It’s that time of year! The Multiversity Year in Review is here, and from now until Thursday, December 22, we will be talking about favorites in a variety of categories. Let us know what we missed in the comments!
3. Sana Takeda (tie)
(Ken Godberson III) Now, I know that Takeda has a good deal of credit for when she illustrated “X-23” alongside her “Monsteress” partner, Marjorie Liu, and I dug her artwork there. Having said that, “Monstress” is where Sana Takeda went from “Oh I really like this art” to ”I will buy all the artwork of this person!” Takeda has the ability to be detailed but never reaching the realm of overdetailed. There is so much on each page of “Monstress”, so much happening visually that adds to the world-building. “Monstress” ended being my favorite book coming out from a western publisher and Takeda’s artwork was a big factor in that.
3. Caspar Wjingaard (tie)
(Alice W. Castle) “Limbo” was an infinitely impressive book and that was due in large part to Caspar Wijngaard’s artwork. His incredibly clean and smooth line, his crisp sense of style, his surrealistic storytelling ability, and his use of trippy, psychedelic colours made the book a work of goddamn art in my eyes. In terms of first artistic impressions, Wijngaard knocked it out of the park in 2016.
Wijngaard’s artwork in “Limbo” was the kind of showcase that puts an artist on the map in a huge way, or so I’d like to hope. For this book to come out of relative nowhere and look this good right off the bat, showcasing one of the most unique visual styles I’ve seen in comics all year, is amazing and I can only hope that this book put a lot of eyes on Wijngaard’s work, enough to secure him in the pantheon of great, currently working artists. I seriously hope to see more from this guy in 2017 and beyond because if this is how good he is now, I can’t wait to see how much better he gets.
2. Otto Schmidt
(Zach Wilkerson) Otto Schmidt’s work on Green Arrow has been the subject of much praise from myself, Vince Ostrowski, and Brian Salvatore (known colloquially ’round these parts as the DC3). His work proves the importance of a strong, unique artistic vision. Schmidt elevates what would have otherwise been a fairly typical time on the emerald archer. His layouts are usually open and airy, particularly of the “wide-screen” variety, allowing a dynamic showcase of action. His cartooning is always expressive and charming, sometimes hyperbolic.
For instance, one of my favorite sequences by Schmidt this year featured a love-stoned Ollie and Dinah romanticizing on a deserted beach. The scene played brilliantly on tropes of the genre, dabbled into romance comic territory, and handled the subject with a delightful degree of cheese (but not cheesecake).
Schmidt is among the finest talents to rise to the forefront of DC in the Rebirth era and I look forward to seeing his craft flourish in the coming year.
1. Marley Zarcone
(Mike Romeo) For all that Marley Zarcone’s done over the years, her work on “Shade the Changing Girl” feels to be the most defining. I mean, I’ve thought she was good since those “Forgetless” backups, but this year was something else entirely for her. Her handling of “Shade” is so thoughtful in its use of neo-psychedelia, abstaining from the tropes that could be associated with that type of art. Instead, what Zarsone relies on has an almost delicate feel to it, as if she’s trying to communicate the fragility of her protagonist through line weight and acting. It makes perfect sense to approach things in this way, I think, seeing as how the story kicks off with brain trauma and leans on alienness as a theme.Continued below
Zarcone’s characters seem to float through the world, sometimes seeming to see the little bloops floating over Shade, sometimes not. This adds a bit of a surreal quality to her pages, as the reader isn’t always clear on what what’s real and what isn’t. And while Shade is the only person to see some of what’s on the page, Zarcone is able to design her scenes in a way that makes it all feel like it belongs. Real or imagined, the aforementioned bloops, out-of-place creatures and the strange bend to familiar shapes all have their place, giving the finished page a busy, easily read flow.
While others may have amassed more pages than Zarcone this year, her stellar work on a high profile book lands her the top spot on our list.
Brian: This is one of my favorite categories of the year, because there is always someone on this list that I’m sadly ignorant of before we start compiling the votes. This year, it has become very apparent that I need to read “Limbo,” and that will be one of the trades I read early next year.
Matt: Again, I appreciate the diversity in the styles these peeps bring. One of my biggest hangups about the mainstream corporate superhero companies is that homogeneity of art style. The fact that someone like Zarcone is being published by a place like DC bodes well, I think.
Mike: Like ‘Breakout Writer,’ this was a really varied category. As the votes were coming in we got to see a lot of names from all over comics, a bunch of which I had never seen before. Heck, I had to google a couple of the people who made the top of the list!