Welcome to the first annual Outhouse Awards. Over the past three months, three committees of Outhouse posters have painstakingly debated on twenty one categories, each with five or more nominations, to bring you a selection of comics and creators that comic book fans feel have been the best of their kind over the past year.
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If you're not sure yet, please feel free to read the nominees below, and then click on the SURVEY link here or at the bottom of the article to be taken to the voting.
Best Mainstream Series of 2009
Here are your nominees:
Green Lantern: Hal Jordan's year began with a six part origin tale that segued right into the Blackest Night event of 2009. Along the way readers were introduced to the various members of the other Lantern Corps and there was Carol Ferris' change to the brand new Star Sapphire. One of D.C.'s top sellers of 2009
Secret Six: The book that boasts Deadshot, Catman, Bane, and Scandal Savage has been a strong contender for best book since it's introduction over a year ago. Mixing dark humor and tight plotting made this one of D.C.'s best reads of the year.
Secret Warriors: It was during the Skrull Invasion, when the Marvel Universe was going to hell in a handbasket, that Nick Fury returned with a group of young heroes that he had pulled together in hopes of defeating the invasion. The team did not disband, however, and continues to fight against the tyranny of its own government. This title has been heralded by many critics as the must read book of last year.
Guardians of the Galaxy: One of last years best space books with members that include Star-Lord, Moondragon, Drax, and Rocket Racoon. The dynamic team of Abnett and Lanning have created a space opera that evolved naturally out of the events of 2008's Annihilation. Both funny and poigant, there are few books on the market with the strength that this team has.
Wonder Woman: Gail Simone has brought the third member of the D.C. Trinity out of the brinks of cancellation with new and unexpected plots. A gorilla filled cast of extras, and some emotional moments that haven't been felt since the days of Greg Rucka.
Best New Mainstream Series of 2009
Here are your nominees:
Batman: Streets of Gotham: This new series mostly focuses on the secondary characters of Gotham, like Gordon, Huntress, Oracle as well as Batman and Robin. It's grim, it's gritty. It's everything a Batman book should be. With a great back up story of Kate Spencer (Manhunter)
Dark Avengers: Right off the heels of Secret Invasion, Norman Osborne creates his own team of Avengers with old villains that now assume the uniforms and names of some classic Avengers. A well written book, even with Sentry involved.
Gotham City Sirens: Paul Dini's second Batman book that focuses mainly on Catwoman, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. That gives this book five things to buy it for each month. Great characterization and fun stories make this a fun read.
Secret Warriors: Right off the heels of Secret Invasion (didn't we use that already?) comes this new book that gives us a reason to love Nick Fury all over again. It opens with the great Fury discovering that HYDRA has always been a part of SHIELD and the title took off from there. Intense action and excellent dialogue make this a must read!
R.E.B.E.L.S.: Led by Vril Drox, this DC book centers on the space heroes and anti-heroes of the universe, including Captain Comet! D.C.'s version of Guardian's of the Galaxy (but not really), this book is hot, hot, hot and worth reading if for no other reason than loving to hate Vril Drox!
Best Multi-Issue Mainstream Story of 2009
Here are your nominees:
Invincible Iron Man: World's Most Wanted: Critically acclaimed and an Eisner winner for best new series, Matt Fraction has brought the character of Tony Stark full circle and made him the hero everyone is rooting for by having Tony sacrifice the most valuable asset he has... his mind.
Wednesday Comics: DC's weekly series that gathered much of their top writers and artists into one "Sunday Funny's" looking magazine. From Batman to The Metal Men, nearly every part of the DC Universe was touched.
Captain Britain and MI13: Vampire State: What happens when Dracula gets his way and takes over Great Britain? The country sends in its most diverse group of heroes, led by Peter Wisdom, to stop the Prince of the Undead. This story also featured vampire hunter, Blade.
Flash: Rebirth: Geoff Johns mini series that brings back Barry Allen from the speed force, only to have him realize how much time has really passed. This tale of "belonging" has Barry wondering if there is room in the world for one more Flash; and if he should have come back at all.
Blackest Night: The dead rise, both friends and foes, as the heroes of the DC Universe try and stop the evil Nekron from taking over the world with his Black Lantern and the powerful rings that have raised everyone from the original Dr. Light to Ted Kord and Jean Loring.
Best Single Issue Mainstream Story of 2009
Here are your nominees:
"Multiple Birth" – (X-Factor #39) [Peter David, Valentine Delandro]: Witness the most important event in the lives of Jaime Madrox and Siryn-the birth of their baby! What will happen to X-Factor-and what will be the meaning for mutantkind!...All we can guarantee are that the answers are not what you expect-but that's what makes it X-Factor! One of the most talked-about books of 2009!
"Riddle Me This" – (Gotham City Sirens #3) [Scott Lobdell & Guillem March]: With their uneasy alliance in place, the sirens encounter trouble in the form of the mysteriously returned Bruce Wayne. He's dazzling, he's dangerous and he's got his sights set on Harley Quinn! Has romance sparked between these two long-time enemies - or is Wayne playing a more sinister game?
“Tales of the Black Lantern” - (GL #43) [Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke, Chris Alamy]: The official prologue to BLACKEST NIGHT starts here as the first Black Lantern is born! Black Hand has been an enemy of Hal Jordan since Hal's early days as a Green Lantern. But even Black Hand is unaware of the true power he holds that will connect him to the Blackest Night! Discover this villain's connection to death and the Black Lantern Corps!
