Comicon’s 7 Best Comic Artists Of 2018

by Hannah Means Shannon

Welcome to Comicon.com’s Best of the Year Awards, gathering the best comics and comics talent of 2018. This year we will be awarding in the following categories: Best Original Graphic Novels, Best Comic Series, Best Single Comic Issues, Best Writers, Best Artists, Best Cover Artists, Best Colorists, Best Letterers, Best Digital/Webcomics, Most Progressive Comics, and lastly, Comicon’s People of The Year: 2018.

Contributors to Comicon’s Best of the Year Awards 2018 include: Brendan Allen, Gary Catig, James Ferguson, Oliver MacNamee, Noah Sharma, Rachel Bellwoar, Tito James, Omar Spahi, Tony Thornley, Josh Davison, Richard Bruton, and Hannah Means-Shannon.

The following are Comicon’s 7 Best Comic Artists* of 2018. [*Pencillers, inkers, and line artists are included in this category]

 

 

7. Sanford Greene for Bitter Root (Image Comics)

The two current series illustrated by Sanford Greene exhibit his versatility as an artist. In the Ringo Award winning modern fantasy, 1000, he develops a world that aesthetically, is highly influenced by anime and manga. His character designs, facial expressions and choreographed fight scenes could easily be found in Dragon Ball Z if it had dragons and vampires. For the supernatural period piece, Bitter Root, Greene embraces a more classic Americana style that captures the essence of the Harlem Renaissance. The architecture, backgrounds and fashion transports the reader back to the 1920’s. Once again, a stand out is his character designs, particularly his interpretations of paranormal monsters. An added bonus is the attention to detail with all the technology and weapons that look futuristic for the time but not out of place. Regardless of genre, Greene has a unique, eye-catching style that makes him stand out among his contemporaries.

6. Geoff Darrow for Shaolin Cowboy: Start Trek (Dark Horse Comics)

Geoff Darrow’s line art has such amazing detail and kineticism that it’s no surprise his work on Hard Boiled served as the principle inspiration for The Matrix. Darrow’s creator-owned work on Shaolin Cowboy: Start Trek is a treat for fans of intricate and well-paced fight choreography in a book that collects previously out of print stories with updated links between them. Darrow’s political caricatures make readers laugh at our real-life supervillains. While Darrow recently left the U.S. and moved to France, we were lucky to have been graced with such a draftsman and I hope it’s not the last we see of him.

5. Riley Rossmo for Deathbed (DC – Vertigo Comics)

Antonio Luna doesn’t just aspire to be larger than life. He’s a living, breathing action hero, so it’s not an exaggeration to say that Riley Rossmo, and his ability to create worlds that can contain such a larger than life protagonist, is a crucial reason why Deathbed works and stays credible. More than that, Rossmo ensures Luna lives up to his hype and that’s not an easy thing to do. When Valentine, his ghostwriter, first shows up at his house she’s escorted down a hallway lined with pictures of Luna that would be more at home in pulp novels than fancy frames, but they’re all true, and Rossmo makes sure you believe that. Deathbed is also a series that really values the individual issue. Each one introduces you to a new world and it doesn’t get better than issues three and four, when you’re presented with the Church of Luna and the Underwater Pleasure Gardens of Womba. Through all of this, a character like Valentine could get lost but there’s never any favoritism on the part of the artist. Deathbed only lasted six issues, but its legacy will live on forever.

 4. David Rubin for Rumble (Image Comics) and Ether (Dark Horse Comics)

What is great about an artist like David Rubin is his range within his own art style. If a character needs to be silly, scary, or sexy, he can render them without breaking visual continuity. Rubin’s use of creative paneling and sound effects make the most of what the comics medium has to offer. With his work on Rumble we are treated to Rubin’s creative creature and world designs while in Ether, pure fantasy takes flight. I can’t wait to see his upcoming work on The Grand Abyss Hotel from Boom! Studios.

3. Steve Skroce for Maestros (Image Comics)

Readers may be familiar with Skroce’s artwork from We Stand On Guard, but in his first fully creator-owned venture, Skroce crafts one of the best written and well as best drawn comics of 2018 in Maestros. However, it is the artwork that will smack you in the face from page to page and make you wonder how a world so big could fit into the pages of a comic. The semi-human son of a divine ruler ascends to godhood with the death of the entire royal family and finds that ruling by magic comes with a conundrum–whether to try to rule by fear or by love. Eternal fuck-up William tries every variation thereof and needs plenty of help from his mother and friends to keep from allowing the entire cosmos to go down the proverbial drain. Every fantasy trope is stuffed into Skroce’s crowded pages, subverted, and played for contemporary commentary that will haunt you long after you’ve closed the pages of this book. Maestros is a must-read of 2018. Currently collected in trade by Image, it’s expected to return for a second series after Skroce has revealed his second creator-owned venture. We look forward to hearing more about it.

2. Tyler Jenkins for Grass Kings (Boom! Studios) and Black Badge (Boom! Studios)

Grass Kings is a story for all time. At least half the reason for that is the loose, deceptively simple linework of Tyler Jenkins. There’s almost an impressionistic quality to his art that’s equally suited to tender moments and brutal battles. Somehow there’s just enough detail to sell raw emotion, evocative moods, and rich settings. Combined with Hilary Jenkins’ efforts on color, Grass Kings was one of the most visually striking comics of 2018.

While it was disappointing to see Grass Kings wrap in 2018, the art in Black Badge carries much of the same emotional weight while maintaining a completely different identity. One of my pet peeves in comics is when children are drawn like little adults. The kids in Black Badge are clearly children. They’re gawky, skinny, fat, long and short in weird places. That’s a difficult thing to hit, and Jenkins nails it, while depicting these kids in some of the most stressful and dangerous environments you could possibly imagine.

1. Liam Sharp for The Green Lantern and The Brave and the Bold (DC Comics)

Since his return to comics, Liam Sharp has been nothing short of magnificent, taking on Greek mythologies, fantasy and now sci-fi, with his work on The Green Lantern for DC Comics. Whichever genre he lends his talents to, he makes them shine through his highly detailed and textured work, as well as his nod to the masters who have come before him, carefully filtering influences from the greats of the time. For The Brave and The Bold, the DNA of Arthur Rackham and Jim Fitzpatrick can be felt, while now with The Green Lantern, the classic era of Metal Hurlant can also be seen, but never at the detriment of Sharp’s own distinctive style. He’s a man with a great career in comics already, and one that is only getting better with age, like a good wine.

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