Ron’s List of the Best Things in Comics in 2010

We're almost there, we've almost completely drained all the blood from the stone that is 2010. I hope you all enjoyed my list of the worst things in comics in 2010 yesterday.  As I mentioned, I hate going negative, but I do think that once a year it's ok and helps us to better reflect and focus on what is positive.  Don't get me wrong, while comics and the comic book industry have their challenges, there's a ton to celebrate.  So much so that I found myself having a hard time just distilling it down to 10 things.  But for you, my loyal reader, I have made the tough decisions and tried to narrow down to the 10 best things in comics, at least according to me.  I hope you enjoy.

 

10. The Insanity of Batman Odyssey and X-Men Forever
Never in a million years would I have guessed that nearly every month (or every two weeks sometimes!) would I get as excited for a Batman comic by Neal Adams or a new X-Men comic by Chris Claremont, and yet this year, I cannot underscore the absolute enjoyment I was able to pull from reading the sheer lunacy of Batman Odyssey and X-Men Forever.  Now, X-Men Forever didn't start in 2010, rather in 2009.  But somehow, defying all odds, it rolled on into 2010, never getting any less crazy.  The concept of Claremont returning to the X-Men after he left the book back in the early 1990s was so much fun, but to have it just continue like clockwork was not anything I ever expected.  What's further is, like a good What If… or Elseworlds story, I'm enjoying the heck out of it.  But DC couldn't let Marvel have all the insanity and this year I was lucky to add Batman Odyssey, written and drawn by the great Neal Adams, to my "insane" reads collection.  Adams art is as great as ever, but it's the story and the scenarios here that really makes Batman Odyssey shine with fantastic insanity.  I love the fact that 2 industry greats are still entertaining me well into the 21st century, nearly 20 to 30 years from when they were in their hay day.  Fantastic.

 

9. Actually Enjoying The Success of Comics Inspired Media
Hey, guess what? That Scott Pilgrim movie was really freaking great.  You know what else was great? The Walking Dead TV Series.  Yep, I loved every single episode.  The list of comics inspired media that came out this year is downright staggering.  From the blockbuster of Iron Man 2, to the other movies like Kick-Ass, The Losers, and Red were all a blast at the movie theaters.  Over on TV, in addition to The Walking Dead, the past year included some of the best and most fan-goodie-laden episodes of Smallville ever, including the Geoff Johns written Justice Society of America episode which was insanely awesome.  As I complained in my post yesterday, we spend so much time worrying about whether or not the movie or TV show will match our expectations, or we worry about how many people watched or went to the movie, that we lose sight of the fact that these movies are being made, and for the most part, are really good (Let's not mention Jonah Hex, shall we?).  I'm having a blast enjoying each one that comes out and am in disbelief that its happening every time a new one comes out.  So join me and let's just enjoy it while it lasts?

 

8. Terry Moore's Echo
Very quietly through 2010, Terry Moore continued to publish his latest comic, Echo, on schedule, on time and is developing what I believe to be one of the best comics being published today.  The only drawback to the story of Echo in 2010 would be the sporadic (and often confusing) manner in which the comic actually shipped to stores (Sometimes the East Coast got it, sometimes the West Coast got it, very unpredictable).  But if you rolled with the shipping problems, every 6 weeks you were treated to some fantastic action, intrigue and what's shaping up to be a fantastic, realistic science fiction tale.  I know that the story is finite, and we're nearing the last act, but for right now Terry Moore has been able to overcome the shadow of Strangers In Paradise and create an amazing comic book that reads just as good in issues as it does in trade paperback.  Independent publishers should take notice as a master shows how it's done. Oh, and guess what? Echo's going to be a movie one day too.  How cool will that be?

 

7. The Industry Embraces Digital
As I said in yesterday's post, I'm a bit biased here with iFanboy being owned by Graphic.ly, but even before we joined Team Graphic.ly, I was a supporter of the move to digital comics.  Now while there are spots of criticism (as I highlighted yesterday as well), I can't ignore the fact that for the first time in the history of the comic book industry, everyone began to accept and embrace digital comics as a reality.  Graphic.ly, along with the other digital comics providers like Comixology, iVerse and the rest began paving the way for the future of comics on digital devices.  The blind hysteria around the iPad didn't hurt either, but regardless, 2010 was the year that we woke up collectively and said "yes, you can read comics digitally."  To see Marvel, DC, Image, Archaia, Boom!, Oni, IDW, Dark Horse and all the other publishers out there scramble to start offering their comics digitally was fantastic.  To be honest, it all moved a little faster than even I expected.  I didn't think we'd see day and date comics so quickly, and while we're not where we'll need to be, the progress of books like Justice League: Generation Lost and The Walking Dead will be the ones we'll remember as the trailblazers.  2010 was a banner year for digital and whereas previously I had my worries, I now look towards the future with hope for a digital age.
 