"?" - (The List: Spider-Man #1) [Dan Slott & Adam Kubert]: Norman Osborn has saved the best for last as he takes on the most personal item on his evil To-Do list. The violent tension between Spider-Man and Norman has grown for years and has been building to a boil for the last few months after Osborn's last defeat at Spidey's hands at the end of America Son. Norman can no longer put off what needs to be done.
"The Great Silence" – (Jonah Hex #50) [Justin Gray/Jimmy Palmoitti & Dwayne Cooke]: Darwyn Cooke illustrates a double-sized anniversary issue as we hit #50! Jonah Hex discovers a secret being kept by Tallulah Black that could change everything Hex is about. But happiness has no place in the life of Jonah Hex, so what kind of tragedy awaits our disfigured gunslinger?
Best Mainstream Colorist of 2009
Here are your nominees:
Laura Martin - (Black Lightning Y1, Thor, Question): Juxtaposing warm and cool, Martin’s colors have brought life to such works as Ultimates, Astonishing X-Men, Planetary, and Secret Invasion. Currently, her rich gradients enjoy popularity at both Marvel and DC.
Randy Mayor - (GL, GLC, GL: Tales BN): Helping kick off DC’s Blackest Night, Mayor’s colors jump off the page with strong hues that pop with sharp highlights. His strong lighting work has found a fitting home in the Green Lantern family of books.
Alex Sinclair - (Flash Rebirth, Blackest Night, B&R): A favorite of Jim Lee, working alongside the artist on such titles as WildCATs, All Star Batman and Robin, Superman, and Batman: Hush, Sinclair’s bright, chunky colors serve the larger-than-life characters well. Sinclair’s colors have recently been utilized in the rebirth of the Flash and the retro-rejuvenation of Batman and Robin.
Dave Stewart - (Detective): The best part of the t.v. series Heroes, for comics fans at least, is arguably Tim Sale's artwork, but without colorist Dave Stewart's mood enthused hues, what works best in the comic books would not necessarily be right for the television medium. Dave Stewart's colors allow for a symphonic presence no matter what medium he graces with his brush. Stewart’s painterly colors have usually found their way into darker, more surreal works, although his collaboration with Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III helped bring Batwoman into the light.
Christina Strain - (Runaways, Dark Avengers, U X-Men: Exodus): The soft, colorful shading of Runaways and the dreamy watercolors of Spider-Man Fairy Tales mark Strain as an artist with versatility. Strain’s colors recently helped facilitate the X-Men’s exodus from Norman Osborn’s Dark Reign.
Best Mainstream Artist/Art Team of 2009
Here are your nominees:
Ivan Reis: One of 2009's go to artists for D.C., Ivan not only amazed readers with his striking work in Green Lantern but also showed us some scary looking undead heroes and villains in last years major event - Blackest Night.
Karl Kerschl: Eisner nominated artist for Best Digital Comics in 2008; Karl's work this year was prominent in both D.C.'s Wednesday Comics as well as The Flash. The fact that he's Canadian is just a plus!
Stuart Immonen: Our second Canadian to make this list, Stuart has spent most of this last year doing some stunning work in New Avengers, showing a style all his own while making sure each Avenger shines in their own special way.
Skottie Young: Skottie has one of the most unique styles seen in the last decade. In 2009 he wowed many a fanboy by drawing the well received Marvel adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the follow up The Marvelous Land of Oz.
Dale Eaglesham: This legendary artist makes our list with his outstanding work in both Marvel's Fantastic Four and D.C.'s Justice Society of America. A strong contender in this category of brilliant artists. And he's Canadian too!
Best Mainstream Writer of 2009
Here are your nominees:
Brian Bendis - (Dark Avengers, New Avengers, UCSM): Following the events of the mega-successful Marvel event book, Secret Invasion, Bendis continued to be one of the main architects of the Marvel universe. Bendis began 2009 with the launch of a new series, Dark Avengers that saw Ellis’ Thunderbolts graduate to the big time and assume the identities of some of Marvel’s most beloved heroes. 2009 also saw the relaunch of Ultimate Spider-Man under the new banner of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Bendis reuniting with Daredevil partner in crime Alex Maleev on a new Spider-Woman series, and the return of cult-favorite book, Powers with Michael Avon Oeming. As a new way of marketing their books, Marvel preceded the release of Spider-Woman with a motion comic. Bendis is sure to continue to dominate comic book discussions as he draws on the past 7 years of Marvel stories with Marvel’s next big event, Siege.
Paul Dini - (Detective, Batman: Sirens, Batman: Streets): Paul Dini has continued to build on the work he did in the popular Batman: the Animated Series as the writer of the Bat-family, Batman Reborn, relaunch books, Batman: Streets of Gotham and Gotham City Sirens. Dini is known for those little touches that define a character. He took one-note villain, Hush, and wove him deeper into the Bat-mythos in a way that has been very popular with fans. Dini has also elevated theme villain the Riddler into a worthy adversary for Batman and spotlighted less popular villains such as Firefly and Zsasz. With Gotham City Sirens, Dini brought together Gotham’s most famed female characters, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, and Harley Quinn in a title that blends humor with big action. With Bruce Wayne’s return in 2010, Dini will continue to craft fan favorite stories with a character he’s been attached to for nearly two decades.
Matt Fraction - (Iron Man, Uncanny X-Men): 2009 was Matt Fraction’s year. Well known for popular indie books like Casanova from Image and a critically lauded relaunch of Iron Fist with Ed Brubaker. Fraction graduated to the major leagues with an Eisner winning run on Invincible Iron Man and continued success in making Uncanny X-Men his own. From putting Iron Man through his paces in Most Wanted, to the best selling Exodus crossover between Dark Avengers and Uncanny X-Men, Fraction has become one of the prime shapers of the Marvel Universe. With Iron Man 2 coming in May, and the possibility of a new Casanova series, 2010 may see even bigger moves by Fraction.
