Every year, we send out a survey to a wide variety of creators and ask them questions about the year in comics. We had an incredible response this year, and got creators from all corners of the comics world to weigh in one what they loved about comics in 2021. Every day this week, we will be sharing a different question from our questionnaire.
Hopefully these inspire you to check out some new books, and to give some other books a second look.
Thank you to all the folks who took the time during this busy holiday season to reply.
Our first question: in 2021, what comic or comics stood out as your favorite books of the year?
Hayden Sherman (“Chicken Devil,” “Wasted Space”): I’m still playing catch-up on a lot, but Grant Morrison/Liam Sharp’s “The Green Lantern,” everything going on in the main Superman books, and “Grendel: Devil’s Odyssey” each swept me off my feet.
Steve Orlando (“Commanders in Crisis,” “Maruaders”): Like a lot of creators, 2021 kept me pretty busy! But I just caught up on “The High Republic” series and really enjoyed exploring that world! Also a great debut this year was “Nubia and the Amazons” – a book I’ve been waiting for for a long, long time. I also had a great time with “Batman ’89,” and “Inferno,” the next huge chapter of the Krakoan saga. I’ve got to mention “The Thing,” which just kicked off, and Gillen and Ribic’s “Eternals!” I was also lucky enough to rediscover Stokoe’s “Godzilla in Hell,” a storytelling masterpiece!
Daniel Warren Johnson (“Beta Ray Bill,” “Murder Falcon”): Loved “Kaijumax!” It’s on its way to the conclusion and its so fun to watch. Also, “ULTRAMEGA.” Need I say more?
Alex Segura (Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, ONI Press, Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall): I am biased, since I work at Oni, but “Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters” by the Samnees is just spectacular. The wide-eyed wonder of “Bone” with an innocence and power that is rare in comics. I also loved “The Good Asian” by Pornsak Pichetchote and Alexander Tefengki and “Made in Korea” by Jeremy Holt and George Schall, “Home” by Julio Anta and Anna Wieszczyk. Chris Condon and Jacob Phillips’s “That Texas Blood” is a great noir read, as is the Ed Brubaker/Sean Phillips “Reckless” series of OGNs. “Trve Kvlt” by Scott Bryan Wilson and Liana Kangas was also a blast. “What’s the Furthest Place From Here?” by Matthew Rosenberg and Tyler Boss was just superb. “We Only Kill Each Other” by Stephanie Phillips and Peter Krause just launched but I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for the next issue. “Crisis Zone” by Simon Hanselmann was a wild, profane adventure. I will also forever worship at the altar of Los Bros Hernandez and David Lapham, so I immersed myself in any new “Love & Rockets” or “Stray Bullets.” I really loved R. Kikuo Johnson’s “No One Else,” too. Mesmerizing stuff. “Barbaric” by my friend Michael Moreci and Nathan Gooden was lots of bloody fun, too. “Helm Greycastle,” written and created by the talented Henry Barajas (and an Oni colleague), was a delight.
In terms of superheroes, I spent a lot of time on Krakoa – via the main X-stuff by Hickman and Duggan, Ben Percy’s great “Wolverine,” and Tini Howard’s immersive “Excalibur.” I was blown away by Cliff Chiang’s “Catwoman: Lonely City” – it just kept getting better, and I’m loving it so much. I also really liked “Batman: The Imposter” by Mattson Tomlin and Andrea Sorrentino. Also, Jeff Lemire’s entire ‘Black Hammer’ universe, particularly “Skullkicker and Skeleton Boy” with Tonci Zonjic, blew me away. And the early releases of Scott Snyder’s comiXology Originals line have just been pure candy and fun. I also can’t believe how much I’m enjoying Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto’s “Daredevil” and “Devil’s Reign.” Chip and Jason Loo’s “The All-Nighter” is really fun, too. I also never missed an issue of Kelly Thompson and Elena Cassagrande’s “Black Widow” and Karla Pacheco’s “Spider-Woman” run with Pere Perez. Also need to shout out Mariko Tamaki and Dan Mora’s underrated (can you be underrated when working on Batman? I think so!) “Detective Comics” work, and Vita Ayala and Rod Reis’s “New Mutants.” I also devoured “Defenders” by Al Ewing and Javier Rodriguez. “Bite-Size Archie” by my friends Vin Lovallo and Ron Cacace brings me great joy, too – as does “The Batman/Scooby Doo Mysteries,” by Ivan Cohen, Sholly Fisch, and Dario Brizuela. “The Wrong Earth” from Ahoy Comics is also a blast.Continued below
Liana Kangas (“Black AF: She Said Destroy,” “Star Wars Adventures”): “The Nice House on the Lake,” the collection of “Lore Olympus,” “Dead Dog’s Bite,” & “Deadliest Bouquet.”
