The X-Men have many great pencillers over the years especially when the series took off in popularity in the early 1980s.
But who are the best of the best, the creme de la creme?
Well LMO is here to tell you with this highly opinionated Top 10 list. The criteria are they had to draw more than five issues and they can be on any X-Title (so X-Factor, Excalibur, New Mutants are all fair game). This was a tough list to compile and some big names are left out. Also, nobody that started on X-Men after 1990 is on this list. That’s just the way it is.
1. John Byrne
John Byrne (with Terry Austin) was responsible for classic storylines like the Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past in Uncanny X-Men, which along with his run on Fantastic Four are why he is so highly regarded as a comic book legend. As co-plotter on the series with longtime writer Chris Claremont, he created characters like Kitty Pryde, the Hellfire Club, and the Canadian super-team Alpha Flight during his tenure on the series.
2. Jim Lee
Jim Lee has been a superstar for over 30 years in large part due to his time on X-Men. Although his DC work on Batman and Superman has been incredible his early work on X-Men is still the standard by which he is judged.
3. Neal Adams
Best known for his work at DC, Adams’ stint on X-Men was an important early step on his way to becoming a superstar artist. His run on the “strangest teens of all” made them feel desperate and dynamic in a way that was unprecedented, as well as introducing new characters like Havok and Sauron to the Marvel Universe.
4. Dave Cockrum
After the series had been cancelled for nearly half a decade, Cockrum helped introduce a new international line-up that also included Wolverine, Banshee, and Thunderbird in addition to his creations Storm, Colossus, and Nightcrawler. Cockrum’s character designs are a big reason for the X-Men’s sustained popularity.
5. Alan Davis
Time on both X-Men book and Excalibur made Davis a fan favorite to comics readers back in the day. His clean style and rounded figure work always look attractive, no matter what the situation.
6. Arthur Adams
The kinetic energy found in Adams’ version of the X-Men blew fans away when he first started drawing them in the 1980s with plenty of Classic X-Men covers and X-Men Annuals galore. Along with his co-creation of breakout characters Longshot, Mojo, Spiral, and of course the X-Babies Adams has been a fan favorite for decades.
7. Walt Simonson
Simonson’s run on X-Factor with his old ball and chain Weezie on writing duties was all kinds of awesome with characters like Apocalypse and an evil version of the X-Men’s Angel now called Death (he eventually became good again of course) fans couldn’t get enough of this series in the late 1980s.
8. Paul Smith
The sales for Uncanny X-Men really took off when Smith came aboard for the art chores. This master artist gave life to an exceptionally great period of X-Men comics, one where Storm got a mohawk and became the leader of the subterranean Morlocks, and Rogue joined the team. Smith’s smooth pencils proved to be a perfect match for the soapy elements of the title at that time.
9. Jack Kirby
What can be said about King Kirby? Probably the greatest idea-driven creator of all time he co-created the team with Stan Lee. His short time on the title is fondly remembered and introduced many concepts like the Savage Land and Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
10. John Romita Jr.
JR Jr. was a terrific artist for the X-Men during the mid-1980s (before he changed his style completely) and saw the X-Men through the period where Magento became a hero, Phoenix II was an important member of the team as well as the early portion of the Mutant Massacre storyline.