Geoff Johns - (Green Lantern, JSA, Blackest Night, Action, Flash Rebirth, L3W): Geoff Johns has been inescapable in 2009. Teamed with popular artist Ethan Van Scriver, Johns brought back Barry Allen in the pages of Flash Rebirth, with legendary artist George Perez, he brought back fan favorite characters Bart Allen and Con El in Legion of 3 Worlds, he continued to make Green Lantern a top ten book as he ramped up to DC’s big event, Blackest Night. Not only did the dead rise in one of the most talked about books of the year, but so did DC’s dominance of the top ten. Johns balanced jaw dropping, earth shattering books with a character centered retelling of Superman’s early career in Superman: Secret Origin. 2010 will see the conclusion of Blackest Night lead into a new bi-weekly series from Johns that is sure to keep fanboys talking, Brightest Day.
Grant Morrison - (Batman and Robin): After concluding the award winning All Star Superman, spearheading DC’s big event of 2008 in Final Crisis and killing off Batman, 2009 was a quieter year for legendary creator Grant Morrison. With frequent collaborator, Frank Quitely, Morrison wrote one of the key books of the Bat-family relaunch in Batman and Robin. Morrison also gave us another dose of the wondrous and weird in the second volume of Seaguy, Slaves of Mickey Eye. 2010 will see Morrison step into the spotlight again with the anticipated Return of Bruce Wayne, and new creator-owned projects from Vertigo, such as Joe the Barbarian.
Best Indie Graphic Novel of 2009
Here are your nominees:
Richard Stark's Parker Book One: The Hunter by Darwyn Cooke: Darwyn Cooke is a fan favorite artist there is no doubt about that. Give him a story full of crime, double crosses and femme fatales and he becomes a shoe in for this category. The Hunter is as sexy as any comic can get (without being porn), being based on one of the all time great crime series is just icing on the cake.
Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli: Mazzuchelli returned to the comic world with a tour de force of a graphic novel. Clever and compelling, it may have done it’s job too well making the eponymous character a little too unlikeable. Isn’t that what great writing is supposed to do? There is no denying that this book is complex and clever and will change the way comics are written for some time to come.
Luna Park by Kevin Baker and Danijel Zezelj: Kevin Baker is an acclaimed novelist, Danijel Zezelj is an acclaimed comics artist. Together the two create a haunting blend of history, crime, time travel and doomed romance. It is a deeply poetic work that will resonate with the reader in ways that they never imagined. It is unlike anything anyone has seen since Coney Island was the place to be.
A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi: In the sixties and the seventies, Tatsumi revolutionized Manga. He made it a realm for more mature readers. Here he chronicles his formative years in the industry. It is a revealing look at the creative process, the life of one of comics all time great talents, and at the same time, an interesting look into the history of the medium and possibly a cautionary tale to our own precious western comics.
The Complete Essex County by Jeff Lemire: Although this is a collection of earlier work, the mark Lemire has made on comics is undeniable and this edition has been many readers introduction to his genius. When Darwyn Cooke steps out of his comfort zone to introduce a more literary comics work, you know that you are in for a special read. The family saga here is one for the ages and will melt even the hardest hearts.
I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and JM Kim Niimura: This story of friendship and the worlds we create to defend (and to defend our egos) is one of Joe Kelly’s many great current works. With art by Nimura, it will resonate with anyone who has played D&D or felt like an outcast. The only thing left to wonder about, is what is truth and what is fiction?
Best New Indie Series of 2009
Here are your nominees:
Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire: Written and drawn by indie favorite Jeff Lemire, Sweet Tooth is the story of Gus, a boy born with antlers, raised in isolation and living in a post apocalyptic world where he meets a mysterious man named Jepperd who promises to bring Gus to a place called The Preserve, where other human/animal hybrid children are protected.
Stumptown by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth: The superstar writer of Whiteout and Detective Comics Greg Rucka in what he calls his "love letter to The Rockford Files" tells the story of Dex, a flawed and somewhat talented Private Detective who is given the chance to rid herself of a massive debt to a casino by taking on a case of a missing girl which could have her end up a much different deeper hole.
Incognito by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips: The acclaimed duo behind Sleeper and Criminal, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillps take you into a pulpy noir-ish world of a super villain named Zack Overkill who is hidden away in witness protection and is forced to live within the rules. To escape the boredom of his "normal" life, Zack becomes a vigilante instead of villain to avoid being arrested but his past will eventually catch up with him and both the good guys and the bad guys will be after him.
Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory: One of the most recently critically acclaimed and fan favorite niche books on the market. Filled with a ton of disturbing dark humor and wacky art of a detective with a strange ability to get clues and memories of whatever he eats... including body parts. A continually selling out series by John Layman and Rob Guillory.
The Unwritten by Mike Carey and Peter Gross: The critically acclaimed team of Vertigo's Lucifer teams up again to bring us another topnotch series by the name of The Unwritten. Following a young man being sucked into a mysterious life style of magic against his will, fans have been enjoying each issue of suspense, magic, 3D popping characters, great art, and the edge of your seat ponder of what the heck is going to happen next.
Best Indie Crime/Suspense Series of 2009
Here are your nominees:
Criminal by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips: This year Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips put out only three issues of Criminal. Even so, these three issues have already developed a story that promises to be maybe the best arc of the series. CRIMINAL: THE SINNERS features the return of the much-loved character Tracy Lawless, who in a previous arc had gone AWOL from the U.S. Special Forces to solve and avenge his brother’s murder. Now, a year later, Tracy works as a mob hitman who desperately wants to escape this life of crime and start somewhere fresh. When several local crime bosses are mysteriously executed, Tracy is ordered to find out who’s behind all the killings. If he can solve the case quickly, he’s told that he can be free of the mob for good. But if he can’t get the job done, well, let’s just say failure isn’t tolerated.