Matt Smith (“Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.,” “Folklords”): Let’s see. There was a whole lot of great stuff from Dark Horse with the Outerverse titles this year. “Cojacaru the Skinner,” “Imogen of the Wyrding Way” —this character I really enjoyed and hope there’s a lot more to come. “Young Hellboy” was a lot of fun. “Lady Baltimore” was great. “I Walk with Monsters;” Sally Cantirino does great work on the art there.
Vera Greentea (“Grimoire Noir,” “Nenetl of the Forgotten Spirits”): For me, this year has really impressed me with the range of middle-grade books, and I had several favorites. I adored “Garlic and the Vampire” by Bree Paulsen, a humorous story about an anxiety-ridden garlic bulb who was tasked to fight a vampire “because she has natural immunity”. I also fell in love with “The Sprite and the Gardener” by Rii Abrego and Joe Whitt, this one being a peaceful fairy tale about botanical sprites and humans joining together to grow gardens. It was so quietly charming and gave me a few moments of calm in a world of, well, you know. Both books felt like beautifully-drawn endeavors of love by their creators, and I’ve gotten several copies for people in my life since I’ve first read them, hoping that it will give them all moments of pleasure and peace.
Sebastian Girner (Editor, TKO Studios): My son was born in March of this year so between my first fledgling steps at fatherhood and my job I’ve had little time to read too many things I’m not working on. I did manage to read “Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done?” by Eric Powell and Harold Schechter and that left an impression. Powell’s always been a master at portraying this kind of Dark Americana in all its gritty lushness and here, paired with Schechter’s incredible research and eye for finding humanity where there should be none they really created a portrait of the quintessential American monster.
Laurence Campbell (“Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.,” “Punisher MAX”): I’m finding there’s a lot of good comics out there at the moment and I’m a bit behind with my reading and I’m sure the list will change but here you go:
I enjoy and read all the titles in the Hellboy world and the Outerverse and this has been a great year but “Sir Edward Grey- Acheron” frankly blew me away. Felt the story was huge and yet personal at the same time. Think I’ve read it three times since it came out and it’s still lurking around in my head.
“The Many Deaths of Laila Starr” was a great mini series. The first issue really hooked me in. A thoughtful story really nicely told.
“Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow,” high adventure. Beautifully drawn. Enjoying the ride.
“Geiger:” Great world building here. In many ways reminds me of classic 2000 AD. Looking forward to seeing how this world grows.
“The Me You Love in the Dark:” Interesting mini series. Feels like a play in a comic to me. Unsettling, quite. Not your normal comic.
“Nightwing:” Heard good things about this comic. Enjoyed it, right comic at the right time. Fun superheroes done smartly and with heart.
“The Nice House on the Lake:” I’m a bit behind on this but I’ve been really enjoying it. Horror/ mystery really done well. Loving the art.
“The Immortal Hulk:” Impressive 50 issue run. Bringing back the horror to the Hulk.
“Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy:” The whole Black Hammer library is worth reading but this is a great take on a familiar story and the art is beautiful. Keeper.
“Out:” Rob Williams is a good friend and this title has all the elements I enjoy. World War II, horror and mystery in a contained setting.
Lastly a self-published book called “Midnight Mystery” by Bernie Gonzalez and Wes Locher. There’s been 3 collections so far and you can see the love put into these books. A horror, suspense detective comic has the look of Batman the Animated Series.Continued below
Nicole Goux (“Everyone is Tulip,” “Bhadow of the Batgirl”): I really enjoyed “The Many Deaths of Laila Starr.” Both Ram V and Felipe Andrade have such a clear voice and vision. They are a team that works seamlessly together to make a product that’s both beautiful and emotionally resonant. Their world feels lived in and the characters are compelling despite only seeing them for these little snippets of time in their lives.
