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 second question: what creators really impressed you in 2021?
Blue Delliquanti (“O Human Star,” “Across a Field of Starlight”): I spent much of quarantine getting to know Sloane Leong and their body of work better through creative collaborations and I’m always impressed by their range. Both in terms of creative output (the graphic novel “A Map to the Sun,” the Image series “Prism Stalker,” the Salt and Honey podcast with Leslie Hung), and in the way they reach out to other creators who are making very different work, share information or resources, and help the industry feel like more of a community.
Nicole Goux (“Everyone is Tulip,” “Bhadow of the Batgirl”): I’ve been reading “Witch Hat Atelier” by Kamome Shirahama and her team. The quality of work coming out of that book is so impressive to me. Every frame, every panel, is beautifully composed illustration and Shirahama’s skill at storytelling is impeccable. She is both funny and sincere and has a way of making you feel for her characters very quickly. Not to mention the world building!
Tim Sheridan (“Teen Titans Academy,” “Shazam”): Am I allowed to say the people I’ve been lucky enough to work with? Rafa Sandoval, my co-creator on “Teen Titans Academy “is the real deal. As is Mindy Lee (“Masters of the Universe: Revelation” for Dark Horse), whose force of style knocked me out with each issue. And of course Steve Lieber, whom we’ll all be working for someday. There are so many! It’s been an amazing year for this nerd.
Joe Henderson (“Stagecraft,” “Skyward”): Tom Taylor and Al Ewing. I know they’ve both been writing great comics for years, but it feels like this year they both shifted into another gear, telling stories with big, crazy ideas, but never forgetting to ground them in heart.
Coni Yovaniniz (“Walking to Do,” “The Do Over”): This year I found Jon Allen’s comics on Instagram and they’ve been a lot of fun to follow! I really like his simple, clean style and steady linework. He’s also posted a couple process videos and his brush control impresses me every time.
Tina Horn (“SFSX,” “Theater of Terror”): Henry Barajas, Lisa Hanawalt, Mattie Lubchansky, everyone at “The Nib,” Afua Richardson.
Liana Kangas (“Black AF: She Said Destroy,” “Star Wars Adventures”): Blown away by watching my bro Skylar Patridge & Gavin Smith absolutely demolish this year with all of their new work and covers, love to see how much has been accomplished by people I am buds with and see the progression of their work within the past year!
Matt Smith (“Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.,” “Folkslords”): Well, back to the answers above, I’ve been a pretty big Peter Bergting fan since discovering “Domovoi” and to see what he did with those Outerverse titles was certainly impressive. Nathan Fairbairn returning to writing with PAWS. Aimed at a totally different age group than the titles we usually see him coloring, the guy knows how to create a compelling story and endearing characters whether it’s a horrific bloodbath or adorable dog walkers. That’s a skill and one that’s in addition to what he’s mainly known for with coloring.
Alex Segura (Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, ONI Press, Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall): I’m always drawn to people who push themselves and try new things and seem really passionate about their work. Danny Lore comes to mind. They just get better with each issue. Tini Howard is also amazing and versatile, but also definitive in her voice. Mahmud Asrar is our era’s John Buscema in many ways. Bruno Redondo’s art on “Nightwing” blew my mind. Phil Jimenez and Kelly Sue DeConnick on “Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons” is just a powerhouse book. Clay Mann is also a genius. His “Batman/Catwoman” art is a revelation. I’ll also buy anything by Leonardo Romero, Gary Frank, Jen Bartel, Joe Quinones, Ray-Anthony Height, Evan Shaner, Mitch Gerads, Jorge Fornes, Erica Henderson, and Francesco Francavilla do.Continued below
Wes Craig: (“Deadly Class,” “The Gravediggers Union”): Brubaker and Phillips, James Tynion is always doing interesting stuff. So is Tom King, James Harren and Daniel Warren Johnson blow my mind. I’m looking forward to more work like theirs, writer-artist stuff from Jim Mahfood, Declan Shalvey, Nick Dragotta, Sanford Green, and myself, that’s really exciting to me.
