The House of Flying Scalpels 2013 Comic Awards!

HOFS 2013

Of all the posts I have written, this one certainly took the most work but it was a labour of love because I enjoyed every single minute of it. Thank you to all 88 participants and, as I learnt with my last post, it took some time to fill out the questionnaire! These are the results of Part A, because these are the actual rewards and it is already a long enough post. I will write another post next week summarising the answers to the specific questions regarding major issues in the DC, Marvel and Image universes.

With regards to questions involving top three answers, I have weighted each nomination with a points system and tallied the totals into a percentage to give a top ten. I have also posted some particularly poignant comments from people, and I apologise if I have not used yours but there was an exceptional number. I have used them, not to rave about the winners but to highlight some of the lower placed nominations for people to check out.

Without further ado let us get on with the results!


Best PublisherUntitled

1. Image               47%

2. Marvel                              31%

3. DC                                    3%

=4.Valiant, SelfMadeHero, Dynamite, Dark Horse

This was not entirely surprising as I was quite hopeful of this result. It shows a stark contrast to last years combined winners of DC & Marvel. Marvel has been very strong whilst DC has plummeted for a multitude of reasons, but huge congratulations to Image. Let us see what you had to say:

“Going to completely surprise even myself with this answer – Image. They have an amazingly varied catalogue, and they’re not afraid to take risks with subject matter.”

Image – The majority of #1`s have been revelations, some series haven`t sustained that quality but they are always worth picking up.”
Marvel without a doubt giving great stories, Marvel unlimited and free digital codes, whereas DC has just given half the people who wanted them a crappy 3D cover.”
Marvel – Each title scratches a very different itch, yet occurs in the same continuity. It is tempting to choose a smaller press for this, but for a company in the Big Two to still seem fresh and relevant, that is something to tip your hat too.”

“It has to be Image, right? I mean…how could it not be. It’s not even a fair contest at this point, but I suppose it was a sweet gesture to ask, just to make the other publishers feel better.”
Image Comics. If anyone says anything other than Image, they are clearly not reading Image.”

Best WriterJonathan-Hickman

1. Jonathan Hickman      14%

2. Matt Fraction                              13%

3. Scott Snyder                               9%

4. Brian K Vaughan 5. Dan Slott 6. Jason Aaron 7. Kieron Gillen 8. Brian Bendis 9. Rick Remender 10. Matt Kindt

Snyder is knocked off his throne! There are an incredible number of Marvel and Image creators on this list, and Snyder seems to be carrying the DC flag all alone. Honestly the race to first place between Hickman and Fraction went right down to the final vote. Some choice quotes:

Jonathan Hickman – Let’s look at his year: Two flagship Avengers books, spearheaded the big Marvel event and still had enough time to release some great creator owned books through Image and help launch another concept at Avatar. Infinity was the best event in recent memory and East of West is one of the best creator owned books on the market. “

Scott Snyder – Batman, the wrap-up to Swamp Thing and The Wake. All brilliant. He’s kept Batman at the top of the charts for over two years, something no-one has done before.”

“I am genuinely upset I was unable to place Matt Fraction on this list, because he has produced such immense variety and deep soul searching work. I implore you to find a common theme to his books, that is how diverse he is.” 

Charles Soule – How many books is this guy writing? He revived Swamp Thing following the over-long Rotworld saga. He made Superman/Wonder Woman the best Superman book on the shelves. Letter 44 was the biggest thing produced by Oni in years.”

Simon Spurrier – Whether it’s the perfect balance of character and plot in X-Men: Legacy or the out and out bizarre craziness that was Six Gun Gorilla I just know it’s going to be something completely different to everything else out there.”

Dennis Hopeless – What can I say the man made me (almost) cry in Avengers Arena, made me laugh and jump up and down in excitement at every issue of Cable and X-Force. He had the hardest job out of everyone in Marvel NOW!”

Jim Zub – Skullkickers is a great joy in my life, it avoids sliding into the playful sleaze that fantasy comedy often does and while everyone in the book is a cliche, nothing about the book itself is. It seems like a love letter to high fantasy/role playing fans without being foul or meta.”


