Comic Books 2014: The Year in Review

Also includes Best of the Year Awards

As the year closes it’s time to see how much you would have spent to read all the books that I’ve reviewed. I purchased a little over 388 new comics this year. The breakdown by publisher is as follows:

DC 148, Dark Horse 112, IDW 47, Marvel 15, BOOM! Comics 11, Image 10, Aspen comics 8, Red 5 Comics 6, Titan 5, Zenescope 5, Avatar 3, Bongo 3, Vertigo 3, Moonstone 2, Oni 2, Action Lab 1, AP 1, and Renegade Arts Entertainment 1

I enjoy DC the most because the company has super heroes I enjoy and the price, often $2.99, which has me trying more of their books. Coming in second was Dark Horse. I enjoy their movie properties, such as Star Wars, Alien, Predator, and Terminator. IDW has Star Trek and The X-Files. I was a major Marvel Zombie in the 1980s and am always looking to find a title from them that makes me get that thrill I used to have, so I have them at fourth. BOOM! Studios makes a surprising appearance in fifth due to Big Trouble in Little China, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Sleepy Hollow.

The cover prices of all the books come to $1351.57. Now I didn’t pay cover price, I joined my local comic book store’s club to get 10%, so I did have a bit taken off, but sales tax pushed it back up some.  The breakdown for each price is as follows:

$2.99 132, $3.50 87, $3.99 151, $4.99 10, and $7.99 3

This surprised me as I thought I was purchasing most of my books at the lowest price, but the majority were well over that. I’m really not thrilled with paying $3.99 for a comic book and have resisted trying a lot of titles because of that price. Dark Horse has slickly gone to $3.50 for most of the books I read and that doesn’t make me wince as much as that dreaded $3.99.

There was some fantastic work this year in comics and it deserves praise, so here are my selections for The Best In Comics for 2014:

Best Cover Artist: Stephanie Buscema. Her work stands head and shoulders over all others. It’s got a unique retro vibe to it, but still maintains a cool, new factor. I’ve found most of her work on books from Dynamite, including Red Sonja and Vampirella. Her work is poster and print worthy. Seek her work out!

Best Letterer: Nate Piekos of Blambot. It seemed that whenever I ran across interesting lettering it was by Piekos. He’s behind the fantastic font that graces the lettering of Dark Horse Comics’ Fire and Stone books, featuring Alien and Predator. Where most fonts for dialogue look acceptable, he created a thin, graceful font that suggests elegance and the future.

Best Colorist: Hi-Fi. Whenever I come across a book that has dynamic, bold colors it’s by Hi-Fi. The attention this group puts into their work is joyous to look at. They are able to match the detail that any artist puts into their work, most notably on Justice League 3000. I can’t imagine how much time is put into giving color to the minutiae in the artwork on that book. They are the gold standard in comic coloring.

Best Inker: Scott Hanna. Every time I found myself catching some sharply drawn work, or work that was obviously salvaged, it seemed that Hanna was involved. His work can often be found in DC or Marvel Comics. I encountered him usually on one of the many Lantern books at DC. The inker has always got the tricky job of making lines thick or thin and he’s a master.

Best Artist: Howard Porter. I am a huge fan of science fiction and Porter has combined this genre with super heroes incredibly in Justice League 3000. As future incarnations of iconic super heroes battle baddies, the settings and supporting characters are the dreams of sci-fi fans. The attention to detail is astounding and no other artist I can think of does such jaw dropping setting establishments, usually in splash pages. It’s amazing to look at his work.

Best Writer: Joe Harris. His writing on IDW’s The X-Files is consistently excellent. Harris has pushed the characters forward into new adventures while maintaining their quirks and actions. The interactions between Mulder and Scully are written as well as any of the classic television episodes. His Lone Gunmen make me fall in love again with these characters whenever they appear. His plots have taken classic tropes and made them his own. Fantastic writing.

Best Franchise: TIE: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 and Angel & Faith: Season 10. I just couldn’t separate this pair. They were chosen because they have consistently excellent story and art. They continue the adventures of their classic characters, taking them to places that television budgets never could. A great combination of drama, thrills, and comedy. This is the perfect continuation of a series begun in another format.

Best Mini-Series: The Shadow: Year One. For the second year in a row a Dynamite series featuring the Shadow claims this category. Matt Wagner and Wilfredo Torres have created a classic tale of a hero making his mark on a city filled with gangs and something unnatural. This series instantly transports the reader to the time and has them lost among the alleys and streets of a metropolis that a hero must save. Incredibly fun and cool.

Best Photonovel: Star Trek: New Visions. Yes, this deserves a category unto itself. John Byrne is doing the impossible–taking images from classic Star Trek episodes and manipulating them, as well as creating new ones, to have new adventures for this iconic series. As a fan of Star Trek, I’m constantly surprised and overjoyed to see these books. Not quite a comic book, but read like one, these are must reading for every Trekkie.

Best Title: B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth. As with Best Franchise, this series has to be chosen for consistently excellent story and art. This is quite a feat, as a different artist works on a different story arc. The writing is always by Mike Mignola and Scott Allie and it took a major turn this year with the return of the Black Flame as a series baddie. To show humanity fighting to survive against the supernatural month after month and not make it a depressing grind deserves an award, but to create such an ensemble of characters and have each individual’s life matter in the scheme of things is epic. That’s what this series is, an epic each month.

Those are my picks. I’m looking forward to seeing more from all these creators and where they take their characters.

 

 

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

    3 Comments on this post.
  • Shannon
    30 December 2014 at 6:50 pm -

    …You only bought 388 comics this entire year?

    • Ian Cullen
      1 January 2015 at 5:02 pm -

      He’s slacking:)

      I got 100.000 actually better add a couple more zeroes.:)

  • Patrick Hayes
    2 January 2015 at 5:16 am -

    I thought I bought less.

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