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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