The Top Seven Comics Creators who can KICK YOUR ASS

Oooh...tough guys!

Last week saw the release of KICK-ASS a promising Comic Book Movie with a tepid box office on opening weekend.  Industry types were somewhat surprised, as the title and premise suggested a bigger response, but those of us in the know expected it.  You can’t fake KICK-ASS, it has to be in your blood, your pores and in your gonads, my friends, or the audience knows.

As much as I admire the work of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr, the creators of this epic story, I simply cannot in good conscious call them KICK-ASS examples of the male species.  While Millar is British, and therefore has soccer hooliganism in his DNA, Mr. Romita is an average-sized man, with straight teeth and no criminal record to speak of.   I’d feel fairly confident facing either of them in a bar fight, and I’m willing to go in sober and unarmed.

But the world of comics DOES include some of the most stunningly macho examples of man-flesh in the history of the visual arts, and you should know about them, if only to avoid their supremely terrifying gaze if they appear at conventions.

Be afraid fanboys, of—





Ken Lashley

No, he's not standing on a box. Everyone else is just that small.

Currently illustrating The Flash.

You know that scene in Jurassic Park where the water is jiggling in the cups, so you know there’s a giant dinosaur coming?  That’s based on Ken Lashley.

Ken is the largest human in the comic industry, if not in western civilization.  At seven foot nine, eight hundred and sixty pounds (and none of it fat), the only reason he doesn’t play professional football is that “it wouldn’t be fair to the other players”.  I’m big, but whenever I’m in a room with Ken, he makes me feel like a skinny schoolgirl in knee high socks, with a Hello Kitty backpack.  Seriously.

He happens to be a pleasant, quiet, somewhat reserved individual, however, which is a disappointment to lovers of ass-kicking manly misbehavior the world over.  I never thought it was part of Ken’s character to be aggressive — until I saw his cover for Excalibur #73

This is the single most testosterone-fueled drawing I’ve ever seen.  It’s an existential scream of pure maleness rarely witnessed outside of Heavy Metal Gay Snuff-porn.  This image of a blue-balled demon radiating nuclear energy from his dick while magnetically attracting the red lady, makes anyone viewing it more manly by 25% — including any girls.  And AFTER seeing this illustration, if any of you go out and kick someone’s ass, Ken Lashley officially gets the assist.



Charles Moulton (aka Dr. William Moulton Marston).

We had no idea what this man was up to...

This Y-chromosome-soaked head-shrinker helped create three amazing

The good doctor knew that real men liked this sort of thing. And real women.

legacies for himself in the 20th Century.  One was the polygraph machine (the Lie Detector) which has done more to fight crime than a squad room full of cops on a lifetime steroid binge–another was the fictional queen of lesbo bondage adventure, Wonder Woman.

But Dr. Will got his high testosterone scores in a much more impressive way.   He was in an openly poly-amorous relationship with two ladies his entire life–  had kids with both women– and the one he WASN’T legally married to, was the one he based Wonder Woman on.  Anyone who could keep TWO sexy bisexual fetish-doms happy for a lifetime of tied-up joy had to be producing twice the man-sauce you and I were issued at birth and could easily pound our weak asses into the sand without breaking a sweat.   Trust me.



Jim Steranko

This Nick Fury artist had a comic career that was finished and done forty-five years ago — it lasted for maybe four months — and he’s STILL considered one of the most influential artists who ever worked.  The balls it takes to be THAT good at something and walk away from it is impressive enough, but it’s par for the course for the Most Interesting Man in Comics.  Let’s take a look at a recent photo of this senior citizen to give you a sense of his essence.

"Last week I punched that Dos Equus guy in the face, just to win a five dollar bet."

Steranko was born tough. Instead of spending his youth PLAYING Grand Theft Auto on his mommy’s couch with his brother’s game system, Teen-Steranko stole actual cars, and occasionally got arrested for it.  That experience in the lock-up inspired him to become a circus escape artist, where laughing at thick, manly chains is in the job description.

But even this wasn’t enough for Jim (Grand Cojones) Steranko, who permanently moved into the he-man badass club-for-life when he became a professional sword swallower and FIRE-EATER.

You read that right, bitches. I can literally breathe fire.

Now you know why Steranko could write the adventures of spy-stud Nick Fury with such authority, and why he insisted on calling Nick the “ramrod” of SHIELD.



Jack (King) Kirby

Who, but an authentic tough guy, could rock this plaid dinner jacket?

We all know that Kirby was THE hardest working man in the history of comics who could write and draw an entire comic book in five days, and it would STILL be better than the one that took you three months.    But besides being an authentic artistic genius, Jolly Jack was an authentic war hero of epic proportion.