Blue Delliquanti (“O Human Star,” “Across a Field of Starlight”): There were a lot of strong graphic novel releases this year, especially folks making work for the blooming middle grade and young adult imprints. Off the top of my head, I can think of “Artie and the Wolf Moon” by Olivia Stephens, “Salt Magic” by Rebecca Mock and Hope Larson, and “The Accursed Vampire” by Madeline McGrane. In the world of manga, “Witch Hat Atelier” and “Golden Kamuy” have continued to kill it.
Tom Scioli (“Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics,” “Transformers Vs G.I. Joe”): Barry Windsor-Smith’s “Mosnters,” Dash Shaw’s “Discipline,” Ben Marra’s “What We Mean By Yesterday,” Ed Piskor’s “Red Room,” and Jim Rugg’s “Hulk: Grand Design” (He let me read the advance copy and it’s great).
Kay Davault (“Oddity Woods,” “Star Knights”): I’ve picked up so many amazing children’s and YA graphic novels this year, it’s hard to choose favorites. Some that really stood out to me are “The Magic Fish” (Trung Le Nguyen), “Hooky” (Míriam Bonastre Tur), and “Beautiful Darkness” (Kerascoët & Fabien Vehlmann). Manga-wise, the mystery and creepiness of “Shadows House” (So-ma-to) quickly became a favorite of mine this year.
Coni Yovaniniz (“Walking to Do,” “The Do Over”): This year I finally caught up with all of “Witch Hat Atelier” by Kamome Shirahama. The artwork is amazing, and this whole parallel between art and magic makes me really happy and motivates me to keep making comics!
Rodrigo Vargas (“Walking to Do,” “The Do Over”): You probably already know this, but “Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters” by Laura and Chris Samnee! It’s fun, there’s adventure, and it’s drawn beautifully. What else could a guy ask for?
Jeremy Holt (“Made in Korea,” “Virtually Yours”): “The Me You Love in the Dark” and “A Righteous Thirst For Vengeance.”
Joe Henderson (“Stagecraft,” “Skyward”): “Nightwing,” “Seven Secrets,” “The Many Deaths of Laila Starr,” “The Good Asian,” “Runaways,” “The Immortal Hulk,” “Stray Dogs,” “X-Men,” “Department of Truth,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Made in Korea”
Dean Haspiel (“The Red Hook,” “Keyhole”): The “Reckless” books by Brubaker & Phillips, “Friday” by Brubaker & Martin, “IN.” by Will McPhail, “Rorschach” by Tom King & Jorge Fornés, and “Savage Dragon” by Erilk Larsen.
Tina Horn (“SFSX,” “Theater of Terror”): “Made In Korea” by Jeremy Holt and George Schall, “Queen of the Ring: Wrestling Drawings” by Jaime Hernandez, “Cyclopedia Exotica” by Aminder Dhaliwal, “MAW” by Jude Ellison S. Doyle and A.L. Kaplan, “Renegade Rule” by Ben Kahn, Rachel Silverstein, and Sam Beck
Wes Craig: (“Deadly Class,” “The Gravediggers Union”): Not all of these came out this year but I’d say “Reckless” and “Pulp,” “Department of Truth,” “First Knife,” “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist,” “The Hard Tomorrow,” “Human Target” and “Strange Adventures” are looking promising. And Time Before Time was one of the best first issues I’ve read in a long time, and a great series.
Shobo (“Buckhead,” “Under a Jovian Sun”): “The Little Death” by Mathieu Bablet. Haunting. Frightening. Raw. Honest. Hard to look away from. “Queen of the Black Coast” by Jean-David Morvan, Pierre Alary, Seydas, and Dezi Sienty. I’m a sucker for anything Conan, and this is just a beautiful book.
Tim Sheridan (“Teen Titans Academy,” “Shazam”): Jeremy Adams’ run on “The Flash,” “Killer Queens” by David Booher for Dark Horse, “Kang” by Lanzing & Kelly for Marvel, “Runaways” by Rainbow Rowell for Marvel, “Guardians of the Galaxy” by Al Ewing, “Geiger” by Geoff Johns, Brad Anderson and Gary Frank.