Who in your mind are the most inspirational artists who have worked in American Comics?

In terms of inspirational I don't just mean good or being critical darlings, but which artists have obviously inspired many others?

No wrong answers here, BTW, and this is not a list I plan to keep up with other than visiting this thread. 

I'll propose a handful to start:

Will Eisner

Jack Kirby

Dan DeCarlo 

Carl Barks

Neal Adams

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Good topic. Who's an inspiration? The <J> squad!

Joe Shuster

John Byrne

George Perez

Joe Kubert

and Frank Miller

I can name artists that have used the style of these artists, so I guess they qualify.

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It would be interesting to draw lineages between some of these artists and the artists they've inspired. For instance:

Will Eisner - Joe Steranko

Neal Adams - Bill Sienkiewicz

Dan DeCarlo - Jaime Hernandez 

Carl Barks - Don Rosa

A few more ive thought of:

Steve Ditko

John Romita

Curt Swan

I think John Buscema and Bernie Wrightson would qualify.

They weren't comic book artists but it seems as if most Golden Age artists sited Hal Foster, Milt Caniff and Alex Raymond as inspiration for them.

Alex Raymond, Milt Caniff and Hal Foster... in that order. 

doc photo beat me to it... by six minutes! (but I ranked them).

How do we account for artists that were once assistants and then went on to careers in their own right?  Either as "inspired by" or "assistant to" I think we could generate a lengthy list that starts with Wally Wood.

Also, Pete Morisi reportedly asked George Tuska if it was alright if he appropriated Tuska's style.

I would include Dan de Carlo; he singlehandedly changed Archie's house style away from the Harry Lucey/Samm Schwartz look.

I've seen the 1950s DC house style described as the Dan Barry look. His brother Sy also helped establish this style.

At Standard there was a period where Alex Toth's style was the house style.

Warren Kremer established the Harvey style.

Mostly the artists who worked in Bob Kane's style were artists who ghosted for him, working for him or DC, on "Batman". But he was otherwise imitated in the Golden Age. In Adventure Comics #69 the Sandman's feature was made over to resemble Batman's. Paul Norris was told to draw the feature in Bob Kane's style. Hal Sherman's work on "Star-Spangled Kid" was likely supposed to be Bob Kane-ish. I think I can see the influence of the style on Bob Wood's style.

Kane's early "Batman" stories made use of swipes from Henry E. Vallely (and Alex Raymond). But his style might also show the influence of Chester Gould's.

Joe Shuster's initial style was influenced by Roy Crane's. My recollection is Ron Goulart described it as a personal variation.

Charles Biro's style was used by other artists on features he oversaw.

I think John and Sal Buscema together established the 1970s Marvel house style.

Lou Fine was a star imitated by other artists at the turn of the 40s.

I don’t know if it is one particular artist per se, but since the 1980s a number of artists have taken inspiration from manga.

There are definitely a lot of Japanese Manga artists that have influenced Western comics like Goseki Kojima (Lone Wolf and Cub). 

Dave Palmer said:

I don’t know if it is one particular artist per se, but since the 1980s a number of artists have taken inspiration from manga.

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