Connect with us
AIPT’s Best Comics of the Year: Best Creators

Comic Books

AIPT’s Best Comics of the Year: Best Creators

These are the folks hard at work making all the donuts.

Our celebration of this year’s best-in-comics continues today with part three. After ranking the best miscellaneous, followed by the best series, we now turn our attention to the creators. Be it writer, artist, or even the unsung letterer, these are the folks behind the scenes shaping these giant worlds and mighty stories. These are the faces we don’t always see, but who put in the time and effort to help make comics what it really is. And after all the effort they’ve exerted across 2020, they all deserve a standing ovation.

And speaking of creators, be sure to stick around for our fourth and final part next week. It’s going to be a veritable love-fest.

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly comics podcast!

— Chris Coplan, Comics Editor

Best Letterer

Joe Sabino

AIPT’s Best Comics of the Year: Best Creators

From Hawkeye: Freefall. Courtesy of Marvel.

Joe Sabino is an absolute chameleon at lettering. Sabino’s letters seem to work with the tone of any story and elevates it further.

— Ally Iciek

Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou

AIPT’s Best Comics of the Year: Best Creators

From First Knife. Courtesy of Image Comics.

Here’s the sign of a truly greater letterer: you know their work without really recognizing their presence. In that sense, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou is perhaps my favorite letterer of all time, as he’s showed up in so many great books across a slew of publishers. (In the last year or so, I’ve especially loved his work in First Knife and X-O Manowar). He brings something different to each project, and the way his letters align with everything from horror to sci-fi is both impressive and essential to properly cohesive projects. Add in his work editing PanelxPanel (a monthly digital comics magazine), and Otsmane-Elhaou does so much great work in and for the modern industry. Hats off, indeed.

— Chris Coplan 

Best Colorist

Mat Lopes

AIPT’s Best Comics of the Year: Best Creators

From The Dreaming: Waking Hours. Courtesy of DC.

At this point, Lopes’ work stands out thanks to his ties to fantasy series like The Dreaming and The Dreaming: Waking Hours. The style suits the outlandish worlds of fantasy but also anchors itself to the real world. You see it throughout Waking Hours, but it also works in superhero stories like the recent Detective Comics issues (with pencils by Bilquis Evely). There is a heightened sense of drama with its play of light and shadow — seen expertly in his cover work, but also in the subtitles of a scene.

— Dave Brooke

Tamra Bonvillain

AIPT’s Best Comics of the Year: Best Creators

From The Ludocrats. Courtesy of Image Comics.

Bonvillain has been one of the best color artists for the last few years, but I think she took a step forward this year. With Ludocrats looking fabulous, Once & Future continuing to reach new artistic heights, coloring Becky Cloonan, and single-handedly selling me on The Trap, Bonvillain has gone from one of the best colorists to one of the best creators, full stop. I can’t wait to see what she works on next.

— Keigen Rea

Best Newcomer

Sam Curtis and Son M. (SCSMCOMICS)

AIPT’s Best Comics of the Year: Best Creators

Courtesy of Tapas.

Webcomic ANIMALHEADS (found on Tapas) is an absolute hidden gem of a series. Without giving anything away, creators Sam Curtis and Son M. have started a gripping story about a band of misfits and a business venture that spirals into a murder thriller. I can’t wait to see where ANIMALHEADS goes.

— Ally Iciek

Best Writer

Al Ewing

AIPT’s Best Comics of the Year: Best Creators

From The Immoral Hulk. Courtesy of Marvel.

Al Ewing has what seems like encyclopedic knowledge of the Marvel Universe, pulling apart forgotten pieces of lore and making a whole four course meal of a story out of it. Immortal Hulk has been wonderful from start to finish, and Empyre proved that he can take on events near-flawlessly. It’s hard not to be excited to see what he does with the new S.W.O.R.D. series.

— Lia Galanis

Kelly Thompson

AIPT’s Best Comics of the Year: Best Creators

From Deadpool (2020). Courtesy of Marvel.

Kelly Thompson has been one of the newer breakout artists of the Marvel line. Since her Jessica Jones days, she’s shined, and her recent stint on Captain Marvel is some of her best work yet. Thompson understands Carol’s character to her core and the interjection of her humor in her titles is never imposing, but always funny. Seeing Carol take on the role of Accuser and the introduction of that moral conflict was some of the most palpable stories in comics all year. Her Deadpool completely sidesteps the “too corny to actually be funny” trope that many writers have trouble with — it’s funny, and it’s fun as well. And, hey, who doesn’t love to see more Elsa Bloodstone in their comics?

— Lia Galanis

Vita Ayala

AIPT’s Best Comics of the Year: Best Creators

From Marauders. Courtesy of Marvel.

Vita Ayala’s talent for telling a good story is second to none. Ayala can seemingly take on any character and create an emotional and enthralling narrative. Marauders #13 is one of the best Storm-centered issues of the past 20 years and is certainly the stand out comic of the X of Swords event. From X-Men to Batman to James Bond, Ayala has managed to write for multiple franchises this year without ever dropping in standard. Indeed, they are setting up to be an industry great.

— Ally Iciek

Benjamin Percy

AIPT’s Best Comics of the Year: Best Creators

From Wolverine. Courtesy of Marvel.

It was at DC where Benjamin Percy first caught my eye. His Green Arrow run felt like the best sort of pulp comedy, and his work on Teen Titans elevated that book beyond cutesy teen heroes (at least for this reader). But it’s at Marvel where he’s really picked up the pace: across both Wolverine and X-Force, he’s shown a true talent for marrying thrillers and crime stories into modern comics for some deeply nuanced and intriguing storytelling. Percy expertly blends nerdy comics jargon with some robust prose, and all of his works are so much better for his unique with and perspective.

