Comicon’s Most Progressive Comics: 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 Most Progressive* Comics of 2018.

*The “Most Progressive” award is designed to honor excellence in comics that present a world we recognize and life as lived reflected in storytelling, including diversity in race, creed, religion, orientation, ability, and perspectives. While there are many books from 2018 worthy of attention, this year we chose to focus on both fiction and non-fiction works that integrate progressive themes in a way that has the potential to influence trends in indie and mainstream comics.

 

7. Drawn To Sex – The Basics, published by Limerance Press/Oni Press, written by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan, illustrated by Erika Moen

You may know Moen and Nolan from their X-rated exploits on the webcomic and printed versions of Oh Joy, Sex Toy. There they review a myriad of sex toys, with a freshness that promotes sex positive exploration, stripping away taboos and delighting readers with every gloriously sexy page. Moen’s cartooning and design is perfectly presented to engage readers in a light, joyous, and vibrant way.

Drawn To Sex takes things back to basics. Magnificently drawing on the educational value of many of their pieces at Oh Joy, Sex Toy, Moen and Nolan set out with Drawn To Sex to create something educational and sexual, or maybe just something educationally sexy. Fabulously frank, funny, and fearless in portraying sex, in all of its forms, as something to be explored and enjoyed, Drawn To Sex – The Basics should feature not just on our best of list, but on the sex education reading list of schools worldwide.

6. The Flutter Collection, published by Dark Horse, written by Jennie Wood, drawn by Jeff McComsey, colored by Chis Goodwin and Jeff McComsey, lettered by Jeff McClelland and Jeff McComsey

The plot Flutter takes has as many twists and turns as its shape-shifting teen protagonist, Lily. Blending the personal with the political, Flutter captures the ever-evolving spirit of queer identity. What makes Flutter so engrossing is how far the premise of Lily’s gender bending is explored. While Flutter is not a superhero story, the superpowers and social commentary are tantamount to the X-Men. With its diverse cast of characters, double crosses and forbidden love, it’s easy to see why Flutter is being developed for television.

5. Water Snakes, published by Lion Forge, written and illustrated by Tony Sandoval

Water Snakes is progressive, not in that it has overt social commentary or preaches about inclusivity, but Water Snakes delivers a dark and evocative fantasy adventure that any reader can engage in, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. The best quality art elicits empathy and Water Snakes made me feel for its heroines. Water Snakes is funny, romantic, horrific, mysterious and badass.

4. Calexit, published by Black Mask Studios, written by Matteo Pizzolo, drawn by Amancay Naheulpan, colored by Tyler Boss, lettered by Jim Campbell

Though a work of fiction, Black Mask Studios’ Calexit has many parallels to our world today. In the story, a far right, conservative president is elected and has waged war on all illegal immigrants. Standing in defiance to this demagogue is California, which has declared itself a sanctuary for all those undocumented. As a result, the Golden State is occupied by the military and placed under martial law, but that only fuels the resistance to the autocratic government. The series is well researched and addresses the complicated political divide of California. Though overwhelmingly blue, there are significant regions of conservatism. In addition, although the story is a possible scenario if both sides were taken to extremes, it’s not too unrealistic of a situation to imagine. Right now, the military have been mobilized and occupy regions in San Diego County close to the border to prevent refugees from entering the U.S. and seeking asylum.

3. Femme Magnifique published by IDW, edited by Shelly Bond, written and illustrated by various credited here, lettered by Aditya Bidikar, cover art by Tess Fowler

A book that singlehandedly expands the pool of women we talk about when discussing female role models, Femme Magnifique is a gift, and one I’m thrilled that IDW has decided to extend beyond Kickstarter. As cool as it was to be a backer on this project, this is a book that needs to fall into the hands of as many people as possible. It’s not just about the fifty women who were chosen to be Femme Magnifique‘s subjects. It’s about the writers and artists who contributed to the anthology and whose work you are exposed to over the course of this book. Role models in their own right, you get to know some of them as narrators and characters in their entries, and that’s the other thing that makes Femme Magnifique so special. Each story is told from the perspective of its storytellers. They, too, were inspired by the women they talk about and it’s that personal touch that adds to the already rich biographies. Women of every age and color, walk, and appear in Femme Magnifique and it’s a true showcase of the array of accomplishments that women can, and have, achieved.

2. Oh S#!t It’s Kim & Kim, published by Black Mask Studios, written by Magdalene Visaggio, drawn by Eva Cabrera, colored by Claudia Aguirre, lettered by Zakk Saam, edited by Katy Rex

In terms of progressiveness, and just being a ton of fun to read, Oh S#!t It’s Kim & Kim by Magdalene Visaggio, Eva Cabrera, Claudia Aguirre, and Black Mask Studios is one of the best comics I’ve read this year. Centering around a duo of smart-mouthed intergalactic bounty hunters with a penchant for murder and having a blast while doing it, Oh S#!t It’s Kim & Kim is the fast-moving and fresh content starring a transgender superhero and her grounded personal struggles we need this year.

1.Shuri, published by Marvel Comics, written by Nnedi Okarafor, drawn by Leonardo Romero, colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered by Joe Sabino

Starring the sister of T’Challa played by Letitia Wright in this year’s Black Panther film, Shuri is yet another delightful and progressive-minded comic that came out this year, all the more significant because of the reach extended to comic shops, schools, and libraries by Marvel Comics’ mainstream publishing. Taking place after Black Panther goes missing off-Earth, Shuri must keep Wakanda together in her own way while continuing to advance her own scientific experiments. We’re only three issues in so far, but this comic is definitely something special and worth checking out. It means a great deal to readers to see a female hero of color working in the sciences and having a wide-ranging impact as a leader in her family, her country, and the Marvel Universe.

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