Ron’s List of the Best Things in Comics in 2011

So here we are, another year in the books.  As we look back on 2011 (and iFanboy’s 10th year in existence), I’m back at the keyboard to provide my annual best and worst of the year list.  I decided this year to mix things up and start with the positive and celebrate the things I feel are the absolute best things in comics today.  In addition, I’ve added a new element to the best of list, a quick list of my picks for the year.  So without further adieu, I present to you my list of the Best Things in Comics in 2011.

5. Digital Comics Mature

When I wrote about Digital Comics last year, I heralded it as a banner year in the evolution of Digital Comics. It’s amazing how a year ago, I had no idea how big the the avalanche that would follow digital comics in 2010 would be in 2011.  It’s like comics were moving at 15 miles per hour in 2010, and then in 2011 everything kicked into gear and made it to 80 miles per hour in no time flat. I honestly would not have predicted that one year later we’d see practically every publisher releasing comics digitally the same day as print.  Nor would I have predicted the number of established platforms we’d see digital comics on. In 2011 we saw digital comics on iOS devices, Android devices (including a wide array of tablets), Google Chrome, Facebook, the Barnes & Noble Nook tablets and the Amazon Kindle Fire. Digital Comics went from being an novelty to being an industry wide force and it was head spinning to be involved in as much as I was through my day to day work at our parent company of Graphicly.  Finally, after years of saying it was coming, I felt the world change within the comics industry around digital comics, and it has been unbelievably exciting to be involved.  Now, we just need to see the number of readers of digital grow, but as the saying goes, “If you build it, they will come.”

4. The Rocketeer Re-Emerges

One of the most pleasant surprises this year, for me personally, has been The Rocketeer. After IDW accomplished the task of collecting and re-releasing the original series by Dave Stevens into varying formats for wide audiences, ranging from affordable hardcover to deluxe to the insanely amazing original art edition, I thought that the re-visiting of The Rocketeer was all said and done in 2010. Luckily, again I was wrong. When IDW announced they’d be doing a mini-series anthology of new Rocketeer stories from modern day creators, I cringed. I’d much rather leave well enough alone, and the idea of Rocketeer stories not written and drawn by Dave Stevens was not something I thought would end well. Boy, was I wrong. Luckily, the stewards of The Rocketeer at IDW kept to the ideals and vision of Dave Stevens and some of my favorite comic talent like Darwyn Cooke, Mark Waid, Dave Gibbons, Kurt Busiek and many others delivered their A material to Rocketeer Adventures, which allowed me to do something I never thought would happen, read new Rocketeer comics.  Not only were they new Rocketeer comics, but they were fantastic. Add onto this the fact that Disney finally released the movie on Blu-Ray, and now I sit in a world where I can enjoy The Rocketeer more than ever before.

3. Image Comics On The Verge

I’ll never forget my first Image Comics: Supreme #2 and The Maxx #1. I bought them randomly after taking a year off from comics not knowing what the heck Image Comics was. After reading those two comics, I immediately ran back to the comic book store for more. There was an energy present in those comics that was unlike anything I had ever read in comics. Now, as Image Comics prepares to celebrate 20 years of existence, I feel a similar energy.  As I’ve mentioned in my nomination of Image Comics for publisher of the year and with a few thoughts shared with Robot6, I think that there’s something brewing at Image Comics that we should all be paying close attention to.  In a marketplace that is rapidly getting smaller and combating that fact by throwing more of the same out there, Image Comics is taking daring risk and innovating with their comics. With creators like Robert Kirkman, Ed Brubaker, Brian K. Vaughan, Jonathan Hickman, Erik Larsen and many others, Image Comics has quickly become the beacon for creator driven comics across a wide array of genres.  In addition to all star talent, Image Comics has also become the place for emerging talent. We’re watching some of the future great creators get their start with creators like Joe Keatinge, Brandon Graham, Rob Guillory, Emi Lenox, Nathan Edmondson, Riley Rossmo and many others.  Image Comics could have rested on their laurels, enjoyed the success of The Walking Dead and keep depending on the Image founders, but they haven’t. They’ve chosen to follow the tradition set 20 years ago and work to change the comic book industry and that is something I’m having a wonderful time watch happen, twice in my lifetime.

