The THN Love Slaves are back and we have decided it would be best to end the year with a ‘Best Of’ list for the good kids who follow the THN site. We spent five frantic minutes discussing what topics would be covered in our year-end article, and we’ve decided on five categories: Best Ongoing Series, Best Graphic Novel, Best Writer, Best Artist, and Best Find. Your Love Slaves are TonyDoug Wright (aka The TD Dubs), Aaron Meyers (King of ‘Ask A Nerd’), and Keith Silva (aka The honorary Jew).
Let’s get to business and state our cases.
1. BEST ONGOING SERIES
TonyDoug Wright: As much as I’ve loved Mark Waid’s run on Daredevil, I’m going to take a different route and go into the world of webcomics. I’m a webcomics creator, so I’m gonna be loyal to my homies. Supermassive Black Hole A* is still one of the best webcomics out there, and creator Ben Chamberlain has developed a very cool sci-fi tale that features some beautiful black and white panels. Perhaps Joe and Matt could review some webcomics in 2013. *Hint*
Aaron Meyers: This is SO hard to make a choice of, there are a ton of incredible comics out this year. Having to choose I make my pick Manhattan Projects by Nick Pitarra and Jonathan Hickman & Jordie Bellaire. Of all the books this year that I loved, and there are a lot, this one is at the top of my must read list when it comes out. The story is pure sci fi madness. Pitarra’s art, Bellaire’s colors, Hickman’s layered writing, everything about this book is A+++.
Keith Silva: Month-to-month no series delivers more in ‘expect the unexpected’ than Prophet. Each issue is equal parts ‘WTF,’ hard sci-fi and gorgeous gobbledygook delivered an easy to digest ‘Conan in Space’ wrapper. Brandon Graham is a creator’s creator. He tells the stories he wants to tell in the way he wants to tell them. The other creators that Graham gets for his ‘great space coaster’ like Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple and Giannis Milogiannis are less like hired hands and more like co-conspirators. Ten years from now — hell, maybe even five — the next hot shot writers and artists are all going to cite Prophet as the comic that most influenced them and made them want to make comics. Lucky Bastards.
2. BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL
TDW: Guy Delisle’s Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City is my selection. Jerusalem is the most recent addition to Delisle’s tales as a fish out of water who goes from country to country with his wife who works for Doctors Without Borders. Fans of Pyongyang, Shenzhen, and The Burma Chronicles will enjoy this graphic novel as Delisle and his family adapt to life in a city of conflict and beauty. What I like about Delisle’s Jerusalem is that he’s not writing an ABC Afterschool Special, but is blunt and opinionated in his writing. The issues between Israelis and Palestinians are complicated at times, and Delise does not hold back on his criticisms of Israel and organized religion in general.
AM: For me this was a clear and easy choice. The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire was so enthralling, powerful and well done that it was at the top of my list for graphic novels this year. Admittedly as a father I have some bias with this story but Lemire is such a master story teller with such a unique art style, I loved everything about this book.
KS: Ron Wimberly’s Prince of Cats cuts and cuts deep. It’s a mix tape of Shakespeare, samurai movies, ’80’s youth culture and the thin line between honor and blind macho stupidity. Wimberly ”lays his scene in Brooklyn Babel” where two warring families, star-crossed lovers etcetera etcetera; except Wimberly’s not interested in the umpteenth re-whatevering of Romeo and Juliet, think of these Elizabethan cues as samples, a sax lick here, a snare drum there. This is Tybalt’s story, the titular Prince of Cats, who returns to the ‘hood to take revenge and rush headlong into senseless violence. Wimberly’s cartooning has ‘flava,’ he draws sexy people, ‘real’ sexy people. His action scenes are dynamic and the character moments straight-up devastate. Blood spatters and box cutters to the eye aside, it’s when Wimberly takes a beat to linger over a pair of kicks or a ride on the Wonder Wheel that this story becomes more than the sum of its parts. Do yourself a favor, spend some time with Prince of Cats. Yeah, verily.
3. BEST WRITER
TDW: My vote is for Jeff Lemire. The Underwater Welder was another great graphic novel read for me this year. Lemire is one of the best writers out there today, and The Underwater Welder was as enjoyable as Lemire’s The Nobody. If you enjoy weird stories set in small towns then Lemire is your guy.
AM: There are a lot of amazing writers to choose from this year, and I agree with all your picks as well, but in the end I have to pick Jonathan Hickman as my writer of the year. Between his wrap up on FF/Fantastic Four, Manhattan Projects. And now Avengers series there isn’t a Hickman story I won’t read. The detail of his scripting and the intensity of his stories never leave me feeling lacking.
