We’re Getting Close to the End…

…of 2013, and I wanted to wrap up my favorite comics of the year. Astute readers will notice a lack of comics from either Marvel or DC. I occasionally talk some shit about those companies, but they still produce some quality comic books – I’m just not interested in those any more. I can’t get into the constant reboots and new launching points and all-new number 1 issues. Enough is enough.

I invested heavily in creator-owned comics this year. That’s where I want my career to go, that’s what I support. The following are my Top 10 favorite comics of 2013:

1) Nowhere Men by Eric Stephenson and Nate Bellegarde. This is just such a smart and interesting series. The mysteries surrounding the story start from page one and just intensify. And the design of the book is genius, with the magazine excerpts and ads and product placements. Great stuff.

2) East of West by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta. I had an idea to use the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in a story once. I’m glad I didn’t, because it wouldn’t be able to touch this book. Amazing world-building, characters that feel real despite their supernatural tone, and some truly brilliant designs make this a winner, and it narrowly gets beat out for my number one spot.

3) UXB by Colin Lorimer. This one was a surprise to me, but a very welcome one. The entire tone and scope of this book is pretty friggin’ brilliant. It’s one of those ideas that I would never have thought of, but it’s so accessible and entertaining. Dark and moody and atmospheric. Highly recommended.

4) God Hates Astronauts by Ryan Browne. I know this didn’t originate in 2013, but I picked up the trade this year, so screw you. It’s my list anyway. GHA is ridiculous, mind-bending fun. There’s so many weird characters and insane one-liners and genuinely funny moments in this book. In terms of straight-up funniness, this is the best book of the year.

5) Sheltered by Ed Brisson and Johnnie Christmas. A book about survivalists who come under attack from within is another idea that I never would have had, but I’m glad Ed and Johnnie had it. Great art, and some fantastic dialogue make this a book well worth your time.

6) Battling Boy by Paul Pope. I know this will be #1 on many lists this year, and it deserves every accolade it’s received. A fun and refreshing look at superheroics with Pope’s distinct art style. The best part about this book was that my 9-year-old enjoyed it just as much as I did, and I can’t say that for any other book on this list. Well done, Mr. Pope.

7) Five Ghosts by Frank J Barbiere and Chris Mooneyham. These guys take some old-school pulp fiction and add in all the right pieces to make this a can’t-miss book. I love the character of Fabian Gray, and the 5 literary ghosts he carries inside him. That’s such a brilliant piece of character work, and I hope for 100 issues out of it, there’s so much room to expand upon that.

8) The Legend of Luther Strode by Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore. They really upped the ante with this second Strode series, building the mythology around the Atlas Method book, and also amping up the blood and gore factor. As with Five Ghosts, there’s so much room to play around with the history and world of Luther Strode that I can’t wait for more down the road.

9) Lazarus by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark. Another incredible piece of world-building, Lazarus really hits on all cylinders. The Lark artwork is the best of his career, and this is the kind of book where every line feels important, like you really need to concentrate to make sure nothing gets missed. The best thing Rucka’s done in comics to date.

10) Clone by David Schulner and Juan Jose Ryp. I admit, I’m not overly invested in the story here. It’s a good concept, and has lots of room to maneuver, but it’s the Juan Jose Ryp artwork that sells this one for me. I love Ryp’s work. It’s so energetic and over-the-top and insanely detailed. I’d buy a copy of the phone book if Ryp illustrated it.

I have a few honorable mentions as well:

Sage (of course) by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples.

Comeback by Ed Brisson and Michael Walsh.

Jupiter’s Legacy by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely.

Ghosted by Josh Williamson and Goran Sudzuka.

Manhattan Projects by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra.

There you go. Not a single Big Two book in the bunch. They got very little of my money this year – a couple of issues of Secret Avengers that Ed Brisson wrote, the Daredevil issue Jason Copland drew, and the Warren Ellis “Endless Wartime” GN were about all Marvel got, and I think DC got even less…like, nothing.

Image was clearly my publisher this year. I wanted innovation this year, not re-fried storylines and uninspired characters. There’s so much talent working at those big publishers, that I can’t help but wonder what they’d be able to do one creator-owned books, properties and characters that they owned.

Food for thought for 2014.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll have a book on someone’s “Best of 2014” list.

Until next time, go check out “An Awesome Wave” by Alt-J, which is my current obsession.

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A recently uncovered dead project.