2. It’s  FINALLY A Good Time to be an X-Men Fan Again

Okay, all of you have to cut me some slack here and admit that I’ve put in my time, I’ve suffered through the years of agony, and now, finally in 2011, it became a great time to be an X-Men fan again.  The year started out with the unlikely emergence of Uncanny X-Force, which is now the best ongoing comic at Marvel Comics thanks to Rick Remender’s amazing tight storytelling and some legendary art by Jerome Opena.  Building on that momentum, Kieron Gillen slid into the drivers seat on Uncanny X-Men, ready to usher in a new status quo in the X-Men world.  Little did I know that it would be Jason Aaron, who we already marveled at his mastery of Wolverine, would be the X-Factor that made the X-Books go from good to great.  X-Men: Schism served it’s purpose as an event with meaning, surprising even me with what the crux of the story ended up being, which led to the Regenesis launch and one of the best new series I’ve ever had the pleasure of being there from day one, with Wolverine & The X-Men #1.  And while these 3 creators lead the way, the supporting books such as New Mutants, written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, and Generation Hope, written by the aforementioned Kieron Gillen, were a bolt of exciting youth within the universe. And the quiet consistency of X-Factor, lead by Peter David, made the tales of Madrox and his team one of the most underrated titles at Marvel Comics as a whole.  I sit back and look at all the amazing X-Men comics + having survived the dreaded renumbering of Uncanny X-Men, I thank the comics gods for proving that, truly good things come to those who wait.  Now, as we sit on the even of Avengers Vs. X-Men, I just pray to those same comics gods that Marvel doesn’t screw it up.  Things right now are PERFECT in the X-Men Universe. The pieces are in place for a long, wonderful period of great comics..as long as the creators involved don’t get re-assigned or anything extreme happens. I’m optimistic. I have faith in Aaron, Remender and Gillen that 2011 was just the beginning of a long prosperous period of great X-Men stories

1. Comics is Overflowing with Positivity & Enthusiasm

Those of us who live and work within the comics industry can be incredibly critical of the industry itself. We can be snarky, sarcastic, cynical and out and out catty at times (more on that in my Worst of 2011 post). But in 2011, I noticed something else emerge from the professionals within the comics industry: Positivity and Enthusiasm.  The influence of social media on comics is going to one day be the subject of a case study, I’m sure of it. I’ve never seen how one tool such as Twitter could come in and be universally swept and adopted by an entire industry.  Further, to see that tool then be used as such a force of positivity, it’s something to behold. On a daily basis I’m able to see the overflowing enthusiasm and energy of creators like Rob Liefeld, Scott Snyder, Rick Remender, Jeff Parker, Jim Lee, Joe Keatinge, Brian Michael Bendis, C.B Cebulski, Jim McCann and countless others.  They’re sharing with us both their love for reading comics as well as making comics and it’s something that we, as fans, have never been privy to before.  Say what you will about their work, you may not be a fan of their art or their stories, but I challenge you not to be inspired by their enthusiasm and passion for their field of work.  Each day I’m driven to create amazing things and be incredible, purely just by following their posts on Twitter. That’s some powerful, magical stuff. I don’t know how much longer this will last, but I have a feeling that right here, right now, in this moment of time, we’re experiencing something special.


 

 

Ron’s Best of 2011 List – By Category

  • Writer: Rick Remender – I’ve raved about Remender’s work on Uncanny X-Force and named him my vote for Best Person Working in Comics in 2011
  • Artist: Gabriel Hardman – The highs and lows I experienced this year with Hardman’s work proves how he had a career year. The fact that I was so upset at his run on Hulk coming to an end combined with the elation of the announcement of his upcoming work on Secret Avengers proved that Hardman was my choice for art in 2011.
  • Ongoing Series: Uncanny X-Force – one more time, in case you haven’t heard me yet: Best. Ongoing. Series.
  • Mini- Series: Flashpoint: The Outsider – This one surprises me as much as it surprises you, but James Robinson’s ability to craft and deliver a new, engaging character within this clusterfuck of an event was an accomplishment
  • Original Graphic Novel: Love & Rockets: New Stories #4 – I know, it’s a serial, but it’s bigger than standard comic issue.  See my Book of the Month review for my reasons.
  • Collected Edition: Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition – I cringed at the thought of double dipping, after getting the initial Parker books in hardcover, but man did Darwyn Cooke do right by us, jamming this oversized edition with extras that makes the Absolute New Frontier look like amateur hour.
  • Biggest Surprise: Journey Into Mystery – Never in a million years would I think that I would be a fan of a Thor related book, but thankfully Kieron Gillen’s insanity won me over
  • New Series: Near Death – In a year that featured probably the most new series ever published in one year, it’s this unlikely 1980′s style action book that I’m the most excited for every month
  • Publisher: Image Comics – see above and my Publisher of the Year nomination. Image Comics is the publisher to watch.