Best Artist2748986-aja_1

1. David Aja                    10%

2. Greg Capullo                            9%

3. Fiona Staples                           6%

4. Sean Murphy 5. Esad Ribic 6. Chris Samnee 7. Jamie McKelvie 8. Francesco Francavilla 9. Mike Allred 10. Ryan Stegman

Well this year was much closer than last year between the top two, but Aja just takes it. There were an exceptionally large number of contenders this year with a total of well over fifty artists making it into people’s top three lists. It was also good to see Fiona Staples taking third spot. Here is what people said:

David Aja – Drawing a whole issue of a superhero comic from the point of view of a dog? No one could have pulled it off quite like that.”

Mike Allred – Nothing makes me happier than opening a book with his art in it. He’s as perfect a match for Fraction’s writing on FF as Aja is for Fraction on Hawkeye.”

Tony Daniel – Yeah, I know, but stepping away from writing chores has revitalised his artwork. From a fill-in on Justice League to the aborted Diggle story on Action Comics, Daniel started to get my attention again, but it was his glorious work on Superman/Wonder Woman that won me back to an artist I haven’t clicked with since Battle for Gotham.”

Brandon Graham – Putting aside the amazing sketch of Catmaster Mudd that he did for me and his creator owned (and awesome) Multiple Warheads, Brandon Graham’s prophet is just amazing and the ideas in those pages are indescribable, yet work incredibly well.”


Best Colouristphoto

1. Jordie Bellaire                32%

2. Matt Hollingsworth                       9%

= Dean White                                     9%

4. Val Staples 5. Fco Plascencia 6. Ive Svorcina 7. Javier Rodriguez 8. Laura Allred 9. Jonathon Glapion 10. Alex Sinclair

Congratulations to Jordie Bellaire who has flown high this year because of the incredible poignancy of her colouring, on many a book. Her astounding score shows how marked her name as become to comic readers everywhere. This was a deliberate question because I want to increase the profile and importance of the colourist to graphic art. With Jordie at the helm hopefully next year will provide more responses.

Jordie Bellaire. She’s spectacular. The stuff she did with Filipe Andrade on Captain Marvel is pure poetry.”

Jordie Bellaire continues to impress on Manhattan Projects. I’m sure working with a detail artist like Nick Pitarra is not the easiest, but Bellaire handles it like a champ. Additionally, I love the contrast between the “good” and “bad” (blue and red) characters and objects when it crops up.”

FCO Plascencia colors on Batman are another great highlight of this title. I love the way FCO makes the tone and colors shift as the story move backwards and forwards in time, he makes Greg Capullo’s Art and Danny Miki’s Inks come alive on the page.”

Dean White – For his true artistic hand in creating such vivid and beautifully coloured pieces of work. He doesn’t just splash some colour on the page, as you do see in some comics, Dean really adds a new dimension to a comic.”

“I know he isn’t strictly a colourist, however I am going to pick Jeff Lemire, purely for his work on Trillium. the colours and artwork are amazing and so very unique. I can’t think of another comic that is as visually compelling as Trillium.”


Best Creative Teamgreg-capullo-y-scott-snyder

1. Snyder/Capullo     Batman         14%

2. Fraction/Aja                      Hawkguy              10%

3. Vaughan/Staples              Saga                      9%

4. Gillen/McKelvie – Young Avengers 5. Aaron/Ribic – Thor 6. Snyder/Murphy – The Wake. 7. Hickman/Dragotta – East of West =7. Slott/Ramos – Superior Spider-Man 9. Hopeless/Walker – Avengers Arena =9.Waid/Samnee – Daredevil

I knew we could not keep Batman down for long because people have adored Death of the Family and loved Zero Year just too much. Individually they may now be watching the throne, but they rule supreme as a team. Congratulations and let us peruse the comments section:

Gillen and McKelvie – They aren’t the greatest on their own but I think as a team you can tell they are on the same page and are friends who love working together and making a complete story where art and story match.”

Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, only because I truly can’t imagine Saga in anyone else’s hands…then again, Matt Fraction and David Aja on Hawkeye are the essence of that title for me”

Fraction and Allred. I genuinely feel their work is closer in tone than Fraction and Aja.”
Fred Van Lente and Max Dunbar on The Mocking Dead. This is the perfect combination of parody and homage to the zombie genre. Fast writing with gory violence that is very afraid to not take itself seriously in a serious situation.”

