five people in comics for 2006
This isn’t really a “best of 2006,” but my aim was to introduce you to a few of the people in the comic book industry who I’ve found myself absolutely impressed with this year. If you don’t read about comics online, or don’t stop in to your local shop more than every now and again, I’m hoping you’ll check them out – each one has contributed to my continuing geek engagement with the funny books.
- This was the year that I rediscovered Rick Spears. His fantastic Teenagers from Mars was gorgeous, darkly funny and tremendously entertaining. He’s back with a brand new series, Pirates of Coney Island – it’s madcap, violent, and enjoyable. Not a seriously long read, from issue to issue, but I’ll plunk down for every one I can find at my shop.
- In the same category is Dan Hipp, whose Amazing Joy Buzzards is truly “comic” – from bizarro villians to spiritual Lucha Libre heroes, the pace is kept fast and funny. While the writing quality can fluctuate from issue to issue, I absolutely dig the visuals (there’s even a character that “speaks” entirely in icons). Hipp’s latest work, Gyukashu, looks to be a departure in tone, but still a compelling and highly anticipated book.
- I shouldn’t have to tell you to read everything Warren Ellis produces. You should just know. Fell and Nextwave, as absolutely dissimilar as they are, are two of the greatest re-examinations of genre writing to occur this year. Fell deconstructs detective stories in a format that no one else has been able to pull off in years – and every issue comes with enough extras and insight into the production of the comic to qualify as the criterion collection. Nextwave warps the “underwear perverts” (aka superhero) genre into hillarious configurations. Stop reading this, go preorder both collections.
- I sometimes think the worst thing that ever happened to Ben Templesmith was the outrageous success of 30 Days of Night. It’s the best vampire story written in the past decade, but consumer demand for more had Templesmith drawing dark, brooding toothy creatures for far too long. It’s obvious from his collaboration with Ellis on Fell and from his (wholly created by him) Wormwood that he is an enormous talent that got typecast for a bit. He’s breaking out of it, and his explorations of different genres and styles (and writing!) is fantastic stuff.
- There were plenty of Big Events in the industry this year, same as every year. The big changes they promise will be swept away in a year by different writers, watered down, retconned out. It’s part of comics. I’m hoping, however, that the biggest event in the industry this year will have some lasting effects. On her (previously annonymous) blog, Occassional Superheroine, former DC Comics editor Valerie D’Orazio wrote a multi-post “Goodbye to Comics” detailing her experience as a women in the comic book industry. If you care about comics ever mattering to anyone outside of the fanboy demographic, or if you truly want to know how bad it could possibly get for a woman working in an industry run by men to (in far too many ways) cater to male power fantasises, this is a read as engrossing as it is essential. Follow up articles on the impact of Valerie’s revelations can be found here and here.
Templesmith, Ellis, Hipp and Spears are all doing important and inspiring work. I can say without hyperbole that D’Orazio’s account of her time at DC is the most important thing to happen in comics in my memory. Each of these people have had a dramatic impact on me and on comics in 2006, and I’m happy to point you in their direction.