And that sums up my Best of 2011.  Tune in tomorrow when I go to the dark side and share with you the Worst of Comics in 2011.

Comments

  1. “Comics is overflowing with positivity and enthusiasm”

    Enthusiasm, yes. Positivity? Hell no!

    I can’t even count the number of comic creators I blocked on twitter because of being snark and just being douchebags. Not just from people at Marvel, but from everywhere! People like Snyder, Guillory, Layman, Parker, Shalvey, Stegman; those guys are great! But there are just way to many trolls who are comic creators.

    • Ron Richards Ron Richards (@ronxo) says:

      stay tuned for tomorrow’s piece ;) – you may be right about the negativity, but there ARE positive voices out there and I find them incredibly inspiring – I’ll expand on it tomorrow – but I try and focus on the positive.

    • @ron: There are positive voices out there to be sure. Some of the guys I mentioned and a lot more are really nice and positive always on twitter. But I would say, especially for 2011, there was much more negativity/trolling going on by a lot of creators and others in the business.

      I mean all you have to look at is the MASSIVE amount of negativity by other creators (from other companies) on the whole DC 52 story and see it. Of course most of those guys deleted their tweets to not look stupid…..people like Robert Kirkman who showed his true colors in 2011 during that time.

    • Ron Richards Ron Richards (@ronxo) says:

      again, stay tuned for tomorrow

    • diebenny diebenny says:

      I find it funny that Liefeld made the positivity list above. Just goes to show that powers once used for good can also be used for evil. And vice versa.

    • Ron Richards Ron Richards (@ronxo) says:

      Liefeld is one of the most positive people in the world – not sure what’s evil about that

    • @Ron: This is the same man who literally hunted people down on twitter to get into arguments.

      He’s crazy but that doesn’t make him positive.

    • diebenny diebenny says:

      @Ron I’ve discussed it before, but the time Liefeld spent on my twitter feed was so negative that I had to get rid of him. Kinda the opposite of you’re take.

    • It’s funny, I’ve been following Liefeld on twitter for a while now, and he seems so positive and just full of love of comics in general to me. Not seeing a lot of negativity at all. the dude’s love of comics is contagious.

    • @John: He has a love for comics, but only HIS comics or for HIS company. Before the snafu at Marvel he was 100% committed to Marvel and bashed anything not related to them. Now he’s strictly DC and he’s the exact opposite in his views on Marvel. He’s a homer and the best definition for the word.

      That and he really, really, REALLY hates Tom Brevoort.

    • diebenny diebenny says:

      @Jon Maybe he’s turned over a new leaf since I got rid of him. I’m not opposed to hearing that things have changed.

      The last thing he posted that I saw, he was slagging Jason Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men and basically saying that the X-Men hadn’t been good since he’d been on them. That was right after a huge battle with Tom Brevoort over absolutely nothing.

      It was a lot of negative tweets in the way of things I actually cared about that earned him the boot. I’m willing to believe that he is trying to not be like that now, but that wasn’t my experience.

    • USPUNX USPUNX says:

      Wow. You guys sure can tell more about a person than I can from the occasional 140 character statement. Talk about trolls, judging some one as if you actually know them because you follow them on twitter. What a joke.

    • diebenny diebenny says:

      @USPUNX Awesome way to shit on an honest discussion. No one is being rude, we’re all being amicable.. then BLAM! USPUNX!

      I hope you realize the hypocrisy of your post. People are judged by their internet comments all the time. No one is pretending to know anyone. If you put yourself out there, prepare to be judged. I don’t know why people should get a pass just because their on twitter or because we don’t know each other. If you’re cluttering up my twitter feed with negativity, why should I pretend like that didn’t happen? I don’t have to know you to know that it happened. In fact the more I dissect your post the more confused I am. Were you molested by twitter? Are you related to Rob? Do you want everyone to know everyone before thinking anything?