Best Mainstream ComicHAWKEYE2012001_DC11

1. Hawkeye                     14%

2. Batman                                     12%

3. Superior Spider-Man               9%

4. Daredevil 5. Thor 6. Young Avengers 7. New Avengers 8. Superior Foes of Spider-Man 9. Avengers 10. Captain Marvel

There really is a battle between Hawkeye and Batman this year, with the former reigning supreme. I find the correlation between the above awards and this one quite interesting. It is good to see Superior Spider-Man so high but the individual creators are not on their respective top threes. I also note there is a barrage of Avengers books lifting up the lower ranks. It is really intriguing that there was no a single Avengers, Thor or Spider-Man book in the top ten last year. Here are some delectable quotes:

Captain America – I was very skeptical of this when I picked it the series but Captain America’s struggles were very captivating and it was the first time in a long time that Cap has been on the losing side and really had to dig deep for his survival.”
Superior Spider-Man – I added SSM to my pull list, and also began hunting down preceding trades, to get the full history and lead up to SSM. Most importantly: I’m loving. every. panel. It’s all Dan Slott’s fault.”
X-Men: Legacy – It started with an opening issue so confusing I could have dropped it there and then. But by the end of the first arc it all perfectly made sense and set up one hell of a mission statement. It took a different approach that was hard to argue against. And, Oh my, the covers: every issue something so amazing and different.”
“Surprisingly, All-New X-men. I’m not a Bendis guy, but the way he’s handling the X-books right now is supremely enjoyable, especially the originals being brought forward to current day, and (spoiler) as of now, not being able to go home has been just great.”

Best Creator Owned Comicsaga covr

1. Saga                         18%

2. East of West                         7%

3. Lazarus                                 6%

= Sex Criminals

5. Mind MGMT 6. Rat Queens 7. The Walking Dead 8. Locke & Key 9. Rachel Rising 10. Manhattan Projects.

I love this category because there are five new books in this section compared to last year. It is pretty safe to say that Saga is still ruling the roost by a long stretch, but it is amazing to see East of West, Lazarus and Sex Criminals come so close to people’s hearts after such a short period of time.

“I have rarely been moved as much as I was with Locke and Key. It is exceptionally well written and ends beautifully. My investment in the characters was so whole hearted that I really struggled to even read the final issue.”

Rachel Rising – He is a one-man powerhouse. Rachel Rising has been intoxicating. Even now the end game has not revealed itself yet, and characters are still being developed, but every issue has a “got you” moment where you cannot wait to see what he comes up with next. Unrelenting and unsettling.”


Best Story Arc51vV1NqeKeL Infinity-1

1. Thor – Godbomb                          13%

= Infinity                                            13%

3. Deadpool – The Good, The Bad & the Ugly   5%

4. Batman – Zero Year = Batman – Death of the Family 5. Green Lantern – Lights Out 6. X-Men Battle of the Atom 7. Saga – Vol. 3

There have been some epic stories this year, easily summarised by the list above. I was very impressed that Infinity did not take all the accolades, but Thor’s high placing really drives home how impressive Aaron and Ribic have been this year. Not forgetting how the major arcs of Batman rarely leave peoples thoughts. Some succulent comments:

Thor – God of Thunder #1-12. Best year of a book that I can recall, in recent memory. Three time traveling Thors and one evil sonnuva gun, in The God Butcher. Jason Aaron’s writing was flawless, and Esad Ribic’s art is truly a Marvel to Behold.”

Thor had two standout moments this year. one’s in Infinity and the other is in this arc. TWO MJOLNIRS, need I say more?”

“Marvel answered my Life Dream of a Grounded & Space Opera like Event at the same time. I’M TALKING ABOUT INFINITY PEOPLE!!!”

Infinity, followed by the New Avengers adjunct arc, followed by the Avengers adjunct arc. Age of Ultron was not a close second.”

“Green Lantern “Lights Out“. A great, tense, adventure, that not only set the future path for the Lantern-verse, but was also a bit of a game-changer in terms of rules and cast.”

“Deadpool “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”. The writing, art and balance between drama and comedy came together perfectly. The arc could have easily been a seen it/done it Wolverine rip off, but it had the feel of old Uncanny X-Force with plenty of Deadpool comedy that didn’t sink too low.”

“Batwoman “World’s Finest”. Batwoman and Wonder Woman team up and it is the greatest thing that ever happened ever. I demand this ongoing be a thing.”


Greatest New Love3334606-4929541828-super

1. Spidey Ock                 11%

2. Carol Danvers                           6%

3. David Haller                              5%

= Clint Barton                               5%

4. Boomerang 5. Black Bolt  = John Constantine = Filmore Press = Forever = Annabelle Riggs

I am incredibly happy that Captain Marvel and Legion featured quite highly on the list because these are two of the biggest revelations this year, and Kelly Sue and Spurrier need the highest commendations. You will also notice some surprises with the remaining names who are not often liked as much in previous works. We cannot exclude the biggest which is probably the fact the Doctor Octopus is attracting many fans as the Superior Spider-Man. Let us see who failed to make the list.

