Back when I used to own a comic store, I sometimes posted an annual list of my favorite comics. Recently, one person asked me if I was going to do it again, and being a complete ham hock, that was all the encouragement I needed. I probably didn’t read as many comics this year as I did in most years when I owned the store, but I still read a decent amount. Because we have ten fingers and made up a number system based on that, people like lists of ten things, so I picked ten things to list. They are all things that were published in some form in 2015, either new or as reprints. Let the countdown commence.
by JASON SHIGA
A science fiction story about a completely amoral and seemingly immortal jackass. There was a point at which I thought the story should have ended, and it took a few issues for Shiga to win me back over. At this point I just respect how ridiculous he has gotten with it. There’s a lot of awful, evil, and gross stuff in here. It’s also funny. I subscribe via Patreon to the self-published risographed comic issues which Jason Shiga ships out every month. You can also read it at his website, and First Second is going to publish it at some point too.
by JEN LEE
Thunderpaw is an ongoing webcomic with limited animation and a limited palette which tells the story of two little dogs who are terrified by the fact that the world has ended. The postapocalyptic setting is evocative and spooky, and the emotions of the characters seem real. Plus, Jen Lee is a hell of a cartoonist. You can read the comic at thunderpaw.co. Nobrow published a comic this year by Jen Lee called Vacancy, which is also worth checking out.
by RICHIE POPE
I met Richie Pope at SPX and picked up a copy of his comic, Newdini, which is about a guy who disappears. I wanted to know more about the character, but that would have ruined the intriguing aspect of the story. Very well put together. The phrase “economy of line” is a cliche, but it came to mind when I looked at the art. There are no extra lines here. It looks like Pope sold out of the physical copies of Newdini, but it’s available digitally here.
7. TENNELL LEFFITT MAN DETECTIVE
by MAX HUFFMAN
I have known Max Huffman for a long time now! He shopped in the comic book store I used to own when he was a kid. Now he is a man and a very promising cartoonist. My favorite thing to date by Max is Tennell Leffitt Man Detective. There doesn’t seem to be much of it so far. It’s about a detective who is a man. Is this six-page comic all there is? Is there more coming? I don’t know, but I really liked it. You can read it here, or buy a comic in which it is included here (paper) or here (digital).
6. MASTER KEATON
by NAOKI URASAWA with HOKUSEI KATSUSHIKA & TAKASHI NAGASAKI
I have been a big fan of Naoki Urasawa’s comics since the original Viz release of Monster. I also loved Pluto, and 20th Century Boys was good, too. At this point, I’m probably in for anything by Urasawa. Master Keaton is a series of detective stories starring an archaeologist-slash-insurance investigator, who also happens to be a kind yet unflappable badass. The stories in these books are fun, and whenever one is released, I read it and enjoy it!
5. FANTASY SPORTS
by SAM BOSMA
This was one of my favorite comics when it was a black and white minicomic in 2013, and it’s one of my favorite comics now that it’s been released as a full-color minicomic in 2015. In this modern masterpiece, a couple of fantasy adventurers play basketball… for their lives! Sam Bosma has recently posted some images from the in-progress Fantasy Sports 2 online, and I’m very excited to read that book when it comes out.
4. BAD MACHINERY
by JOHN ALISON
I doubt I’d have read Bad Machinery if it had been a prose book, or watched it if it had been a movie. I probably would have seen that it was about a bunch of British school children and decided to skip it. However, I decided to read the comics because I was drawn to John Allison’s cartooning and his colors. I continued reading because of the credibility with which he has infused the world in which his characters live. It’s a consistent and believable place, despite the ridiculous things that happen there. There are four books out now from Oni Press, which collect stories which previously appeared online, and I have enjoyed them all.
3. SOUTHERN BASTARDS
by JASON AARON & JASON LATOUR
I love good crime fiction, and I love good stories set in the south, and this is both. Jason Aaron and Jason Latour know the south, and they know how to tell a twisted and entertaining story. I think this is the only ongoing mainstream comic (It’s creator-owned, but I think we can count Image as mainstream) I’m still picking up in single periodical issues, because I can’t wait to read the next chapter.Plus, Latour is one of the finest cartoonists working now. The art in Southern Bastards is amazing.
2. SUPERMUTANT MAGIC ACADEMY
by JILLIAN TAMAKI
Drawn and Quarterly.
Supermutant Magic Academy is a collection of comic strips by Jillian Tamaki which she initially posted online. It starts as a bunch of gag strips about kids at the titular school, but by the end of the book, she has woven everything together into a story that is both hilarious and profound. Her issue of Frontier was really good too!
1. SPACE RIDERS
by ALEXIS ZIRITT & FABIAN RANGEL JR
I met Alexis Ziritt several years ago at Heroes Con when my pal Chris Pitzer (Chief Dad at Adhouse Books) pointed across the aisle and told me I should pick up his Mekano Turbo minicomic. I bought the last copy Alexis had, and became an instant fan. Years later, I was one of the six people in the country who preordered Space Riders, which means I was able to read it multiple times while everyone else struggled to get a copy of the second or third print of the first issue. Look at the cover I posted above. There’s a skull spaceship flying through an outer space made out of sloppy-yet-controlled brushwork and psychedelic colors. Is that not enough for you? Okay. The main character is named Capitan Peligro. His crew are a religious baboon and a sexy Sorayama robot lady? Do you need more than that? Well, you can’t have it. If that’s not enough to make you want to read it, I respect your choice, as well as the differences between us that make us individual human beings, but it’s clear there’s no reason for me to put anything else into this relationship. Farewell forever.
SPECIAL BONUS SECTION:
TOP TWO COMICS I MADE THIS YEAR
by ANDREW NEAL
Boo / Meow is a short comic I published online and printed as a mini-comic. It’s a very sentimental cat and ghost comic. It has gotten a pretty solid reception on tumblr, where it has been liked and reblogged 2800-something times. You can read it on tumblr or here on my website.
1. TEENAGE GENDER NEUTRAL TURTLES
by ANDREW NEAL
Teenage Gender Neutral Turtles is the comic I started in November. I’ve posted 24 pages online so far, in the form of 8 page chapters. The first three chapters make up the equivalent of a nice fat comic issue, and I think they really give an idea of where I’m going to go with this.In the first three chapters, we meet a daddy blogger named Arthur Minor, who has a big idea involving his kids and Teenage Gender Neutral Turtles toys. We see some of the consequences of his big idea, as well as excerpts from several episodes of the Teenage Gender Neutral Turtles TV show. You can read it at Teenage Gender Neutral Turtles dot com (link to chapter one)!