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 Original Graphic Novels of 2020.
7. Solutions and Other Problems, published by Simon & Schuster; written, drawn, and lettered by Allie Brosh
With her first book, Hyperbole and a Half, Brosh delivered a truly inspiring and raw treatise on life and coping with depression; a book that could and did make you laugh through the tears. And now, five years on, she returns with her second graphic novel, Solutions and Other Problems. It’s a book that might include funny tales from her childhood and about her pets, but it also doesn’t hold back on looking at herself, at grief, at loneliness, or the sense of modern life being an absurd play where we’re all merely observers.
What made you laugh in the first book, Brosh’s wonderful sense of humour, the deadpan reflections, that’s all still there, as is the simplistic artwork, but this is an older Brosh — one who reflects on the reasons for this book taking so long and the way life has hit her hard. She fearlessly addresses these things all the way through with honesty, with humour, with truth. She’s grown and she’s changed, as have we all, but that doesn’t mean that what she does here is any less powerful or impressive as her debut.
— Richard Bruton
6. Gorillaz Almanac, published by Z2 Comics; written and drawn by various contributors
The Gorillaz are a virtual band that has garnered fans for decades. Now, with the 2020 release of Almanac, Gorillaz fans can finally get their hands on a solid art book filled with lore, games, and short comic strips from the world of the virtual band. Gorillaz has one of the most unique meta-narratives in the history of fictional characters, which is undoubtedly why they’re the world’s most successful fictional music act. It’s great to see the stories of these wonderful characters all in one glossy package.
— Tito James
5. Chasin’ The Bird, published by Z2 Comics; written, drawn, and lettered by Dave Chisholm, colored by Peter Markowski
Although I know next to nothing about jazz musician Charlie Parker, it was impossible not to get pulled in by this graphic novel exploring aspects of his life in California. Creator Dave Chisholm provides different perspectives to the Bird; looking at him as a musician, a creator, an addict, a lover, and more. Each chapter is told from a different point of view and that comes with it a unique artistic style which really stands out. It’s a fascinating character study.
— James Ferguson
4. Redfork, published by TKO Studios, written by Alex Paknadel, drawn by Nil Vendrell, colored by Giulia Brusco, and lettered by Ryan Ferrier
Small town horror is a genre that not a lot of creators get right. The feeling of hopelessness and melancholy is ever present, and Paknadel, Vendrell, and the Redfork team nailed it. It took the idea of being trapped in a dead end and added a supernatural spark that appeared to be hope, but was actually a deal with the devil. It was emotional, funny, and absolutely terrifying, and deserves to be considered one of the best of the year.
— Tony Thornley
3. Bear, published by BOOM! Studios, written by Ben Queen, illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton, lettered by AndWorld Design.
What is a loyal guide dog to do when he starts to lose his sight? How can he help his blind master if he can’t see himself? That’s the catalyst for Bear, a wonderful graphic novel full of adventure and heart. This dog goes on one wild ride while looking for ways to help his person; taking him through the wilderness, into the city, and back home while encountering raccoons, bears, a raging river, bats, and more. All the while, he learns that there’s more to himself than just his eyesight. This is a visual exploration like no other.
— James Ferguson
2. The Magic Fish, published by Random House Graphic, written and illustrated by Trung Le Nguyen, lettered by Patrick Crotty
In setting out to tell an immigrant story with a LGBTQIA dimension, Nguyen attempts to create a common grammar for his characters — a Vietnamese refugee and her American-born son — and, indeed, the reader. He finds it by adapting variants on the Cinderella and Little Mermaid fairy tales, but also by giving readers a window into how Helen (the immigrant mother) and Tien (her son) envision these European stories via their own lived experiences. In doing so, the reader becomes immersed in their worldviews and their struggles: Helen hopes to bring her Americanized family back to Vietnam while Tien attempts to figure out newfound feelings about a boy he’s known since kindergarten. And that’s just the story. Incredible layouts, marvelous structure, beautiful colors, and Nguyen’s line art make The Magic Fish one of the most beautiful graphic novels of 2020.
— Erik Amaya
1. Dracula Motherf**ker, published by Image Comics, written and lettered by Alex de Campi, drawn and colored by Erica Henderson
Alex de Campi and Erica Henderson delivered a tour de force of Dracula reinvention here — fast and smart, horror straight out of ’70s LA, a masterpiece of art as mood. Focusing on the Brides rather than the monster, de Campi brings a modern take to things: the coercive control, a fascination with women who trade themselves for a life of wealth and beauty. But this is brought to beautiful, stunning life by Henderson, whose artwork and colours are simply wonderful. She shifts styles as fast as de Campi can switch gears, deliberately rejecting anything approaching realism and instead uses the art and especially the colours to absolutely nail the tone of the book. This is the perfect synergy of writer and artist, bringing a story we all know into an exciting and different focus. The result is an electrifying read that sees just how effective an artist can be at driving home a good writer’s ideas.
— Richard Bruton