Thursday, 26 December 2013

The Best Comics Of 2013, Or So I 'd Argue (Part 1 of 2)

What follows is the first of two lists of my favourite comics of the year. Not "The Best", of course, but the comics that have mattered the most to me. The choices are ranked in no particular order. Each of them has made 2013 a better place to be, and my hat is off to all concerned in gratitude and appreciation.

The Man Who Laughs, by David Hine & Mark Stafford (SelfMadeHero)
The Phoenix, by a talented cast of thousands (David Fickling Books)
"Savior", by Rob Williams & Chris Weston, from Adventures Of Superman #4 (DC Comics)
The Doctor Who Special, by Paul Cornell & Jimmy Broxton (IDW)
part 1 of 2, from Incidental Comics, by Grant Snider (Here)
Astrodog, by Paul Harrison-Davies (Here)
Verity Fair: Custard Creams, by Terry Wiley (Panel Nine, here)
Cowboys & Insects, by David Hine & Shaky Kane (At Aces Weekly, here)
Mars Attacks Judge Dredd, by Al Ewing & John McCrea (IDW)
Arsecancer, by Gordon Robertson & Cuttlefish (here)

The second half of this post will appear - for whatever it may be worth - on New Year's Day. Until then, please do feel free to let me know what your own favourite comics of the year have been. I'd love to know ...



  1. Thank you for your list, Colin, although it stirs in me some measure of jealousy. I need to find the Phoenix! I have loved Jamie Smart's work wherever I've found it, and it looks as though the other contributors are also good, based on your recent review. I'll have to track a few others down as well.
    I suspect you'll have Young Avengers in your part 2 of your list. I've enjoyed that series throughout, and was sad to hear it would soon be ending. I'll also guess Mind MGMT will also be in the next post - at least it would be in mine!
    However, probably my favorite (US spelling) new comic of the year was Sex Criminals. I didn't expect to read it, and only started once I read some reviews. It is much more inventive and involving than the title might suggest. I think Fraction is hit or miss, but this is a book very much worth reading and enjoying, if you're not doing so already. (Perhaps this is also in part 2?)
    I also enjoyed this year's issue of Optic Nerve, as I always do. More Tomine is always a highlight to me.
    I'm continuing to enjoy Rachel Rising, and saw that Terry Moore is concerned about flagging sales. I hope the Twitter push to save the book ultimately is successful, as I'm very curious to see where the story ends...
    Have a fantastic holiday season, Colin. Be well, and also prolific, in the new year!

  2. Hello Brian:- The Phoenix is even relatively hard to find in Britain, being that it only appears in certain supermarkets and comic shops. But for anyone who's up for sampling it, its iPad edition is here; I find it's best enjoyed with a few successive weeks of issues, because that really brings home how high the quality of the comic is. I wish it had been around when I was a growing up, and I'm glad it's around now that I have.

    I couldn't of course say what's on the second part of this list,. State secrets and all that. But at least one of your suppositions has, I assure you, been absolutely correct.

    Thank you for suggesting your favourite comics. Sex Criminals is a book I've enjoyed, but haven't entirely taken to my heart. However, it's smart and inventive and I'm glad it's out there. Optic Nerve I shamefully know all too little of. I shall go and try and amend that ignorance immediately.

    I regret hearing that Mr Moore is concerned about sales on Rachel Rising. I was pleased to mention the book when I was doing the Q column, and have recently been reminded of RR's virtues due to the extract which appeared in The Best Comics Of 2013. I'd certainly regret not seeing how it all ends up!

    I hope you too have a terrific holiday. My very best to you and yours, and thank you for your kind and generous words :)

  3. That is some glorious Chris Weston art on that Superman page, isn't it? It makes me yearn for a version of the character I doubt we'll see again outside nostalgia and - bafflingly - popular culture.

    You've mentioned it on the blog before and fair play on the Phoenix making a showing in the top books of the year. Despite my fondness for 2000ad, I think the former has overtaken it in terms of satirical observation and invention, as these days I honestly can't conceive of 2000ad giving a series to a female lead who wasn't "sexy and gun-toting" or a comedy strip that wasn't just references to elements of popular culture and/or self-reverential humor. It's odd and I may be imagining it so feel free to shoot me down, but 2000ad has seemingly become very American in its old age while the Phoenix is very British - long may it continue!

