The comic book artist has a big job. They have to turn their vision, or that of the writer, into reality. Then, they need to maintain it for as long as they work on the character. In some situations, these artists work with different heroes and teams. Others stay with the same character for years, if not decades.
These are the people we’re looking at. They’re creators who are connected to the characters they drew year after year. Here are 10 artists who illustrated the most stories for one character or group across Marvel, DC and other publishers.
10 Greg Capullo
Batman fans got to intimately know Greg Capullo during DC Comics’ New 52 area. Along with writer Scott Snyder, they produced the five-year run of Batman vol. 2. After that, Capullo joined Snyder for the Batman-related events Dark Nights: Metal, Batman: Last Knight on Earth; and Dark Knights: Death Metal.
Capullo isn’t only known for his long stint on Batman. He was the artist on Todd McFarlane’s Spawn for 80 issues starting in 1994.
9 Jack Kirby
To talk about Jack “The King” Kirby is to discuss the history of comic books. A large percentage of what we read came from his amazing mind. Most of the time, he would be the artist for a few issues, then he would turn it over to another amazing illustrator.
There are three instances where he stayed longer. For instance, he drew 89 Thor stories, most of them in the early Journey Into Mystery days. He also illustrated 102 stories connected with his and Joe Simon’s creation, Captain America. The largest period as a regular artist was the first comic to bring Marvel into the Silver Age, the Fantastic Four with over 100 issues drawn by The King.
8 Bob Kane
Before he created the Dark Knight, Kane was already a prolific artist. He drew characters like Peter Pup, Ginger Snap, and Professor Dolittle. Needless to say, working on Batman was a change of pace, and one that he worked on with gusto.
Between 1939 and 1953, Kane drew over 150 Batman stories. On top of his duties in Detective Comics and Batman, he also illustrated the early Batman/Superman adventures in World’s Finest. Today, artists and writers look at Kane’s works to get a feel for the Caped Crusader.
7 John Romita Jr.
John Romita Jr. is an artist that writers go to when they want a unique look. Hence, the reason he has drawn the X-Men, Superman, Iron Man, and Daredevil. However, the superhero he’s most connected with is your Friendly Neighborhood Wall-Crawler.
Between 1980 and 1999, the junior Romita drew 157 Spider-Man stories across numerous books. These include Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker: Spider-Man, and the basic Spider-Man. He would also be the main artist for J. Michael Straczynski’s Amazing Spider-Man run from 2001 to 2007. Overall, he drew nearly triple the amount of Web-Slinger stories as his father. The senior John Romita only illustrated 62 Amazing Spider-Man issues.
6 Mark Bagley
While the amount of Spider-Man tales Romita Jr. drew was impressive, it doesn’t compare to the number of times artist Mark Bagley penciled him. He illustrated 61 Amazing Spider-Man issues. Then, he was called to the Ultimate Universe.
Working together with the prolific Brian Michael Bendis, Bagley drew a younger and chattier Peter Parker in Ultimate Spider-Man. Out of the first volume’s 206, he was on 118 of them. He shaped the character that became more popular than the Earth-616 version.
5 Carmine Infantino
Besides Jack Kirby, few artists drew a character for different generations of comic book readers. With Kirby it was Captain America. Over at DC Comics, this honor went to illustrator Carmine Infantino.
The artist began his connection with the Scarlet Speedster by drawing the Jay Garrick version starting in 1947. A few years later, he was instrumental in introducing the Silver Age and Barry Allen as the new Flash in Showcase #4. In total, Infantino drew the Flash in 196 stories.
4 Erik Larsen
For over 25 years, former Marvel and DC artist Erik Larsen has illustrated every issue of his creator-owned book Savage Dragon. In comic book years, this is equivalent to over 250 issues. And this doesn’t include the three-issue mini-series that launched the character in 1992.
Being one of the creators that left the Big Two comic publishers to launch Image, this is an enormous achievement. Even Todd McFarlane, the creator of Spawn, hasn’t illustrated every issue of his book. Larsen’s tireless work shows how dedicated he is to his character.
3 Dick Sprang
While Bob Kane created Batman, artist Dick Sprang is the one who refined his look. For two decades, Sprang drew Batman, Robin, and their rouges gallery. His time spanned on the character spanned World War II and the craziness of the Silver Age.
Through Detective, Batman, and World’s Finest, Sprang created a look for the Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder that became a standard. His influence can be seen in the animated intro of the 1966 Batman series.
2 Dick Dillin
DC artist Dick Dillin has two long-running series where he was the prime illustrator. Fans of the Justice League of America stories from the late 1960s to 1980 will recognize his name as an artist. During this period, he illustrated 115 issues.
Yet, that doesn’t compare to his other run on Blackhawk. Starting in 1951 at Quality Comics then moving over to DC, Dillin illustrated 446 stories about this team of pilots.
1 Curt Swan
Out of all these artists, Curt Swan is the one who’s connected to one character and his supporting cast. From 1949 to his eponymous entry in 2018’s Action Comics #1000, Swan illustrated 1037 stories related to the Man of Steel and his family.
On top are the 596 tales of Superman Action Comics, Superman, and related titles. This is followed by 150 stories during Superboy’s early years. He’s also known for drawing 220 tales in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, 50 in World’s Finest, and 21 in Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane. An enormous achievement for a legendary artist.
Comic book artists can be forgotten. But legends like Jack Kirby & Carmine Infantino drew the most stories for one hero and deserve respect.