- Hollywood celebrities have ventured into the world of comic book writing, creating their own original and compelling comic books.
- Nicholas Cage, known for his love of comic books, collaborated with writer Mike Carey and artist Dean Hyrapiet to create "Voodoo Child," a story about a child with strange new powers caught in a gang war.
- Keanu Reeves co-wrote "BRZRKR" with Matt Kindt and Ron Garney, featuring an immortal warrior fighting through the ages and seeking answers for his cursed existence.
With all the great fame and intoxicating success that comes with being a celebrity, it’s very easy to forget that these superstars are humans too. They are more than just extremely well-paid and highly influential actors and musicians. Many of them have dreams of creative exploits that they want to pursue and passion projects that are close to their hearts. These could be anything from starting a mezcal brand like Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad fame, to launching a cosmetics line like Drew Barrymore. None of those tickle our fancy as much as these truly great ones who have ventured into the world of comic book writing though. After all, Hollywood has built most of its success on top of comic books via the MCU and the now-defunct DCEU in the last decade. In a charming twist, a few Hollywood actors and celebrities have also been the ones to create original and, dare we say, pretty compelling comic books.
Not only are these A-listers appearing on-screen, but actors like Keanu Reeves and Nicolas Cage have dipped their nibs and let their creative juices be inspired by the wonderful world of comic book writing and created quite a few exciting releases. This list will look at famous celebrities who created their own comic books, what makes their books unique and why they decided to venture into the fascinating world of comics in the first place.
1. Nicholas Cage – Voodoo Child
Nicolas Cage is one of Hollywood’s most colourful individuals. The famous actor is well known for his quirky and eccentric personality and his unique portrayals in films like The Rock, Gone in 60 Seconds, Con-Air and most recently, Pig, to name a few. Cage has been an ardent comic book fan since childhood, when he loved to read Superman and Spider-Man comics.
In 2007, he and his son Weston Cage debuted Voodoo Child for Virgin Comics. The pair collaborated with writer Mike Carey and artist Dean Hyrapiet to tell the story of Gabriel Moore, a child born out of the union of plantation owner Mason Moore and slave girl Celeste during the 1800s. When Confederate Sebastian Bussard attacks Moore’s home one night, Gabriel is caught in the crossfire and is seemingly killed. In reality, he is placed in limbo by a voodoo priest and stays there until he is summoned back to the land of the living. He returns to our world in 2005 in the middle of New Orleans with strange new powers and lands in the middle of a gang war.
Cage loves the comic book artform so much that he often appears as an actor in adaptations like Ghost Rider, where he starred as the titular hero Johnny Blaze in two films based on the Marvel character. In 2018, Cage also voiced Spider-Man Noir in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Speaking on Spider-Man Noir, Cage said:
“Well, I think it’s a wonderful character,” Cage shared. “It’s a character that lends itself to channeling some of my favorite noir movie stars. It doesn’t matter if new generations do not know who [Humphrey] Bogart is or [James] Cagney is… Spider-Man, for me, is the coolest superhero. I think to have that combined with a noir, like 1930s golden age movie star attitude, makes it one of the most exciting of all the superhero characters.” (Via ComicBook.com)
Cage also owned a mint condition and highly sought-after copy of Action Comics #1, which he acquired in 2000 and resold in 2011 for a then-record amount of $2,161,000.
2. Keanu Reeves – BRZRKR
Stars don’t get much bigger than Keanu Reeves. The Matrix and John Wick actor is known for his love of music, film and comics. Reeves collaborated as a co-writer with New York Times bestselling writer Matt Kindt (Grass Kings, Spy Superb) and acclaimed artist Ron Garney (Wolverine) for BRZRKR. Boom!Studios published the three-volume set, which follows B, aka the Berzerker, an immortal warrior fighting his way through the ages brutally and violently. Half mortal and half god, B is cursed to roam the earth and fight in an endless war due to his proclivities for violence and warmongering.
Seeking answers for his accursed existence, with the desire and knowledge of how to end it, the Berzerker teams up with the U.S. government as an agent willing to do the dirty work no one else can or will do. B. was fashioned after the image of Keanu Reeves, and the first issue was a smash hit upon release, selling over 615,000 copies.
In an interview with USA Today, Reeves revealed that at one point, he harboured dreams of playing Wolverine, and now he would “love to play Berzerker.” He added, “It’s a really fun story so if it’s not me,” he added, “hopefully someone can play it.”
B. is a great character with an interesting backstory. Fighting wars as an immortal across the centuries is a fantastic idea for a film, and Reeves would be epic in the role. Even if the actor does not appear in any BRZRKR film adaptations, seeing the character appear in a live-action film would be a treat.
