (and a little initial frustration) and has found a freshness in Tony Stark. He remains a solid go-to guy for Marvel Comics and with the FF, he brought attention back to a book that was taken for granted until it was taken away. But even though he’s a Marvel Man these days,m he has other ambition with a creator-owned comic book series Future Me expected to see publication in 2019.

87. Matt Smith. (DOWN) Editor-In-Chief of 2000AD, the sci-fi weekly comic published in Britain, the man who finds the talent that the rest of the industry pinch, especially with Brexit dulling down the pound and simultaneously making British comics creators suddenly far more affordable – and more expensive for 2000AD. Even recently, DC Comics found Suicide Squad’s Rob Williams and Marvel found Immortal Hulk’s Al Ewing there.

88. Kwanza Osajyefo. (NEW ENTRY) Creator of comic book shared superhero universe franchise BLACK and now the creative architect of another one over at Humanoids H1 Comics, Kwanza brings a history of innovation with new talent from the days of DC’s Zuda, and is now set to play with some even bigger names.

89. Jeanine Schaefer. (NEW ENTRY) As an editor at DC Comics and Marvel she was a conduit for new talent into the publishers and left a legacy of work with creators that followed her into freelance editing on Jonesy and Motor Crush. Now she is Executive Editor of Boom Studios, where she is launching a new imprint with some old friends and new names. She has been around the block, she knows where the bodies are buried. And she plays hockey on top of them.

90. Andrea Tower. (NEW ENTRY)  Geek journalist-and-news-editor-turned-Marvel Comics press relations co-ordinator, dealing with how Marvel is portrayed in the mass media. She is also the author of the upcoming  Geek Girls Don’t Cry: Real Life Lessons From Female Fictional Characters which is expected to shine a new light on comic book characters. I bet it will get great press as well.

91. Camilla Zhang (NEW ENTRY) A comic book creator who has mostly written comic books for Top Cow, as well as working as an editor for DC Comics and selected to be in Marjorie Liu’s Genre Fiction workshop at VONA, an organization for POC writers. Her appearance on this is a combination of all these and her appointment this year as Kickstarter’s Comics Outreach Lead. Still the premium crowdsourcing portal for comic book projects, all manner of comic book projects go through her, and she can help – if hinder – creative projects from finding their funding. She is the gatekeeper of the future.

92. J Scott Campbell (NEW ENTRY) A major draw for comic book covers, he has led the way in artists monetising their own exclusive covers, signed and sold from their websites. By picking select opportunities and rousing up his fanbase, he can guarantee sellouts of thousands of comics in minutes at an eye-watering profit markup. Some comic artists discovered they could make more on drawing covers, then commissions, than drawing the comic. Campbell was the one to turn exclusive covers into the main business revenue stream. Looks like we won’t be getting his Spider-Man comic with Jeph Loeb any time soon.

93. Mike Armstrong (DOWN) The man who runs NYCC for ReedPOP, with special attention to the comic book side. As well as owning C2E2 and many other shows, Reed also bought the UK side of the MCM Comic Cons this year, increasing their global footprint. His recent promotion to VP has shifted his focus away from the ground-level interaction that has driven his reputation amongst publishers, vendors and comic creators but for he is the human face for one of the biggest English speaking comic conventions around – and the biggest Artists Alley.

94. Stanley Cheung (NEW ENTRY) The chairman of Chinese investment firm Visionary VanGuard Media, he has just been added to the board of Dark Horse Comics as part of their majority share purchase of the publisher earlier in the year. He’s the man who will be guiding Dark Horse’s expansion into China as well as providing a conduit for Chinese properties to be published in English in USA.

95. Jeph Jacques (NEW ENTRY) Creator of the Questionable Content webcomic, Jacques is the comic creator with most patrons on the Patreon crowdfunding website, almost seven thousand of them, funding him every month, twice as many as the second most popular comic creator on Patreon, Zach Weinersmith and half as many as Patreon rock superstar Amanda Palmer.

96. Eddie Ibrahim. (NEW ENTRY) Director of Programming at San Diego Comic-Con – it may come but once a year but Eddie holds the fortunes and plans of many comic book publishers and creators in his hands. His whim can see a publisher given the chance to expose the world to what they are working on. Or denied the chance and remain in relative obscurity. Also, it may be down to him to see if the panel you have arranged will be full of your fans or people waiting to see Critical Role.

97. Mark Waid. (DOWN) A major comic book writer, editor and publisher, he is currently the ongoing writer on Doctor Strange. Being sued by Richard Meyer over his involvement, or not, in the decision of Antarctic Press to cancel the Jawbreakers graphic novella, whatever the merits of that suit, demonstrates that some, certainly, see his actions as impactful. Reducing his social media interactions, no longer co-owing a comic store and the mothballing of his Thrillbent digital publisher has seen his listing number drop, but he was able to wrangle a significant portion of the comics industry to back his legal defence.

98. Gahl Buslov. (DOWN) The public face of Midtown Comics, the comic book chain in New York City that also runs Marvel and DC Comics’ subscription departments. Comic book publishers still make media announcements here, the big signings happen here,  it shows the way with the grey market, such as sending folk out to buy all the Walmart DC Comics it can find, and for much of the media, Midtown is the model for comic book stores – its Times Square location is probably the most seen comic store in America. And Gahl Buslov is the face smiling out of it.

99. Sebastian Girner. (NEW ENTRY) Editor-in-chief of TKO Studios. launching a new comic book publisher with an innovative approach to formats and pricing, undercutting the majors, and lining up creators they would envy too, including an award-heavy selection of Garth Ennis, Steve Epting, Jeff Lemire, Joshua Dysart, Alberto Ponticelli, Roxane Gay, Ming Doyle and Gabriel Hernández Walta. And also in a position where he can include his own name on the cover, along with writer, artist, colourist, letterer and editor.

100. Axel Alonso. (NEW ENTRY) He used to rule the roost. Well, top ten at least. But his sudden departure from Marvel Comics at EIC saw him drop off last year’s chart. This year, however, he is EIC of Writers, Artists & Artisans, which should make the acronym WAAA but isn’t. Not even WAAALLC. But, with Bill Jemas’ venture capital millions behind him, he has been able to use his Marvel and DC Vertigo contact list to line up a truly impressive creator list for when the publisher launches, including Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, JMS and Frank Cho. Look to see him rise for 2019’s list – and maybe bring Jemas onto the chart as well.

See you in a year’s time – and feel free to point out all the people I should have added, but didn’t, in the comments below…

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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