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Another year has come and gone and that means another year of wonderful comic books—and not so wonderful comics. But we’re not here to talk about them, we’re here to talk about the best publisher, writer, artist, colorist and cover artist.
Marvel has done a great job over the past year with some of their female characters. They took Gwen Stacy, a character most famous for her death, and turned her into a superhero. They introduced a Muslim teenager from Jersey whose personality charms every reader. Then they began the Spider-Verse event, bringing together all the spiders across the universes and gave the story some real stakes. I hope to see even more progressive stories and characters from them in the near future, but I’m satisfied enough with how they’ve been doing this year that I think they have come out on top.
Elvis’s Pick—Image Comics
Sure every publisher has their high and low points – and Image really does have a lot of low points. Yet, they are the publisher that has published two stories this year that will go down as my all-time favorites: Supreme and Starlight. With more on the horizon for next year, Image really does take the cake in my heart here. It does make me anxious to see what they will do with properties like Supreme in the future, but at this juncture I have optimism, so don’t let me down Image!
I always say I am 50/50 with the big two and I am, but every year I have to pick which publisher did better. Throughout the year I keep a list of all of my pick of the weeks. This helps me determine which publisher did the best during the year. Marvel had 25 pick of the weeks and DC Comics had 16. Marvel had some great books this year. Some examples are Ms. Marvel, Edge of Spider Verse, Elektra, and Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-man.
Jim’s Pick—Image Comics
Image Comics had a great year in 2013 and they had another tremendous one in 2014. The brilliance of Saga continues, and new series like Sex Criminals and Bitch Planet have created buzz, great sales, and strong reviews. However, Image also excels in the next level of series, ones like The Wicked + The Divine, Rocket Girl, Satellite Sam, Lazarus, Black Science, Wytches, Southern Bastards, Deadly Class, and Copperhead. At this point, it is more notable when Image Comics DOESN’T produce an incredible series. 2015 might be another great year for Image.
Elvis’s Pick—Warren Ellis
This one is a no brainer. It has to be none other than the illustrious Warren Ellis. Ellis, of course famed for Planetery, The Authority, and Transmetropolitan, has done something magnificent this year. No, it’s not his mediocre-to-middling work on Trees, it is his work on Supreme: Blue Rose. With the first 5 issues of this incredible miniseries Ellis has done what I had thought was impossible. He has done to Moore what Moore did to Liefeld, and turned Supreme into something new and wholly creative. Ellis, with aid of artist Tula Lotay, has been able to re-craft the Supreme mythos for a new age.
Kat’s Pick—Charles Soule
This year there were a lot of great writers but Charles Soule really stuck out to me. He had a number of well-written books ranging from Red Lanterns to Death of Wolverine. They all had different tones, but what they had in common was great characterization. Charles Soule knew these characters’ voices and I think that is a very important factor in writing a good comic book. Charles Soule is going to be a force to reckon with in the next couple of years.
Jim’s Pick—Ed Brubaker
2014 was a year in which Ed Brubaker brought his long collaboration with Sean Phillips, Fatale, to a conclusion and then started up a brand new (and very good) series with Phillips called The Fade Out. He also continued Velvet, his excellent spy series with Steve Epting (all three published by Image Comics). Additionally, the film Captain America: The Winter Soldier, based on the comic book arc written by Brubaker and with art by Epting, became a commercial and critical hit (Brubaker even had a cameo as one of the scientists who wipes The Winter Soldier’s mind). That’s a pretty great writing year.
Nicole’s Pick—Stjepan Sejic
I hesitated to give this to Sejic again since last year I named him the best artist of 2013. However, his artwork is still just as beautiful as last year and I had trouble finding anyone that could match his level of detail. Sejic’s characters are drawn so realistically they look like something you’d see in an HD video game. His imagery in comics like Witchblade, Sunstone, Death Vigiland Aphrodite XI is absolutely glorious.
Elvis’s Pick—Goran Parlov
Goran Parlov for his incredible work on Mark Millar’s Starlight. Parlov, already well known for his collaborations with Garth Ennis over at Marvel, bursts into a whole new genre with Millar. Taking liberal influences from Moebius and other sci-fi luminaries, Parlov is able to construct a vibrant and intense fantastical world. A world that is thankfully not shy of the pulse-pounding action sequence. Parlov is not only able to balance all of that but also include some rather catharsis ridden emotional beats.
