December has just about reached completion, which means it’s time to take a look back at the best this year had to offer in comic book cover art. If there was ever an industry where judging a book by its cover was considered perfectly acceptable and often times encouraged, it’s most definitely this one (though still unfortunate). After meticulously perusing through an obscene amount of solicitations, from a multitude of publishing companies, over these past 12 months, I’ve managed to compile my Top 10 List of the Best Comic Book Covers of 2013. What are yours?
Admittedly, Francesco Francavilla’s cover for Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s “Afterlife With Archie” wasn’t even an original contender on this list. But the more I looked at his work, his stylistically dark and visually iconic style of art just reeled me into its clutches. Taking on such a beloved franchise from pop culture, and seamlessly zombiefying the universe with no reservations or restrictions, is pretty damn commendable.
Fiona Staples has been killing it on Brian K. Vaughan’s “Saga”, offering her own brand of stylistically distinguished artistry to accompany the writer’s fantastic script. Her lines are crisp and clear, and her creative vision shines through the characters she brings to life. This particular piece of work fought its way onto my list for arguably being the most recognizable cover to come out this year.
As a flourishing cover artist, Jenny Frison always seems to deliver beautiful artwork, but her contributions on Tim Seeley and Mike Norton’s “Revival” are nothing short of stunning. Her covers never cease to grab my attention, but this one wins my heart for its subtle tones and beautifully soft colouring techniques. She’s mastered the human form, which is rendered gorgeously onto the page.
J.H. Williams, III is one of my all-time favourite comic book artists currently working in the industry, so it’s no surprise that this is the first of two works included in my year-end list. His style is so perfectly his own, and adapts well to any title he’s working on. He’s dished out some magnificent covers for “Batwoman” over the years, but this remains my favourite for his use of excessive reds and his flawless depiction of Kate’s drug trip.
This choice even surprised me, but there’s no denying Dave Wilkins’ talents when he can produce such beautifully detailed, and faultlessly coloured pieces of work like this cover for Peter Lenkov and Jeremy Barlow’s “R.I.P.D.: City of the Damned” #3. I had the pleasure of reviewing this series earlier this year, and this cover has stayed with me since. Planning on getting it framed!
44FLOOD’s “LUST” is a fantastic Kickstarter success story from creative geniuses Steve Niles, Ben Templesmith, and Menton3. It was an expectedly huge hit in 2013, so Templesmith’s cover for his contributing story penned by Niles was an easy pick for this list. His recognizable style of art is so distinctively dark, gritty, and perfect for the type of mood the book effectively evokes. His use of warm, ethereal, muted colours taken from a small palette of browns, lets the subtle hints of illustrated red blood pop within the piece, and alludes to the kind of story that’s about to be told.
Alex Garner’s work in the comics industry is out of this world good, and there’s no amount of complimentary adjectives in the universe that can effectively describe the level of talent this man possesses. It was almost impossible to choose between all of his covers for Gail Simone’s “Batgirl” but issue #24 came out on top. The powerful image of Barbara holding her boyfriend Ricky after a brutal confrontation with Commissioner Gordon is so impeccably illustrated by Garner. The fact that he even managed to depict the unadulterated anger, disgust, and resentment on Barbara’s face so perfectly is a huge contributing factor as to why this piece was chosen.
Menton3 is beloved here at Bloody-Disgusting, and as one of the most popularly relevant horror artists currently working in the industry, an obvious pick for this year’s list. I had some reservations about this specific title, as it was released in 2011, but since the “Crawl To Me” Deluxe Limited Edition came out this year with a revamped cover, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to feature it on my list. It’s a fantastically horrifying, and visually hair-raising piece of art that makes me want to scream right along with it.
I was embarrassingly close to overlooking this stunning cover for Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman: Overture” #1 but was thankfully reminded of its existence by the wonderful — and stubbornly adamant — Lonmonster. Having already gushed about J.H. Williams’ artistic talent earlier, there’s not much left to say, but his psychedelic use of colours, and his whimsically flowing illustrative strokes were a huge selling point for me.
My choice for The Best Comic Book Cover of 2013 goes to Ted McKeever and his incredibly personal work on “Miniature Jesus” #3! The captivating image depicts rabid animals protruding out of series protagonist, Chomsky’s head, and it’s so visually stunning and perfectly telling of the character’s personal journey as a struggling, hallucinating alcoholic in this particular series. His style is bold, and his lines are strong and distinctive. The fact that it effectively establishes itself as a simplistically minimalistic form of realism with obvious surrealist themes is bizarrely cool. This specific piece of art is the first thing my mind remembers when thinking about covers, and that’s exactly why it’s my top choice of this year.