    • USPUNX USPUNX says:

      My point was social media has created a false sense of familiarity that has no basis in reality. I didn’t say you couldn’t block someone on twitter, I’m just saying you shitting on someone here is not that different than a creator shitting on a comic they don’t like on twitter. My point was the hypocrisy inherent in your discussion. I follow a handful of well known people on twitter, comic creators and others, and none of them are perpetually positive on their feeds. But that doesn’t make them negative people, it just makes them people.

      And just because you don’t like what I said doesn’t mean it isn’t ‘honest.’

    • diebenny diebenny says:

      Now that I understand your point better, I like it.

  2. Bryce31 Bryce31 says:

    These all are really wonderful and awesome things. I think the Rocketeer and Image would be on my best list too. Also, I think I need to jump on the digital comic bandwagon and get a nice tablet.

  3. My reaction to the Rocketeer was similar to my reaction to the Muppet movie. I forgot just how much I liked when I was younger and to be reminded was a delight.

  4. EgonSpengler EgonSpengler says:

    Couldn’t agree more about your thoughts on x-books, image, and The Rocketeer, Ron. 2011 was indeed a great year.

  5. EgonSpengler EgonSpengler says:

    Also I’ve converted to all digital and a few collected editions. Welcome to the future.

  6. As someone who converted to 100% digital for issues in the past few months, i’m really loving how it all played out. Still not happy about the price points and some of the interface/ app issues, but overall i’m on board with it.

    its interesting to hear you mention the positivity of comics on twitter. I don’t use twitter anymore, but i always felt it had a stigma of creators wasting time fighting with each other and talking mad trash. Interesting to see tomorrow’s article.

  7. Agreed, very groovy time to be a comic fan.

  8. I just realized the best writer/artist is the same duo for the next Secret Avengers run……*strokes chin* Mmmm….

    No! My resolution was simply ‘NOT BE PARANOID’. Keep it together TNC!

    • Limitless Limitless says:

      Huh, you’re right. I was already stoked about this (Secret Avengers) because I enjoyed the first arch, then fell off, and am a really big fan of Uncanny X-Force and Hardman’s work on Hulk (another on the long list of things I tried on a lark and haven’t looked back since), but the more I think on it, the more excited I get.

  9. filippod filippod (@filippodee) says:

    Re: Digital Comics: they are indeed shaping up but I am kinda annoyed by how all Comixology powered iOS clients (and I imagine it must be the same for Android) are obviously optimized for iPhone/iPod (on the iPad panels are often unneccessarily cropped, grainy or both). I haven’t tested Graphicly yet but I will soon, at least for Image and smaller publishers’ titles. There’s a lot to improve on the digital comics front but for me they have already become a viable alternative to trades to catch up on series I have missed in print. For current comics I still prefer the floppies.

    • filippod filippod (@filippodee) says:

      Update: I tested the iPad version of Graphicly today on an Image title. To my surprise the “panel flow” mode reading quality looks better than Comixology’s, at least on the title I tested on both (Mark Millar’s “Wanted” #1 which is free on both platforms). No unnecessary cropping and no grainy pics. On the down side the interface is a bit too “essential” and lacks Comixology’s customization possibilities in how to display the comics. The new pages appear in “tiles” like on the PC client but it happens much faster and it’s not annoying (unlike on my PC but it’s a dual core with a good ATI card). All in all i’m positively impressed by Graphicly.

  10. mikegraham6 mikegraham6 says:

    @Ron I’d love to see you guest on the Uncanny X-Cast again to discuss the new X-line. You love this relaunch so much and have explained your love very well on this site. Meanwhile, the good folks over at UXC have the exact opposite opinion (excluding the universally adored Uncanny X-Force of course). You guys had such a great discussion about Mike Carey’s X-Men and Ed Brubaker’s Uncanny X-men last time you were one and you were also on same opposite ends of the spectrum that i would love to hear you guys discuss this new offering of titles. (granted, im more in agreement with the UXC guys but i can’t blame you for loving it, unfortunately it’s just not for me)

  11. chop360 chop360 says:

    I have to agree with your list , it was a great year to be a X-men fan. The only thing that i would have added to the list was the Avengers crusade mini series. I know it took for ever but that has been a very , very good read. I have also converted to digital, not 100% still waiting on the avengers book, but i love the fact that i don’t have to get anymore long boxes. Digital still has some things to work out, but hopefully they will get it right in 2012.