Kat’s Pick—David Marquez
Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man was one of my favorite books this year and Dave Marquez’s artwork was a big factor on why I loved the series so much. Marquez is great at drawing facial expressions and this was a very important factor for a series like Miles Morales. There were a lot of emotional beats and Dave Marquez hit them all.
Jim’s Pick—Amy Reeder
Amy Reeder’s series with Brandon Montclare, Rocket Girl, continued to be a delightful comic book, in large part due to Reeder’s art, which combined great historical detail, action sequences, and character expressions. Perhaps more notably, Reeder also designed and drew the logo for the Brooklyn Defender, a beer released by Brooklyn Brewery in conjunction with New York Comic Con.
Nicole’s Pick—Juan Ferreyra
Without Ferreyra’s painted colors his work would not be as wonderful. His work on Colder: The Bad Seed would not carry as dark a tone as it does with his color scheme. It is also the main reason I enjoy his artwork and his cover work so much.
Nicole’s Pick—Nei Ruffino
Nei Ruffino has done a lot of work cover and interior work for DC Comics and Zenescope Entertainment. Zenescope is noted for sporting many scantily clad women on their covers and while it can be repetitive, the pigments Ruffino uses always make the women more beautifully, especially the colors on their skin.
Kat’s Pick—FCO Plascencia
FCO Plascencia has done some great work on Batman. He picks a lot of unique colors that coincides with Greg Capullo’s beautiful artwork. Even though I thought Zero Year dragged FCO Plascencia did some of his best work for this story arc.
Elvis’s Pick—Brian Buccellato
Let’s just all buckle down and give it to Brian Buccellato once more. The way that Booch, as he is called, is able to work around with his outstanding and gorgeous watercolors is just impressive. Already known for his work on The Flash – he continues that tradition within the pages of Detective Comics. While not as overt or peppy as his work in The Flash, what he puts on over on ‘Tec is a nice medium between the more gritty areas of Batman while also keeping things grounded. Of course, there also comes a relieving bit of lightness to it all – showcasing that Booch is one of the best at mood.
Jim’s Pick—Matt Hollingsworth
Comic book coloring is an underappreciated art, even in the circles of comic book fans. Some of the best colorist in comics in 2014 was done by Matt Hollingsworth. Hollingsworth has added colors to some of the most popular comics as well as series with a very distinctive look. His colors also add a significant element to the art on many of the series, including Hawkeye and Wytches. There was an extended look at Hollingsworth’s coloring process in Wytches #3, and it is a revealing peek at the art on the series.
Best Cover Artist
Nicole’s Pick—Francis Manapul
Francis Manapul has done numerous covers for DC Comics and they have all been great. His use of multiple bright colors really makes all of his covers stand out, especially his Detective Comics covers. His lines are smooth and the designs always enjoyable to look at.
Nicole’s Pick—Juan Ferreyra
OK, I know, I know, I put him in these awards three times now but this man has done a fantastic job in every aspect of the art department and it felt like a sham not including him here as well. Ferreyra did several covers for Constantine which stood out not because of their artwork—which alone was decent—but because of their creative use of colors—especially issues 15, 16 and 17.
Elvis’s Pick—Tula Lotay
There is simply no one else I could have in mind here. Sure you have your Parlovs and Manapuls – but the work done by Tula Lotay is something that I think really blew them both away this year. Her series of covers for Supreme: Blue Rose not only are meticulously put together pin-ups for the characters that they display, but are also a testament to the confounding nature of the comic within. They are eye-catching, no doubt, but they have an even more intense allure to them. The fact that they are all pieces of great big spread is just a cherry on top of this quite magnificent sundae.
Kat’s Pick—Cat Staggs
Cat Staggs worked on some beautiful covers for Smallvile in 2014. I always love the painting styled covers and Cat Staggs does this style perfectly for Smallville. The characters always look like the actors, which I think is a hard balance with these TV tie-in books.
Jim’s Pick—Chip Zdarsky
The art on Sex Criminals is pretty unique looking and Chip Zdarsky’s quirky takes on characters has led to numerous awards for him and even some work with Marvel on variant covers. A big part of the look of Sex Criminals is tied to the distinctive covers. Zdarsky’s sense of design and bold colors make Sex Criminals stand out on the comic book shelves. Each one is also quite beautiful while fitting the tone of the series.
Those are only some of the comic book awards. In the next part, we’ll cover the best series, mini-series, character, new character, underdog and couple. Happy New Year everyone!