Scalped by Jason Aaron, R.M. Guerra and Various: Scalped writer Jason Aaron pushes all his characters well past the brink in this year’s arcs. Chief Red Crow crosses his mob allies. Dashiell Bad Horse betrays the FBI. Carol Red Crow backstabs Dashiell. And what follows is a shit storm that dirties everyone and leaves few survivors. Maybe the biggest strength of Scalped is its unpredictability. With some plot developments, Aaron draws things out and makes you wait months or longer to see even a hint of a resolution. But with other storylines, he wraps things up with sudden, unexpected violence. Because of this unpredictability, you never know when a character is going to be a major player or a fast casualty. You never know who matters and who doesn't. Little wonder this is one of the most fun books to read month after month.
Underground by Jeff Parker and Steve Lieber: Jeff Parker and Steve Lieber’s Underground is an unusual crime comic. It’s not particularly gritty or violent. It doesn’t feature a femme fatale or the other typical stock characters that populate crime stories. And it doesn’t take place in a dirty urban environment. Instead, it’s about park rangers who are being pursued in underground tunnels and caverns by a group of thugs reluctant to commit murder. This should not be a suspenseful book. The bad guys are not menacing. The good guys are not particularly dynamic. And yet this comic is fun, action packed, and highly atmospheric. Those tunnels make for a very creepy setting.
Unknown Soldier by Joshua Dysart and Alberto Ponticelli: Aside from the bandaged face, Vertigo’s Unknown Soldier is nothing like the Joe Kubert, 1970s-era Unknown Soldier. Writer Joshua Dysart and artist Alberto Ponticelli have created a much more complex character that operates in a very murky moral landscape. This new Unknown Soldier doesn’t face evil Nazis on the battlefield, but instead child soldiers who have been forced and brainwashed into fighting. How do you battle children who are as much victims as they are monsters? This is one of the central questions that Dysart and Ponticelli tackle. No comic deals with tough moral issues with as much intelligence as the Unknown Soldier does. This is a smart book -- and a thrilling pulp ride -- that everyone should be reading.
Young Liars by David Lapham: David Lapham’s book is really, really weird. And really, really good. Too bad the series ended in 2009, with issue 18. But let’s be honest: a book that at times makes David Lynch movies seem conventional was never going to last too long. If you haven’t been reading this book, pick it up in trades. Now. The fucked-up ranting of Danny Duoshade in issue 18 provides a perfectly twisted conclusion to a relentlessly original crime book. The demented characters in Young Liars make the lowlifes in most other crime books seem like pathetic little pantywaists.
Best Indie Horror/Fantasy Series of 2009
Here are your nominees:
Mouse Guard by David Peterson: For two years David Peterson has brought us the adventures of the mice commissioned by Lockhaven to protect the Mouse Territories. It is high sword swashing adventure and one of the most beautiful books on the stands. Best of all, it is a true all ages book to delight fans from 8 to 80.
The Stuff of Legend by Mike Raicht, Brian Smith and Charles Paul Wilson III: Wow, only two books in and on the horror/fantasy ballot instead of the new series one. That is a testament to the edginess of this "Toy Story" for adults. Set on a World War Two homefront, this haunting tale is achingly beautiful and one to watch as it commands readers attention.
Hellblazer by Peter Milligan and Various: Hellblazer is now under the pen of the strange and mighty Peter Milligan who has been seeping more psychological horror into this book and has immediately filled the life of John Constantine with much dread and hardship as the hard boiled bastard has found a new love in his life... oh, this may not end well.
Proof by Alex Grecian and Riley Rossmo: The surprise hit from Image Comics, Proof is a series created by Alex Grecian and Riley Rossmo about Bigfoot as a secret agent in search of other cryptids. Packed with great story-telling and believable characters on each page, Proof is a welcome addition to the comic shelves and doesn't seem to stopping any time soon.
The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard: Month after month the masterful team of Kirkman and Adlard continue to push the ante of great character development of a cast of survivors making their way through America while struggling against flesh eating zombies... and each other. Just how far will this series go in top notch story-telling and shock? Each issue answers the question.
Best Indie Fiction/Literature Series of 2009
Here are your nominees:
The Boys by Garth Ennis, Darick Robertson and Various: Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s The Boys just got bloodier and raunchier in 2009. Working on the premise that just because someone has super powers doesn’t make them any less of a douche-bag, the series parodies superhero comics and takes on many of its biggest icons. It’s down to the Boys: the Butcher, Mother’s Milk, Frenchie, the Female, and Wee Hughie to watch over these super-powered individuals, and if they step out of line, smack them back down. This year saw the Butcher’s machinations against the superhero sponsoring corporation Vought-American deepen, Hughie going undercover into a perverse parody of the X-Men, the team survive an all-out attack by super-team Payback, and the series first spin-off in the Herogasm mini series. The series is just a little bit over the halfway mark, and readers can only expect the book to further dial up the over the top violence and sexuality.
Comic Book Comics by Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey: Van Lente and Dunlavey delivered a no-brainer: a history of comic books told in comic book form. Mixing Van Lente’s humor with Dunlavey’s cartoony pencils, the series has looked at the dawn of comics, from newspaper strips and pulp magazines to the launch of Superman, the birth of independent comics, the Golden Age of comics, the WWII service of comic creators and more. Using first hand accounts, Comic Book Comics is a must-read for anyone interested in comics.
