Welcome to Comicon.com’s Best of the Year Awards, gathering the best comics and comics talent of the strange year that was 2021. 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: Oliver MacNamee, Brendan M. Allen, Rachel Bellwoar, Scott Redmond, Benjamin Hall, Tito James, Tony Thornley, and Richard Bruton.
The following are Comicon’s 5 Best Original Graphic Novels of 2021.
5. MADI: Once Upon A Time In The Future, published by Z2 Comics; written by Duncan Jones and Alex de Campi, art by Glenn Fabry, Simon Bisley, Duncan Fegredo and Pia Guerra
What started with the film Moon and continued with another film, Mute, gets a concluding and tenuously-linked chapter in MADI: Once Upon A Time In The Future. A huge crowdfunding success for filmmaker Duncan Jones and writer Alex De Campi, this graphic novel is a fast-paced sci-fi action story set in the grubbier recesses of Jones’ “Mooniverse” as best exemplified in Mute. Don’t expect to find any heroes here, but rather a cybernetically enhanced anti-hero in Madi.
A thinly-veiled critic on contemporary capitalist society, it’s a book that reads as a virtual who’s who of the comic book industry’s greatest artists with contributions from Glenn Fabry, Dylan Teague, Simon Bisley, Christian Ward and so many more. One part 2000 AD and another part Metal Hurlant.
— Olly MacNamee
4. Scotland Bound, Charlie Brown, published by KaBoom!; written by Jason Cooper (based on storyboards by Charles M. Schulz and Bill Melendez), drawn by Robert Pope, colored by Hannah White with color assists by Jewel Jackson, lettered by Donna Almendrala and Bryan Stone
A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown are two of the finest holiday specials of all time. That being said, both come down hard on good ol’ Charlie Brown. It’s traditional. Charlie is the guy who doesn’t have much luck, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Originally, Scotland Bound, Charlie Brown was supposed to be an animated special called Will Ye No Come Back Again, Charlie Brown by Peanuts creator Charles Schulz and animator Bill Melendez. What’s cool about this release by KaBoom! is it includes some of their storyboards in the backmatter, so there’s a chance to see how Cooper and Pope made their own mark on the story. It’s not that Charlie Brown catches a break in their adaptation, but that he’s given a chance to show confidence, and that’s not a side of Charlie Brown that’s seen often enough.
— Rachel Bellwoar
3. Monsters, published by Fantagraphics; written, drawn, and lettered by Barry Windsor-Smith
Barry Windsor-Smith is a true modern master of the form and so his graphic novel, Monsters — decades in the making — was always going to be met with much applause. It’s a book that spans the ages, opening with disturbing scenes of post-war domestic abuse and moving towards the less realistic scenes of human experimentation and body horror that creates the eponymous monster of the book’s title. Of course, more than one monster is revealed over the 366-page saga. A truly mammoth effort that mixes the all-too-real with science fiction to create a gripping modern masterpiece. Hopefully this won’t be the last we see of Barry Windsor-Smith. I just hope we don’t have to wait another thirty-seven years.
— Olly MacNamee
2. The Knights of Heliopolis, published by Titan Comics; written by Alejandro Jodorowsky, drawn by Jérémy, and lettered by xxx
Knights of Heliopolis is Alejandro Jodorowsky and Jérémy’s radical reinterpretation of The Man in the Iron Mask. Jodorowsky has brought Alexandre Dumas’ world of swashbuckling heroes into his own alternate dimension of esoteric science fantasy. Jérémy’s lush illustrations add a level of grounded reality that only helps to accentuate the fantastic elements. The story explores gender identity, spirituality, and human nature, all while delivering a gripping period drama filled with lust, murder, and treachery. The Metabarons writer has created and refined his own private universe of literature, mythology, and life experience and this private Jodo-versian mythos blends into the works and creates something as unique as the worlds of H.P. Lovecraft. Transgressive, poignant, and fearless, Knights of Heliopolis is one of those rare stories that blows the lid off of what’s possible in comics. The end result is a tale that is sure to last as long as the classic that inspired it.
— Tito James
1. Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done?, published by Albatross Funnybooks; written by Harold Schechter, drawn and lettered by Eric Powell
Within the pages of Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done? Harold Schechter and Eric Powell accomplish the gargantuan task of humanizing the perpetrator of inhumane acts. This look into the tortured psyche of Ed Gein only intensifies the grotesque horror of his mutilation and necrophilia. Even with such impressive works as The Goon and Hillbilly under his belt, Powell appears to be doing the artwork of his career. The macabre sensibilities of EC Comics are blended perfectly with a gothic noir aesthetic that adds a pulpy, vintage appeal to the horror story. The crimes of Ed Gein were so horrific that they inspired an unholy trinity of horror icons: Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Silence of The Lambs. What Schechter and Powell have accomplished with their graphic novel should also enter the realm of horror classics.
— Tito James