Vera Greentea (“Grimoire Noir,” “Nenetl of the Forgotten Spirits”): If you haven’t read Kat Leyh’s wonderful middle-grade “Snapdragon” yet, I’d be remiss not to recommend it. But if you’re like me, and you’re looking for that flavor + more humor in an adult book – well, she wrote “Thirsty Mermaids” just for us. A hilarious trio of mermaids discover booze in a shipwreck, and then love it so much that they decide to magic themselves some legs and go bar-hopping on land. Art-wise, Leyh’s character expressions and gesticulations are intriguing and hilarious, and I easily spent time just laughing at the drawings of lanky eel-type fish Eez learning to walk. I think Leyh’s unique brand of humor and art style is elevating the comic form and cannot wait to see more work from her.
Sebastian Girner (Editor, TKO Studios): I was excited for TKO to be the publisher of Juni Ba’s debut graphic novel “Djeliya” and since then Juni’s power has only grown and I see him picking up work all over the place. I genuinely feel he’s one of the most exciting cartoonists working today and working with him will always be a highlight of my career. I was also fortunate to work with Sloane Leong and artist Anna Bowles on Graveneye. Sloane has been doing incredible work as a cartoonist, prose author, and critic for years, but Anna’s debut as an artist is, I feel, exceptional. There is a lushness in detail and depth in her work that never comes at the expense of clarity of storytelling. I’m excited to see what these creators will do next (I’ve already had the pleasure of reading Juni’s first creator-owned series “Monkey Meat” for Image Comics and it’s a riot.)
Jeremy Holt (“Made in Korea,” “Virtually Yours”): Zoe Thorogood has been my indie favorite for awhile. Love seeing her land some high profile projects this year.
Dean Haspiel (“The Red Hook,” “Keyhole”): Larry O’Neil and Jorge Fornés’s ‘Tap, Tap, Tap’ in “Green Arrow 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectactular,” Javier Pulido’s artwork on “Ninjak,” Whitney Matheson’s Diary Comix on Patreon.
Shobo (“Buckhead,” “Under a Jovian Sun”): Juni Ba. There’s a twinkle in his eye right now, and everything he works on looks like magic. The man’s having far too much fun and you can tell because that charisma’s all over his pages, I can’t wait to get my hands on “Monkey Meat.”
Mathieu Bablet. His work on the “Carbon & Silicon and Shangri-La” collection looks absolutely astonishing. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the slipcase edition and locking myself away for hours while I pore over every detail.
Laurence Campbell (“Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.,” “Punisher MAX”): All the books’ creators mentioned yesterday have made reading a pleasure and brought something to me.
Tom Scioli (“Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics,” “Transformers Vs G.I. Joe”): Barry Windsor-Smith and Rob Liefeld (I inked a page of his this year on “Snake-Eyes” and learned a lot by studying his pencils that closely.)
Kay Davault (“Oddity Woods,” “Star Knights”): I’ve been reading “Witch Hat Atelier” by Kamome Shirahama for a while now, so while I’m already a huge fan of her work, her series “Eniale & Dewiela” from this year still managed to floor me. Every panel Shirahama draws is so beautifully detailed, I’m always inspired when I read her work.
Rodrigo Vargas (“Walking to Do,” “The Do Over”): Recently I “discovered” Matthieu Bonhomme when he released his new Lucky Luke album, “Wanted.” His linework is impressive, the pacing is so good, and I’m really into the watercolors he has on his Instagram page.
Hayden Sherman (“Chicken Devil,” “Wasted Space”): Ah man, there’s no way to list everyone. Gene Luen Yang, Wilfredo Torres, Jamal Campbell, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, J.H. Williams III, the list goes on and on and on.
Steve Orlando (“Commanders in Crisis,” “Maruaders”): Off the bat – Stephanie Willias, Vita Ayala and Alitha Martinez on “Nubia and the Amazons.” Pornsak Pichetshote and Jeremy Holt have always been great, but both had amazing years and did amazing work. Tate Bombral continues to deliver home runs, too! Similarly, I’ve loved Brandon Thomas’s work in the Aquaman family this year. And finally let’s talk about Brian Buccellato and Hayden Sherman on “Chicken Devil” too!
Daniel Warren Johnson (“Beta Ray Bill,” “Murder Falcon”): Ariel Chan has been tabling and making small press comics for a while now, and it’s been amazing to see her thrive and get better and better. Check her work out here!