A while ago I was highlighting a bunch of dead projects, and I can’t remember if this one was included. And I can be arsed to go check. So, here we go…

My last post was about a short Breakneck story that an artist named Will Harris did for me. Will and I were also working on a series that was going to be called The Carriers.

The Carriers was a much older idea I had that originally started off as a horror/superhero book and morphed into something completely different. Jason Jarava and I originally worked on the Carriers in it’s horror heyday, but when Will and I started to work on it, it changed into something much more mainstream.

The concept of the Carriers was that there was a genocidal supervillain who had created a designer virus to eliminate a good chunk of the world, because hey, that’s what villains do. Only it turned out that a small percentage of people were immune to the virus – immune to the point that it didn’t kill them, but it changed them. They became carriers of the virus, which granted them superhuman abilities.

The team was led by obvious Batman analogue the Investigator:

Investigator

 

The story focused on a young man named James Baron, who was in the middle of a virus bomb that killed everyone around him, including his young wife, but not him. He developed superpowers, and was recruited onto the Carriers, where he began to emulate his hero, the Investigator.

The Baron

The team was made up of various other heroes. This is the psionic, Martian Manhunter-type The Thinker:

The Thinker

 

Team strong guy/powerhouse Black Karma. Note: in the description of the character, he was actually NOT black-skinned. I didn’t set out to create another “Black Goliath” or “Black Lightning” character. His name reflected the fact that the character had done some terrible things, and his karma was fucked.

Black Karma

 

Here was the only female character in the group, Red Sister. She’s since been adapted into a new story I hope to have out soon-ish.

Red Sister

 

Here is walking plague factory Quarantine.

Quarantine

 

Here’s one of the bad guy’s henchmen – a very different take on a character I created years ago called Gentle John (the name was meant to be ironic…whatever.)

Gentle John

 

And the big bad himself….the Terrorchrist.

Terrorchrist

 

The Carriers is dead in the water, and I don’t see it coming back to the surface in a hurry. Some projects are very much of the time I created them, and this is one of them. As nice as these designs are, I don’t think they’ll ever get used for anything.

That’s that for now. Do yourself a favor and check out “Summer of Lust” by Library Voices.

Some unseen, unused Breakneck pages.

Breakneck was my first big “hit” in comics. The first book I ever had on the stands, the first book I ever got unsolicited reviews on, the first book that ever drew an audience to my work.

I’m getting ready to bring Breakneck back in a big way in the new year. For now, you can find the trade of the first 4 issues at Amazon for under 10 bucks: http://www.amazon.com/Breakneck-1-Mark-Bertolini/dp/0615802729/

But I wanted to show something to you all, my faithful followers. A couple years back, I wanted to put together a Breakneck anthology, 3 short stories set in the Breakneck world. I created one with Carl Yonder, which was the origin of militaristic hero Captain Stone. I created one with Allen Byrns, which was the origin of Breakneck’s “hero” Ethan Shade. I’m not showing you either of those, because I still have plans to use them.

However, I did find some pages from an artist named Will Harris that I worked with on a short story featuring Professor Monster – the bigfoot scientist who was a member of the Cult of Intelligence in Breakneck issue 4. Here are some of those pages:

Page 1: Professor Monster is writing in his journal. Bigfoots do that. They’re sensitive souls.

PG1

 

Page 2: Professor Monster…does some typing? I’m not sure. I don’t remember what I wrote.

PG2

 

Page 3:Professor Monster has a disagreement with Breakneck’s big bad, Doctor Winter. Winter is a bit of an asshole, so it’s no wonder Monster storms away in a huff.

PG3

 

Page 4: A meeting of the Cult of Intelligence. We see series regulars Sister Science, the Technician (the shiny-faced dude), Ethan Shade (looking bored out of his skull), and the Ironworker. And Doctor Winter shaking a classic villain fist.

PG4

 

Page 5: Doctor Winter, in all his villainous glory.

PG5

 

Page 6: Incomplete page referencing the scene in Breakneck issue 4, where the Cult of Intelligence bursts into the courtroom to rescue Doctor Winter.

PG6INCOMPLETE

 

Page 7: Professor Monster tears the alien power battery out of the chest of the Green Lantern analogue, Blue Force.

PINUP

 

There were more pages that I can’t find now. It’s too bad this didn’t get finished, these were some great pages. Will had a great style going on here. I haven’t heard from him in over 2 years now. That kind of thing happens in this industry, unfortunately.

But I have these great pages we can all enjoy.

I’ll be back soon, I promise!