RELATED: BRZRKR: Keanu Reeves Adds Comic Book Writer To His Skill Set
3. Bill Hader – Spider-Man: The Short Halloween
Bill Hader is a legendary Saturday Night Live cast member and starred in films and series like Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Captain Dozerman), Inside Out (Fear), Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs (Flint Lockwood), and It Chapter Two (Richie Tozier). The comedic actor and his Saturday Night Live co-star Seth Meyers collaborated to co-write this Marvel One Shot.
Spider-Man: The Short Halloween is pencilled by Kevin Maguire and revolves around Ronnie, aka ‘Drunk Spider-Man’, who is mistaken for the real Spider-Man. Peter Parker gets knocked unconscious during the Greenwich Village Costume Parade on Halloween. At the same time, drunken reveller Ronnie dons a Spider-Man suit and is mistaken for Spider-Man. Meyers and Hader created a new rag-tag team of Spider-Man villains trying to make their mark, including Badger Teeth, Haymaker, Mr Think, Fumes and Gossip Girl. These upstarts confuse Ronnie for Spider-Man, and trouble ensues.
In 2009, Hader told the New York Times that they loved creating new villains because it’s “every fanboy’s dream,” and that adding their creation to the Marvel Universe was a ‘crazy’, notion.
4. Samuel L. Jackson – Cold Space
Another massive star to be involved with comics is the iconic Samuel L. Jackson. Known for his roles in Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained and playing Nick Fury in the MCU, Jackson is not just an action star but also a budding comic book scribe. Cold Space was released by Boom! Studios, and featured Jackson teaming up with Afro-Samurai writer Eric Calderon to co-write the comic.
The book is an outer-space adventure illustrated by Jeremy Rock. Mulberry is the main protagonist and features Jackson’s likeness in the comic. This four-part series sees Mulberry, a wanted criminal, on the run from the Galactic Police; Mulberry is only interested in making a quick buck. While on the run, he crash lands on a ghetto space-mining moon and finds himself in the middle of a war.
Jackson compared Mulberry to Han Solo and a wandering Ronin figure, and Jackson even created an online animated pilot of the series with Manabu Inada of Inada Studio Inc. A Samuel L. Jackson Ronin-like space cowboy or outlaw caught in a turf war sounds like an excellent idea for a Hollywood film. Let’s hope we get to see this become a reality someday.
5. Gerard Way – The Umbrella Academy
My Chemical Romance lead singer, Gerard Way, not only fronts one of the most acclaimed bands of his generation but is also an avid comic book geek who illustrates and writes his comic books. The musician and lead singer is regularly spotted in comic book stores and, in 2007, wrote The Umbrella Academy, which Dark Horse Comics publishes with art by Gabriel Bá. The comic features a dysfunctional team of orphaned superheroes from the mid-20th century. In 2019, Netflix adapted the comics into a live-action series. Gerard Way’s talents earned him an Eisner Award for his work on the comic book.
6. Patton Oswalt – JLA: Welcome to the Working Week
Comedian Patton Oswalt is well known for his stand-up acts and voicing characters like Remy in Ratatouille, Max from Secret Life of Pets, and starring in live-action films such as 2022’s Chuck in I Love My Dad, where he appeared as Chuck. Oswalt is also an avid comic book reader who has often pitched comic book storylines to D.C. The comedian and actor eventually got to write a comic with JLA: Welcome to the Working Week.
This genre-bending book is hilarious and takes a behind-the-scenes look at the Justice League of America through the eyes of an amateur writer, Marlus Randone, who secretly lives in the JLA Watchtower for a week, observing the interactions of the superheroes within. Dave Shevlin from Comfort Food Comics praised the one shot as genius for its unique storyline, which helps readers tap into each hero’s characteristics and sincerely appreciate what makes them special.
7. Kevin Smith – Batman: Cacophony
Kevin Smith is one of Hollywood’s biggest comic book fans. The director and actor is known for directing and starring in films like Clerks, Chasing Amy and Mall Rats. When Smith is not acting or directing, he writes comics. He has written several comic books, like Batman: Cacophony, which sees Batman attempting to stop a turf war between the Joker and crimelord Maxie Zeus. Batman also encounters a new adversary, Onomatopoeia.
Smith has often flexed his comic book writing muscles, such as in his run with Marvel’s Daredevil: Guardian Devil. Smith collaborated with artists Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palimotti to write an eight-story arc featuring Daredevil protecting a baby prophecied to an anti-Christ/Messianic figure. Smith also wrote for Spider-Man, Green Arrow and Green Hornet.
8. The Wachowskis – Doc Frankenstein
Famous for directing the original Matrix trilogy starring Keanu Reeves, the Wachowski siblings are also dyed-in-the-wool comic book fans. Long before they carved their film careers, the Wachowskis co-wrote for legendary British horror writer Clive Barkley, who, in the 90s, partnered with Marvel to release titles under his name. Some of these titles include Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, Clive Barker’s Nightbreed, Clive Barker’s Book of the Damned, and Ectokid. According to Ranker, the Wachowskis have written every issue of Doc Frankenstein since they started the title in 2004.
