You’ve read all of our Bloody-disgusting staff picks for favorite comics of 2012, but now you get to hear what your favorite creators have been loving over the past year. Below are the Top 5 of 2012 lists from industry pros, Filip Sablik (“Last Mortal”, “Misdirection”), Brandon Seifert (“Witch Doctor”, “Hellraiser”), Michael Moreci (“Hoax Hunters”), Hunter Gorinson (Valiant Entertainment), Jesse Blaze Snider (“Evil Ernie”, “Muppet Snow White”).
Jim Henson’s A Tale of Sand (Archaia Entertainment)
An incredibly challenging, ambitious project, but Ramon Perez makes it look effortless and sealed his place among creators to buy sight unseen. Everything about that book is thoughtful and gorgeous.
Adventure Time (BOOM Studios)
I admit, this one is a biased choice, but I’d never watched or read Adventure Time before coming to work for BOOM! Man, was I missing out. This is smart, funny, and a true all-ages title that proves you can do an inspired, award worthy licensed comic.
The Darkness (Image/Top Cow)
Another biased choice I admit, but I sincerely think David Hine, Jeremy Haun and John Rauch are doing the work of their careers on this title and not nearly enough people are reading it. It’s powerful, psychological storytelling that fans of Vertigo would love and in the long run I think will be a landmark run.
Saga (Image Comics)
I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by Brian K. Vaughn that I didn’t like. On the surface, Saga should not work – you can’t qualify the genre, the world is bizarrely unique, and at its heart it’s a romance comic – but Vaughn and Staples manage to make it a home run. Hats off.
Bravest Warriors (BOOM Studios)
I’ve never seen the cartoon it’s based on, but I picked this up because I love the writing of Joey Comeau (“A Softer World”). And it’s hysterical. Best comedy book of 2012!
Colder (Dark Horse)
I didn’t know what to expect from this book, based on the preliminary promo stuff — but it turned out to be weirder and more beautiful than I could’ve imagined. Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreyra are taking me someplace I’ve never gone before in a horror comic, and doing it in style.
Saga (Image Comics)
Again, no new ground putting Saga in this list. This book is just solid.
Bandette (MonkeyBrain Comics/Comixology)
A second Paul Tobin comic, this one drawn by his wife Colleen Coover and put out by MonkeyBrain Comics. Some people complain that comics aren’t “fun” anymore. Those people are obviously not reading Bandette.
It’s unfortunate that, when you produce a book that is consistently great for a long enough time, it gets taken for granted. How Unwritten is not on every “best of” list is a mystery to me. For over 40 issues, this has been one of the most clever and intelligent books on the stands, performing literary acrobatics in ways that are unbelievably in harmony with the story. Mike Carey’s mythology never feels contrived, his characters never strike a false note. And Peter Gross, somehow, manages to get better and better. As the story deepens and the stakes raise, Unwritten continues to amaze.
I’m probably not going to surprise anyone here, but Saga is an amazing comic that, really, we should all be overjoyed exists. Brian K. Vaughn does in Saga what he excels at: Take a simple truth about the human experience and put it in a beautiful narrative. In Y: The Last Man it was identity, specifically nature versus nurture (among other things). In Saga, it’s parenthood. We’ll all do anything for our kids, right? I know I would. But if everyone said this and acted accordingly, well, you’re bound to have conflicting agendas. The story Vaughn executes this in is dazzling, and Fiona Staples renders it all with the grace, horror, and wonder required.
I was torn in selecting a cape book, and it came down to three titles: FF, Daredevil, and Hawkeye. The winner, for me (and by the narrowest margin) is FF. Jonathan Hickman gave us the Fantastic Four universe so many of us have wanted for so very long. I’m an enormous fan of the series and have been since I was a kid; this is the first time I’ve read the team as I hoped them to be. Like Saga, Hickman also concentrates on family dynamics to beautiful ends. In fact, the final issue of FF (which closed Hickman’s overall, epic run) is one of my very favorite issues of the year. Tender and smart, Hickman delivered a life-affirming story that is central to what the Fantastic Four are: They’re not just explorers of the unknown universe, they’re explorers of human existence. Pushing boundaries, seeing the universe for all its glory, yet always doing it together, as a family.
One book that surprised me was Ken Gaering’s terrific Planetoid. I’m a sucker for sci-fi—good sci-fi— and this book is packed with imagination and intelligence as well as terrific art. Gaering handles what could’ve been a typical story with a ton of raw energy and creativity, and that’s what makes the book work. This easily could’ve been another “man lost on distant star” story, but Gaering made it much more than that. He has some serious things worth exploring, like the value of community and the struggle to survive, which is always what makes sci-fi worth its merit. It’s not about weird life forms or silly technology; its purpose is to say something about the human condition, that’s what the very best sci-fi does. Planetoid accomplishes that every time out.
Punk Rock Jesus (Vertigo)
Sean Murphy has proven himself to be an incredible artist and visual storyteller over the last year or so on “must-buy” books like Joe the Barbarian and American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares. With PRJ, he’s really come into his own as a writer as well. A really compelling read, not to mention a great looking one.
Anomaly (Anomaly Productions)
Truly a game-changing work of graphic fiction. The Valiant guys saw an early copy of this way back when and the AR interactivity was — and remains — a true jaw-dropper. Must be seen to be believed.
No Place Like Home (Image)
I’m not a huge fan of the Oz mythos, but Angelo Tirotto and Richard Jordan really pulled off something special with this modern day tale (seemingly?) set in the same world. It’s really smart update of the tropes we’ve come to associate with all things Oz, but that somehow, at the same time, manages to be dark, eerie, and extremely original.
The Ride: Southern Gothic (12 Gauge)
12 Gauge regularly puts out these great anthologies under “The Ride” moniker and they’re some the best, most brutal crime fiction out there right now in any medium. This was a stand-out volume, in particular, due to a formidable line-up of talent that includes Nathan Edmondson, David Lapham, Rick Leonardi, Ron Marz and Valiant’s own Jody LeHeup, to name but a few.
The Twelve (Marvel)
What a bummer this took so long to complete, but be that as it may remains one of my ALL TIME favorite mini-series! Seriously it is so good. Rockman will make you cry, these characters need to be added into the mix of the greater Marvel U, what a great and beautiful book. When JMS is into what he is doing, he does it so f**king well!
Batman (DC Comics)
They are kicking ass on this book, doing exactly the kind of things Morrison didn’t, wouldn’t or couldn’t since he took the reigns in the Bat Universe. The stories feel more classic to me, they are modern enough, but they have resonated to me as real “Batman” stories, like the ones I feel I grew up one. Whether its true or not, you can’t argue it’s not a killer book.
Aquaman (DC Comics)
I love this book! BUT the main character still doesn’t quite do it for me. He’s a bit weak character-wise, but his supporting cast and nemesis are F’ing METAL! Prisoner of War is a new character that Johns’ introduced and I was dying to write him after only reading the first page he appeared on. Well done there.
Consistently a fun and exciting read in the vein of old school Savage Dragon. Who both Kirkman and myself are ridiculous fans of. Its one of the best comics ever, until issue 76 when Larsen makes some major creative changes that didn’t really work for me. Book has never been the same, but in its place, INVINCIBLE appears and that ain’t half bad. I’ll take it. It’s great.