It’s been a while since I wrote a proper article on the site, but here I am attempting to use coherent English to talk about my Top Ten Comics of 2013!
I’m going to come right out and say this now though: I cheated on my list.
I know, I’m horrible, but it’s not as horrible as it initially sounds… I didn’t somehow find a way to scorn my lover, the list, but rather, I cheated and instead of adding only ten titles, I added a few more. There were SO MANY BOOKS that I wanted to talk about and it only seemed fair to try to give them all the nods that they deserve, so I added a couple of categories to this list, which are: favourite series released in 2013 and favourite NEW series of 2013. I like to complicate things, apparently.
At least I didn’t wind up writing out my favourite writers, artists and all the other categories that we did for the Talking Comics Best Of 2013, so there’s that! On that note, I think we’ll get started with my lists since that’s what you can here to check out:
Favourite Series Released in 2013
After doing the Talking Comics podcast for over two years now, I feel like it should come as a surprise to no one that this made my Best Of list. At Issue #22, this series is just as good as the very first issue. For me, it’s the most consistently excellent comic that is on the shelves right now. Terry Moore writes, draws, inks and self-publishes this comic with his wife and does an extraordinary job of telling the story of Rachel, a girl who comes back to life under mysterious circumstances.
Initially this series was set to wrap up at Issue #24, but since it was announced that the series is being made into a TV series, Moore has said that it would be silly for him to stop working on the book. I’m not complaining one little bit about that.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Rachel Rising is the best comic that you’re not reading right now. Pick up the first issue on ComiXology for only $0.99 and all other issues after that are only $1.99 or get the trades for $9.99 each digitally.
Locke & Key
This is another series that I’ve gone on and on about on the podcast as well as on my Twitter feed and to anyone else who will listen to me. Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s sinister series came to a conclusion at the end of 2013 and after several volumes that completely engrossed me into the world of the Locke Family, it all came to an end.
Throughout the whole series, no one remained safe and Hill’s anything can happen attitude towards his characters put me on edge as I read every issue. I’m not a big fan of the horror genre (only because I’m a colossus scaredy cat), but this series was something that was done masterfully and even if you too don’t think of yourself as someone who enjoys the macabre, I promise you that you’ll be able to dive deep into this world and you won’t want to come up for air until you’re done.
Aquaman is yet another series I know you’ve heard me talk about. If you had told me pre-DC New 52 that I would become a massive Aquaman fan, I would’ve laughed in your face. I never had anything against the character but I also had exactly ZERO desire to read any stories involving him. Geoff Johns made me care about the character and the people around him. He made me crave issue after issue right up until the end of his run with Arthur Curry.
I don’t know how Aquaman will hold up once Johns is gone but this is one series that I don’t think you should just jump onto wherever. Do yourself a favour and go back and pick up all of the DC New 52 trades if you haven’t done so already.
Hellboy: The Midnight Circus
I’ve loved the Hellboy movies since they came out, but I had never read any of the source material before. I don’t know why, but I guess it’s one of those things where so many comics already exist and it’s hard to figure out where to start. Well, I started with Hellboy: The Midnight Circus and I am all in. I was hoping that this would be enough of a standalone graphic novel that I could just pick up and enjoy and it was exactly that.
This graphic novel focuses on a young Hellboy who decides to run away from the B.P.R.D. and on his nighttime adventure, stumbles across a circus that draws him in. The circus is full of mystery and intrigue but it’s also not all fun and games, as Hellboy soon finds out.
The story was wonderful, the art was beautiful and I can’t recommend this book enough, especially for anyone wanting to check out the incredible world Mike Mignola has built. I additionally also recommend B.P.R.D. Vampire with art by the incredible Wonder Twins, Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba.
Adventures Of Superhero Girl
Faith Erin Hicks originally published this series as a web comic and I remember seeing bits and pieces of it online every now and again. While I was at a convention earlier in the year, I wandered over to the Dark Horse booth and discovered that a collection was published and immediately purchased a copy and read through it.
This has to be one of the most delightful books that was published in 2013, if not of all time. Superhero Girl is a simple character that deals with crime fighting ordeals as well as every day ordeals such as finding a job, dealing with roommates, boys and other things that are relatable on every level. The series is heartwarming, hilarious, clever, witty, beautifully drawn and each story is so perfect that you’ll be hooked from start to finish.
