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2020 Year in Review: Breakout Artist

By | December 14th, 2020
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Welcome to the Multiversity Year in Review for 2020! While this has been, by many accounts, a terrible year, there were a number of fantastic comics released in 2020, and over the next ten days, we’ll be highlighting our favorites across 25 categories. If you want to give your thoughts on our picks or share your own, feel free to do so in the comments!

Breakout Artist

The ‘Breakout’ Categories are among our favorites each year, but also present challenges. How do we determine who is a breakout talent? We have a sort of internal logic, but we still debate these categories more than any other we put together. That said, we’re very proud of this list, and hope that you guys enjoy this list of the breakout artists of 2020.

3 (tie). Naomi Franquiz

It takes a lot to be an artistic successor on a series. Take the current run of “Runaways,” where Kris Anka’s style was so central, that every artist brought on board afterwards has not strayed far from the roots he established. The visual look and feel of a book can be as central, if not more so, than the characters or story within and picking someone who fails to capture that can be a death sentence, even if the art remains stellar. Thankfully, Crook & Bunn picked an amazing successor in Naomi Franquiz, whose work on “Tales from Harrow County: Death’s Choir” propels her into the “breakout artist” category.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Yes, Naomi Franquiz isn’t necessarily a new artist, having previously drawn 2017’s “Misfit City.” However, she has not had many books in-between and her success on a title with as much notoriety as “Harrow County” makes it an easy case to make that 2020 is her year. Consider this: the final issue of “Death’s Choir” came out in March and I still remember, and am in awe of, the two-page spread openers all these months/years/whatistimereally later.

Moreover, Franquiz managed to transform her art, bringing it to the next level, in order to capture Crook’s unique watercolor style, but firmly ensured it was visually all her own. No pale imitations here. Characters and environments are full and lush, oozing with horror but lighter than the original. Greens are the color of the day, not red, and by the end, it feels like Franquiz has been around for the entire series.

It takes a lot of skill to leave that kind of an impression and it’s not one that’s going to go away soon. – Elias Rosner

3 (tie). Juan Gedeon

I originally voted for Juan Gedeon solely based on his work in “Death Metal: Multiverse’s End,” one of my favorite issues of the year. Sometimes it’s simply love at first sight. Falling somewhere between Patrick Gleason and Riley Rossmo, Gedeon’s lines are filled with animated bombast. His broad chested John Stewart instantly calls to mind my youthful days watching the Justice League animated series. Gedeon jumps right into a crisis of epic proportions, depicting sci-fi action on the same scope and scale as George Perez in “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” He even gives Greg Capullo’s work over in “Death Metal” proper a run for his money.

Even more impressively, Gedeon inks his own work here. Paired with colorist Mike Spicer, the duo craft a bright and vibrant tapestry. I’m instantly absorbed in the comical melodrama of Captain Carrot and the manic, existential excitement of Owlman. This is simply what cape comics are all about, baby!

I wish I could comment more on Gedeon’s other work but my introduction to his work has come very late in the year. A cursory glance at his profile shows recent work on Donny Cate’s “Venom,” as well as stints on DC’s “Batman” and “Titans” digital first books. Despite a small sample size, it’s easy to tell that Gedeon is a force to be reckoned with in the world of Big 2 comics, and DC would certainly be smart to put him on an ongoing “Justice Incarnate” series in 2021. – Zach Wilkerson

2 (tie). Dani

Dani has been making a name for herself through 2000AD work and well-received smaller titles such as “Black Beth” and “The Girl With No Name”, but it was with 2019’s “Coffin Bound” that she splashed onto many people’s radar, myself included.

Continued below

In 2020, Dani built on that foundation with the continuation of both “Coffin Bound” and the eerie, body horror comic “The Low, Low Woods”. Both of these works exemplify Dani’s ability to subtly twist forms that would otherwise be mundane into new, bizarre, unsettling images. Other artists may have been able to give life to the scripts of these two series, but Dani’s art gave these singular stories their own distinct textures through her untamed, vigorous linework.

