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The Top New Comic Artists of the Past Five Years

By , and | June 26th, 2013
Posted in Columns | 8 Comments

Recently, as reported by the Beat, Jim Lee posited an interesting question: who are the top three new comic artists of the past five years? It’s a great dinner party question for comic fans, but one that requires a lot of research to clarify whether or not the artists fit into that five year window (as many mentioned, including Sean Murphy, Chris Samnee, Dave Aja and more, had done work well before that period).

With that in mind, three of Multiversity’s editors – EIC Matt Meylikhov and Associate Editors Brian Salvatore and David Harper – took to the Internet to figure out exactly who their favorites were. It’s a hard question to answer with a ton of great answers (even with the tight timeframe in mind), but each thinks they have the ones for them.

Make sure to let us know who your favorites in the comments, and share your thoughts in general about our picks as well.

David’s Picks

Fiona Staples

What else can be said about Staples that hasn’t been said already? I was completely blown away by her when she first appeared – for me – in Wildstorm’s “North 40,” a book that didn’t garner a huge audience but did earn Staples her first (and hopefully not last) Eisner nomination. Since then, she’s blown up thanks to her work on a little book you may have heard of. You know, “Saga.” While it was Brian K. Vaughan’s return to comics, it also happened to be Staples’ coming out party, and she has since become one of the biggest artists in the industry.

It’s very deserved from where I stand.

James Harren

James Harren isn’t just one of the best artists of the past five years, I’m such a fanboy I have to say he’s one of my favorite artists ever. His work on B.P.R.D. and Conan last year was so outrageously detailed and powerful, I am pretty sure anyone who came across it couldn’t help but be absolutely floored over its oft horrific grandeur. Very few people can bring the pain like Harren does, nor can they do it with such beauty.

The scariest thing to me by far is the fact he’s just 26. 26!!! This guy has so much potential it blows my mind just a little bit.

Emma Rios

Emma Rios still is not a giant name in the industry. She’s done some great work on the “Strange” mini-series with Mark Waid and “Osborn” with Kelly Sue DeConnick, but both of those minis never shot her name into the stratosphere like creators such as Waid, DeConnick and Brandon Graham would insist she belongs in.

Let me be the one to tell you that “Pretty Deadly,” her upcoming Image Comics book with Kelly Sue DeConnick, will bring her front and center to a lot of the discussions that she belongs in. You know, those best artists in the industry type ones. She deserves to be there, and will be very soon.

Brian’s Picks

Nick Pitarra

Nick Pitarra, in a short period of time, has established himself as a rare breed of artist: the kind who made almost his entire name on creator owned work. Sure, he did a few things at Marvel, but the two books everyone knows him for are his Image books with Jonathan Hickman, “The Red Wing” and “The Manhattan Projects.” With “The Manhattan Projects” specifically, Pitarra has created a world that feels lived in and real, while also being absurd and twisted.

His style, clearly influenced by guys like Frank Quietly and Geoff Darrow, is detail-heavy, to the extent that pages can, at times, seem bursting at the seams. However, in this increasingly fill-in/quick replacement environment, it is refreshing to see an artist truly take his time and give each panel the attention and care it deserves. It may mean a week or two delay on a book, but what you receive is truly worth the wait.

Tonci Zonjic

The last few years have seen a real revival of books working in the pulp/noir tradition – and the best of those books tend to be drawn by two men: Sean Phillips and Tonci Zonjic.

Continued below

The fact that Zonjic’s name is mentioned alongside Phillips is alone a testament to the guy’s skill. Zonjic, best known for his work on the “Jake Ellis” books, as well as a few Lobster Johnson books for Dark Horse, is a Croatian artist whose skillset is impressive and broad. In his Lobster Johnson work, Zonjic completely nails the ’30s feel, from the way people dress to the architecture and everything in between. His work doesn’t feel retro, or like it is borrowing from the past – it feels vibrant and alive, and yet takes you into the past effortlessly.