MANLY MOMENT #1: When he found out he was going to be drafted, Kirby didn’t go get drunk and beg the local girls for a “shipping-out-tomorrow” roll in the hay…instead he WORKED TWICE AS MANY HOURS PER DAY to double his already astounding output, and stockpile enough pages to continuing publishing his titles without missing an issue while he personally punched out the Nazi war machine.

MANLY MOMENT #2: While sleeping in an infantry foxhole in the winter of ’44 Kirby got frostbite, and was shipped to a hospital where a doctor wanted to take his legs.  Jack said no, and just to show off, he forced the circulation back into his limbs by power of his own male  will.

MANLY MOMENT #3: When a commanding officer discovered Kirby could draw, he started sending Jack out ALONE at night to sketch the terrain and draw maps of enemy territory.   Kirby went behind enemy lines armed with a pencil and paper.  Eat that, pussies.



Mike Grell

Nothing manly to see here. Move along.

“Iron” Mike has so much more going for him than being the creator of THE WARLORD (who is that half-naked dude with a giant helmet and a big broadsword who ISN’T Conan).  To begin with, anyone who’s named after a foundry metal without a trace of irony is already tougher than anyone you’ve ever met.

But Grell gets his he-man cred the old fashioned way. He’s the Ted Nugent of comics — a big game hunter who delights in personally killing and eating the larger creatures of our world, often with no more than an arrow, a knife and his own teeth.  Though I don’t share his love of blood sports, I do share his carnivorous taste buds, and while having lunch with him at a convention a while ago, I brought it up.  He told me that he refuses to eat any creature unless he’s already killed at least one of their species.  “I’ve cut the throats of chickens, ducks, geese…I’ve butchered my own cow.  I feel I owe it to the meals I eat,” he said to me, with an expression I refuse to describe as “Lecter-like”.  I can’t argue with the logic, but I told him it meant he could never enjoy a crocodile steak or shark-fin soup — two meals I have tasted in my travels.  His response, I swear to god:  “I haven’t eaten shark fin soup….yet.”

If this thing in front of me was alive, I'd have eaten it by now.




Bill Mauldin

As the creator of the extremely popular WWII comic series, “Willie and Joe”, Bill Mauldin was the first, last and only cartoonist whose job required him TO BE SHOT AT TO MEET DEADLINES.

Bill Mauldin: He don't look like much, do he?

While with the 45th Infantry, Bill was part of the invasion of Sicily, sketching cartoons about frontline life for “The 45th Division News”, in between dodging live rounds.   These cartoons became popular enough that Bill was transferred to Stars and Stripes for the duration and told to produce the adventures of Willie and Joe as a matter of vital national need.   Any man with a normal set of testes would have hopped a jeep for the rear and started sharpening pencils, gleeful to be out of danger, but not Bill.  Instead he asked for his own jeep, and spent the rest of the war DRIVING AROUND THE FRONT LINES looking for ideas.  And just to prove he wasn’t kidding around, in September of 1943, he had his drawing shoulder ripped apart by a German mortar while visiting a machine gun crew near Monte Cassino.  True to his granite-testicled manner, Bill used it as an opportunity to do a few cartoons about life in an army hospital and kept right on going.

MIND-BOGGLING MAN POINTS: General George Patton once threatened to court martial Mauldin for gross insubordination, but the cartoonist was rescued from discipline by none other than Supreme Allied Commander and future President, Dwight Eisenhower, who told Patton that Mauldin’s characters were essential for troop morale and to “leave him alone”.   Next time you get in trouble, wait and see if the MOST POWERFUL MAN ON THE PLANET shows up to have your back…

I'm not afraid of Nazis, but Bill Mauldin scared me yellow.



Larry Hama

Don't sneak up on this guy if you value your life.

Whatever those Nancies at Hasbro might think about inventing the famous American action figure with the Kung Fu grip, Larry Hama created GI Joe for a generation of fans, and knows more about macho conflict-fiction than anyone alive.  And lest you think his world of big guns and phallic-named characters was only the product of Larry’s wimpy imagination, you should know this:   Hama is an eighth-degree black belt in five different martial arts.  I don’t know what that eighth-degree means, because every time I ask about it, someone kicks my ass, but I figure being ANY black belt qualifies Larry to obliterate me with one hand.

And just in case Larry has to kill you from a distance, he’s a qualified marksman and weapons expert from his time in Viet Nam serving in the Army Corps of Engineers during the war.

And if that list of impressive man points hasn’t dropped you to your knees in supplication–Hama’s specialty in the Corps?

Demolition and explosives.

Fiery explosions and certain death. Larry Hama must be nearby.

So naturally, the single most goddamned dangerous man in the history of our medium ended up the editor of Wonder Woman comics.

He owed it to Dr. Moulton.