Invincible by Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley and Corey Walker: Image’s biggest super-teen book ramped up the stakes for their young hero, Mark Grayson. In an epic and bloody fight that lasted four issues, Invincible fought off the invading Viltrumite called Conquest but not without consequence. Although the action was bigger than ever, Kirkman, Ottley, and Walker continued to deliver the rich subplots and character driven drama Invincible has been renown for.
Northlanders by Brian Wood and Various: Brian Wood’s Vertigo series is an adult Viking saga set around actual historic events. Mixing noir elements with frank depictions of violence and tragedy, with its large, ensemble cast, Northlanders explores the clash of cultures in a fresh way that makes the events feel relevant to the world today instead of having already occurred thousands of years ago.
Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka by Naoki Urasawa: Published by Viz Media, Naoki Urasawa’s Pluto is a dark, suspenseful murder mystery based on legendary manga creator Tezuka Osama’s Astro Boy story-line, “The Greatest Robot on Earth”. The story stars Gesicht, a Europol robot detective as he investigates a bizarre series of robot and human murders. The series includes reinterpretations of many favorite characters from the Astro Boy universe, such as the young, Japanese robot named Atom. The manga is a compelling, atmospheric exploration of self-identity, the consequences of war, the what it truly means to be human.
Best Indie Writer of 2009
Here are your nominees:
Ed Brubaker (Criminal: The Sinners, Incognito): Brubaker continued to deliver tense, noir drenched tales of unlucky bastards. With longtime collaborator, Sean Phillips, Brubaker took a break from the successful Criminal to give us Incognito, also from Marvel’s creator-owned imprint, Icon. Incognito is the story of an ex-supervillain in witness protection, forced to take de-powering drugs, learning his powers return when he takes illicit substances. To escape the mundanity of his assumed life, he decides to give superheroing a crack, with unforeseen consequences leading to a startling revelation about his origin. Brubaker also returned to the critically acclaimed Criminal, with The Sinners, which sees the return of former special forces, now mobbed-up hitman, Tracy Lawless.
Garth Ennis (The Boys, Battlefields): Dynamite Entertainment’s The Boys continued to depants superhero culture with a raunchy mix of sexual perversity and hyper violence. Ennis stated his goal with The Boys was to “out-Preacher Preacher’ with its offensiveness, and every month with artist Darick Robertson, Ennis has delivered on that promise. Ennis had continued success with Battlefields, also from Dynamite, that delivered emotional, character driven plots set in different theaters of armed conflict, a tradition he’d begun with his critically acclaimed War Stories over at Vertigo.
Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth, Essex County, The Nobody): Small press indie cartoonist, Jeff Lemire hit the big time this year with Vertigo’s Sweet Tooth and the critically lauded Collected Essex County. In his first Vertigo series, Sweet Tooth, Lemire introduced Gus, the antlered human/animal hybrid who finds himself on his own in a bizarre world that’s been ravaged by an unstoppable pandemic. The series is a haunting mix of horror and humor in the George Saunders’ vein. The Complete Essex County, published by Top Shelf, follows the lives of an imaginary Ontario County, a community with it’s tragic secrets and family conflicts. In 2009, Lemire also published an original graphic novel, The Nobody, a homage to H.G. Wells’ Invisible Man.
Joe Kelly (Bad Dog, Four Eyes, I Kill Giants): Joe Kelly was on fire this year, with one creator owned project after the other coming out from Image comics. There was the hard drinking werewolf and foul mouthed ex preacher bounty hunters from Bad Dog. The bittersweet, coming of age story of a young girl who imagines herself the hero of fantastical world who loses sight of what is real, and what is imaginary in I Kill Giants, and Four Eyes, a revenge tale told in depression era Brooklyn where dragons are used in underground, illegal fights. All very different, high concept books that mash-up genres in a style easily identified as Kelly’s.
Joshua Dysart (Unknown Soldier, B.P.R.D.: 1947): Eisner award nominee, Joshua Dysart, continued to explore the dark, violent spark of violence at the heart of humanity in writing steeped in realism and set in real world conflicts. In Vertigo’s Unknown Soldier, Dysart brought Joe Kubert’s creation to the war-torn country of Uganda, a story where it’s hard to find traditional bad guys, because they’re brainwashed children who’ll machete off your head. Dysart spent a month in Uganda doing research, and his first hand experiences inform the book. Dysart also teamed up with Hellboy creator, Mike Mignola, to release B.R.P.D: 1947 from Dark Horse with acclaimed artists Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon. B.R.P.D.: 1947 explores the secret history of the occult investigation unit during WWII.
Best Indie Artist/Art Team of 2009
Here are your nominees:
David Mazzucchelli (Asterios Polyp): Coming back to comics with your first ever graphic novel is a pretty bold mood. Doing one that is so smart, even bolder. Mazz is meticulous here, creating a book where everything right down to its dust jacket design holds a great meaning.
JM Ken Niimura (I Kill Giants): Quirky and expressive. Niimura transcends traditional manga styling and brings Kelly's story of a misfit girl and her possible fantasy world to life. He captures the wonder and awkwardness of childhood with perfection.
Riley Rossmo (Proof, Cowboy Ninja Viking): Chunky and consistent. Always fluid and action packed. A Rossmo comic looks like it is animated on a flat page. He handles the fantastic like the Spring Heel Jack and the absurd (a secret agent with three personalities) with ease.
Rob Guillory (Chew): Chew is a demented comic all the way around, but the cartoon stylings of Guillory make it much more palatable. From barfs to eating rotting fingers, this books taxes the stomach. It also produced one of the most stunning two page splashes ever seen.