  12. midwinter midwinter says:

    Absolutely.

    What’s surprised me most is that Schism rekindled my interest in X-men for the first time in about 10 years.

    I’d also add Dan Slott on Amazing Spider-man this year has been nothing short of a great, fun read and looks like it’s going to carry on like that into 2012.

  13. HailScott HailScott says:

    Ron= Nailed to the X!

    • HailScott HailScott says:

      Seriously though, after hearing Ron push him for so long, I’m going to pick up some Remender. Definetly Fear Agent, probably X-Force, and maybe (just maybe) Venom.

      Maybe he should do some creator-owned stuff at Image soon. . .

    • Ron Richards Ron Richards (@ronxo) says:

      TRUE TIL DEATH!
      heh

      FINALLY you take my advice! Remender’s already done a bunch of stuff at Image, in fact you can get the excellent Strange Girl Omnibus – http://www.amazon.com/Strange-Girl-Omnibus-Rick-Remender/dp/1607063972

    • IF YOU’RE NOT NOW YOU NEVER WERE! (um, we are quoting SXE Hardcore shirts from the ’90s, right?).

      I’m waiting ever so patiently for the Fear Agent Omnibus Remender’s been talking about. Hearing about Fear Agent I just know that I’m going to love it and it’s really tough to just keep waiting, but I know it will be worth it.

    • Yeah, I’m waiting for the Fear Agent Omnibus and hoping very much for an X-Force one. I bought the first issue of X-Force a couple of months ago but the other back issues are way too expensive and I don’t like trades that small (about 5 issues each I think).

  14. MarkCWarner MarkCWarner (@MarkCWarner) says:

    This year was my return to comics so the Best of list is mighty and long. With a huge chuck of it being the beginning to end of Fear Agent with some Remender Talksplodes sandwiched in-between.

    So my best for 2011 – iFanboy 300th episode and Graphic-ly’s expansion. Cause both has allowed me to re-embrace something that I long thought was lost to my past.

    One thing… please talk to someone about giving my Android App the ability to move to my SD card. And Gracias Senor for:
    The Nerdist
    WTF – - – Norm!!!!
    and
    The Tobolowsky Files – Awesome personified

  15. NathanNicdao NathanNicdao says:

    Must be awesome for Ron being an X-men fan, with the quality of the books, and having one of his friends write Uncanny.

  16. skydog skydog says:

    Another good thingabout the current state of affairs is that I caught a show on TV last night for the first time called The Big Bang Theory. Apparently it is about comic book geek/gaming nerds. I was pleasantly surprised and the show had some laugh outloud moments. It makes me think now that comic book loving is no longer something to be ashamed about as it inexorably moves to the forefront of our culture. Artists and writers will be aspire to become a part of comic books as opposed to the historical stigma of being relegated to the backwater lagoon of artistic rejection. Talent will finally end up rewarded since another present unfortunate reality is the low pay that creatives receive.

  17. Curlibusj Curlibusj says:

    The one idea I’m left with is Zorro appears to be gearing up for Lady Rawhide, which would be awesome! I may be wrong but I doon’t think I am.

  18. Hugomarink Hugomarink says:

    Regarding digital comics, I should point out that the BN NOOK has a very limited selection of digital comics available and is not a good option for those wanting to read comics digitally. NOOK does not have the Comixology app, which does come pre-loaded on the Kindle Fire from Amazon, nor does NOOK have any DC Comics because (apparently) DC went exclusive with Amazon. This is a HUGE shortcoming for the NOOK and until they can offer DC Comics and Comixology the NOOK cannot be recommended for comics readers. And, no, I am not an Kindle Fire user. I wish I was. I have a NOOK Color, which is very nice tablet in many respects but I’m really disappointed in the lack of digital comics available for it.

  19. pixiedark pixiedark says:

    As for making making comments on social media sites I always use my mother’s advice “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!”