Well, it’s the end of the year, and what better way to recap it than by making a list! So check out what I liked best in 2011!
Writer of the Year: Peter Milligan
2011 really seemed to be a year where I fell in love with what Milligan was doing. The funny thing about that, is his titles both contain John Constantine. Hellblazer was a book that I was always afraid to get on board with due to how far into the series it was. However, after jumping in around the time of the wedding, I was hooked. Milligan also took a book I had no interest in, Justice League Dark, and made it a book I want to read. While I can’t say he will hold this spot next year, this year Milligan reigned supreme in the land of Decapitated Dan.
Honorable Mentions: Kurtis Wiebe, Jeff Lemire, Joe Hill
Artist of the Year: Leonardo Manco
Leonardo Manco came into 2011 like a freight train lending his magic pen and pencil to the amazing series Driver for the Dead. It would have to take something a little extra though for me to choose him, and that something is Hellraiser. Manco’s style mixed with horror comics is as natural as peanut butter mixed with jelly. I cannot wait to see what he brings to the drawing table in 2012.
Honorable Mentions: Gabe Rodriquez, Riley Rossmo, Mark Bloodworth
Horror Publisher of the Year: Antarctic Press
Now before you all start riots or dig your nails into your scalp from scratching your heads so hard, you need to know that I LOVE what Antarctic Press brings to the horror table. In 2011 we saw titles like The Last Zombie, To Fight with Monsters, Steampunk Halloween, The Planet of the Living Dead series, Diary of a Zombie Kid, Fail of the Living Dead, and A Very Zombie Christmas. That line-up got nothing but high scores in my reviews, and it leaves me wanting so much more from this company in 2012. Quality throughout the entire line.
Honorable Mentions: DC/Vertigo, IDW, Image
Best Ongoing: 28 Days Later
Yes, I do know that this series ended, but any other ongoing title would still have a hard time topping 28 Days Later on my list. For two years this book went strong as Michael Alan Nelson and a few artists bridged the gap between the two movies. And while it did end, it left the story wide open for so much more. So as I sit here and cross my fingers, take a chance and check out what this series was able to accomplish.
Honorable Mentions: Hellblazer, Green Wake, Hellraiser
Best Mini-Series: Locke & Key: Keys to the Kingdom
I think by now most people know that nothing sits at the top of my comic list like Locke & Key does. This is a series that I am 100% devoted to and cannot wait for the next issue to come out. Keys to the Kingdom took this series to a higher level, and left so many questions in my head that I almost burst at the seams waiting for Clockworks to start. If you ask me, Hill and Rodriquez have crafted something that will be mentioned along with the greatest comics stories ever told.
Honorable Mentions: ‘68, The Last Zombie, The Vault
Best Small Press Title: Bob Howard: Plumber of the Unknown
Have you ever tasted a truffle? An item that is hard to find and yet has so much value? In the horror comic world there are so many small press books being made, and Bob Howard: Plumber of the Unknown is the truffle. The humor and detail that are put into this book on both creative sides make it shine. Rafael Nieves is a man who has a horror story to tell, and Dan Dougherty was born to depict it.
Honorable Mentions: Vegetable Wars, The Killing Jar
Best Book You Never Heard Of: Drop Dead Dangerous
Drop Dead Dangerous brought something to the horror table that I have not seen in a while – serial killing in comics. While this one may have flown under the radar of everyone, I think you could only read it on Drive-Thru Comics, it was great. The artwork mixed with the storytelling was unique and original. A great hidden gem to check out.
Honorable Mentions: Brutally Frank, Anatomy of a System
Best Comedy Title: Futurama
If you know me, then this one is possibly a no-brainer. Most know I am a huge Futurama fan, so getting a bi-monthly comic is the best thing that could happen. The writing on this series is so spot on with the humor of the show, and I personally think that the stories take a good amount of time to read, so you are getting your money’s worth. Along with Locke & Key, this is one book I will never miss.