If you’re looking for a comic for the young lady in your life and don’t know what to buy her? BUY THIS BOOK. Everytime I see a copy at my local BMV (a chain in Toronto), I wind up buying up every copy of it and hoarding them for presents, as I am a firm believer that everyone should own this book (and Hark, A Vagrant! but we won’t get into that right now).
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant
This is another series that was initially released as a web series. It’s still available to read online, but now it’s been collected into a beautiful trade and I really hope that everyone goes out and checks out this story about, well, a Turkish lieutenant that by chance stumbles across one Delilah Dirk – a clever and well-trained rapscallion that has an Indiana Jones meets Adele Blanc-Sec feel to her.
For anyone saying that there aren’t enough comics for women out there: This is for you. Anyone not supporting brilliant books like Delilah Dirk or Adventures of Superhero Girls and saying there’s nothing to read needs to shush until horizons are expanded. READ THIS BOOK!
I HAD to include this on my list. What initially started out as me supporting local artists, writers and friends turned into me absolutely adoring the entirety of this book (and there’s a second one coming out soon too!).
As with many anthologies, some of the stories are hit and miss, but there are several that are charming and amazing… Agnes Garbowska’s “Justice Jenny”, Howard Wong and Adrian Alphona’s “Uh-Oh Ogopogo!”, Faith Erin Hicks’ “Superhero Girl vs. Canadian-ness” and Fred Kennedy, Adam Gorham and Brian Evinou’s “The Bluenoser vs. Gull Girl”? Yeah, these were perfection to me. Months and months and months later I’m STILL laughing about Gull Girl.
Some of these jokes are probably things that only Canadians will understand but I still think there’s a ton of content in here that’s good for everyone. So, support my homeland comic creators, everyone!
You can buy it here.
I wrote a review of this zine right after reading it and not really taking much time to process it, but wow o wow! Becky Cloonan proves with these short stories that she’s not just an artist, but rather a jack of all trades creator that you should be on the lookout for more and more in the next few years.
Demeter is a story of a husband and wife that has a supernatural edge to it. Maybe this really struck a chord with me because I’m obsessed with water stories and mermaids and selkies etc. but even if I was sidetracked by all of that, the art is still stunning and Cloonan’s signature style shines in this piece that she crafted out herself.
Oh, and it’s only $0.99 on ComiXology.
I actually really surprised myself by including this on my list, so if you’re shocked, don’t worry: you’re not alone. When I first downloaded this book from ComiXology Submit and saw the tagline “She’s a cowboy that wears nothing but a bikini,” I really didn’t have high hopes. And that’s a little harsh of me, but let’s be real: a lot of people use comics as an excuse to dress women in skimpy clothes and prance around being bimbos.
That’s not ALL comics, but it’s a thing that has happened and continues to happen.
My point being is that this book surprised me from start to finish in the best possible way. I LOVED this book and the bikini wearing actually gets tied into the story in a really fun and quirky way. The main character, Whisky Jill, reminds me a lot of Jessie from Pixar’s Toy Story but all grown-up and a real rootin’, tootin’ cowboy in the wild, wild west. The art is simple and mostly done entirely in pencil with no inks and virtually no colour, but it fits perfectly and isn’t messy, sloppy pencils that take away from the art and the story.
For a measly $5.99 on ComiXology, I promise you that you can’t go wrong with picking up this 377 page book.
Chloe Noonan: Monster Hunter
This is yet another comic that gives us a character to join the ranks of awesome fictional women. Chloe Noonan is part of a secret organization that hunts monsters. Of course, it would be a secret is Chloe would stop telling people, but you know, whatever.
This story by Marc Ellerby is hilariously quirky and the art and writing are phenomenal. It’s like what Buffy might’ve been if she was a hipster from Ghost World or from Faith Erin Hicks’ Adventures of Superhero Girl.
I don’t know if any of this is making sense, but if not, you can always check out my review here http://new.talkingcomicbooks.com/2013/06/03/chloe-noonan-monster-hunter-omnibus-review/ and just trust me that I think you’ll like it. Oh, and it’s only $1.99 over on ComiXology, so you know, just buy it and thank me later.
