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 5 Best Digital or Webcomics of 2019.
5. Witchy, written and drawn by Ariel Ries
Witchy the webcomic has been online since 2014. Some of us came to it through the web, others through the first print collection from Lion Forge. Whichever way you wound up with Witchy, it’s a wonderfully magical thing.
With Nyneve, we have a strong young female lead, whose father was killed for being too powerful — something always tied in this magical kingdom, almost Samson-like, to the length of hair. So, when Nyneve is conscripted to the same powers that killed her father, this strongly anti-authority child, it causes her no end of pain and anguish.
Worse still, despite having hair that points to her being even stronger than her father, not only does she hide it, but she’s caught up in the reasons why her magic seems buggy and weak.
All she wants to do is escape a future foretold by her one constant companion: the strange, talkative raven called Ba-nana.
It’s a beautiful, organic, light art style that suits both slow and fast-paced work, and Ries’ work, online or in print shows wonderful growth in a creator to watch for.
— Richard Bruton
4. Scoob and Shag, written and drawn by Misterie Krew
What started as a simple gag strip parodying Scooby Doo evolved into an epic battle of the cartoon mascots. Scoob and Shag get caught in a war between the world’s strongest toons: Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny. Together they must team up with rebel toons and learn to control cartoon powers called “Ballyhoos.” Basically, it’s Scooby Doo as a shonen battle manga.
— Tito W. James
3. The Fearsome Dr. Fang, published by TKO Studios, written by Tze Chun and Mike Weiss, drawn by Dan McDaid, colored by Daniela Miwa, and lettered by Steve Wands
The Fearsome Dr. Fang is one of the first releases by TKO STUDIOs. The script by writers Tze Chun and Mike Weiss takes obvious inspiration from pulp adventure characters such as The Shadow, Fu Manchu, and Indiana Jones. However, it provides a good and compelling twist to each of the tropes and cliches found in pulps, especially the concept of the Yellow Peril villain. The lettering by letterer Steve Wands is stylized, particularly in time and locale stamps. While the art shows proper understanding of sequencing moments, artist Dan McDaid also provides excellent characterization via designs and facial expressions. As for the work by colorist Daniela Miwa, a rich mixture of hue (especially the reds, blues, and gold) adds to the exciting action, and almost overtly to the texture of the visuals.
— Benjamin Hall
2. Dumbing of Age, written and drawn by David M. Willis
Year in and year out, Willis continues to produce daily strips based on characters he devised as a child. In the beginning (and a whole universe ago), they had a high-tech, talking car and fought aliens. Now, they’re living in a more mundane reality where college offers enough drama to fill their days. Well, okay, there’s still one legit costumed hero in the world, but her problems are all-too real as well. But the real secret to Dumbing of Ages appeal is a Willis’s hard-won facility with dramatic subtly and broad humor thanks to twenty-plus years of cartooning. A single day’s strip can be raucously funny and quickly heartbreaking thanks to the progression of just four panels. It’s a testament to his raw skill as both a writer and artist, but also his dedication to his craft and an almost compulsive need to be three months ahead of schedule.
— Erik Amaya
1. Gryffen, published by SBI Press on comiXology, written by Ben Kahn, illustrated by Bruno Hidalgo, color assists by James Peñafiel, letters by Sal Cipriano
Gryffen isn’t Firefly. There are no “big damn heroes,” but Kahn and Hidalgo’s web-series makes up for that with a lot of food for thought, plenty of action, and absolutely no green jello — Lyla Gryffen hates the stuff. They hate fascists, too, but for years they were one of them. What would make a legendary captain turn against the organization they served so faithfully?
There hasn’t exactly been a shortage of stories about toppling fascists in 2019. There’s been a great need for them, but usually these stories approach the fight from the side of the resistance or idealism (represented in Gryffen by Talika, Lyla’s first officer and hostage). Lyla’s course is more extreme (and yes, violent), but stems from the belief that science is the key to serving down justice. That, of course, cuts to the heart of another topic of unease in 2019: technology, and when it’s going to turn against us. Lyla has their own philosophy about that, but if that doesn’t make them moralistic, as a leader, it does make them one of the most fascinating (and stylish) characters in comics.
— Rachel Bellwoar