Honorable Mentions: Skullkickers, Lenore, The Living Corpse
Best Non-Horror Title: Critical Millennium
While I am HUGE on the horror genre, Sci-Fi never really does it for me. So when Drew Gaska asked me to take a look at the first issue of Critical Millennium I was surprised at how great it was. This is a mini-series that took me 45 – 60 minutes to read a single issue. You would think with that much content there wouldn’t even be pictures, but there were and man were they GORE-Geous! If anyone asks me to recommend a Sci-Fi title you had better believe this will be the first thing coming out of my mouth.
Honorable Mentions: The Sixth Gun, Skullkickers
Best OGN: Deadworld: The Last Siesta
So much bias already just leads way to more, but how can you not get excited about getting brand new Deadworld stories! The Last Siesta told a new story, in a new country and introduced me to almost an entirely new cast. Gary Reed and Gary Francis scripted a fantastic chapter to add to the Deadworld’verse, and when you add in art by Mark Bloodworth you make my neck drip just a little more blood. I’m seriously still drooling over these pages.
Honorable Mentions: Julius Destructus, Vessel of Terror, Flesh and Blood
Best Collected Book: Deadworld Classics Vol. 2 / Deadworld Omnibus
Back to back categories and 2 titles in this one alone give Deadworld a 3-peat in this years picks! Classics Vol. 2 collects more of the great stories by Vince Locke and crew. It even has a foreword written by yours truly. The Omnibus collects all of the rebooted material (Requiem for the World, Frozen Over and Slaughterhouse). For the price tags on these two collections you are stealing from IDW and company, these are books I will recommend picking up until the zombies crawl back in their graves.
Honorable Mentions: Creepy Presents Bernie Wrightson, Showcase Presents The Witching Hour. Zombies that Ate the World. Vol. 1
Best Historical Book: The Weird World of Eerie Publications
Alright first of all, this came out in 2010, however I didn’t do the best of in 2010, so this baby gets the top spot, so ha! Many people don’t know this but when I was going to start writing a book on the great Eerie Pubs, I found on Mike Howlett already was, and I was relieved! This book covers so much history on the ugly step-cousin of the old school horror mags and should be on your shelf, no questions asked.
Honorable Mentions: Bob Powell’s Terror: The Chilling Archives of Horror Comics Volume 2
Best Mainstream Anthology: Nightmare World Vol. 2: Demon Days
Every year around Halloween this nagging sound always comes back to my ears. That sound is the voice of Dirk Manning telling me that it is time to once again talk Nightmare World. This is a great collection of shorts that seem to have something for everyone. A mix of art styles and themes that all lead back to one thing, horror.
Honorable Mentions: Creepy, Unexpected, Heavy Metal
Best Small Press Anthology: Strange Aeons Magazine
If you are a Lovecraft fan you had better have this magazine on your list of things to check out in 2012. No wait, why do you not know about this magazine yet? Strange Aeons is a quarterly title that deserves more recognition and needs to be on any horror comic fans radar. Combining the large monsters you expect with original stories on Lovecraftian themes this one is a can’t miss.
Honorable Mentions: Blokes Tomb of Horror Annual 2011, Strange Kids Club, ZombieBomb
Best Comeback: The Living Corpse
When I think about it I can’t really believe that The Living Corpse was gone for a few years. Probably because Ken and Buz were always sharing what was going on with the book while it was in it’s down time. So big props to Dynamite and the boys behind the book to get his rotting face on the shelves again. It is great to have this book back in the land of the living! Make sure to check out issue #3 for a special guest appearance.
Honorable Mentions: Jack o’Lantern (Marvel), The Heap, Animal Man
So there you have it. My picks for the best of 2011!
• Note: It was not easy to make this list. There are so many great horror comics that come out each year, so I say to you, create your own list and let the world know what stood out to you. When it came to choosing the writer and artist of the year I specifically took into consideration people who worked on more than one book for the year.