Sean Phillips and Val Staples (Criminal: The Sinners, Incognito): Quite simply the standard that every crime comic strives towards. Phillips and Staples take the reader into the underbelly and it never looked so dark or so good.
Favorite Creative Team of 2009
Here are your nominees:
Kirkman/Walker (Invincible, Destroyer): Our first nominees are the co-creators of Image comics’ acclaimed superhero teen book, Invincible. Walker penciled only the first 7 issues before moving on to other projects, but has returned to the fan favorite title to provide covers, pinups and interiors throughout its run. Kirkman and Walker also teamed up this year to resurrect a Golden Age Timely Comics’ character for the 5 issue Destroyer mini series under Marvel’s Max imprint. They approached the mini as if the character had a series continuously published since the 1940s and their story came as the character learned of his impending death due to waning ticker. Apropos a series who’s lead is named Destroyer, the book was chock full of gore and violence as the hero uses his last days to kill off the enemies he’s gained over the course of his long career.
Pak/Van Lente (Incredible Hercules): Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente took popular second stringer Hercules to new heights this year. Taking over Incredible Hulk’s numbering following the events of World War Hulk, the Olympian demigod is paired with boy-genius Amadeus Cho. The creators bring a potent mix of humor and over the top action to the title, as the heroes led a team of Marvel Universe deities against Skrull gods during Secret Invasion, fought off the reality warping machinations of Amazons, descended into Hades to find Zeus, and led a new team of Avengers to storm Hera’s New Olympus.
Fraction/Larroca (Iron Man): On the heels of the mega blockbuster film, Iron Man, Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca launched the Eisner winning new monthly, Invincible Iron Man. The book has seen Iron Man go from the leader of Shield and the superhero community, to a man on the run following his fall of grace during Marvel’s Secret Invasion. Fraction and Larroca cranked the tension month after month, as futurist Tony Stark launched his final gambit against Norman Osborn, purposely inflicting brain damage on himself to protect the identities of his superhero brethren in the World’s Most Wanted mega-arc. These events led to the moment fanboys have been eagerly awaiting for years, the reunion of the Avenger’s big three, as the recently resurrected Thor and Captain America reunited to save Stark, leading into the events of Marvel’s next crossover event, Siege.
Abnett/Lanning (War of Kings, Nova, Guardians, Ascension, Realm of Kings, Authority): The fan favorite pairing of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning continued to reach new creative milestones in 2009. Building on the buzz generated by their collaborations on numerous 2000 AD titles and DC’s relaunch of Legion of Super-Heroes, Abnett and Lanning helmed The Authority during the World’s End relaunch of the Wild Storm universe, and were central to the resurgence of the cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe with books like Nova, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the event book, War of Kings. Abnett and Lanning continue to be Marvel’s go-to team for all things Marvel Cosmic with their alchemic mixture of character driven, emotional moments and big, ‘oh sh*#’ shockers, a tradition they continue with Realm of Kings.
Morrison/Quitely (All Star Superman, Batman and Robin): The critically acclaimed and Eisner award winning team of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely continued to be at the top of their game in 2009. Having generated an intense following with their work on Flex Mentallo, JLA: Earth 2, New X-Men, We3, and other projects, Morrison and Quitely created their definitive Superman story in All Star Superman. Following the decisive events of Batman RIP, the controversial writer and artist launched the best selling Batman and Robin, starring Dick Grayson as the new Batman and Bruce Wayne’s son, Damian, as the new Robin in their fight to keep Batman’s legacy alive in a more dangerous Gotham and against new villains like the sadistic Pyg. 2010 will see Grant Morrison spearhead the return of Bruce Wayne, and fans will be hoping Quitely’s detailed pencils will somehow be involved.
Breakthrough Character of 2009
Here are your nominees:
Hercules: Having previously thrown his lot in with Captain America and the rest of the anti-registration heroes, Hercules showed great passion in following his moral compass and great wrath in avenging the death of Bill Foster. As the dust settled following Civil War, Herc was again thrown into a fray with the onset of World War Hulk, and it came as little surprise when one of the Marvel U’s most boastful characters managed to take over the Incredible Hulk’s own book, mid-numbering. What seemed to be a marketing gimmick soon grew into one of the MU’s great road stories, as Herc took his merry band on a trip through America (and beyond), bouncing from one line-wide event to another. Once a broad and somewhat silly character, Hercules has evolved into one of the few shining lights in the gritty landscape of Osborn’s Dark Reign; his selfless and noble spirit keeping the spark of the pre-Civil War MU alive.
Carl (Walking Dead):
Surviving the ravages of the Zombie Apocalypse has proven to be a burden for even the strongest of adults, let alone the children, in Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead. However, Carl, the young son of series protagonist Rick Grimes, has proven that that when the goin’ gets tough, a serious bit of kid-on-kid homicide might just get goin’. Carl’s evolution from innocent child to fierce avenger and unrepentant protector underscores death’s sudden and immediate role in the lives of the survivors, while his confession illustrates the shocking ability of children to adapt to their surroundings. While Rick and his tribe of adults represent humanity’s struggle to carry on during disaster, Carl rises up as an example of the generation that will carry on beyond it.
