Comicon’s 7 Best Comic Writers Of 2019

by Erik Amaya

Welcome to Comicon.com’s Best of the Year Awards, gathering the best comics and comics talent of 2019. This year we will be awarding in the following categories: Best Comic Series,Best Original Graphic Novels, Best Single Comic Issues, Best Writers, Best Artists, Best Cover Artists, Best Colorists, Best Letterers, Best Digital/Webcomics, and Most Progressive Comics.

Contributors to Comicon’s Best of the Year Awards this year include: Brendan Allen, James Ferguson, Oliver MacNamee, Noah Sharma, Rachel Bellwoar, Tito James, Tony Thornley, Richard Bruton, and Erik Amaya.

The following are Comicon’s 7 Best Comic Writers of 2019.

 

7. Kelly Thompson for Captain Marvel, Deadpool (Marvel Comics), and Sabrina The Teenage Witch (Archie Comics)

Captain Marvel #12 cover by Mark Brooks

There’s no getting around it. The cancelation of West Coast Avengers at the beginning of this year was a blow but, without negating the loss of that series, 2019 has been a terrific year for new titles from Thompson. Starting with Captain Marvel — which launched right when Carol Danvers was becoming a household name thanks to the feature film of the same name — Thompson’s first arc brought great character dynamics; like the friendship between Carol and Jessica Drew, and Carol’s mentorship of Jennifer Takeda (aka Hazmat). The second arc introduced a formidable villain in Star, who’s getting her own miniseries starting in January. Outside of Marvel, Thompson showed Sabrina doesn’t have to be chilling with Archie’s Sabrina the Teenage Witch, while back at Marvel, Deadpool gave Thompson the opportunity to bring back characters from both West Coast Avengers and Jessica Jones: Blind Spot. The pattern here is Thompson’s talent for putting together indelible teams, and it’s a talent that’s sure to be stretched more in 2020; a year that will hopefully bring more Jeff the Landshark content as well.

— Rachel Bellwoar

6. Al Ewing for The Immortal Hulk and Marvel Comics #1000 (Marvel Comics)

Immortal Hulk #18 cover by Alex Ross

The Hulk is probably one of Marvel’s most underrated A-list characters, but that’s changed in a big way ever since a little series called Immortal Hulk came around. Deeply (some might say cancerously) intertwined with the Hulk’s mythology, the series has held fast to the wild atomic science of the character, but soared by probing the Jungian, almost magical, underbelly of that unstoppable, green beast. The influence of Immortal Hulk has been all over Marvel comics this year, from a line of variant covers to the release of director’s cuts to a Defenders crossover spinning out of the main title.

And that’s just one book. So, when it comes to writers, it’s pretty clear that this was the year of Al Ewing.

He has been writing some of the smartest, most touching, and most distinct comics at the House of Ideas for years now, but 2019 was the year that the world finally started to notice just how central he is to the company.

It doesn’t feel like Ewing has a small idea in his head. Everything is seismic, beautiful, and connected; and this year both fans and the company tightened their grip and prepared to enter his world. There is perhaps no greater sign of that than Marvel Comics #1000: a wild, comics-loving jam session that celebrated the company and laid the groundwork for its next major events.

That spirit of collaboration has been all over Ewing’s work this year, from co-writing Valkyrie to returning to the weekly comics format as one of the creators behind Avengers: No Road Home. And all the while, Hulk has chugged along with even its least impressive issues enough to leave you breathless. Ewing has even been assigned to take to the stars, beginning a run on Guardians of the Galaxy early next year!

With a catalogue of incredible comics behind him, the Guardians arrayed before him, and The Immortal Hulk lifting him to his greatest heights, Al Ewing positively smashed puny 2019.

— Noah Rohan Sharma

5. John Allison for Giant Days (Boom! Studios)

Mixing the everyday journey of life with something more magical is a skill which seems to come to John Allison with astonishing ease. But that’s only one skill he displayed in the pages of Giant Days. Beyond the way the series could slip into the surreal, he also made it possible for its tone to range from wild comedy to grave seriousness.

Just take McGraw’s journey in the last year or so of the title. He went from spending a lot of time with an old man who, seemingly, was sapping his vitality — and later sought to use Ed Gemmell and some of the other students during a dodgy Christmas fun fair in a similar manner — to facing the death of his father to, finally, embracing what his future with Susan was going to look like. The very real challenges he faced in the final issues made his earlier troubles seem like the passing silliness of another world. And that is magic Allison brought to Giant Days.

