The concept of breaking out in comics could mean many things to many people. After all, someone who makes our list could be A-list in the minds of some of our readers, but in our minds, a breakout could be someone who is just discovered this year or is simply taking their game to the next level.
So the question is, who were the biggest breakout writers of 2013? Multiversity’s staff voted on that, and the answer is below.
Why he made the list (Matthew Meylikhov): Look, can I break the Objective Journalist Fourth Wall for a second here? Because while I wish to remain relatively impartial on a list of Best Ofs, if you’d asked me whether I’d consider Max Bemis for a Top ___ list in comics this time last year, I probably would’ve laughed. Bemis’ Say Anything band was certainly an act I listened to frequently in high school, but that was a decade ago at this point; I outgrew pop punk acts like I outgrew chain wallets and dyed hair.
And yet, here in 2013, Bemis has released his first written comic via BOOM! Studios, and wow, I can’t wait for what he has in store next. Bemis has always been widely known as a comic geek, someone who was just as obsessed with the adventures of Spider-Man and Batman as the average comic geek is, but celebrities of a kind who come to comics often falter or at least just don’t impress on their first go. Yet, Bemis’ first effort in comics with Polarity was astoundingly refreshing, wonderfully written with just the right inflections to bring his voice out and still deliver a legit and enjoyable comic book. It’s almost unprecedented, as strange as that is to say, but if Polarity is what Bemis can offer on a first try coupled with his rather hilarious A+X short (even if it was just Magneto doing a version of “Admit It!!!”), then Bemis has an incredibly lucrative and exciting comic career ahead of him that I can’t wait to read along with.
4. Frank Barbiere
Why he made the list (David Harper): Not to make this about me, but…called it! That’s right, I picked Frank as one of the creators to watch for in 2013, and with that, I had limited evidence for that besides a good ol’ gut feeling. A little less than a year later and Frank’s work has proven me right over and over again, with Five Ghosts being one of the better new series of the year thanks to Frank and artist Chris Mooneyham. The craziest thing? Based on our rules of breakouts and what Frank has coming up, he could make this list next year, as he has a ton of exciting projects on the horizon. And that’s just the creator-owned work, as I would not be surprised if he becomes the apple of the Marvel/DC’s eye soon enough.
In short, 2013 was a great year for Frank, but 2014? That could be even better. We can’t wait to find out.
2 (tie). Ales Kot
Why he made the list (Vince Ostrowski):
Much of the time when new talent crops up in some artistic or creative field, comparisons are made to creators that came before them. I’m guilty of this as much as everyone. Let’s make one thing clear here though: Ales Kot is not the “next” anyone. Read his Twitter stream: this guy’s one of a kind. If you’ve ever interacted with him, you know what an honest and enthusiastic talent he is. That definitely comes across in his work. Read his woefully short-lived take on the “Suicide Squad” from earlier in the year: it was one of the most inventive and entertaining things that DC Comics put out this year. He found ways to “unlock” the Squad characters and give us what makes them all tick. It’s utterly criminal that the plug got pulled on that. Look at “Zero”, an ongoing Image Comics series that is still in its infant stages: it’s crafting a layered, piece-by-piece narrative with some of the most varied and talented artistic minds in modern comics. It’s second issue was perhaps the finest thing I read all year.Continued below
But for my money, Ales Kot is on this list for one thing more than any other: “Change” with artist Morgan Jeske. “Change” quite literally changed the way that think about storytelling, in graphic media or otherwise. Parts of it feel extremely personal and metatextual, though it gives nothing away easily. Other parts are visceral and brutal. But behind all of its faces, “Change” is incredibly intimate and heart-wrenching. Definitely unusual stuff for a book that looked like it was about an oncoming apocalypse in an overly westernized world. It was so much more than that. It had been said that “Change” was about the death of imagination, but to me it’s also about the fundamental vitality of imagination. To me, “Change” was catharsis.
Picking Ales Kot as a breakout writer this year seems like a gross understatement, given the smorgasbord of comics that he has coming down the pipe next year. More “Zero”, of course, which is already one of the best ongoing series in comics. Add to that a couple of exciting Marvel Comics prospects and a few things that he teased on Twitter and it sounds like we’ll have plenty of stuff to potentially write and gush about this time next year when we do these lists again.
2 (tie). Joshua Williamson
Why he made the list (Brian Salvatore): Joshua Williamson has been writing comics for a few years now, but 2013 was the year that he broke out in a major way, and that is simply due to him both diversifying his books, and him finding projects that suit him well. “Captain Midnight” for Dark Horse has been one of the most fun heroes doing heroics books of the past year, and Williamson captures the anachronistic Captain perfectly, without making the book seem like a nostalgia trip or a laugh at the “old” man. Similarly, “Ghosted” is funny, creepy, and fits squarely in the 2013 pop-culture miasma. Take those along with doing annuals for “Detective Comics” and “Adventure Time” and popping up in an issue of “Dia de Los Muertos,” and you’ve got a creator covering a ton of ground, and handling all of it really well.
1. Charles Soule
Why he made the list (Brian Salvatore): In 2012, Charles Soule didn’t publish many comics. In 2013, he took over “Thunderbolts” for Marvel, “Swamp Thing” and “Red Lanterns” for DC, launched “Superman/Wonder Woman” for DC, did an arc of the DC digital first “Legends of the Dark Knight” and launched a new creator owned series, “Letter 44” for Oni. This doesn’t mention “Letter 44” being in talks to become a television series, or the fact that he’s launching a new “She-Hulk” comic for All-New Marvel NOW!, nor his “Pathfinder” issue, nor his OGN “Strange Attractors,” nor the fact that he’s an actual real life lawyer. How does the guy sleep? That’s four, soon to be five, monthly books that he’s penning, plus graphic novels and one-issue joints along the way too. This guy didn’t just break out in 2013, he nearly broke 2013.