That’s it for today.  My delicate, lily white ass cannot stand sitting for so long.  I have to lie down.

Ty the Guy

click here for more of Ty’s Top Seven lists


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42 responses to “The Top Seven Comics Creators who can KICK YOUR ASS

  1. Ty, this has to be the most insane list you’ve ever come up with, and God love ya, the greatest!

  2. What? No kick-ass femmes? That’s it. Now I have to get published and THEN kick your ass. 😉

    • Heather, had there been a single woman in the comics biz with a black belt, a munitions expertise, a willingness to engage in hand to hand combat with a moose, a history of taking gunfire to meet a deadline, or a life time of fire eating, they would have easily made the list. But those seven guys are all legitimately as tough as I said they were. You know what…as much as I LOATHE to admit it…if Sarah Palin ever drew comics, she’d have a shot. She, at least, is willing to field strip a caribou.

      • I wonder if catherine yronwode could field strip a caribou…she did live in an anarchist commune with no electricity and I’m pretty sure that if curses were real, she could put a hella good one on a person. Plus she’s done time.

        • Of all the people to pick! cat yronwode is a certifiable loon, I’ll give you that, but I would hardly describe her as kick ass. Sheer belligerence isn’t a kick ass quality as much as an irritating one. (Full disclosure, I worked for Eclipse for a year, and left their employ because of cat’s behaviour. Not one of my favorite people.)

          • Donna Barr?

            Pretty tough lady!

            • Donna Barr: army brat, gun nut, military historian, batshit insane. Whenever I talk to her I’m aware that she could kill me with her bare hands and would probably feel no remorse.

              Alternately, there’s Miriam Libiki, who draws comics about her stint in the Israeli army.

              Calling Jim Steranko “The Most Interesting Man in Comics” is the most perfect thing I’ve read this month.

              • Don’t like hearing about the part where she’d kill without remorse. That’s supposed to be just for the Terminator and the governor of Texas. Clearly we need to stay away from governors of all kinds, perhaps Donna can be convinced to run for public office.

                I’m not familiar with Miriam Libiki. I considered including Joe Sacco for similar reasons, with his GN work reporting on Palestine, etc. but I suspect Joe was looking to lower the death rate around him, rather than contribute to it.

                And the title MOST INTERESTING MAN IN COMICS is tattooed across Steranko’s ankle in case he’s ever killed by bears or sharks, and there’s no way to identify him by fingerprints and teeth.

              • Like sharks or bears could kill Steranko.

                Like Teddy Roosevelt, Death will have to take him sleeping, because if he is awake there will be a fight. And Death will lose.

  3. Oh, bbb–wow, did you pick a good one! Umm…next time you get the Guy not in a crowd, ask him to tell you the story. He still has the letter, so he can show you that if you don’t believe him.

  4. Fantastic work sir – second Steranko picture caption is the funniest thing I’ve seen in monhts. Two points of order, though:

    Stories often pop up in the Jack Kirby Collector and the like suggesting the King actually killed a foxhole full of Nazis. If true, he leapfrogs Mike and Larry, and probably Bill too.

    If you’re ever in the UK, you’ll be a lot safer if you call it “football hooliganism”.

    • I’ve been to the UK, and it doesn’t matter what you call it, you’re not in the least bit safe if you’re in the stands at a game. (I’m Canadian– halfway between American and British, so we sometimes call French Fries “Chips” but we don’t call potato chips “Crisps”. It’s all very confusing.)

      And I’ve never heard it confirmed that Jack killed a mess of Nazis. I assumed he did his part, since he was a front line rifle-carrying infantryman, he must have shot back at least once. That might have leapfrogged him over Mike and Bill, but I’ll not back down that Larry Hama is the toughest man who ever drew funny books. He once bit the head off a bald eagle that was looking at him funny.

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  6. After reading this list, I kinda want to read a comic book about these seven forming some sort of A-Team like squad of super-ass-kickers…

  7. Good sir, I think you will also find that Jim Steranko has a black belt in judo and is a skilled fencer and boxer as well.

    Also, he was an escape artist BEFORE he got arrested. The prison they held him at? HE HAD ESCAPED FROM SEVERAL TIMES BEFORE. He had to be held in solitary on 24-hour surveillance just while awaiting trial..

    BAD. ASS.

    Also, see this picture of him signing some 20-something’s tits only two years ago:

  8. What? No Val Mayerick? And what about Pete Morisi, who served decades as a cop in the mean streets of New york?

    • HAH! I love it. There were going to be creators I had to leave out. David Mack, Pete Morisi, Val Mayerick, Richard Pace, Wally Wood (who was a paratroooper for the Marines). At some point, I had to cut it off…but I just might have to do a follow up with the numbers from #8 to #14.


