In general comic book characters will be more famous than their creators. And often more thanks to movie or animated cartoon adaptations.
The only comic book creators to gain some notability among the general public are Walt Disney (who actually didn't have anything to do with them besides production), Hergé (except in the USA), and Stan Lee (mostly in the USA). If you are a comics fan you're probably going to have heard of Winsor McCay, Elzie Segar, Carl Barks, Harvey Kurtzman, Charles M. Schulz, Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Mbius, Frank Miller and Alan Moore too. If you're into super hero comics Jack Kirby, Bob Kane, Chester Gould, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko are the first names to namedrop. If you know Manga it will be Osamu Tezuka. If you talk about Belgian Comics it will be Hergé, though in Europe Edgar P. Jacobs and André Franquin are well known too. French comics will be René Goscinny, Albert Uderzo and Mbius. Italian comics is Hugo Pratt. Typically comic book creators will usually be graphic artists, not people who only write scripts. One of the few purely comic strip writers to gain some fame is René Goscinny, but only in the field of Franco-Belgian Comics.
In the USA comics are seen as either Superhero stories and/or Newspaper Comics ("the funnies"). These are typically seen as children's stuff or geek material. If some more artistically interesting or "adult" comics are needed people will automatically assume you're talking about Underground Comics or a Graphic Novel. The only American comic book magazines to gain some notability are DC Comics (best known for Superman, Batman), Marvel Comics (best known for The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man and the X-Men) and MAD Magazine. The most famous American comics world-wide are usually Krazy Kat, Popeye, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Peanuts, Garfield, Superman, Batman and Spider-Man to name the most iconic.
In Europe the market is domineered by Franco-Belgian Comics. These are typically adventure comics and even more perceived as children's stuff, despite also having a lot of comics aiming at a more adult audience. Worldwide Tintin and Asterix are the most famous European comic strips. In France the most well known comic-book magazines are or have been Pilote, Métal Hurlant (translated as Heavy Metal), Fluide Glacial, L'Écho des Savanes and Hara Kiri (nowadays Charlie Hebdo). In Belgium Tintin and Spirou, with Ons Volkske and 't Kapoentje solely in Flanders. In the Netherlands Eppo and the still enormously popular Donald Duck magazine. In the United Kingdom The Beano.
- Belgian Comics: Worldwide Tintin is the prime example, followed by The Smurfs (if they know it was originally a comic book at all) and Lucky Luke. In many European countries and the francophone market Blake and Mortimer, Gaston Lagaffe, Suske en Wiske, XIII, Thorgal, Boule et Bill, Buck Danny, Quick and Flupke, Marsupilami and Blueberry are well known. Within Belgium most of these titles are well known, but in Flanders people are most likely to name Suske en Wiske, Jommeke, De Kiekeboes and Nero as the first comics they think of. Spirou and Fantasio has a huge fandom as well, to the point of being run by Belgian artists multiple times.
- British Comics: In the UK itself people will likely think of Dennis the Menace (UK) and Desperate Dan. Outside the UK the most famous British comics are Rupert Bear (though in some circles it's only known for the Nick Jr. animated series), Billy Bunter, Judge Dredd, Andy Capp, Storm (which despite being drawn by an Englishman aims at the Dutch market) and V for Vendetta. Neil Gaiman's The Sandman sometimes comes up as well.
- Dutch Comics: The most well known Dutch comic strip is Tom Poes, which is an institution in the Netherlands and was also popular in other European countries. Storm has gained some fame, despite being drawn by a British artist, Don Lawrence. Within the Netherlands itself Erik De Noorman, Kapitein Rob, Paulus de Boskabouter, Jan, Jans en de Kinderen and De Generaal are the best known.
- French Comics: Internationally definitely Asterix. In Europe and the franchophone language community Bécassine, Blueberry are well known.
- German comics: Max and Moritz, which is also historically important.
- Italian comics: Corto Maltese.
- Spanish Comics: Mortadelo y Filemón is probably the most well known Spanish comic strip both within and outside the country. Blacksad is also catching on.
The comic book industries of other countries tend to be less well known. Still a few examples:
- Argentine Comics: Within the country Mafalda is huge and definitely well known in the Spanish language world.
Specific small reference pools regarding comics
- Superheroes will be Superman, Batman, or Spider-Man. (Also, Wonder Woman, the key female superhero, at least as a metaphor for "extraordinary woman".)