Mikel Janin

Mikel Janin’s work, specifically on “Justice League Dark,” manages to do something really interesting: he manages to take hints of photo-realism, mix it with classic, Silver Age stylings, and add a surrealist twist. His style is totally his own, and his art tends to pop in a way that few other artists’ do nowadays. Add to that his incredible work rate – he’s only missed three issues of “JLD” in almost 3 years on the book, which puts him in the top 5% of New 52 artists, in terms of issues completed. His work is one of the main reasons that “JLD” has been one of the more consistent books for DC since the launch of the New 52, and one of these days, people are going to wise up to just how great of an artist he is.

Matthew’s Picks

Joe Eisma

I’ve written a lot about Eisma on this site and will probably continue to do so throughout the existence of this site. He’s one of my favorite current creators, with an easily accessible style that continues to get better with every issue of “Morning Glories” that comes out.

But rather than continuously say how great Joe is, I submit Exhibits A and B to the judges:

“Morning Glories” #1

“Morning Glories” #25

Like a fine wine, Joe just gets better with age.

Riley Rossmo

By now, most people have heard of Riley Rossmo — and it’s not a surprise as to why. Rossmo’s art is diverse and often profound, crossing multiple different genres and styles throughout his impressive body of work. Whether it be from his original and intriguing set of interior sequential art found in “Proof” or the evolved and more static variations found in “Green Wake” or “Dark Wolverine,” Rossmo continues to evolve as a creator and brings a new sense of style and design into every book that he’s a part of — as seen in “Bedlam” and “Dia De Los Muertos,” two recent titles from Rossmo which are absolutely nothing alike.

And, really, I think this image sums it all up:

Point: Rossmo.

Rebekah Isaacs

Arguably one of the single most underrated artists today, I think Rebekah Isaacs is quite simply one of the most talented illustrators working in comics right now. I suppose outside of specific niches, it might make sense if you’re unfamiliar with her work; so far, while still doing quite a lot, she’s only done things that reach specific crowds. Yet, all of her work brings such humanity and liveliness to the table that it’s impossible not to look at it and be in awe of her talent.

You may know her from “DV8” with Brian Wood, “Ms. Marvel” with Brian Reed, Marvel’s “Iron Age” event bookends with Rob Williams or “Magus” with Jon Price, but you can currently find Isaacs in “Angel and Faith” — and let me tell you, if you’re even the tiniest of a Buffy/Angel fan and you aren’t reading this series on a monthly basis, you are missing out. The book is filled to the brim with emotion and levity via Isaacs’ wonderful renditions of principal cast members from the hit TV shows, and it brings back a better time when David Boreanaz was a weekly staple of our television screens with exciting guest appearances by Eliza Dushku. I’m a rather unabashed Whedon fan myself, but I can’t help but note: if you’re missing out on this book, you’re missing out on one of the most entertaining continuations of a TV show from yesteryear this side of the moon, and one of the most visually striking ones at that.


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David Harper

David Harper mainly focuses on original content, interviews, co-hosting our 4 Color News and Brews video podcast, and being half of the Mignolaversity and Valiant (Re)visions team. He runs Multiversity's Twitter and Facebook pages, and personally tweets (rarely) @slicedfriedgold. By day, he works in an ad agency in Anchorage, Alaska, and he loves his wife, traveling and biscuits & gravy (ordered most to least, which is still a lot).

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Brian Salvatore

Brian Salvatore is an editor, podcaster, reviewer, writer at large, and general task master at Multiversity. When not writing, he can be found playing music, hanging out with his kids, or playing music with his kids. He also has a dog named Lola, a rowboat, and once met Jimmy Carter. Feel free to email him about good beer, the New York Mets, or the best way to make Chicken Parmagiana (add a thin slice of prosciutto under the cheese).

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Matthew Meylikhov

Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."

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