And because I’m cheating and didn’t limit my list to only ten things, here’s the rest of my categories starting with the following:
Favourite New Series Of 2013
Afterlife With Archie
I didn’t think that anything would really get me interested in Archie Comics again after I passed the age of 13. Don’t get me wrong: I loved and still love those comics and I love that they led me to this crazy world, but I didn’t think that I would find anything for me in them once I’d graduated to other things.
I was so, so wrong. Afterlife With Archie was perfection with art by the man who draws everything, Francesco Francavilla and story by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. I knew I was immediately hooked after one of the first characters we met in the series was Sabrina Spellman… can we take a moment to talk about how I NEED Francavilla to draw me either a Sabrina Spellman piece or a Josie and the Pussycats piece? Like NOW!? Gah, incredible.
I thought that Afterlife With Archie would be a limited series since I can’t see it carrying on for too long, but it is apparently ongoing and I am more than willing to keep throwing my money at this book until it proves to me that it’s anything but fantastic.
Kurtis was one of our very first Talking Comics podcast guests ever while he was still working on Green Wake (awwww… memories!). It’s been amazing to see him get more and more successful every year with Grim Leaper, Peter Panzerfaust and now Rat Queens. This comic is everything I could possibly want in a lady mercenary series… four badass women all with different areas of expertise. The foul mouthed, brash, loud, alcoholic women (with a slew of other bad habits) of this series are written so cleverly and with so much sass that this is one of the few comics that I go back to read again and again just for the amazing zingers and punch lines.
It’s also worth mentioning that Roc Upchurch is the PERFECT artist for this book and the way he gives life to each character is nothing short of brilliant. He expertly draws the women both in terms of their bodies and facial features. He also kicks ass at drawing all the action and gore that takes place and the colours that blend together amazingly.
BUH, ok, I’ll stop now, but for real you guys: RAT QUEENS – It’s like a D&D game brought to life with wit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Lord of the Rings epicness. Go read it and look out for more in the near future.
Scott Snyder. Sean Murphy. Underwater madness. Enough said. This book was incredible, well, the first volume at least. I can’t wait for more of this. I love mini-series and I feel like not enough companies commit to them. Some stories are meant to be limited and I respect that… plus with American Vampire coming back soon, I’m sure Snyder won’t have time to take on another ongoing series. Still, both creators are awesome and have not surprisingly spawned something equal of their talent.
This is only three issues in, but HOT DAMN I’m loving it. Inaki Miranda’s art and Caitlin Kittredge’s story is dark, creepy, ominous and right up my alley. OH, OH, OH! It’s sinister as well! I mean, I’m sure I got that across but I just really enjoy that word and there’s not enough cause to use it in every day conversation.
High Crimes – I am SURE this would’ve been on one of my “higher” lists had I gotten a chance to read more of it, but the first couple of issues were brilliant and I absolutely NEED to check out more of it.
Moth City – The digital comic that all other digital comics should strive to be like.
and these comics which I only discovered this year despite them having been released in previous years:
Turtie Needs Work (2012) – My friend’s Dani and Molly showed me this comic from Koyama Press at TCAF earlier in the year and holy hell, this little minicomic is amazing. It’s all about a tiny turtle taking on jobs that he’s too teeny tiny for. It sounds hokey, but I swear to jeebus it’s fantastic reading a little two-strip mini about a turtle becoming a hit man.
Mystery Society (2010) – If we had been doing the podcast in 2010, you can bet your ass that I would’ve been singing the praises of this book throughout its release. Unfortunately I only discovered it after the fact, which is better than not having discovered it at all though. This is a book from the wonderful mind of Steve Niles with art by Fiona Staples. It sort of mixes The League of Extraordinary Gentleman with Hellboy and creates an original and fun tale about a husband and wife out to expose conspiracies and truths hidden from the public. Oh, and it’s awesome.
IDW? PLEASE BRING THIS SERIES BACK, OK!?
The Curse (2012) – This book spawned from Mike Norton’s 24-Hour Comic challenge that he did 3-years in a row at Chicago’s Challenger’s Comics. It’s amazing and that’s pretty much all you need to know. It’s the kind of madness that only sleep deprivation can provide you and includes such a thing as a were-pirate. Obviously.