  9. Hey, for kick-ass women cartoonists how about Colleen Doran?

    • What?!? Have you ever meet Collen? Seriously? She might be very skilled and you might love her work, but you do understand the blog entry was about being physically imposing and dangerous? Colleen is a lovely and talented woman….but my arthritic wife could take her.

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  11. I know Isy Morgenmuffel has made a couple of minicomics about womens self defense and hitting people:

  12. I think this is the best blog I´ve read this year.

    • Aw, you’re very kind, but I think you have to get out more. Or, no…wait, I think you have to stay in more. No, you can net surf with iphones outdoors nowadays…so you have to…

      You know what?
      Live like you want to live, brother. Thanks for the comment!

      Ty the Guy

  13. Hilarious! And having met and/or worked with four of these guys, I can attest that it’s 100% accurate!

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  15. Jim Steranko Couldn’t hurt a fly….the guy can’t even smoke a cigar without coughing!

    • He breathes FIRE, not smoke. Breathing smoke is silly, and impresses no one. But wait til the plumes of red hot burning man-flame comes out of him. You’ll be kneeling, just wait.

  16. Apparently, you’ve never run into Paul Power, one of the toughest, muscular, and also most *ahem* compact men I’ve ever met in comics.

    Paul’s been boxing in Australia since coming out of the womb, could kick a Predator’s ass sideways (and storyboarded his adventures as well), and has been known to sharpen his teeth with buck knives.

    I’d put Paul up against anyone in the industry, of any size, and expect the other person to limp home. And I believe he palled around with Schwarzennegger in his glory days

    Paul was giving me some boxing tips (he’s the only other guy in the industry that I know who boxes other than myself) at SDCC and Maggie Thompson caught a picture of him about to deliver a blow to my face. I asked her not to use it in print so as not to give people the wrong idea. Paul’s a friend, and trust me, a much better friend to have at your back than an enraged mountain lion.

    Here’s a gratuitous shot of me at the boxing gym. Yeah, I haven’t had a lot of comics out lately, but I have had a lot of credits in the field.

    Hey, two others for your list: Beau Smith and Terrance “Spider-Baby” Griepp. The former, a gun-toting two-fisted manly man, the latter the only semi-pro wrestler who started in comics before wrestling, and who specializes in hard-edged fare like Scooby-Doo!

  17. I worked with Paul Powers on the CBS/Mad Dog thing with Bob Newhart about fifteen years ago, and was well aware of Paul’s prowess in all things. (I have a hysterical Paul Powers story that I tell at parties, and cannot possibly clean it up enough to tell online without at least three people suing me and Paul killing me dead, so don’t even ask. But he comes out looking great in the story, and I’m the weak neck punk, trust me.)

    You’re completely correct about Paul’s kick-ass credentials as he once beat me senseless just over a phone. But I’m not aware enough of his comic cred to include him. I thought he worked mostly as a storyboard and TV illustrator. I’m not adverse to the wide net that might have included him, but I was going for major DC/MARVEL artists mostly. Tell Paul I said hi, and I recall him very fondly, and his thick brawny accent.


  18. Ty,

    This was just the best. Made my day. And speaking of Ken Lashely….remind me one day to tell of our little dust up in San Deigo sometime.

    Sheer fun, amigo. I’ll be passing this around like Angel’s two-timing girlfriend in The Wild Bunch.

    Your amigo,

    Beau Smith
    The Flying Fist Ranch

  19. Perfect choice for #1.

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  21. dang fun stuff man.

  22. I can’t believe you left out Frank Frazetta, who could still kick everyone’s ass here with one arm tied behind his back. Maybe both arms.

    • Oh, I wanted to include Frazetta, just because he always looked more he-man than any art-boy with a brush ever had a right to. I’ve been emasculated just by looking at a photo of Frazetta taking off his jacket in good lighting.
      And speaking of Frazetta, and the four lovely little paintings he did for the BLAZING COMBAT covers you recently reprinted in a lovely new package.
      Thank you, thank you for the BLAZING collection. The Russ Heath story made my eyes bleed it was so beautiful. And with all the Severin, Wood, Toth, Crandall, Evans, and the gang…it was like the secret ultra-liberal volume of Two-Fisted that never existed…(Two Fisted and Frontline are my two favorite comic series of all time)
      Any chance of cobbling together tribute volumes to the Warren art of Russ Heath from Vampi and Creepy? I recall one or two amazing tales from Heath.

      Again, I thank you for putting this COMBAT stuff back into print. And any and all readers of this blog comments section, GO OUT AND BUY A COPY OF BLAZING COMBAT, so Mr. Groth will be compensated for this great act.

    • I gotta second Ty’s praise for BLAZING COMBAT. Easily the best compilation I’ve bought in years.

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