Tom King’s career only started less than 10 years ago, but he’s already one of the most prolific comic authors of his time. The American writer, who’s currently working only for DC, has written successful stories for Marvel and DC. His work, full of emotional realism and deep characters, has earned him more Eisners than one can count on one hand.
A complex man himself, Tom King isn’t a regular comic writer. His life experience, combined with an obvious love for comics, allows him to deconstruct and revamp characters without missing their essence and his sensibility grants him the gift of crafting psychologically complex tales. He has surely earned a spot in the Hall of Fame of the comic industry.
10 He Worked For The CIA
The most random trivia fact about Tom King has nothing to do with his comics career, but with his previous job. Before becoming one of the most prolific comic writers of his time, King was a CIA officer. After 9/11, he joined the counterterrorism unit and worked for the American government intelligence for seven years, until his first son was born. Of course, he has shared some of his experience in the CIA in his stories, as it happens in Graysonthat follows Dick Grayson’s life as a spy.
This information has been public for a while, but in 2019, a rumor about King’s CIA career being a lie reached the internet. The author himself debunked said rumor by publishing a picture of himself during his time in Iraq in 2004, as well as one of the love letters his wife sent him during his time abroad.
There’s a post going around questioning whether I served in the CIA. Which is odd, cause I did, and there’s a way for employers (like DC) to check. Anyway, here’s a picture of me in Iraq in ’04 and an email from when I was getting Sheriff reviewed by the agency. pic.twitter.com/agvztmTJrn
– Tom King (@TomKingTK) January 2, 2019
9 He’s Also A Novel Writer
After leaving the CIA, Tom King dabbled in literary writing. In 2021, he published his first novel, A Once Crowded Sky, with Touchstone, an imprint of the famous publishing house Simon & Schuster. The novel follows the superheroes of Arcadia City after they all sacrifice their powers to save the world. Although they no longer possess superhuman abilities, they still believe they have a duty.
A Once Crowded Sky isn’t a graphic novel, but a novel about superheroes. However, it includes illustrations by Tom Fowler, who, according to King himself, thought him everything he knows about how to write a comic page. Although A Once Crowded Sky isn’t as recognized as King’s more recent work, it reminds readers of King’s comic books, thanks to its vivid descriptions and deep characters.
8 He’s Often Confused With Tom Taylor
Since they both have very similar physical features and they’re both widely acclaimed authors, people constantly confuse Tom King with Tom Taylor and vice-versa. This mix-up is so common for both writers that they decided to take advantage of it for 2020’s April Fool’s Day. King and Taylor swapped profile pictures on Twitter, confusing the fans even more.
Like King, Taylor is famously known for his work in comics. The Australian writer is the mastermind behind some of DC’s best Elseworlds, such as Injustice, DCeasedand Dark Knights Of Steel, as well as Marvel‘s All-New Wolverine spirit Dark Ages.
7 He Was An Intern Both At DC & Marvel
Before joining the CIA, King’s dream job was definitely in the comic world. Although he took a small detour for a while, he interned for DC’s Vertigo and Marvel Comics during his youth. While working at Vertigo, he learned a lot from Garth Ennis as he worked on Preacher and Brian Azzarello as he pitched 100 Bullets.
With Marvel Comics, he was Chris Claremont’s assistant, so he got to work closely with this legendary writer, who’s widely known for his work with Uncanny X-Men. While working with Marvel, King sold them a Black Knight script that, unfortunately, never got published.
6 His Debut Comic Was A One-Shot Story
Time Warp # 1 by Vertigo marks King’s first work in the comics industry. This comic is not completely his own, it’s an anthology of nine sci-fi stories created by other comic authors, such as Gail Simone and Damon Lindelof. King’s story is called It’s Full of Demons. It was illustrated by Tom Fowler, who also provided the artwork for King’s novel.
It’s Full of Demons tells the story of Paula, a 1901 girl who witnesses her brother Addie’s murder at the hands of a time traveler. Of course, no one believes her and she’s committed to a mental institution due to the trauma. Obsessed by the event, she hangs herself in 1956, as Eisenhower proclaims the world lives in peace. At this moment, the reader learns her last name is Hitler.
5 He Only Has One Comic With Marvel
Before finally signing an exclusive deal with DC, Tom King got the chance to write two comics with different publishers. I’m Tireda story for Love is Love with IDW Publishing, and The Vision for Marvel, alongside Gabriel Hernández Walta and Michael Walsh.
The Vision follows Vision and his family, all synthezoids, as they adapt to living in human society. Using defamiliarization as an analysis technique, the comic tackles fundamental topics such as the meaning of life, love, family, and death in a beautiful way. King’s writing overflows with a special kind of wisdom that earned The Vision and Eisner Award in 2017.
4 He Successfully Rebooted The Omega Men
In 2015, Tom King was commissioned to revamp Omega Men as part of the DC You modifications to the DC Universe. His series, which serves as a reboot for the previous New 52 Omega Men, turned the Citadel into an interplanetary corporation exploiting planets for its own benefit. The Omega Men are survivors of their planet’s genocides at the Citadel’s hands.
King’s Omega Men was canceled after only seven issues. This was poorly received by the fans, so DC stopped the cancellation. Even Jim Lee went public and commented the cancellation was “a bit hasty.” Omega Men lasted 5 more issues, as King planned in the first place.
3 He’s Single-Handedly Changing Batman
Tom King started writing for Nightwing and Robin, but soon he moved on to the Dark Knight himself. As of 2022, he has been working with Batman or Batman-adjacent characters for 8 years. His Batman run is considered one of the most influential runs on a major DC character, due to the depth that he brought to this hero.
During King’s run, Bruce has grown as a character. Not only has he faced several failures, such as Dick’s injury or Gotham Girl’s fall to evil, but he has even questioned his duty as Batman. What’s more, he has seen life beyond his own path and broken free of many traumas without losing his original essence.
2 Tom King Already Has Seven Eisner Awards
Although his career only started in 2013, less than 10 years ago, Tom King has already won seven different Eisner awards for his outstanding work, especially for his work on Batman spirit The Vision. Two of these accolades have been for Best Short Story, another two for Best Limited Series, two for Best Writer, and one for Best Graphic Album: Reprint.
Prolific as few others, Tom King is currently working on several comics, such as Batman / Catwoman, Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow, spirit Human Target, among others. Undoubtedly, fans will see his name in the Eisner’s nomination lists again soon.
1 He Has Been Compared To Alan Moore
Granted, nobody can replace Moore’s ability to craft and answer philosophical questions while treating the fans to an original story. However, due to his mastery in true-to-life deconstructionism, Tom King’s comics have been often compared to Alan Moore’s work.
Moore and King are two writing masters, capable of developing complex characters amidst profoundly mature plots full of reflection about human nature. Unfortunately for hardcore comic fans, Moore retired from the comic industry in 2019, but many believe Tom King could easily become his predecessor.
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