Here we are at the final stretch. We’ve already detailed our favorite comics in the “everything else” category, as well as the best series category, and today we let you know who we think are the best comic book creators of 2018. We didn’t run rankings, nor poll the staff, but we did open our hearts and let the entire staff decide by chiming in with their favorite comics creators of 2018. Read below to see the results!
Clayton Cowles – Mister Miracle, Batman, The Wicked + The Divine, Venom and many more
Cowles has been turning out some of the best lettering work in comics for a good few years now and 2018 is no different. The year’s had some absolutely amazing work from innumerable talents, spanning from Tom Ozrechowski, Nate Pierkos, Steve Wands, Josh Reed to plenty more. But Cowles’ work stole the show, especially through his tenure on Mister Miracle, a title that is on its way to being a modern classic. Ever stylish, experimental and meticulous, Cowles’ work is consistently impressive and thoughtful.
- Ritesh Babu
Steve Oliff – The Green Lantern
The Legendary Steve Oliff returned to the mainstream world this year for The Green Lantern and as one might expect, it’s a majestic arrival. Tackling a book all about light and color demands a certain standard of work and Oliff surpasses all expectations with his versatility and sense for coloring. Seamlessly moving from the dull streets of Earth to the cosmic vistas of space, Oliff manages to cohesively build a universe and polishes every piece of the page to its pinnacle. His lush color work which moves beyond the expectations of the typical superhero title is really what sets the tone for this sci-fi saga. Oliff is back with a vengeance to take our breath away once more.
- Ritesh Babu
Benjamin Dewey – Beasts of Burden: Wise Dogs and Eldritch Men
Beasts of Burden: Wise Dogs and Eldritch Men is a lot of things: bewitching, brutal, beautiful and strange. One thing it’s not, however, is bland. This is in large part due to to the fantastic palette chosen by artist and colorist Benjamin Dewey. Dancing between bone pale whites and greys, fire-bright glowing oranges, blue jay-esque blues, and bloody reds, everything here is as eye-catching and enchanting as the world of strange dogs and their magics has ever been.
- Forrest Hollingsworth
Matt Wilson – The Wicked + The Divine, Paper Girls, The Mighty Thor, Runaways
The winner of 2017’s Eisner Award for best colorist, Matt Wilson has had another great year. With Paper Girls and The Wicked + The Divine, Wilson provides colors on two books that cover a lot of different locations and times. Wilson’s talent with being able to create multiple distinct color palettes makes it so easy to instantly recognize the change in setting or time period just by looking at the colors. Add in his work with lighting and light effects on WicDiv and his work is phenomenal. The added cherry on top is WicDiv #36, where he had to color 65 panels showing the same scene in 65 different years, locations and cultures. Each panel was distinctive and up to his usual high standards.
- Mark Buckeldee
Zack Kaplan, writer
A graduate of USC’s Film School, Zack Kaplan has churned out three stellar creator-owned series since emerging on the comics scene just two years ago. His career kicked off with the critically acclaimed sci-fi thriller Eclipse at Image, a series that was quickly switched from a mini to an ongoing series, before launching the incredible Port of Earth in 2017 and Lost City Explorers earlier this year. Kaplan’s comic career is off to an incredible start with these three titles, and comic readers will be seeing his name more and more in the coming years.
- Connor Christiansen
Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler, writers
They may not be that new but I discovered my love for this writing team with their work on Cable. Since then they’ve become mainstays on X-Men books and will be writing The Marvelous X-Men #1 this February. Their work on Cable was exceptional for one main reason: Each issue was enjoyable in itself while also building on a bigger story. A pet peeve of mine when it comes to comic storytelling is a series that tells a slow six part story over six issues with single issues sometimes only giving you part of a story. Single issues should at least deliver a story that could fit into a 30-minute episode of a show, not simply 10 minutes of an hour long show. Nadler and Thompson are great at this and you get more bang for your buck when reading their stories.
- David Brooke
Donny Cates really got his breakout this year and he completely deserves it. Thanos Wins put him on the stage with the big boys and Marvel has realized he is the guy for them from now on. He’s gotten a mini based off of a character he created in Thanos, he got to kill the Inhumans, he made Venom popular again, he rebooted Marvel Knights and he’s getting Guardians of the Galaxy and ANOTHER mini about Cosmic Ghost Rider next year. The man just can’t be stopped. He’s also one of the nicest people you’ll meet — I got a chance to meet him earlier this year and I still can’t get over it. Cates is my best writer of 2018 and I have no doubt he’s going to be the same in 2019.