“Journey Into Mystery made me fall in love with Lady Sif, not just because of her strength, but also because of her flaws. They made her into a relatable character.”

Tempus (Eva Bell) is easily the best addition to the X-Men universe in a long time. Cool powers, cool attitude, all round stand out character.”

Prince Robot IV. I love that he’s an emotionally scarred prince who thinks he’s coming from the right place… (*cough* MCU Loki much? *cough*).”

Iceman – Not only have we seen a much darker side to the character (in Astonishing X-Men), we have also seen him really grow into himself as a leader, a teacher and a fellow mutant.”

Black Bolt – I always hated the Inhumans, but in Infinity Black Bolt just owned the show.”

Kate Bishop – In Hawkeye, she is a character that you can relate to in her coming of age and trying to fit in an adult world, where the adults treat her like a child even though she is more mature than most (especially Clint)”


Best Tie In/B titleSuperior_Foes_of_Spider-Man_Vol_1_6_Textless

1. Superior Foes of Spider-Man               8%

2. New Avengers – Infinity                                              6%

3. Mighty Avengers                                                          5%

4. Avengers – Infinity = Green Arrow – Zero Year 6. Avengers Assemble – Infinity 7. Batgirl – DOTF 8. Batman & Robin – DOTF 9. Green Lantern Corps – Zero Year

Quite often I tire of the side titles that come out with every crossover and new popular book, but this year saw a lot of good work. Nick Spencer created a book seemingly out of nothing because it is not associate with Spidey Ock at all. However it is how a villain story should be done. Infinity saw a lot of good work coming out of it million associated books, as did Zero Year which spanned much of DC. Here is what you had to say:

“I absolutely adored the Zero Year issue of Green Lantern Corp by Van Jensen and Bernard Chang. GLC isn’t a title you’d expect to have a ZY tie in, but it gave John Stewart a fantastic origin story, integrated seamlessly into the greater narrative AND did it all without anyone even using superpowers.”

“I’ll go against the grain with the majority of my picks and actually name a DC book.  Jeff Lemire & Andrea Sorrentino did a great job showing the life shattering events that created Green Arrow’s nemesis Count Vertigo in the Forever Evil villain offshoot.”


Best Book Kept Secret250px-Mind_MGMT_cover_1

1. Mind MGMT              6%

= Saga                           6%

3. Captain Marvel                      5%

4. Chew 5. All New X-Men 6. Daredevil 7. Green Arrow

I am sure you can imagine the ridiculous amount of books on this list, 47 to be precise! It is a range of popular title such as Sage and Daredevil but also those smaller gems you never imaged were great, such as Chew and Mind MGMT. Those two in particular were part of my difficult decision in this category. Let us see what was said:

Chew – I never imagined that there could be so much depth with the idea that chewing a part of anatomy could give you the complete history of that organism. It is so amusing and the art is delightful with a supporting cast you could just eat up!”

Mind MGMT – This book looked so unimpressive upon first read, but when you persist and wait for the ideas to fall into place, you immediately want to go back to the beginning to see how you could have possibly missed it. Supreme storytelling.”

And that is it for another year, well not quite! I will be posting the second half of this post next week. It is not an award post as such but a social commentary on comics. As I plan to take everyones comments and build a consensus with the questions I asked regarding DC, Marvel and Image. I can tell you now that of most interest is what people have hated amongst comics this year.

Once again thank you all very much for your participation, I hope I have done you justice and you are pleased with the results. As much as I adore doing this, there are other reasons why I think it is important. Firstly comics are about the reader and their opinions and I wanted to give everyone a chance to voice them. Not everyone has a blog and not everyone likes the same work, hence the reason why the comments often feature work not included in the top ten. This leads onto my second reason which is I want people to pick up books they have not thought of before. I certainly enjoyed reading Buzzkill and Rat Queens from people’s responses. That was the sole motivation for the Best Book Kept Secret Award and it paid off handsomely. Go out and try something new!

1 comment

  1. Good Work once again! How long until we get the dream team of Hickman, Aja and Bellaire on one book? Haha Thanks for the time you put into this thing Kulbir, I think this year was even better!

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