Comicon’s 7 Best Comic Colorists 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 Colorists of 2018.

 

7. Hilary Jenkins for Grass Kings (Boom! Studios) and Black Badge (Boom! Studios)

I’ve been a fan of Hilary Jenkins since she took over color duties from Tyler Jenkins on Grass Kings back in chapter eight. Hilary’s subdued watercolors gave the series a classic, timeless aesthetic. Moving on to Black Badge presented a whole new set of challenges. The international spy thriller bounces all over the globe, landing in North Korea, Siberia, Pakistan, Hawai’i…Hilary’s paint gives each setting an individual identity, capturing the local flavor and setting the mood for assassinations, interrogations, and survival exercises. Her introduction of our Black Badge Scouts alone, as seen below, captures portraiture through color just as effectively as the line art conveys mood and attitude in our characters.

6. Mitch Gerads for Mister Miracle (DC Comics)

The one-man army, Mitch Gerads could have been nominated for his line art, but the real standout this year was his color. Setting the mood and tone and with his work on Mister Miracle, he takes audiences in and out of Scott Free’s warped reality. Gerads manages to capture the psychedelic aspects of Kirby’s Fourth World and render them to make them feel fresh and modern. Color in comics is like a soundtrack in a film, and Gerads has conducted a symphony. I look forward to his upcoming work on Batman.

5. Dave Stewart for Gideon Falls (Image Comics)

Dave Stewart has his hands full with Gideon Falls. I can only imagine what goes through his head when he receives new pages of linework from Andrea Sorrentino. Sorrentino plays around quite a bit with traditional layout, panels, and gutters, and sometimes fills entire spreads with hundreds of tiny little individual panels. Stewart’s color holds the whole thing together, lending continuity between Gideon Falls’ dual threads, while giving each its own distinct identity.

4. Whitney Cogar for Giant Days (Boom! Studios)

I’ve talked at length about the joys of Giant Days and no small part of that is attributable to Whitney Cogar’s colors. The artwork is super expressive and the dialogue is fast-paced and fun, but the colors tie everything together, bringing such warmth and life to the characters. They live in the real world, but there’s this thin layer of the impossible and improbable that makes their everyday existence so insane and hilarious. Cogar’s work embodies that feeling, like anything can and will happen, from nights of drunken debauchery to battles in a Christmas village.

3. Eva De La Cruz for Euthanauts (Black Crown – IDW)

Euthanauts is a very strange book with an emotional and compelling premise, and it takes a very strange colorist to take readers into the lands beyond normal human exploration. Not to mention bridging the gap between the more “normal” events of the comic and its more supernatural elements. The ethereal feel of the comic, one that fully sells the artwork and the writing, is down to Eva De La Cruz’s varied, and at times quite intricate, color choices. In the example below, you’ll see how humanly and solidly characters are portrayed, and yet the choice of vibrant accent colors on hair, sky, glasses, and flame, give an intensity, not only to their movements, but to their existence. De La Cruz clearly knows exactly where she wants to draw the eye when laying out her colors, and demonstrates in a very direct way the impact of a colorist on the reading rhythm of a comic, and of course on the tone of a comic, too, which is key to encouraging a suspension of disbelief.

2. Jordie Bellaire for The Dead Hand (Image Comics), Batgirl (DC Comics), Days of Hate (Image Comics)

While Bellaire is coming into prominence as a writer, one cannot ignore her work on such titles as Image Comics’ espionage thriller, The Dead Hand, DC Comics’ Batgirl or even more indie affairs like Days of Hate. Her work helps whichever artist she’s working with shine that little bit more. No wonder she makes an appearance on so many ‘Best of’ lists each year. Including our own! But what we see when we look more closely at each of these books is how completely Bellaire composes new approaches to color scheme for each book she approaches, never relying on past successes or re-using strategies that she’s developed previously. The common denominator is quality of the highest degree and a sensitive approach to theme and story.

1. Jordan Boyd for Deadly Class (Image Comics)

Deadly Class is a whirlwind of a comic, packed with emotional depth and pure frenetic energy. Jordan Boyd contains that on the page with some clever uses of color that bring out the few moments of happiness, and also heighten the vast reserves of terror and danger that are lurking. The most recent arc, “Love Like Blood”, takes the group to Mexico, where you can practically feel the hot sun beating down on them as the Yakuza and rival students start to close in. This would be a beautiful place to visit if it wasn’t for all the bloodshed. Boyd veers wildly, but with grace between these opposing tensions in the comic, and as you’ll see in the examples below, makes you believe in fondest fantasies as well as razor-sharp traumas.

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