Gail Simone - Arguably the best writer working in the field of comics today, Gail maintains a consistently excellent body of work. She uses humor to fuel solid action scripts that are packed full of modern pop culture references and snappy, intelligent dialogue. Unlike many of her peers, Gail takes great pains to maintain an active voice on the internet with her blog and by frequently contributing to relevant discussion boards. I also have it on good authority that in her free time she enjoys feeding live kittens and uppity internet journalists to her pet Sasquatch. Currently she is writing The All New Atom and Birds of Prey for DC.
Camille Paglia - A teacher, author and social critic, Camille is the advocate for rational feminism, and one hell of a lunch date. Since her breakout novel, Sexual Personae in 1990, Camille has written for Salon.com and is a managing editor for Interview magazine. Though she is most certainly a feminist, Camille has always been an outspoken advocate of fetishism, pornography, prostitution, and male homosexuality, which tends to get her in hot water with just about every conservative advocacy group on the planet. The author of two books of essays on the subject of modern feminism, she is currently working on her third.
J.K. Rowling - Recently voted the greatest living British writer by the readers of The Book Magazine, Rowling is the first author to become a Billionare by writing books. She earned 75 million dollars in 2005 just off the release of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, and there's no end in sight with her upcoming release of the final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows projected to top the 100 million mark by year's end. With all this fame and fortune, Rowling remains grounded by keeping up solid communication with her fan base via the internet, and numerous public appearances. She's an amazing writer that will hopefully continue to enjoy many years of continued success even after the Harry Potter craze has long since run its course.
Colleen Doran - Colleen has been a professional comics artist since she was a teenager. To date she has completed hundreds of graphic novels and monthly comics, with no signs of slowing down. Colleen has always been an outspoken defender of artists rights and an advocate for women in the comics industry. She has worked with superstar writers from Warren Ellis to Neil Gaiman, the later of whom even based one of the characters in his Sandman series on her. Colleen was one of the first American artists to appreciate the Manga artists coming from Japan, and has been instrumental in opening up the American comics market for Manga, and a host of talented Japanese creators. Currently, Colleen continues work on her creator owned project A Distant Soil, as well as providing the stunning artwork for J. Michael Straczynski's Book of Lost Souls project for Marvel Comics.
Ann Marie Lipinski - Anne Marie is currently the Senior Vice President and Editor of The Chicago Tribune, one of the world's most powerful daily newspapers. In 1988 she won the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism for her series of articles detailing corruption in the Chicago City Council. She has since served on the Pulitzer jury twice. Currently, in addition to her day job, she is also serving on the board of visitors for the Poynter institute, the University of Michigan Journalism Fellows program, and the Stanford University Journalism Fellows program. She is a really busy person.
Dame Julie Andrews - What's not to love? During her career she's won the Emmy, The Grammy, and The Academy Award. She made the role of Eliza Doolittle famous enough on Broadway to get it optioned as a movie, only to get snubbed for the movie role by Warner Brothers. She gave us iconic performances as Mary Poppins and Maria Von Trapp, she's been knighted as a Dame Commander of the British Empire, and she has a 5 octave singing voice. Say what you will about Dame Julie's typecasting as sugary sweet bits of fluff, but you're not looking at her entire career, nor are you appreciating the subtlety that this master thespian brings to every role she plays. She's a wonderful actress and a true class act.
Gale Anne Hurd - Gale has done more singlehandedly to popularize science fiction and comics than just about anyone. As a motion picture producer, with her own Production company Pacific Western Productions, she's made a string of super films, including; The Terminator, Aliens, The Hulk, The Punisher, Aeon Flux, Armageddon, the list goes on. She has excellent taste in subject matter, even if the execution sometimes falls flat, and she's one of the most successful producers in Hollywood. She is also one of the most patient and understanding people on the planet, having been married to director James Cameron for four years. Currently, Gale is producing a new project for Howie Mandel, as well as the sequal to The Incredible Hulk.
Jane Pauley - From 1976 to 1979, the Today show was not to be missed. There was one reason for this and one reason only. It was the same reason, in fact, that put Dateline NBC on the map as well. Jane Pauley has been a Journalist and News Reporter in some capacity for most of my life, and she will always hold a special place in my heart. She has retired from television now, preferring to live the quiet life with her husband, cartoonist Gary Trudeau, but you never know. As modern television becomes less and less ageist (unless of course you're Barbara Walters), perhaps one of these days we'll see Jane Pauley taking over for Barbara Walters on The View, much as she did years ago with the Today show.
Dr. Sally Ride - This one's a no-brainer for any 10 coolest people list, but there's a good reason for that. Astrophysicist, Dr. Sally Ride was the first American woman in space. She was also the first female astronaut to complete two space missions. When the training for what was to be her third space mission was disrupted by the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, Dr. Ride was asked to serve on the board of inquiry. She would also serve later as an investigator for the board, in the wake of the Shuttle Columbia disaster. Dr. Ride is currently the founder and CEO of of Sally Ride Science, her company creates science programs written with an eye towards entertainment, as well as other science based publications for upper elementary and middle school students.
USAF Major Nicole Malachowski - Callsign "Fifi" tops my current list of the coolest, and she'd definitely the most badass. Major Malachowski cut her piloting teeth on the F-15 Eagle, clocking more than 1000 hours of flight time with it, including a combat tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In March of 2006 she switched to the smaller, more manuverable F-16 when she was selected as the newest member of the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron, better known as the Thunderbirds. To date she is the only female to ever serve as part of any armed forces air demonstration team, though The Navy's Blue Angels squadron has had females fly several solo missions in support of the main show. Hopefully this is the beginning of a trend that will see more female pilots in these high profile military roles.
***Note*** Yes, I know the picture says she's a Captain. She got promoted, it happens.