Comicon’s 8 Best Comic Writers Of 2017
by Hannah Means Shannon
Welcome to Comicon.com’s inaugural Best of the Year Awards, gathering the best comics and comics talent of 2017. 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 Webcomics, Most Progressive Comics, and lastly, Comicon’s People of The Year: 2017.
Contributors to Comicon’s Best of the Year Awards this year include: Alan Stewart, Alex Schumacher, Brendan Allen, Gary Catig, James Ferguson, Kieran Fisher, Oliver MacNamee, Noah Sharma, Rachel Bellwoar, Tito James, Angel Carreras, and Hannah Means-Shannon.
The following are Comicon’s 8 Best Comic Writers Of 2017.
8. Fabian Rangel Jr. for Helena Crash (IDW) and Blood Brothers (Dynamite)
Fabian Rangel Jr. has been a busy man this year releasing multiple comic series from different publishers. Most of them he co-created, but all of them are wild, crazy, and off the wall. He has an American soldier discover he’s a werewolf while fighting the Viet Cong (Namwolf), the next psychedelic adventure of the crew of the Santa Muerte, a literal skull space ship (Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality), a high octane sci-fi adventure in a futuristic society where coffee is banned (Helena Crash), and pair of detective brothers who solve crimes in a city populated with mythological creatures (Blood Brothers). Not to mention his Samurai Jack series where the self-titled character hops from one reality to another and has adventures with motorcycle gangs and luchadores. All his series are fun and different and it would be great to peek into his creative process to see how his ideas develop.
7. John Allison for Giant Days (Boom! Studios)
Sometimes you’ll read a book and just marvel at the amazing quality of storytelling involved. That’s how I feel when I read a comic written by John Allison. The man crams so much into every single issue of Giant Days that it feels like each chapter is twice as large. He seamlessly juggles several plot threads, nurturing each to grow and help develop the characters, while also fitting in a ton of jokes and sight gags. He’s created the perfect sitcom in comic book form that never fails to deliver. Everything just clicks, from the characters to the pacing to the delivery.
6. Cullen Bunn for Harrow County (Dark Horse) and Regression (Image Comics)
Cullen Bunn has got to be the busiest writer in comics. Off the top of my head, I can name 15 titles he wrote in 2017. Give me a few minutes, and I could probably add a dozen more to that list. If only for the sheer volume of titles Cullen churned out, an argument could be made for writer of the year. The fact that they’re consistently amazing stories strengthens my case. From the dark and twisted horrors of Harrow County and Regression to the deadpan goofiness of The Tick, from superheroes to antiheroes, period fantasy to daikaiju, Bunn is a master storyteller with a nuanced stroke.
5. Donny Cates for God Country (Image Comics), Redneck (Skybound Entertainment), and Babyteeth (Aftershock Comics)
Donny Cates kicked off the year with sleeper hit God Country (Image Comics). The hits kept rolling with Redneck (Image/Skybound), Babyteeth (Aftershock), Thanos (Marvel) and Doctor Strange (Marvel). An enormous sentient sword, a family of hillbilly vampires, the immaculate conception of the Antichrist, the Mad Titan, the Sorcerer Supreme… Everything this dude touched in 2017 was pure gold. Five straight sellout titles have solidly established Cates as one of the best in the business.
4. Tom King for Batman (DC Comics)
Scott Synder was always going to be tough act to follow, but Tom King has more than done it with his run on Batman. And, don’t forget, he has to do it twice a month too! Like Snynder and Grant Morrison before him, King is crafting his Batman and one that will add greatly to the mythos of this hero, I dare say, once looked back on in time. In King’s hands, we are learning more about the man behind the bat and the woman behind the cat, giving us a softer, more human, Bruce Wayne, and a man not as tough as he wishes others to believe.
3. Matthew Rosenberg for 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank (Black Mask Studios)
Matthew Rosenberg has come a long way in such a short time, having penned multiple stories for Marvel and DC and now operating as a Marvel exclusive writer. This year saw him unleash Secret Warriors, Edge of Venomverse, Rocket Raccoon, and Kingpin and they were all strong. However, his 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank series is proving to be one of the best crime and coming-of-age age stories to ever grace the medium. Those are big words when you take the entire history of comics into account, but any story that manages to select the best parts of Quentin Tarantino, the Coen Brothers, and more, and yet somehow captures the pains, trials and tribulations of adolescence, is a special gift. Rosenberg came out the gate firing on all cylinders, but 2017 marked a breakthrough year that will see him take over the world soon enough.
2. Ta-Nehisi Coates for Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet (Marvel Comics)
Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet is the latest iteration of the first black character depicted in mainstream superhero comics. Here the audience finds T’Challa, ruler and protector of the fictional African country Wakanda, in the more than capable hands of writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. Though this is Coates’ first foray into fiction, his years of work as a journalist with such publications as The Atlantic yielded a remarkable gift for providing captivating narrative suffused with a social conscience. This is no different with Black Panther, where Coates subverts many superhero tropes to address the far more human experience of civil unrest and political upheaval in Wakanda. Plenty of action still ensues to sate the voracious appetite of the typical comics reader. But this series astutely guides the audience on the far more complex— and often ignored — journey of marginalized people. As Coates said himself, “You pull from the specifics of that world, and oddly enough if you love the specific beauty of that world enough, you end up saying something profoundly human and universal.”
1. James Tynion for Detective Comics (DC Comics)
2017 was a seismic year for James Tynion IV. He made waves with The Batman Who Laughs one-shot, helped to relaunch Batwoman, closed out Backstagers, pit Bane against the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and brought The Woods to a beautiful conclusion. He was even supposed to round out the year with, debatably, the flagship title of the New Age of DC Heroes, Immortal Men, now due in January. But if any one title represents Tynion’s ascent to the top of the industry or what makes him the writer that he is, it’s Detective Comics.
2017 saw the powerful foundations that Tynion laid in the previous year built into an edifice worthy of DC’s longest running title. Bringing together a best of team of Gotham vigilantes, Detective Comics is a superhero team book par excellence. Tynion’s clever plots gifted us a slew of wildly different and yet true to core adventures that have now begun to come together to form a unified, almost Claremontian, run. Perhaps even more importantly though, Tynion’s Detective Comics represents the true creator/fan fusion, delivering the stories and tone that the fanbase has longed for without sacrificing polish, professionalism, or vision. Transforming Clayface into a byronic hero, returning Cassandra Cain and Jean-Paul Valley to the Bat family proper, and writing a pitch perfect Batman and Red Robin, Detective Comics delivers so much to fans and does so in a way that is literary, affirming, and fascinating.