KS: I’m going to split my vote between Brian Wood, Matt Kindt and David Hine. All three of these writers should be recognized for their creator-owned work in 2012. Brian Wood is fast becoming both the James ‘hardest workin’ man in show business’ Brown and Rodney ‘I can’t get no respect’ Dangerfiled of comic book writers. His work is always intelligent and emotional and not enough good things need to happen for him in 2013. MIND MGMT is a tour-de-force of smarts and savvy. I think of Matt Kindt as a comic book auetuer as much as a writer and artist. His work is singular, but approachable with a hand-made quality that shows how much love and care he has for his art. David Hine takes risks. No comic book is ballsier than Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred. Hine’s ideas are never pat, his dialogue is never lazy and no writer is more willing to experiment and ‘play’ with what the medium can do than David Hine.
4. Best Artist:
TDW: I’m going to give this award to my friend, Anand ‘Kav’ Kaviraj. I’ve been blessed to work with Kav on various projects and this year we completed a graphic novel titled Dr. Death vs The Zombie. Kav has also worked on some really cool independent comic books like Rapid City #2, The Amazing Mister X, and Tales From The Void. Kav’s style blends the underground comics look with classic 50’s scifi and noir. This splash page he did for The Amazing Mister X blew me away and his design for the cover was equally impressive. Kav’s about to make it big, kids, so you heard it first from the TD Dubs.
AM: Another category that you don’t want to have to make a choice with. The talent the industry has right now I think has never been better, so what it comes down to is what spoke to me the most. This is a mix of the subject matter the artist produced and the art itself. So much goes into a book, from color, pencils, inks, finishes, lettering, it’s hard to separate an artist from the final product. That being the case, my choice is Brian Churilla for best artist of the year for his work on his creator owned project The Secret History of D.B Cooper. Since he did all the work on the series you can read a complete vision of the work. The art is stellar with a unique style that really shows the best of what comics can be.
KS: For me, this is like choosing your favorite child. I follow artists more than I follow writers. Weird, I know, right? If held at (metaphorical) gun point — or asked the same question by another website — I answer Becky Cloonan. For the sake of argument (and to be a bit more egalitarian), I read Sean Murphy’s Punk Rock Jesus for the story, but this is Sean Murphy (after all) and as an artist he has no equal. Whatever the artist’s equivalent of ‘an actor reading the phonebook’ is, Murphy could draw that and I’d be the first in line to see it. Like Cloonan, Murphy knows how to sling ink in ways that makes a reader feel something. An all-around fearless and incomparable creator, Sean Murphy draws and writes the comics I want to read.
5. Best Find:
TDW: This category is for the coolest people, websites, comic books, etc that were discovered by the THN Love Slaves this year. My pick is Darrin O’Toole. This writer from Ireland is on fire and is another person you need to keep an eye on in 2013. He is producing some great comic books, so check him out. I’d also like to give a shout-out to Matthew Bogart, a very talented writer and artist who has just launched his latest webcomic, Oh, It’s The End of the World.
AM: This will sound like an incredibly huge cop-out for this category but in the end my biggest find this year has been my comic’s community. Twitter has helped me connect with people who love comics, who then connect me to podcasts made by people who love comics, and bloggers who love comics, who tell me about creators who love comics, and make comics I love. Without this community I wouldn’t know much of anything about comics. I discover new and amazing work each day because of the people I know now.
KS: I began writing about comic books in February 2012. The last ten months have been an absolute blast as I have rediscovered a medium and an artform I love. From podcasts like Two-Headed Nerd, Panel Culture and Burnt Weiners to blogs like thirteen minutes and Too Dangerous for a Girl and, of course, my comrades in arms over at ComicsBulletin, I’m overwhelmed to find people who want to think, write and talk about comics as much as me. And if I ever reach that Zihuatanejo that is Legend Comics & Coffee, I hope Matt and Joe are there to talk comics, argue and (maybe) comp. me some creator-owned books.
TonyDoug Wright is the owner and head writer at Champion City Comics, a webcomics and comic book community, and is the owner of The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll, a weekday rock music blog. He is also a proud father and is married to the coolest and most beautiful girl on the planet.
Aaron Meyers is a full time nerd for both money and pleasure. When he’s not knee deep in networking cable or trapped in a server rack, he can be found on Twitter at @aaronmeyers or posting his musings about the world of comics at his blog Proactive Continuity.
Keith Silva writes for Comics Bulletin. There is also this @keithpmsilva and this Interested in Sophisticated Fun?. A googling will reveal he has a ‘real job’ in local Vermont television which keeps him in comics, but not nearly enough.