10 Prose Authors Turned Comic Book Pros

Last week, we looked at 10 comic writers who went on to tackle the prose world, but the path between funny books and… well, <em>book</em> books is a two-way street. <p>Throughout comics' history, there have been many novelists who have experimented in the comic medium, or even found themselves building a parallel career inside the industry, like Greg Rucka (writer of <i>Queen & Country</i>, pictured). Here are 10 of our favorite wordsmiths who have found themselves playing with pictures at some point along the way.


Before Marjorie Liu started writing for Marvel with 2008's <em>NYX: No Way Home</em>, she was already an established novelist with multiple paranormal romance series under her belt, as well as an <em>X-Men</em> prose novel (no surprise, then, that she's taken the X-Books by storm, having written <em>NYX</em>, <em>X23</em>, <em>Dark Wolverine</em> and <em>Astonishing X-Men</em> so far). <p>Even as she continues to guide the destinies of Northstar, Karma et al in <em>Astonishing</em>, she's stayed active in prose.


Paul Cornell came to prominence as a novelist (and television writer) before he broke into the comics mainstream with 2007's <em>Wisdom</em> for Marvel. In fairness, he'd contributed to both <em>Doctor Who Magazine</em> and <em>Judge Dredd Megazine</em> when starting out as a writer, but it was his work on the <em>Doctor Who: New Adventures</em> novel series, and later the BBC <em>Doctor Who</em> revamp, that made his reputation. <p>Although he's currently in charge of Wolverine's future in the Marvel title of the same name, Cornell remains active in the prose world, having recently published the urban fantasy <em>London Falling</em>.


Chris Roberson is a man of many talents. You may know him as the writer of <em>iZombie</em>, <em>Masks</em> and <em>Edison Rex</em> (not to mention the writer who finished what J. Michael Straczynski started on the "Grounded" storyline for <em>Superman</em>), or as the co-published of critically acclaimed digital imprint MonkeyBrain. <p>What you possibly don't know is that he's also responsible for a plethora of prose works, including both original novels (like the <em>Celestial Empire</em> series and <em>End of The Century</em>) and licensed works, including <em>Star Trek</em>, <em>X-Men</em> and even <em>Spy Kids</em> books. Clearly, the next step is taking over the world of poetry.


One of a wave of crime novelists who broke into Marvel in the mid-2000s, Duane Swierczynski had worked his way up through non-fiction titles like <em>The Big Book O'Beer</em> and <em>The Perfect Drink for Every Occasion</em> to thrillers including <em>The Blonde</em> and <em>The Wheel Man</em> before bringing his particular take on the world to comics. <p>After starting with relatively grounded titles like <em>Moon Knight</em> and <em>The Punisher</em>, he's found himself branching out with other publishers, writing <em>Bloodshot</em> for Valiant and <em>Godzilla</em> for IDW. Next up? <em>Point and Shoot</em>, the final novel in his Charlie Hardie trilogy, due later this year.


One of the most well-known novelist-slash-comic-writers in the business, Rucka had already created the Atticus Kodiak series of novels by the time he started working with Steve Lieber to create <em>Whiteout</em> for Oni Comics. <p>That, in turn, led to a long career at DC Comics — where, at one point, he was writing ongoing series for both Superman and Wonder Woman, and a Batman mini, simultaneously — and Marvel. But he's always kept his hand in on characters that he's created, whether in <em>Queen and Country</em> or <em>Stumptown</em> in print comics, <em>Lady Sabre & The Pirates of The Ineffible Aether</em> in webcomics, or the <em>Alpha</em> trilogy of novels started last year.


Few writers get to enter the comic book industry with quite the splash that Brad Meltzer managed, first following Kevin Smith on <em>Green Arrow</em> and then writing the massively-successful <em>Identity Crisis</em> event for DC Comics. Let's credit that impact to the fact that Meltzer had already honed his craft — and built up quite a fanbase — through novels like <em>The Tenth Justice</em> and <em>The Millionaires</em> before coming to comics. <p>These days, he continues to expand his horizons, whether on TV with the History Channel's <em>Decoded</em>, or in non-fiction books like last year's <em>Heroes for My Daughter</em>.


That MacArthur Fellowship winner Lethem was a comic fan came as no surprise; in addition to his genre-friendly books, he'd previously written about his fandom for <em>Star Wars</em> and Philip K. Dick, after all, but if that level of nerditry wasn't enough of a clue, there's also the title of his 2003 novel, <em>The Fortress of Solitude</em>. <p>But it took 2007's revival of Steve Gerber and Mary Skrenes' <em>Omega the Unknown</em> to bring the writer into the comic medium, creating a series (with artist Farel Dalrymple) that was everything fans of both the writer and the character could have expected: Something poignant, uncertain and quite beautiful. With his latest novel, <em>Dissident Gardens</em>, due later this year, would it be too much to ask that we might see some more comics from him before too long?


Another award-winning author whose geekdom was rarely in doubt — the Pulitzer Prize winning <em>The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay</em>, about comic creators at the beginning of the industry, put such questions to bed for good — Chabon went from fan to creator when Dark Horse Comics spun out the Escapist, <em>Kavelier and Clay</em>'s fictional creation, into his own comic book overseen and partly written by the author. <p>Although he's concentrated on prose since the end of that series, his comic book career is due to restart later this year after it was announced that he'll write back-up strips for the next series of Matt Fraction, Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba's <em>Casanova</em>.


An astonishingly successful (and, with more than 50 novels under his belt, prolific) author, King has dipped his toe into comic books a handful of times during his career. Outside of his contribution to the 1985 charity anthology <em>Heroes for Hope</em>, King also wrote <em>Creepshow</em>, the Bernie Wrightson-illustrated adaptation of the George A. Romero movie, and more recently, one of the two stories that made up the opening arc of Scott Snyder's <em>American Vampire</em> over at Vertigo (there are also the numerous <em>Dark Tower</em> and <em>Stand</em> titles over at Marvel, although those are adaptations by other writers of his prose books). <p>With King experimenting more with different formats in recent years — he's working on plays, novels and ebooks these days — how long before someone convinces him to go it alone on an all-new, all-original comic book work?


As is befitting such an outspoken writer, Harlan Ellison's comic book output can be considered somewhat eclectic, having produced original material for issues of <em>Detective Comics</em>, <em>The Spirit</em>, <em>The Incredible Hulk</em>, <em>Avengers</em> and <em>Daredevil</em> throughout the years, seemingly whenever inspiration strikes. <p>He's also had more than one comic book anthology devoted to adapting his prose (<em>Harlan Ellison's Dream Corridor</em> and <em>The Illustrated Harlan Ellison</em> spring to mind), and even offered an illustrated to a 1989 charity title called <em>Fire Sale</em>. His next big comic book project is due soon: the graphic novel <em>Harlan Ellison's 7 Against Chaos</em>, illustrated by Paul Chadwick, is released in July.

10 Prose Authors Turned Comic Book Pros

Date: 15 May 2013 Time: 08:42 PM ET