Deadpool: You can’t keep a good merc down…or confined to one title. If he wasn’t unwittingly giving Norman Osborn the secret to killing the Skrull Queen (shoot her in the face), acting as Bullseye’s favorite target (“Fly, you beautiful bird! Fly!”) or popping up as an Apocolypse-like constant in the far flung future (“Logan! I can feel you inside my head! Are you a telepath now?”), Deadpool managed to find himself otherwise waist deep in the intrigue of those much higher on the food chain than himself. With the Marvel U taking a darker and more dramatic tone, Deadpool’s cartoonish antics and fourth-wall breaking dialog have propelled him into a popularity that would have seemed garish and exploitative just a few years ago (ok…maybe it’s still garish and exploitative). With three ongoing titles, a newly formed Deadpool Family, even the head of a zombified alternate reality version of himself in tow, Deadpool isn’t satisfied with his four-color saturation, branching out into film and animation (X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Hulk vs Wolverine).
Norman Osborn: Once satisfied diddling with Peter Parker and his loved ones (amirite, Gwen?), ol’ Stormin’ Norman Osborn has set his sights a bit higher over the last few years. Osborn has shown himself to be a consummate opportunist, escaping his role as the perennial Spiderman villain to become the Marvel Universe’s premiere superhero law enforcement official. His steady leapfrogging from inmate to Thunderbolts director to head of SHIELD/HAMMER to self-proclaimed chairman of the secret Cabal has been facilitated by a series of shadowy figures and events very much out of his control, although a steady supply of pharmaceuticals and ravenous ambition has allowed him to keep pace. From Civil War to Secret Invasion, Norman has used the fractious nature of the Marvel Universe to establish his Dark Reign, cementing (for the time being) his role as the major power player in the MU.
Damian Wayne: The Son of the Bat has gone from curious canonical footnote to fully sanctioned member of the Dynamic Duo since comics shaman Grant Morrison took the reigns of the Bat-Universe in 2006. Blasting onto the Gotham scene as a violent and impudent child, Damian’s rise as Batman’s official Robin has been met with a mixture of excitement and disapproval, both from members of the Bat-Family and from readers. While his attitude and personality continue to adapt to the (literal) ever-changing realities of the DCU, Damian has shown a fanatical sense of entitlement to the Batman legacy, going so far as to mock Tim Drake for his removal from the Duo and expressing his willingness to take over the Cowl if Dick Grayson should prove unfit for the role. With vicious certainty, Damian has managed to turn the paradigm of sidekick on its head, elevating the mantel of Robin from Batman’s sidekick to his professional competition.
Breakthrough Talent of 2009
Here are your nominees:
The Spanish born artist first gained recognition for providing the pencils and inks to the Kathy Immonen penned "Hellcat" mini-series back in 2008. In 2009, he was selected as the penciller for the relaunched "Ultimate Comics Spider-man" with writer Brian Michael Bendis. Though his strong art style may upset some on the forums, by becoming only the third regular penciller on the best-selling Ultimate update of Peter Parker (following artists Mark Bagley and Stuart Immonen) he has joined a short list of Marvel's top new talent.
The second Spanish artist on this list, Guillem's first major American comics effort was providing the art for Batman legend Dennis O'Neil's "Last Rites" story in "Detective Comics" and "Batman". In 2009, he has turned heads with his covers for the "Oracle" limited series and as the penciller with writer Paul Dini on "Gotham City Sirens", a new series chronicling the adventures of Gotham bad girls Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn. His drawings of voluptuous female forms go beyond simple pin-up work, conveying energy and emotion (It's no wonder he's been the go to variant cover artist on "Power Girl". In his native Spain, his work has run a wide gamut from comics in children's magazines to decidedly more adult fare in Spain's "Playboy Magazine" (yes, you could find this online if you so choose).
British artist Andy Clarke has had a long career in Britain, where he's been illustrating stories in 2000 AD with writers along the lines of Dan Abnett, Mike Carey, and Andy Diggle since the late 90s. On this side of the pond, he has worked for DC on plenty of one shots and short arcs on characters such as Batman, Aquaman, and Two-Face. This year, he gained major attention when he launched R.E.B.E.L.S. at DC with writer Tony Bedard. "Major attention" extends to DC editor Mike Marts who pegged Clarke to pencil the arc titled "Batman vs. Robin" this spring on top 10 book "Batman & Robin" with writer Grant Morrison.
A former Wildstorm editor, Layman set out in 2002 to write comics full time. Since then, his most notable work has been an assortment of one shots and minis for Marvel and on licensed books along the lines of Army of Darkness, Xena, and Thundercats. In 2009, Layman, with artist Rob Guillory, launched Chew at Image comics. Chew, about detective Tony Chu- a cibopath who gets telepathic images from whatever he eats, has exploded into a huge hit and is arguably the most popular new creator owned book in years. Chew has sold out all seven issues released so far. Issue one was reprinted multiple times, and the entire first issue was reprinted in black and white as a free back up to Robert Kirkman's mega-hit the Walking Dead. Image darling is not a bad way at all for John Layman to end 2009.
Writer Nathan Edmondson released his first comic book in 2009, and what a first book it was. "Olympus" with artist Christian Ward, is about the Gemini Twins, Castor and Pollux, tasked by Zeus to do his bidding in exchange for their immortality. Billed as a cross between "Hellblazer" and "The Boondock Saints", the mini-series was a fan favorite. Edmondson has two other creator owned books on tap, and he and Ward have plans to return to "Olympus" in the future.
Most Improved Series of 2009
Here are your nominees:
Fantastic Four: Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch truly put the Fantastic Four through the wringer this year! Although the year began on a high note, with the Thing proposing to his girlfriend, the arrival of the Marquis of Death heralded bad times for the first family of superheroes, and even worse times for Dr. Doom. Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham have been picking up the pieces in the second half of the year, giving Mr. Fantastic some sorely needed redemption and repowering Franklin Richards, and 2010 promises to be another major year for the Fantastic Four.
