Comicon’s 7 Best Comic Writers Of 2020

by Erik Amaya

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 BellwoarScott Redmond, Tito James, Gary Catig, Tony Thornley, Richard Bruton, and Erik Amaya.

The following are Comicon’s 7 Best Writers of 2020.

Honorable Mention For The X-Men Writers Room

Even with the pandemic, the X-Men had perhaps their best year since Chris Claremont was heading up the line (well, the first time at least). Never have ten different books ever felt as cohesive and tight knit as the stories told by the X-Men group in the last twelve months. There’s no doubt at least partial credit goes to how editor Jordan D. White and “head of X” Jonathan Hickman lead the group — with a collaborative method that’s more akin to a television series’ writers room than a comics editorial group. Without a doubt, it means more good things ahead for Marvel’s best selling family of books.

— Tony Thornley

7. Vita Ayala for Marauders #13 (Marvel Comics), et al.

Whether it is in the world of James Bond, Marvel’s Merry Mutants, Gotham City or somewhere creator owned, Ayala has an amazing talent for in-depth and wonderfully realized character work. It leaves the reader truly invested in the characters and the world around them. Storm, for example, is a character many talk about being in the background for years at a time. But with just one guest-written issue of Marauders, Ayala changed that, giving us an amazing Storm-focused issue for the ages. The writer also turned characters like Morbius into must reads while hitting the ground running with peeks into the world of Bond, even if the title was, sadly, short lived. They have a truly great road ahead of them and 2021 is going to bring so much more awesomeness to the table for all to see.

— Scott Redmond

6. Rob Williams for Judge Dredd: End Of Days, Destroyer, Roy of the Rovers (Rebellion), Old Haunts (AWA), et al

Rob Williams has had a very busy, very successful 2020 writing great things across a variety of genres and always delivering wonderfully readable, always enjoyable, and frequently excellent comics. Just for starters, he’s continued the exciting all-ages rebuilding of Roy of the Rovers, given us epic Judge Dredd in End of Days, and a noir epic in Old Haunts from AWA. In all of those things, he writes so consistently well, with a voice and a style that engages, excites and entertains.

Just taking a these few examples of what makes him so good…

Judge Dredd: End of Days was a good, old-fashioned Dredd on a quest tales harking back to the days of the “Judge Child Quest.” As for Roy of the Rovers, he’s successfully reinvented the classic character for a modern audience; making it relevant, exciting, and perfect for getting kids into comics. In a more independent vein, Old Haunts from AWA was something we’ve covered a lot here at Comicon; describing it as one of the best first issues of the year. Its tale of blood, death, and a dark past follows a trio of killers and is a beautiful bit of atmospheric writing from Williams.

And finally —  what was perhaps my favourite thing of his all year — the low-key, yet beautifully done tale of Destroyer, with PJ Holden on art, in the Battle of Britain Special, where he took an epic war tale and gave it a respectful, personal touch full of humour, but never forgetting the sacrifice of those involved.

— Richard Bruton

5. Ram V for Justice League Dark, Catwoman (DC Comics), Blue in Green (Image Comics), and Grafity’s Wall (Unbound)

Picking up established franchise titles in the wake of another writer’s well liked run is never an easy thing to do, but Ram has made it look easy with his work alongside James Tynion IV on Justice League Dark before taking the title fully on his own. Not to mention being able to dive into Catwoman right after a status quo altering event and giving readers one of the most down to Earth, yet fantastical runs with the character. And that’s just on the major publishing side, as he also dropped two highly received graphic novels this year in the form of Blue in Green and Grafity’s Wall. Catwoman, JLD, and Swamp Thing are in great hands going into 2021.

— Scott Redmond

4. Donny Cates for Thor (Marvel Comics), et al

Cates has quickly become a fan-favorite writer with his breakout success on titles like Venom, Silver Surfer: Black, and Cosmic Ghost-Rider. Cates continues to expand Marvel’s galactic stories with his latest run on Thor. It starts off with a great hook by making Thor Galactus’s Herald of Thunder, then the plot thickens into decisions that could forever change Marvel continuity. It’s been a blast to see worlds rise, fall, and get reborn. Who knows what Cates has up his sleeve for next year? We can only imagine it will be something epic!

— Tito James

3. Kelly Thompson for Deadpool (Marvel Comics), et al

It’s easy to not take Deadpool seriously or think he’s all about making jokes. Sure, his mind tends to live in the gutter, but Thompson’s Deadpool is all about heart and taking responsibility. Being king of Monster Island (AKA Staten Island) has brought out the best in the character. Sure, he’s still crass, but there’s a nobility to the character, too, that doesn’t always get enough attention. He’s making a real effort and sometimes it’s heartbreaking, like in issue #5, where Deadpool tries everything to avoid violence, but mostly it shows a lot of growth on the Merc with a Mouth’s part. Thompson has written a lot of great series this year, including Captain Marvel, Black Widow, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, but there’s only one where you can find Jessica Jones’ Elsa Bloodstone and West Coast Avengers’ Jeff the Land Shark in the same place.

— Rachel Bellwoar

2. Al Ewing for Guardians of the Galaxy, Immortal Hulk, Empyre (Marvel Comics), We Only Find Them When They’re Dead (Boom! Studios)

If I had to pick one word to describe Al Ewing’s 2020, it would be “redefining.” From the amazing work on the Immortal Hulk — reframing not just the Green Goliath, but every character that’s ever been touched by gamma radiation the Marvel Universe — to a whole new look at the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Kree-Skrull War in Empyre, Ewing has brought some new and exciting ideas to super hero comics.

But that’s not all. He’s also in the midst of a huge sci-fi epic in We Only Find Them When They’re Dead at BOOM! Studios that turns the genre on its head and delivers something wholly unexpected. As he continues to move up the ranks, I have to wonder what’s in store for Ewing in 2021. I certainly hope he gets a crack at some big characters in Marvel, although to be honest, I’m fine checking out anything the guy touches.

— James Ferguson

1. James Tynion IV for The Department of Truth, Batman, et al

This really was the year of James Tynion IV. A year in which he emerged very quickly as a dominant writing talent with his action-packed run on Batman — a book he was only supposed to be writing temporarily — as well as ending the year with the smash hit, The Department of Truth. I can’t think of any other writer to have come so far in such a relatively short period of time.

— Olly MacNamee

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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