The year is winding to a close, which got us to thinking…what were the best comics of the year? The Comicosity staff has gathered and submitted their top picks of 2013, today being Best Artist:
Dustin Nguyen (Lil Gotham)
Expressive, joyful, beautiful. Dustin Nguyen’s work on the digital first Lil Gotham was a treat every second Sunday this year. Though Damian Wayne was struck down in the New52 universe, he lived on in these holiday-themed treats. The water colour look of Lil Gotham was perfectly made for tablet reading and I hope to see his work on a regular title soon.
Runner-Up: Jae Lee (Ozymandius, Batman / Superman)
Jamie McKelvie (Young Avengers)
Jamie McKelvie not only designed the new look for Captain Marvel, but also found time in Young Avengers to craft C-list super kids and transform them into pretty teen idols that make you wish you were skipping class in high school all over again.
Runner-Up: Mike Allred (FF)
TIE – Sean Murphy (The Wake, Batman: Black & White) &
Jamie McKelvie (Young Avengers)
I have to cheat on this one, so I will try to be brief. Sean Murphy and Jamie McKelvie are two spectacular artists who are spectacularly different. McKelvie’s lines are the cleanest in the medium, and he favors books with bright colors and sharp layouts. Murphy’s work is much rougher, sketchier, and breeds shadows. Both men, however, convey an immense amount of emotion in their work through faces and body language. In Young Avengers, McKelvie draws the most expressive faces I’ve ever seen. Those expressions, combined with a look over the shoulder, or a stance, carry a great deal of the emotional subtext that is vital to the story. Similarly, in The Wake, Murphy gives terror, defeat, heartbreak, and anger often in shadowed glimpses of an eyeline, or a frown. It’s more the impression of an emotion, but it’s all that’s necessary. McKelvie and Murphy are two very different moods, for very different stories, and both of them are on top of their respective games.
Runner(s)-Up: Felipe Andrade, J.H. Williams III, Francis Manapul, Greg Capullo
Joëlle Jones (Helheim)
My typical rule for the order that comic books are read when I get home from my LCS is: “Read the Lantern Books First.” Simple, easy, predictable. I broke that rule 3 times this year and two of those times were for Helheim #5 and #6 (interestingly enough the third time was for the Captain Marvel/Avengers Assemble crossover – The Enemy Within. Fantastic piece of storytelling from Kelly Sue DeConnick). Simply put, Joëlle Jones’ art is awe-inspiring. Every single issue of this series was an improvement on the last and brought new and beautiful visual delights that I could scarce imagine. Her art matched Cullen Bunn’s story so well that I find it impossible to imagine one without the other. I mean seriously, anybody that can make a story about Frankenstein Viking vs. Demons and the Undead beautiful in its brutality deserves the top spot.
Runner-Up: Sean G. Murphy (The Wake)
Greg Capullo (Batman)
There is no questioning the fact that Greg Capullo is a beast. I’m not talking about physically, although he is not someone I’d want to mess with, I’m talking artistically. Whether it was his gruesome, brutal rendition of the Joker in Death of the Family, his big intimidating take on Clayface, or his reimagining the early days of Batman in Zero Year, Capullo has drawn 11 of the most beautiful comics to ever feature the Dark Knight this year. With only one planned fill in issue in 2013, it can’t be argued that Greg Capullo is one of the hardest working men in comics. Not only has he drawn a lot of pages this year, including a few extra sized issues, he has done a ton of reconceptualizing and redesigning classic ideas and looks as Zero Year has demanded. It is a lot of pressure to be the artistic vision behind the most popular character in the world, let alone recreating some of Batman’s defining moments for a new generation of readers, but Capullo has been more than up to the task. There are a lot of great artists working in comics right now, but when it came down to it with everything considered, the choice for 2013’s Best Artist was an easy one.
Runner-Up: Fiona Staples (Saga)
Mikel Janin (Justice League Dark)
No question, Mikel Janin shone as one of the best artists of the New 52 launch in 2012, but 2013 not only saw his work look better than ever — it gave him a chance to draw the big guns. With Trinity War raging across all the Justice League books, Janin’s pencil got to render the likes of Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman, alongside Dark mainstays like John Constantine and Frankenstein. And my eyes literally bugged out of my head. Gorgeous faces. Gorgeous bodies. Amazing layouts. Beautiful action. Black Orchid shedding her skin is as revelatory as Wonder Woman unsheathing her sword. Every page is just insanely beautiful. Someone needs to chain this guy to the DC drawing table forever.
Runner-Up: Francesco Francavilla (Black Beetle, Batwoman)
Steve Epting (New Avengers, Velvet)
This choice will shock no one who knows me, but Epting absolutely killed it this year. Dustin Weaver was a VERY close second, but Epting’s work in New Avengers and Velvet was top flight. The Illuminati have never looked better than by Epting’s hand and the world of Velvet is dynamic and visually engrossing. More Velvet by Epting’s hand is coming our way and I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do in the book next.
Runner-Up: Dustin Weaver (Avengers, Infinity)
Check Comicosity again tomorrow to see more “Best of 2013” lists! Happy Holidays from the staff at Comicosity!