It’s also enough material to tackle if McGraw was the main character, but he’s four or five on the cast list — depending on Ed Gemmell’s importance at any given time — and Allison gives him as much consideration as Susan, Esther or Daisy. Sure, it sometimes required moving ideas to special one-shot issues outside of the normal numbering, but it allowed him to space to give all five of the major characters enough to room to live in a surreal and all-too-real world.

— Erik Amaya

4. Tini Howard for The Forgotten Queen (Valiant)

If all Tini Howard did this year was recognize the need for more comics featuring Wiccan and Hulkling, that would’ve been enough to earn her a spot on this list. Howard didn’t stop at Marvel’s Death’s Head or Strikeforce, though. She also gave us a Glow comic at IDW that offered a chance to get to know some of the wrestlers better, like Jenny, who doesn’t always get as much dialogue on the show, and a miniseries at Valiant that, contrary to the title, couldn’t be less forgettable. The Forgotten Queen features Vexana the War-Monger — an immortal with the ability to raise bloodlust in other people. Thanks to vampires, immortality isn’t a new concept, but it feels new the way Howard unpacks it. Each issue moves around in time and while it would’ve been easy for Vexana to be a cold and distant figure, Howard makes her someone with complexity and depth. And even if you’ve never read another Valiant series before, it’s very accessible to new readers.

— Rachel Bellwoar

3. Sina Grace for Ghosted in LA (Boom! Studios), Jughead: Time Police (Archie Comics), Go Go Power Rangers (Boom! Studios)

Few writers can capture pure, unadulterated fun the way Sina Grace can. Between Jughead: Time Police, Ghosted in LA, and now Go Go Power Rangers, the guy manages to bring a smile to my face across multiple comics, genres, and publishers. From the pure wacky with a time travel crisis of multiple Jugheads to a supernatural tale of drama and finding yourself to the multi-colored adventure of five teenagers with attitude, Sina Grace creates very real characters that go through very real life situations all while encountering crazy things like ghosts, alternate dimensions, and whatever else Lord Zedd has cooked up this week. That balance is what makes his comics special.

— James Ferguson

2. Tom Taylor, for DCeased published by DC Comics and Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (Marvel Comics)

In an era of exclusive contracts, it’s rare for a writer to have hit series in both of the Big Two publishers, but that’s what Tom Taylor did with DCeased and Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. The former was a powerhouse horror tale packed with moving emotional moments as a zombie-like virus swept through the DC Universe. The latter was a standout Spider-Man series that should have run for a million issues. Taylor has a real talent for characters, building on the elements we know and love and adding to them. Yes, there are some in-roads in that we’re already familiar with them from years of comics, but there’s much more to it. He drills down to the very essence of each character and builds from there to create something truly moving. When you shed a tear for a zombie comic, you know it’s something special.

— James Ferguson

1. Jonathan Hickman for House of X/Powers of X (Marvel Comics)

Leading up to C2E2 in March, Jonathan Hickman had been quietly plugging along with his excellent creator-owned series at Image. Ever since his massive Secret Wars had ended at Marvel a few years ago, a rumor would pop up that he was working on something new at Marvel, then DC and then back and forth. Finally Marvel ran a house ad early in March announcing his return — revealed at the Chiacgo convention as the lead writer for the X-Men line.

What followed was a whirlwind — starting with July’s House of X #1 and running for the next twelve weeks — which altered Marvel’s mutants forever. Not only were the concepts mind-blowing, but the series contained some of Hickman’s best writing to date; with character work that eclipsed his Fantastic Four stories and concepts that made Secret Wars seem like a warm-up. He continued that immediately afterwards, launching X-Men and New Mutants directly out of the event, as well as beginning the concluding story of his immensely popular East of West. There’s simply no denying 2019 was the Year of Hickman.

— Tony Thornley

Erik Amaya

Host of Tread Perilously and a Film/TV Writer at Comicon.com and Rotten Tomatoes. A former staff writer at CBR and Bleeding Cool, and a contributing writer at Fanbase Press and Monkeys Fighting Robots. Voice of Puppet Tommy on The Room Responds. A seeker of the Seastone Chair and the owner of a Legion Flight Ring. Sorted into Gryffindor, which came as some surprise.

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