6. Steve Rogers Judges The Marvel Universe
As many of you heard through my cackling and giggling on the podcast, or by reading my post about it, I got my single most enjoyable moment of reading comics thanks to Marvel Comics and The Heroic Age: Super Heroes.  What seemed like an innocent source book style comic that lists all the heroes in the Marvel Universe, for some bizarre reason, featured suggestions of Steve Rogers taking peyote and then going on a very conservative, judgmental streak as he analyzed and criticized his fellow super heroes.  If you don't believe me, go read my post.  It was insane.  It was one of those "What were they thinking??" moments as I wondered how Marvel let this one out the door.  Now, I don't want to take credit for it, but the follow up issues, Villains and X-Men were far less insane and way tame.  Gone was the mystical trip of Steve Rogers, as well as the vague classifications and judgments.  In fact, they were pretty boring, which kind of disappointed me.  But hey, for one moment in time, the Marvel Universe was just insane and I loved every minute of it.  

 

5. Conventions!
We've written and spoke a lot about the down sales in the comic book industry and we worry about the future, if there's enough comic book fans out there and that sort of thing.  This year was even more perplexing when having that discussion because if you were to judge by the comic book conventions circuit, this industry appears to be doing just fine, prospering even!  Personally, I attended about 6 shows this year.  There were about 5 shows I wish I had attended and beyond that many more cons around the world.  It seemed that from March of 2010 to November of 2010 there was practically a comic book convention or event every weekend!  And even at the lowest attended show, the floor was packed and the halls filled with comic book fans waiting in lines for sketches and autographs, attending panels, and buying comic and geek themed merchandise.  A few years ago, you could attend a couple of shows a year around the country and have a good feel for the con circuit, now for those of us in the comics media and the comics professionals, we have to pick and choose our shows, and by the time the holidays roll around, we're exhausted from attending so many shows.  This is a great problem to have.  Whenever I worry about sales and that sort of thing, I think back to the long lines and thousands of fans I rubbed elbows with at the cons and remember that there is a rabid and loyal audience out there.
 

4. Comics From Outside our Comfort Zone
I really felt that 2010 was a watermark year for comics that I would describe as ones outside our comfort zone.  Sure, Marvel and DC and super hero comics dominate the marketplace and there's always been a vibrant and active independent and foreign scene, but readers across both worlds rarely seemed to cross, until this year.  This year I heard more and more of my peers, friends and many of you reading just as much super hero comics as non-super hero comics.  I have to admit, when I look at the books that we talked the most about in 2010, I didn't expect that list to include books like Pluto, Blacksad, Body World, Afrodisiac, Torpedo and many more.  These became the comics we talked about, shared and added to our reading lists alongside Batman and Robin and Avengers, making us collectively better comic readers, trying new things and broadening our horizons.  Not that super hero comics are bad.  Don't get me wrong, I'll love 'em til the day I die, but after reading some of these…other comics, I have to say that I feel as if I've grown as a reader.

 

3. Independent Publishers Get It
In a marketplace dominated by Marvel and DC, you have to wonder how Image, IDW, Boom!, Archaia, Oni Press and all the other independent publishers could survive.  An yet, they seem to not only be surviving, but thriving.  To see the booths of publishers like Archaia and Oni grow to the size they are now at San Diego is amazing.  Image Comics continues to push the boundaries of the industry and has given us some of the best new series in years in the form of Chew and Morning Glories.  Hell, the single best book I read all year, Parker: The Outfit, was published by IDW, who also found success in licenses like G.I. Joe and unique books like Tribes: The Dog Years.  Archaia is taking risks left and right, and finding success with books like Tumor and Return of the Dapper Men.  This year has been filled with tales of unlikely comics and graphic novels that you wonder if they'll find an audience, and thankfully not only do they, but they find big audiences and become success stories.  It's so fantastic to see these independent publishers honing their products and audiences and giving creative talent a place to come and make amazing comics.  To think if these publishers weren't around, we would have missed out on a lot of great stories.  
 

2. Artists!
Us pundits have been saying for the past few years that we're living in the age of the writer.  Brian Michael Bendis, Geoff Johns, Ed Brubaker, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Greg Rucka, the list goes on and on as it's seemed as if the driving force of talent in the comic book industry has been on the writing side of things.  But this year, I felt a real tide change in terms of celebrating some of the amazingly talented artists we're surrounded by every week.  With the emergence of the force of Comics Twart, all the amazingly talented artists there like Chris Samnee, Francesco Francavilla, Evan Shaner and too many more to even list here, dazzle us week in and week out with sketches that honestly are some of the best art I've ever seen.  Add to that the sketches and work of folks like Gabe Hardman, Mahmud Asrar and all the other great artists who grace our own weekly Sketch Up post, it's a great time to just dive in and enjoy art.  But then to see that high level of art move from the sketch phase to the publishing world, I would have to say without hesitation that 2010 was one of the best years for art in comics that I've seen in a very long time.  Seeing artists like Chris Samnee and Jamie McKelvie (Who's I've known is a superstar for years) get regular work from Marvel has been a joy.  Seeing artists like Francis Manapul, Ron Garney and many more grow and evolve their styles with consistent issues has been amazing.  Seeing artists like Skottie Young get the attention they deserve be it through Eisner Awards, or other awards puts a smile on my face that never fades.  2010 truly was a year of great art in my opinion and this could be the beginning of a golden age of comic book art, if we're lucky.