- Robyn Montgomery
Where do I even begin with the variety of masterful storytelling Saladin Ahmed graced us with this year? From concluding what I would argue is the definitive Inhumans story with Black Bolt; to diving into the heart of Pietro Maximoff in Quicksilver; to delivering a compelling fantasy-noir thriller with Abbott; to creating outrageous and exciting worlds in the Marvel multiverse in Exiles; Ahmed has proven that no matter what kind of story you want with whichever characters you’re interested in, he’s your man. What I love most about his storytelling is his ability to give voice to marginalized identities which are represented in comics far less than others. His version of Valkyrie in Exiles based on Tessa Thompson’s portrayal from Thor: Ragnarok was an absolute delight and her relationship with Becky Barnes warmed my heart. I can’t wait to read his take on Miles Morales in the new Spider-Man series, but I’m already positive I’m going to love it.
- Trevor Richardson
Bryan Edward Hill
I have been a fan of Hill’s work ever since a friend turned me on to Postal, a title Hill wrote for Top Cow that I highly recommend. Postal will always be a favorite of mine, but let’s look at Bryan’s work from this year. Dare I say this was his breakout year? Let’s go down the list: An entertaining Detective Comics run, What If? X-Men, The Wild Storm: Michael Cray, Spider-Man Annual, Kiss: Blood and Stardust, the critically acclaimed American Carnage, the sold-out Killmonger, hell, he even made Hong Kong Phooey look like a master straight out of a Wu-Tang flick. Forgive me if I have left out any titles. But Hill has straight killed it this year and he puts so much research into making his projects genuine. You have to admire his craft. I can’t wait to see what he does in 2019!
- David Hildebrand
Clay Mann – Heroes in Crisis, Batman
Clay Mann has really taken the spotlight this year with his work at DC. He’s always been fantastic, going back to his Valiant work and even early DC work on Poison Ivy. But 2018 has very much been his year. Headlining DC’s key Crisis event, he’s proving himself to be among the best in the business. With a style that screams ‘definitive’ no matter what character he tackles, Mann presents the DC pantheon as both mythic in their stature and human in their struggles. Carrying hints of legends such as Jim Lee and Olivier Coipel and working alongside brilliant colorists like Tomeu Morey, his artwork has truly astonished by reaching new heights.
- Ritesh Babu
Joe Bennett – Immortal Hulk
I read a lot of comics each week and this might be the hardest category to determine, especially in 2018. The number of great artists in the field is unparalleled with different styles seemingly popping up all the time. The conventional detailed superhero comic art seems to be abundant. It’s a lot different than the days when Jim Lee was drawing and I’d argue there are several Jim Lee-level artists out there today. This is a long-winded way of saying Joe Bennett strikes me as one of the best of the year because his art feels so cutting edge. The angles of Hulk’s face and the grotesque nature of the monstrosities are incredible. They stay with you. If I think back to all the excellent art I could put many names here, but it’s Bennett’s that still haunts me. In a good way.
- David Brooke
Christian Ward – Black Bolt
I’ve never seen a book brought to life quite like the way Christian Ward brought Black Bolt to life between last year and this. Dancing the delicate line between hard sci-fi and ethereal, evocative psychedelic worldscapes awash in watercolor-esque palettes of serene blues, inky blacks, and peculiar pinks dictate the capture and emancipation of the most powerful and popular Inhuman in a way I won’t soon forget, nor want to.
- Forrest Hollingsworth
AHOY is not just the best new publisher of 2018, they’re the best publisher of 2018. With only four books they prove that it is quality over quantity, while at the same time absolutely packing each book with just a comical amount of good content. Whether it’s comics, prose, poetry, or cartoons, AHOY has you covered. From Earth swapped superheroes to dystopian heavens to space cats to Edgar Allan Poe, AHOY has something for everyone. If you think you’ve read it all, or have that friend that “just can’t get into comic books” then AHOY is exactly what you — and the industry — needs.
- Alex McDonald