— Chris Coplan

Best Artist

Valerio Schiti

AIPT’s Best Comics of the Year: Best Creators

From S.W.O.R.D. Courtesy of Marvel.

One thing is for sure: Empyre is a beautiful comic from start to finish. Ewing’s writing is easily praised but Schiti’s art is the cherry on top of a delicious sundae. Every character is beautifully expressive — can he just draw every comic ever from now on?

— Lia Galanis

Otto Schmidt

AIPT’s Best Comics of the Year: Best Creators

From Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red (“Hypothetically Speaking”). Courtesy of DC.

Working for both DC and Marvel, Otto Schmidt creates art so fluid, it almost moves off the page. Seriously, Schmidt has created some of the best comic battles of 2020. Not that I’m bias or anything, but I’d definitely recommend Hawkeye: Freefall. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before but it’s really good.

— Ally Iciek

Elena Casagrande

AIPT’s Best Comics of the Year: Best Creators

From Black Widow. Courtesy of Marvel.

Elena Casagrande not only creates absolutely beautiful characters, but also crafts fascinating and intricate action scenes that are timed to perfection. Her spread in Black Widow #3, in which she mimics the art style of a number of artists, is absolutely phenomenal.

— Ally Iciek

Marco Checchetto

Daredevil #25

From Daredevil. Courtesy of Marvel Comics.

I will never miss a chance to say amazing things about Daredevil, and Checchetto’s art has made that easier to now show with his amazing covers and interior art. I have a fond memory of his art during Omega Effect, which crossed over with Punisher, Spider-Man, and Daredevil. If you want to see an artist who delivers consistent drama and action, then look to Checchetto, as he has proven himself time and again with street level heroes.

— Christopher Franey

Jason Fabok

AIPT’s Best Comics of the Year: Best Creators

From Three Jokers. Courtesy of DC.

Now, we know that there was a lot of hype and excitement for Three Jokers, but some of that got tempered by that huge amount of wait time. Jason Fabok made it worth it in terms of the art by crafting some amazing layouts, dynamic action, and huge character moments. Plus, not only was there all that, but he also delivered by recreating famous moments in the Bat mythos with his panels in the first issue, a truly great extra feature. Most people are looking at this story as a modern classic (and that was even before it came out), but that didn’t stop Fabokfrom just riding that high as he did some amazing tricks to make this a treat for the fans.

— Christopher Franey

Jen Bartel

AIPT’s Best Comics of the Year: Best Creators

From Giant Size X-Men #1. Courtesy of Marvel.

When I think of what a comic should look like, it’s almost always the work of Jen Bartel. While she’s mostly known for covers (she’s done everything from Jem to Betty and Veronica), Bartel’s series work is just as great (seriously, read Blackbird). But no matter what she’s drawing, Bartel expertly marries both rich colors and glamour with a deep sense of humanity. The end result are pieces that crackle with a certain energy, and they exude the kind of specific magic you want from comics. Bartel’s presence sets a standard in modern comics, and so many books and titles are better for her massive efforts.

— Chris Coplan

Best Publisher

First Second

AIPT’s Best Comics of the Year: Best Creators

First Second has continued to publish long-form graphic novels that seem to touch every space in the comic genre. That includes absolutely stunning YA title A Map To The Sun (Sloane Leong), the queer chronicles of Howard Cruse in Stuck Rubber Baby, and the riveting tales of The Adventure Zone (the McElroy brothers). Regardless, First Second have published something for everyone in 2020.

— Ally Iciek 

Panel Syndicate

AIPT’s Best Comics of the Year: Best Creators

I’ve long been fond of Panel Syndicate and it’s release model, but this year I think they did two things better than most other comic publishers: 1) by publishing on Friday while the rest of the industry slept and 2) getting hot creators on board. Every book this year has a huge name attached to it, and they’re all pay what you want. I’ve also bought everything they’ve put out this year, which can’t be said for any other publisher.

— Keigen Rea

Scout Comics

AIPT’s Best Comics of the Year: Best Creators

I started off 2020 not really knowing too much about Scout Comics. Yet as the year has progressed, they’ve become a huge part of my comics reading experience this year (and my ability to remain sane). It’s not just that they’re a great place for new and indie creators to show off, or that they’ve already released a slew of comics this year (an especially impressive feat given 2020’s many challenges). It’s also that they had such a diverse suite of titles, from the horror thriller Atlantis Wasn’t Built For Tourists and the more grounded story of survival in Yasmeen to historical epics (Vlad Dracula) and weirdo political manifestos (The Recount). Plus, so much more, and that kind of sheer scope is why Scout did something essential in 2020: release awesome comics in a year where we needed them that much more. That, and they did it amid some especially impressive competition from an industry that hit a creative stride this year.

— Chris Coplan

Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!

Comments

In Case You Missed It

December 2021 Marvel Comics solicitations: 'Inferno' ends & 'Avengers Forever' December 2021 Marvel Comics solicitations: 'Inferno' ends & 'Avengers Forever'

December 2021 Marvel Comics solicitations: ‘Inferno’ ends & ‘Avengers Forever’

Comic Books

ted lasso 2.9.2 ted lasso 2.9.2

‘Ted Lasso’ season 2 episode 9 review: The complexity of Coach Beard

Television

EXCLUSIVE Marvel Preview: X-Men #3 EXCLUSIVE Marvel Preview: X-Men #3

EXCLUSIVE Marvel Preview: X-Men #3

Comic Books

Marvel reveals new X-Men series 'Sabretooth' #1 coming January 2022 Marvel reveals new X-Men series 'Sabretooth' #1 coming January 2022

Marvel reveals new X-Men series ‘Sabretooth’ #1 coming January 2022

Comic Books

Connect
Newsletter Signup