Doc Frankenstein was created by Geof Darrow Steve Skroce and written by the Wachowskis. The series combines different genres, such as sci-fi, horror and fantasy and focuses on the Frankenstein monster created by Mary Shelly. In the comic book, the monster survives Shelly’s experiments. He goes on to get a doctoral degree as Doc Frankenstein, a wandering individual traversing world history who takes up arms as a gunslinger in the Wild West for two centuries and a soldier in World War II, amongst other occupations.
9. Paul Dano – The Riddler Year One
Not satisfied with only appearing as the Riddler in Matt Reeves’ The Batman, Paul Dano also dipped his feet into comics with artist Stevan Subic to create The Riddler Year One—a six-issue run set as a prequel to Riddler’s appearance in Reeves’ film. In the comic, we explore Riddler’s troubled history and uncover why he is cast as the maniacal villain that he is.
In the series, we learn more about Thomas Wayne’s connection to the orphanage he funded and the abuse that Ed, aka The Riddler, was subject to. Dano takes a deep dive into the character of the Riddler and connects more of the dots left empty in the film or only briefly alluded to.
10. Mark Hamill – The Black Pearl
Long before he became an icon portraying Luke Skywalker in Star Wars and Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, Hamill was a kid who loved to read comics. The actor was also a co-writer of The Black Pearl comics published by Dark Horse. In 2011, talking about his love of comics, Hamill told CNN, “I love the history of comics, I really do,” adding, “I gave them up when I was a young teenager thinking, ‘I’ve gotta outgrow these things.’ I made it through high school but when I got into college, I would visit old bookstores and see these boxes of old books.”
In 1996, Hamil and co-writer Eric Johnson released The Black Pearl, a five-issue limited series illustrated by H.M. Baker. It tells the story of Luther Drake, a troubled man who, due to media pressure after he becomes a sensation for preventing an abduction, becomes a costumed vigilante “hero”. Hamill described The Black Pearl as a tale of urban madness, a story about the “tabloidization” of our society, instant celebrity, and responsibility in the media. “Could an out-of-control shock jock compel an unstable man into becoming the mysterious Black Pearl? That’s the premise, and I’m thrilled with the results! It’s offbeat, unpredictable, and wickedly funny. H. M. Baker’s art is both graceful and sexy,” said Hamill.
Hamill might be known for his exploits on-screen as Luke Skywalker, but there is more to the actor than meets the eye. His talents as a writer are also featured in the zany comic strip, The Simpsons Treehouse of Horrors.
RELATED: Star Wars’ Mark Hamill Shares Luke Skywalker Audition On Twitter
11. David Duchovny – Kepler
David Duchovny is famous for his role in the 90s hit television series The X-Files and later in the 2000s for Californication, and starring in films such as Zoolander and Evolution. As Special FBI Agent Fox Mulder, the actor investigated alien and paranormal occurrences. Duchovny continued to delve into the extraterrestrial with Kepler. Duchovny debuted as a comic book writer, telling the story of the Benadem, benevolent space gods who return to planet Kepler. These alien outsiders soon create havoc amongst the local populace.
Similar to Planet of the Apes, Kepler focuses on ape-like hominids with West, a 16-year-old Neanderthal girl, thrust into the conflict, and her efforts, unique because of her mixed hominid heritage, change her life and reveal the ruthless ambition and identity of the gods themselves. The book delves into themes of colonialism, environmentalism, religion and history while using science fiction to tell a gripping story.
Musing on why he wrote the story, David told Forbes, “What if we, humans, got another chance with a fresh new world we hadn’t depleted and polluted? What if we entered into a new phase of colonization, space colonization — would we have learned from our genocidal colonial past? And what if, instead of indigenous peoples we were displacing and decimating, we came upon other types of hominids from our distant earth past?
Neanderthals, Denisovans, and other intelligent evolving primates native to Kepler. Would we treat them as the evolutionary brothers and sisters they are? Or would we play god and try to remake them and this planet in our image? I guess this graphic novel is my working out the answer to those questions.”
12. Tyrese Gibson – Mayhem
Tyrese writes comic books when he is not performing as a singer and appearing as Roman Pearce in the Fast and Furious films. The talented actor, writer and singer created his comic book titled Mayhem alongside Mike Le, Will Wilson and Tone Rodriguez. Gibson said he was inspired to write a comic book after his appearance at a 2009 Comic-Con while promoting Death Race, where the energy from the audience affected him so much he wanted to create something from their world.
Mayhem is Gisbon’s love letter to the comic book world and the passionate followers of the medium who inspired him to write the three-part series for Image Comics. The story revolves around Dante, a masked vigilante whose dark and mysterious past compels him to reclaim the city of Los Angeles from the criminal underworld. Dante and his loyal assistant, Malice, dare to go up against the crime lord Big X in their quest for justice.
What’s your take on these celebrities dabbling in the world of comic book creation? If you’ve read any of their work, what did you think of it?