Ask an actor what he really wants to do, and the answer is almost always: “Direct.” Ask a comedian, and their first answer would probably be: “Not be sad all the time.” But if you delved a little deeper, you’ll find that most comedy stars are comic book nerds at heart… And desperately want to write for the four-color medium that kept them company when they were left out of everyone else’s reindeer games. NO I DON’T HAVE ANY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH THIS.
Anyway, here’s ten comic books written by comedians (and some comedians that write comic books) that aren’t always funny, but they’re usually pretty good. Oh, and sometimes funny, too:
10. Shame Itself
Marvel’s recent, laugh-out-loud funny collection of stories skewering the House of Ideas’ heroes and villains was written entirely by talent plucked from the New York City comedy scene. Some writers, like Wyatt Cenac and Elliot Kalan (of The Daily Show) have become old hands at Marvel, writing various shorts before; while others, like Sirius XM host Sara Benincasa and alt-comedy darling Kurt Braunohler had never written a comic before.
9. Frenemy of The State
Sure, Rashida Jones might be better known as a comedic actress from her roles on The Office and Parks & Recreation, than a straight up comedian; but she was a member of Harvard’s hallowed comedy institution the Hasty Pudding Club, and that’s enough for us. Jones created and co-wrote a mini-series for Oni Press about a socialite who ends up becoming a superspy. Last we checked, it was still in development as a film – but not continuing as a comic book series.
8. Spider-Man: The Short Halloween
A joke on Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s beloved The Long Halloween, though sharing literally nothing with that story other than a holiday, Saturday Night Live’s Bill Hader and Seth Meyers transitioned from weekly topical comedy, to goofy comic book comedy, pitting a guy dressed like Spider-Man against his most fearsome villain ever (okay, not really).
7. James Asmus
Hey, that’s not a comic book! That’s a guy! But current Generation Hope writer (and upcoming collaborator with Ed Brubaker on Captain America and Bucky) got his start as a member of sketch comedy group Hey You Millionaires! His performances and writing caught the eye of a Marvel Editor, and he now balances sketch comedy with comic book writing.
6. The Last Christmas
Alpha-Nerd Brian Posehn co-wrote this story of an out of control Santa Claus during the post-apocalypse with Gerry Dugan. It’s as over the top as you can imagine, and surprisingly drawn (not written) by Marvel writer Rick Remender.
5. Zeb Wells
Another guy! Oh no! Like Asmus, Wells got hired by Marvel Comics based on his extremely popular and cleverly written YouTube sketches. Since then, he’s graduated to comics (and writing for Robot Chicken) full-time, with stints on New Mutants, Amazing Spider-Man, and the just launched (and awesome) Amazing Spider-Man.
4. Serenity: Float Out
Posehn’s comedy nerd life partner Patton Oswalt got his own chance to pen a comic book with this story from the universe of Joss Whedon’s Firefly. The comic – which had three different ship captains telling stories toasting the life, and sudden death of Serenity’s pilot, Wash.
He may not be as well known here in the states, but Jonathan Ross is a juggernaut over the pond in the UK. He’s also a well known comic book aficionado, and finally launched his own series with artist Tommy Lee Edwards. The Image mini-series shows what happens when gangsters fight vampires… And aliens. It’s mayhem, of course, and a great, complex read.
2. Dwayne McDuffie
One last guy on the list… You may know the late McDuffie’s spectacular contributions to the field of comic books, from helping create the Milestone line of comics (and Static Shock in particular), to an excellent run on Firestorm. But McDuffie actually started in stand-up comedy – or rather, ghost writing jokes for stand-up comics under a pen name. Which explains why you may not know that.
Outside of comedy, Del Close isn’t a famous name. But Close is the, er, closest comedy gets to a deity, credited with creating modern improv comedy, and by extension a large chunk of the “alt-comedy” scene, as well. More to our purposes, though, Close – along with John Ostrander – co-wrote the hard-to-find eighteen issue DC Comics horror anthology series Wasteland. Subversive, weird, and a must read for anyone who is a fan of both comedy and comics… Which is basically a Venn Diagram that looks like a circle anyway, so enjoy.