Comic books have given us some incredible stories...stories that we remember for the rest of our lives. But regardless of how great a comic writer may be (and there are some truly great ones out there), it would just be a story without great artwork to go with it. The art in a comic sets the tone, conveys the emotions the characters are feeling, and helps fill in the gaps of the story that dialogue can't. Here's the first installment of some of the best:
Jack Kirby - (Fantastic Four, The Avengers, Captain America)
Where else to start on a list of the greatest comic artists than with The Godfather of comic artists himself? There is a reason one of the comic book halls of fame is name after this man. He was the artist behind some of comics most iconic characters, having co-created Captain America, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, and the Avengers. He helped usher in the modern era of comics, where characters stopped looking like cartoons, and took on more realistic qualities
Charlie Adlard - (The Walking Dead, Savage, Judge Dredd)
No one makes use of shadow quite like Charlie Adlard. Which is useful considering the work he's most known for, The Walking Dead, is published in black-and-white. He also does a fantastic job giving each character a realness that few artists can.
Neal Adams - (Green Arrow, Batman, Deadman)
Possibly the greatest cover artist in the history of comics. But while he is prolific at creating cover art, he is still an incredible talent drawing panel-to-panel. Arguably the quintessential Batman artist, and most definitely the definitive artist for Green Arrow.
John Byrne - (X-Men, Fantastic Four, Superman)
While he was the artist (and writer) behind the Fantastic Four's "Second Golden Age", he is most known for his extensive work with Chris Claremont on The Uncanny X-Men during the late 70's into the early 80's. He was the pencil behind benchmark X-Men stories like "The Dark Phoenix Saga" and "Days of Future Past." There is no artist more widely associated with the X-men...except maybe the next guy...
Jim Lee - (X-Men, WildC.A.T.s, Batman)
Hands down my all-time favorite comic artist. When I think of the X-Men from the comics, the 90's versions of the characters are what immediately come to mind. Jim Lee's fantastic art and stories are the major reasons for that. He also helped start Image Comics with his WildC.A.T.s and Gen13 franchises. He has also had long, impressive runs drawing for Batman and Superman as well. He is also a current co-publisher for DC Comics.