Wonder Woman: In 2007, Wonder Woman was floundering. A strong start from writer Allan Heinberg and artist Terry Dodson quickly fell apart under the stress of delays, and a successive series of writers were unable to regain the title’s momentum. When Gail Simone came on board as writer of the title, Wonder Woman began to turn around. After a strong start in 2008, and Aaron Lopresti replacing Terry Dodson on art chores, the title continued to improve in 2009, beginning the year with the epic “Rise of the Olympian.”
X-Men: Legacy: With Mike Carey and Scot Eaton at the helm, X-Men: Legacy began the year strong with the return of Rogue to the X-titles, and continued that trend as the year progressed. Carey perfectly melded old and new X-continuity, repairing several “broken” characters in the process, and has continued to make this one of the top X-titles on the shelves today.
Supergirl: Since her resurrection by Jeph Loeb in Superman/Batman a few years back, Supergirl has been plagued by a confusing new backstory and several false starts. Sterling Gates has not only managed to turn the Girl of Steel’s story around, but did it all within the confines of continuity (Kryptonite poisoning bitches). Likewise, Jamal Igle turned Kara Zor El from a sexpot into...well, an actual teenager. Supergirl is now an integral part of the Superman universe, and a damn fine book to boot!
Uncanny X-Men: Matt Fraction’s Uncanny X-Men was ground zero for major changes in the status quo of the X-titles in 2009. As Proposition X gained traction in California, the X-Men took on not only the machinations of Simon Trask, but also Norman Osborn’s teams of Avengers and X-Men. Despite the stiff odds, Cyclops managed to bring his team through their tribulations, and truly stepped up as leader of both the X-Men and of the wider mutant community. With the team now based on the island of Utopia, Fraction has created a whole new playground for the X-Men moving into the new year.
Favorite Moment of 2009
Here are your nominees:
Shatterstar and Rictor Kiss: It was the moment old-school X-Force fans and Rob Liefeld had been waiting for. After years of fan speculation, the former X-Forcers were reunited when a brainwashed Shatterstar attacked X-Factor’s Guido and Rictor. Once Shatterstar freed himself from the mind control, the first thing he did was plant a big, wet one on Rictor, much to Guido’s surprise. With this scene, Peter David proved just how much Shatterstar is a fan of gladiator movies.
Daken Kills the Punisher: Naughty or nice, the last place you want to end up is on Norman Osborn’s list. That’s where Marvel’s favorite, gun-totting vigilante finds himself with Wolverine’s son, Daken, hot on his heels. A brutal fight leaves Frank Castle literally in pieces, and Daken kicks Punisher’s lifeless and limbless torso off a roof. This would lead into the current Frankencastle story arc.
The Fate of Madrox & Syrin's baby: Another moment from Peter David’s X-Factor. After a late night hookup with Syrin, Madrox can’t remember if it was himself or one of his multiples that did the deed. Madrox and Syrin’s relationship would blossom, particularly after Syrin revealed she was pregnant. She gave birth, and in the presence of her teammates, handed the babe off to Madrox. The unthinkable happened when Madrox first touched the child and automatically absorbed the child as he would any of his multiples. The child was the offspring of a multiple, and in a sense a multiple itself. Grief-stricken, Syrin breaks Madrox’s arm, telling him she’ll kill him if she ever sees him again.
Dick Grayson Accepts the Cape and Cowl and Becomes the New Batman: Following the events of RIP and Batman’s apparent death in the pages of Final Crisis, Gotham falls apart. Without Batman to keep a lid on things, it’s down to Dick Grayson in his Nightwing guise to keep up the good fight. Tim Drake urges Grayson to assume the Batman mantle, but Nightwing is reluctant. After clashing with an impostor Batman who turns out to be the former Robin, Jason Todd, Grayson accepts that Gotham needs a Batman, and joins with Bruce Wayne’s son, Damian, as the new Batman and Robin.
Thor and Hercules Fight: It was the moment fans had been clamoring for. The god of thunder, disguised as Hercules, clashed with the lion of Olympus, who was disguised as Thor. Uru hammer smashed against adamantine mace, and lo, purple nurples and wedgies were given.
Favorite Webcomic of 2009
Here are your nominees:
Shortpacked: What happens when you combine a love of all things geeky with working in a Toy Store? SHORTPACKED! David Willis's ongoing webcomic follows the adventures of toy lover Ethan and his coworkers.
Penny Arcade: Focused on Gamers and Gamer culture, Penny Arcade's one of the best known gamer webcomics. Written by Jerry Holkins and illustrated by Mike Krahulik, trades continuity for the gags.
PVP: Eisner-Award-Winning creator Scott Kurtz has created one of the most successful webcomics ever with PVP. Originally focusing mainly on video game culture, the strip has evolved to poke fun at just about everything in popular culture, and has even spawned an animated series.
The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: Absurd storylines and references abound in this webcomic starring a character of the same name, a doctor who is also a Ninja. Written and drawn by Chris Hastings and inked by Kent Archer, the thrice weekly comic, which has been in full color for over a year now, bills itself as "An Internet Comic Book" rather than simply a webcomic.
New Comic Day: Eric Ratcliffe and Bill Gladman explore situation comedy from the perspective of two comic book geeks. Either hanging out outside their local comic shop or going on insane adventures after stealing the Batmobile, New Comic Day captures the spirit of fanboyism every Wednesday on ComicRelated.com
Favorite Publisher of 2009
For our final award, we decided to break the 5 nominee format and instead included every publisher our committees suggested. Even so, we decided to include an "Other" category, as we could spend days listing all of the independent and small press publishers out there, of which every one is somebody's favorite. So if your favorite publisher is not on this list, please feel free to vote other, and leave a message on our forums telling us who you think the winner should be.
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