Welcome to Comicon.com’s Best of the Year Awards, gathering the best comics and comics talent of the strange year that was 2020. 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, and Most Progressive Comics.
Contributors to Comicon’s Best of the Year Awards this year include: James Ferguson, Oliver MacNamee, Cesareo Garasa, Rachel Bellwoar, Scott Redmond, Tito James, Gary Catig, Tony Thornley, Richard Bruton, and Erik Amaya.
The following are Comicon’s 7 Best Artists of 2020.
7. Sami Kivelä for Undone By Blood (Aftershock)
Sweetheart, Arizona might not be a town you want to visit, but it is a town you get to know over the course of reading Undone by Blood. Every storefront and saloon — and even the bus station — is given an indelible identity thanks to Kivelä. The best part is the victory lap in issue #4 in which Kivelä devotes a whole page to Ethel walking by all the places she’s been and getting to remember everything that’s happened. Much of Ethel’s investigation plays out silently, too, so Kivelä lets readers put the clues together with her. Undone by Blood will be returning for a second arc in March, but in the meantime, you can find Kivelä’s art in Boom! Studio’s Abbott: 1973 this January.
— Rachel Bellwoar
6. Jorge Jimenez for Batman (DC Comics)
Before 2020, everyone knew Jimenez was good. However, in his move from Justice League to Batman he showed everyone just how good he was. He gave us a Gotham City that felt grand and massive, while retaining the city’s gothic identity. He drew a Batman that was larger than life yet very human, a Joker that was in complete control yet totally unhinged, and a Harley Quinn that had more depth of emotion than any version of the character in the past twenty five years. Frankly, it’s clear that the best is yet to come, especially as he continues his run on the Dark Knight in March of 2021.
— Tony Thornley
5. Ivan Reis for Superman (DC Comics)
To me, Ivan Reis is our generations Neal Adams; an artist who brings a power to every panel of every page he illustrates and pizzaz to every cover. I’ve loved his run on Superman this past year, and his place in the comic book firmament as one of the bets artists working in the biz today has never been more secure.
— Olly MacNamee
4. DaNI for Low, Low Woods (DC Comics)
Low, Low Woods is a horror comic about how people process trauma. It’s about the pressure not to talk about it, and the ways silence can twist a town. It’s what happens when all that unspoken stuff starts to come out and the way DaNi captures that dread in her art is by constantly undercutting it. You find out your girlfriend is becoming a sinkhole. You see a skinned man in the woods, but what happens when you go to high school the next day? You start to think something must be wrong with you. You start to get so hypnotized by a headlight or a leaf that you forget to be afraid for a minute. You start to feel like the people from Shudder-to-Think must feel — alone.
In such an environment, a friendship like Octavia and El’s shouldn’t be able to exist but that’s why, as much as DaNi’s art will give you goosebumps (and she’s the artist on Image Comics’ Coffin Bound, too), it also makes you feel like you can conquer anything. Her Shudder-to-Think — the town, not the people — has a mind of its own. It’s a threat because it’s alive, but as long as Octavia and El persevere, there’s hope.
— Rachel Bellwoar
3. Dan Mora for Once & Future (Image Comics), Power Rangers (Boom! Studios)
Once you’ve seen Dan Mora’s artwork, you’ll instantly spot it going forward and will stop to look because it is truly a sight to behold. Whether it is the world of the Power Rangers, the creator owned title Once & Future alongside Kieron Gillen, or even dropping variant covers to titles like MegaMan, there is such vivid detail and a sense of realism mixed with the fantastic that just works. So much so that DC Comics turned to him to do promotional work and designs for some of their Future State stuff. Mora has also mastered, with the help of his colorists, the ability to alter the style of his work across covers and interiors, whether it is brighter and shinier for certain covers or more muted and stylistic for various interiors. A skill very fitting for his upcoming move to Gotham City in 2021.
— Scott Redmond
2. Sophie Campbell for Teenage Mutant Ninga Turtles (IDW)
Writing and the various artistic realms of comics each come with their own demands, schedules and stresses. A few creators can tackle two or more of those jobs seemingly with ease and hitting the proverbial home run while doing so. Sophie Campbell is one of those creators as she brings characters like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to life in emotional & breathtaking ways within her artwork. Each character is truly distinct and stands out from the others with their own little quirks and intricacies — there is no mistaking characters for one another. Moments of pain or joy or sadness are all rendered immaculately as is the world around them; no detail really left untouched as if they could just roll off the page and become our reality. Being able to navigate dual sides of the creative divide adds so much depth to Sophie’s work, and hopefully there is far more artwork from her for years to come.
— Scott Redmond
1. Pepe Larraz for Empyre #0: Avengers, X of Swords (Marvel Comics)
With just four gigantic issues to his name this year, Larraz cemented himself as one of best artist — if not the best — working in superhero comics today. His Avengers in the Empyre prelude were grand gods among men, but where he really made his mark was in the X-Men line as the lead artist in the X of Swords mega-crossover. With each major chapter of the story, he created a whole new world within the Marvel Universe. He also brought new depth to characters like Apocalypse, Cypher, and Polaris, and perspectives on concepts like Otherworld and the Captain Britain Corps. But he’d deserve a place on this list simply for the grand finale of the crossover, X of Swords: Destruction, a massive action set piece from beginning to end that was as massive and epic as any Hollywood blockbuster. To me, my X-Men, indeed.
— Tony Thornley