- Or superheroes that were filmed into a huge blockbuster movie adaptation. Or sometimes characters from the animated adaptations, such as Justice League. For example, because John Stewart, who was African-American, was the only Green Lantern known to many non-comic readers, some people accused the live-action Green Lantern film of whitewashing by casting Ryan Reynolds as the lead role. They genuinely didn't realize John was only one of an entire group of characters (including men, women, aliens, and animals) to assume that mantle.
- If someone is making reference to a hero who runs fast, it is almost always The Flash.
- For that matter, the only comic books are superhero comic books and possibly manga.
- For Superman there's Lex Luthor and...uhhh, maybe Brainiac? (And, briefly in the 1990s, Doomsday.) General Zod (from the second movie), or rarely some other Phantom Zone villain, might get the odd mention.
- Batman has The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler, Catwoman, Mr. Freeze, Two-Face, and Poison Ivy. (The Scarecrow might get mentioned.) Before 1990, bet heavily on it being one of the first four. Killer Croc, Bane, Clayface, Mad Hatter, Man-Bat, Harley Quinn and Black Mask are also likely to show up. As for "loser villains" Killer Moth, Calendar Man, Kite-Man and Polka Dot-Man are the most likely ones to be named.
- Mr. Freeze in particular was a B-list villain until Paul Dini and Bruce Timm put him on the map in 1992 with incredibly excellent Batman: The Animated Series episode "Heart of Ice" (which gave Freeze a backstory for the first time instead of just "A guy with a freeze gun who likes to rob stuff").
- The only enemy of the Green Lantern corp is Sinestro.
- The only Spider-Man villains are the Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, and Venom (and maybe the Lizard).
- The only X-Men villains are Magneto, Mystique, Sabretooth, and Juggernaut.
- The only enemy of the Fantastic Four is Doctor Doom (and sometimes Silver Surfer). Maybe Galactus, because of the movie, but movie!Galactus is a lot different from comic!Galactus.
- Supporting casts?
- For Superman, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Supergirl, and maybe Ma and Pa Kent or Perry White. Good luck when it comes to Lana Lang, Pete Ross, or Steve Lombard. Krypto might also be recognized (thanks to his 2000s TV show). Unless one was a fan of Young Justice, Superboy is either "who?," "Superman when he was a boy," or assumed to be a reference to Smallville. Supergirl is always Kara Zor-El.
- For Batman, Robin, Alfred, Batgirl, and Commissioner Gordon. Robin will usually be the Dick Grayson version and Batgirl is always Barbara Gordon. This, despite the fact that Robin became Nightwing in 1984 and unlike other examples he never returned to being Robin, and Barbara wasn't Batgirl for 23 years.
- If not Dick, then Robin will always be Damian Wayne (despite there having been twonote other Robins between Dick and Damian). Even then, Barbara will still be Batgirl.
- Spawn, Hellboy, The Tick, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are the only comic book characters not created by either DC Comics or Marvel Comics.
- The only Ninja Turtles characters you can count on most people knowing are either the ones who appeared in the movies (the Turtles themselves, Master Splinter, April O'Neil, The Shredder, Casey Jones, Baxter Stockman) or those who had prominent roles in the animated series (all of the above characters plus Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady). Only diehard fans remember the Triceratons, even though they featured prominently in the comics.
- All of this is assuming people even realize the Turtles were originally comic book characters. People are likely only familiar with the cartoon versions and would be surprised how brutal the comics can be.
- The only female superhero is apparently Wonder Woman. Sometimes Storm, Jean Grey, Supergirl (only Kara Zor-El), or Batgirl (only Barbara Gordon) might get a nod too. Conversed Trope on the The Powerpuff Girls.
- Underground Comics are all drawn by Robert Crumb.
- The only American newspaper comics are Garfield, Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, and Dilbert. If it's a single panel strip, then it's The Family Circus or The Far Side. If the setting is the earlier half of the 20th Century, swap out all three for Dick Tracy.
- Dick Tracy villains: Big Boy Caprice (and just because he got an adaptational upgrade in the movie), Flattop, Pruneface, a handful of others (maybe The Brow and/or Littleface), and The Blank (who was not Breathless Mahoney in the original strip)
- If a comedic or romantic comic is needed to be referenced, it'll likely be 1940s-1960s era Archie Comics. Even then Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead are apparently the only characters.
- The only American comic book companies that aren't Marvel or DC are Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and Archie Comics.