    1. Hello Mr B:- Chris Weston's art is typically splendid on Superman: Savoir. To point out one tiny and yet tellingly effective detail, his verson of the Kent's farm is the first I can remember that has chickens running underfoot. Of course, it would be a brilliantly executed story without those chickens! But the addition of such appropriate details just makes a fine, fine job all the better.

      I couldn't argue with you about ether The Phoenix or its relationship to 2000AD. Though I'm not in any way suggesting that the latter isn't stll a fine comic, it has had a year that's seen it stray from feeling either particularly British or satirical. The comic all too often lacks bite and it seems to be disconnected with a sense of the present day. It's become a compilation of science fiction strips, and they're often excellent. But much of what makes 2000AD "2000AD" seems all-too-often missing. By contrast - and here you're right - The Phoenix consistently feels British, contemporary and ethically purposeful.

    2. Also, subscription copies of the Phoenix come in envelopes that sparkle when you open them. That's certainly an advantage it has over many of its contemporaries!

    3. Hello Neil:- I've been holidng off subscribing to The Phoenix simply because I want to be buying it at my local supermarket and helping to keep it on sale there. But sparkling envelopes ... that's a hard incentive to resist :)

  4. Hi Colin! Hope you had / are having a great Christmas. I must admit I've read a pitifully small amount of new comics this year. I just can't find many that stir my imagination. Whenever I visit comic shops I seem to be surrounded by vast quantities of gurning, grim 'n' gritty "super heroes" and not a lot else. Your wonderful blog, of course, has often pointed the way to more interesting fare but it often seems hard to find :-(

    Anyway, I did enjoy the Matt Fraction / Michael Allred / Laura Allred FF - lots of retro fun. I've also got a lot of time for The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys by Gerard Way, Shaun Simon and Becky Cloonan. I can almost hear My Chemical Romance playing in the background as I read Way's dialogue, and Cloonan's artwork is suitably dark and apocalyptic.

    ( Good to see Grant Snider in your list - his is a really interesting slant on pop culture. And, despite myself, I couldn't help laughing at "Playing The Cancer Card" - almost played that card a couple of times myself... but refrained :-) "It's not all bad you know." )

    1. Hello cerebus660:- I've had a lovely Christmas, thank you, and I hope that the season has been kind to you and yours too :) Thank you for the generous words about the blog. 2013 has been a year in which I've become similarly alienated by the super-book. Beyond it, it's been a terrific year for comics. I wish I had had the funds to explore things further. With the passing of the Q column went the disposable income to check out a great deal of what's out there, and I of course let the splendid publishers who were kindly sending review copies know that the column was ending. As such, I've been keenly trying to keep up, but I know I've missed so much. Never mind, there's been a great deal to cheer in what I have read.

      Thank you for your own choices. I agree entirely about FF. It's been lots of fun, though I wish the plotting had been a touch tighter. I've not read The Fabulous Killjoys, but I'll go seek an affordable copy straight away. I similarly agree about Mr Snider's fine work.

      Finally, your comment about Playing The Cancer Card is probably the highest compliment that might be paid the strip.

      All the best to you::)

  5. I'm here to say thank you for a great post, ashamed of how few entries I've read. But of the ones I have, the one I read today was utterly charming.

    1. Hello Martin:- Would that be the Doctor Who Special?

      Do tell :)

      And are you doing a best-of-2013 at TooDangerous? I'd be fascinated to read of your favourites.

    2. It was indeed Doctor Who, as you now know, many thanks for the comment over at my blog thing.

      A best of could be fun, but I'm afraid my narrow focus May shame me!

    3. Hello Martin:- Only if best-ofs are thought of as mark of somebody's good taste rather than an interesting expression of their preferences. I don't turn away from a list of the best jazz of the year because it lacks mention of brostep or Hungarian nufolk. I couldn't care less about the breadth of your taste, but having read your blog for years, I'd love to know what you most appreciated in 2013.

      Yours sincerely, a fan, etc etc ... :)

  6. Thank you kindly for the Astrodog inclusion, much appreciated!

    1. Hello Paul:- Well, it honestly was one of the comics of the year for me. So I said so :)

      I hope the day is going well for you.