 

1. The Comics Community
I know what you're thinking, "This is the cheesy part where he gushes about how great we are and how everything is flowers and hearts and wonderful."  And you may be right about that, but I still think it's worth saying that the one thing that keeps me active and involved in this crazy comic book industry is the community.  And by community, I don't mean just us fans, but everyone.  Doing what we do affords us a certain amount of luck and access to many parts of the comic book industry, from the creators to the publishers, to the retailers, to the comics media.  We're in a unique spot in the middle where we get to interact with nearly everyone and it's amazing at how at every corner of the industry, we're surrounded by awesome people.  The thing about comics is, for professionals and fans alike, we're here for one reason: We love comics.  This world isn't rewarding unless you have that passion and love, and it comes out with every interaction that I've had in 2010.  Writers and artists bust their asses because they love making comics.  Publishers work super hard to get the comics printed and released because, while it is a business, it's a business they love.  We love writing and talking about comics, or else we wouldn't be doing this.  And finally, hopefully, all of you love the comics that get published and love talking about them good or bad.  It's a rare world where this amount of passion is so free-flowing, and the end result is a really positive atmosphere to work in.  Walk the aisles of a comic book convention, this past year it's been a lot of smiles, hugs, high fives and other expressions of positivity and that makes for an amazing community to work in.  One that I love to be a part of and hope to be for a very long time.

 

So there you have it, I've distilled 2010 into the best and worst of things that matter to me.  As always, this is my opinion and by no means meant to be some sort of statement on how things should or shouldn't be.  Rather just a glimpse into what I thought of 2010.  Thank you for an amazing year, one of iFanboy's best, and here's to another amazing year in 2011!

Comments

  1. Speaking of the comic community – any more details on the iFanboy forum? I emailed in a while back, so don’t mean to nag, just think it’d be good to have somewhere to discuss comics with likeminded fans.

  2. #1: yes. In 2010 I FINALLY decided to look more into this iTunes thing I have. I normally just put my own stuff on it and put in on my iPod but I decided to look at the iTunes store and see what’s what.
    Hello Comic Book Podcasts and HELLO iFanboy! It was the fist I found then there were many others that I eventually worked down to a managable few: iFanoy, CGS and the Book Report. Pretty much in that order too. I love knowing that I can hear people talking about comics, regardless if I agree with it or not, any day I want not just Wednesdays when I go to my LCS.
    I’ve met more comics fans here and there and love it.

    Conventions were good as well. Here in Michigan we finally added a second convention, Detroit Fanfare, which is a COMIC BOOK convention, unlike the Motor City ComiCon which mostly focuses on has been actors and former WWF performers (but the $5 trades will keep me going back, last year I grabbed all the Annihialtion trades, 6 total, for $30). My hope is with a show that supports comics fans (Fanfare) that Motor City will shift it’s focus. Over the past 10 years or so it’s slowly leaned away from comics to the point I’m there for a few hours, get bored and leave.

  3. Ron, you basically like everything all the time so this list is a bit gratuitous. Show me your “worst things” list!

  4. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @ArtiePhilie  He posted it yesterday. There’s a link to it in the opening line of this article. 

  5. 2011 Claremont and Adams TEAMUP!!! Let’s start a Campaign!!

  6. @Ron huzzah for the echo love! Echo started right around the same time as rasl, another new series from a cartoonist well known for one definitive work (jeff smith). Both have been vast departures from the authors’ previous work (although in light of recent events maybe not that removed in echo!) and both have been brilliant (IMHO I actually feel like the narrative in echo is actually stronger than SIP) the key difference? Echo is on like issue 28 RASL is on issue 9

  7. I’m telling you if you like Pluto ya gotta read the following: Black Jack, DevilMan, and ESPECIALLY Phoenix, Osamu’s most COVETTED & profound work. Words are failing me right now to telling you how well written and emotional Phoenix is. My words don’t do it justice. I can only say it is worth reading, at least checking out for those of you who may not have tried it otherwise. Some pages will move you.

  8. Batman Odyssey and X-Men Forever?
    Really?
    They are just sad, bad comics from guys would used to seem to care about their work.
    Neil Adams should still draw comics – but please stop writing.
    And Claremont needs to just retire.
    I understand Ron finds these amusing . . . but what the comic industry needs now is to stop putting out worthless issues like this. It seems like there are more and more weakly written comics out on the market.
    Oh, there are fantastic titles out there — but It’s all starting to feel like the 90’s again.

  9. #10 should be ifanboy.com but Ron’s too modest to say it.