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 Comics Artists of 2021.
5. Joëlle Jones
While Wonder Woman has always been infused with images from Greek mythology, Jones’ Wonder Girl adds Brazilian mythology to the mix, introducing new characters like Caipora and Iara who aren’t as recognizable or familiar as, say, pegasuses, which have appeared in pop culture before (but are nonetheless great). Jones doesn’t stay in one place, either. There are multiple setting changes within each issue to maintain interest. If Future World: Wonder Woman saw Yara go to hell in full costume, Wonder Girl shows that Yara is just as comfortable in modern times, wearing a cropped hoodie and sweatpants. That versatility is what makes Jones’ art exciting.
— Rachel Bellwoar
4. Shane Connery Volk
Mad Cave Studios’ 2019 Talent Search turned up Shane Connery Volk as one of the winning artists. In March 2021, Volk teamed up with fellow Talent Search winner David Hazan to bring us Nottingham.
Volk’s highly stylized, slightly caricatured style works ridiculously well for the period horror/noir. Deep lines and texture in his faces show emotion (chiefly pain and anger) clearly. Cobbled streets and thatched roofs are insanely detailed, providing a beautiful backdrop for a shocking amount of violence and gore. Beautifully demented, in all the right ways.
— Brendan M. Allen
3. Sophie Campbell
Every issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sophie Campbell shows her love of the Turtles, their allies & foes, and their world through her writing. We get to see it in her art as well, every other arc or so. Campbell has just such a gorgeous, detailed style that resonates with waves of emotional energy. Each image has weight and depth to it, making it feel real. The love is there through each panel. Another type of energy permeates the well-choreographed action sequences creating what can easily be described as a ‘brutal ballet’ of sorts. Hopefully more Campbell drawn arcs are on the way in 2022.
— Scott Redmond
2. Germán García
It would be easy to make Ka-Zar someone to ogle at. He’s got super muscles, spends most (if not all) of Ka-Zar: Lord of the Savage Land shirtless, and yet what stands out about García’s Ka-Zar is how tired he looks. There’s a shagginess and weariness to the character as drawn by García that’s more Jeff Bridges than Brendan Fraser in George of the Jungle. And while he’s as strong as ever, he’s also older and a dad — and not macho in the slightest. There’s nothing better, for example, than watching a dinosaur get taken out by Ka-Zar’s son’s flower powers in issue one (and while there’s probably a more technical term than “flower powers,” that’s the visual story García tells).
— Rachel Bellwoar
1. Dan Mora
Dan Mora’s artwork on Once and Future has been nothing short of extraordinary. His Heavy Metal horror fantasy take on King Arthur and his knights evokes beautiful, nightmare imagery. Rotting corpse warriors, ferocious beasts, and neon-powered magic weapons are all unique and awe-inspiring. Mora utilizes the best of Japanese and American comic traditions to deliver bold iconic characters who come alive with subjective-motion and speed lines. Any other comic would collapse under its own imaginative weight. Yet no matter how absurd or anachronistic the imagery is, Mora is able to blend various mythologies and genres into a cohesive whole. It’s this ability not only to deliver great looking artwork, but artwork that reinforces the themes of the story that make Mora one of the best artists of the year.
— Tito James