Dani also put forward her own version of Harley Quinn as part of the “Harley Quinn Black + White + Red” series, writing and doing the art for the tenth issue. While both “Coffin Bound” and “The Low, Low Woods” used vibrant color palettes, this book showed how much Dani could do when restricted to only three colors. It also showed that Dani has a side that is not entirely grim.

Whether she is depicted humans tearing off their own skin, the dark happenings of Shudder-to-Think, or one woman’s quest to save her hyenas, Dani’s art never failed to be some of the most original on comic shelves in 2020. – Jodi Odgers

2 (tie). Liana Kangas

Liana Kangas’s art style is difficult to easily describe. I could say that it’s representational, that she has a very expressive grasp of negative space, but that don’t do her skill justice. I could compliment her cool use of line weight shadow but that doesn’t say it well either. Her color choices, when she does color her work, are vibrant, sharp, bright, and often lean pastel or fluorescent. I can’t even say clearly if her influences are more us comics, or animation, or manga, or European in style. What I will say is that when you see her art, it’s clearly and uniquely hers.

Her year started in pretty good shape before things went pear shaped for 2020. The collection of her 2019 collaboration with Joe Corallo, “She Said Destroy,” arrived on shelves in January for all those who missed he hard to find individual issues. She also was the lead artist on two successful Kickstarter projects: “The Inevitables,” a multimedia project involving an album release as well as a tie in comic, for which she is the artist, and “Trve Kvlt,” an urban fantasy story following the satanic misadventures of a disaffected fast food worker where she is both artist and co-creator. She’s contributed pinups and variant covers for several other self published or crowd funded projects this year in addition to providing one of the covers for the Comixology original “Forgotten Home.” Liana also got her first writing credit in 2020 for “Seeds of Eden” a TKO Short she wrote with “She Said Destroy” co-writer Joe Corallo.

In addition to being a constantly creative artist she’s one the genuinely supportive and positive voices people I have followed in the comics community. Greg Lincoln

1. Joshua Cassara

Joshua Cassara’s artwork keeps getting better. “X-Force” #14’s ‘X of Swords’ battle montage was a striking sequence that managed to capture so many beautiful small moments. Cable, Cypher and Captain Avalon’s unfortunate dinner was as funny as watching Pogg Ur-Pogg push a boulder up a cliff. While I did find this sequence frustrating from a script perspective, Cassara really capitalized on the moment and broke for a humor sequence really well amid some of the incredibly dark themes of the issue. This same story has an incredibly bleak ending closing the door on an important fight for Storm. Issue #9 had an incredibly beautiful double-page spread of The Green Lagoon bar littered with intoxicated mutants. Cassara’s penchant for strong facial expressions and interesting compositions make his art stand out. Cassara helps portray a sense of irony that is juxtaposed with the violence. Issue #9 is yet another chapter of “X-Force” with a gruesome last page that will haunt my nightmares. Cassara is great at drawing terrifying monsters that are scary enough to even give the mutants of Krakoa shivers.

I honestly get the impression that Cassara enjoys telling stories with extreme violence. The way Cassara constantly toys with Wolverine’s flexible anatomy is a great piece of body horror that is always disgusting to Marvel at. Issue #9’s introduction pages are just straight up gross. Watching the X-Men behave so badly in a sheepish manner with a touch of extreme violence is really hard to get right. Somehow Cassara achieves the impossible and measures out all of these different tones really well.

I would love to even see Cassara swap publishers and tell a Swamp Thing story. The plant-like nature of Krakoa and the dark tone of the current X-Men line draw some interesting parallels to Swamp Thing. I can’t help but get a little disappointed every time Cassara is missing from the interiors of “X-Force.” I hope Cassara continues to master his craft with equal measures of humor and violence. I also can’t help but yearn to see him tackle some new genres in the future. “X-Force” is a great comic book and Cassara is an integral part of the creative team. – Alexander Jones

//TAGS | 2020 Year in Review

Multiversity Staff

We are the Multiversity Staff, and we love you very much.


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