The House of Flying Scalpels 2016 Comic Awards!

hofs-2017-baseplate-imageI read through my awards section last year and noted that there was diversity amongst many of the answers. There are similar happenings again this year but there are still some obvious stand out titles that are pushing for the top spots. As I mentioned with the questionnaire, there has been a diminished motivation for me personally with comics because I have enjoyed less of them. This has led to a reduction in my blog output and I almost did not carry out this years awards. I must admit that I would have regretted it because I have thoroughly enjoyed it for this, my fifth set of awards. I adore collating the results and love the buzz of seeing who has taken the lead, as much as I hope you guys enjoy receiving the results. I have to make an apology as I have only mentioned a few comments this year because I have had very little time this year. I promise you that for the last two questions this will not go amiss as they are integral to that follow up post. So without further ado, let us rejoice in the best 2016 had to offer!

  1. Which publishing company has impressed you most this year?


1. DC                          43%

2. Marvel                                              19%

3. IDW & Image                                  10%

I am sure this comes as no surprise to most of you especially as reboots generally do increase sales and excitement, provided they do not occur on a yearly basis as seems to be the case with Marvel. The trend is quite interesting because this is the first time a clear winner has arisen that is not Image comics. The very first year of awards saw a tie between Marvel and DC which demonstrates what a resurgence this actually is. Other notable mentions include Aftershock, Retrofit and Archie comics.

DC: Who knew that doing comics of Hanna Barbara characters would turn out one of the more fun titles of the year with Future Quest and one of the smartest titles of the year with The Flintstones. I didn’t read a lot of indie books and Marvel and Image have been just doing the same thing.

It’s DC. How could it be anyone else? I had a lot of favourites in the DC You initiative (Martian Manhunter, Stargirl, Prez, Bizarro) but seeing that give way to one of the biggest turnarounds I’ve experienced in comics was astonishing. On top of this, Young Animal is producing really interesting stuff, and the Flintstones is the kind of book where I have to keep pinching myself to remind myself that it exists.

IDW has a great mix of titles I enjoy most – this year the new X-Files ongoing series, Godzilla Oblivion, and Star Trek Waypoint have all been highlights. They’ve also brought back characters like the Micronauts and ROM, each with varying degrees of success, and their REVOLUTION crossover event was one of the best brand wide storylines I’ve read and enjoyed in a long time. It is the way it was so well structured, enabling you to either just enjoy the mini-series as a stand alone, or in conjunction with the numerous tie-in issues, which also worked well as stand alone stories in their own right.

Aftershock: They went from birth to full, robust adolescence by mid-year. They’re putting out quality content, with established creators as well as new voices (mostly on the art side, I would like them to get some newer voices for writing). The fact that their best-selling title for much of the year has been an erotica horror story about lesbian insect monsters dismantling Victorian patriarchy is also pretty amazing.

DC: Rebirth onwards. I was going to go with Valiant as I haven’t been disappointed with any of their comics that I read this year, However, with Rebirth, DC has got me buying a number of their comics again, and I’ve loved the ones I’ve read. so DC gets my vote this year. but only the post-rebirth DC.

  1. Who have been your favourite three writers?

3946346-knziblbo1. Tom King                 81pts

2. Jeff Lemire                                        21pts

3. Kieron Gillen                                    18pts

=4. Charles Soule, Rick Remender 15pts =6 Chelsea Cain, Greg Rucka, Jason Aaron, Nick Spencer 12pts.

You can imagine how much joy this brings me personally as he has been my favourite for a couple of years now, but the lead with which he won with surprises. There has been a strong degree of consistency from Lemire, Gillen, Aaron, Remender which accounts for their persistence, which explains why Snyder and Hickman have dropped right off. I also think new titles bear excitement and new reasons to choose new authors.

Peter J. Tomasi: He sold us on the relationship between Superman and his son, building on the solid work of Dan Jurgens, and wrote Superman #7, is the runner-up for my favourite issue of the year. He also made us care about the death of the New 52 Superman, a big achievement.

Tom King has had a great year. I loved his Omega Men series at DC, Sheriff of Babyon at Vertigo and now he has got me buying Batman again. Can’t wait to read Vision, when Marvel actually gets its act together and publishes an oversized HC of the series.

Charles Soule: I’ve really enjoyed the new run of Daredevil, its brought DD back to basics, and taken the character in a fresh direction. The addition of Blindspot was another great move, giving DD a sidekick to mentor, and the recent Dark Art storyline was brilliant. I love DD’s new costume as well, and how it mixes the super-hero/ninja/slash boxer element that makes Matt Murdock tick.

Kieron Gillen: There are few writers that can continually produce high quality output year after year, and with such variety. If it isn’t creating emotion with Vader. it is destroying all we know about modern pop in #WicDiv. His attention to detail and love for each project is so obvious on every page of his books. 

  1. Who have been your favourite three artists?

chris-samnee1. Chris Samnee        30pts

2. Gabriel Hernandez Walta         18pts

=Tomm Coker

=4. Cliff Chiang, David Marquez, Ron Garney 15pts

There are so many at joint seventh that it would be pointless to list them. Incredibly Greg Capullo has been winning this award every year except for 2013, and it is amazing that Samnee did not take this title during the hey days of Daredevil. That matters not because Black Widow has proven to be one of the best looking and most impressively flowing books out there. Congratulation for a long overdue best artist award to Chris Samnee. It is also great to see new entrants to the top ten with Walta and Coker. (For your information, Capello was one of the joint seventh artists).

Bilquis Everly – Coming in as the artist on a modern-day reboot of a golden age humour strip in a poor-selling DC anthology? That’s not how you traditionally make a splash. Despite this, Everly knocked it out of the park on the underrate and utterly wonderful Sugar and Spike strip in Legends of Tomorrow, her pencils going on a tour of the more bonkers backwaters of the DC Universe with precision, detail, and delight. Hopefully her recent Wonder Woman issue is only the first of many high-profile books

Deodato’s work on the previous Invincible Iron Man run – The War Machines arc and the Civil War II tie-in’s were exceptionally good. Again, there was a neon / noir kinda look to those Tokyo settings, and he made the Civil War II storyline. His work made the aftermath of Rhodey’s death incredibly moving and emotional. Dedato’s work on the new Thanos series is also great.

Tomm Coker: It is such a joy to see an artist handle black and white art with such impressiveness and clarity. Though there is colour in this book, it is pretty muted but then again it works in the bleakness of the time and the futility of hope, when it is all controlled by the worlds biggest banks. 

(My own comment) Gabriel Hernandez Walta: After coming to the limelight with Magneto his rise to prominence occurred with Vision. Not only can he produce compassion in the minimal of expressions but his storytelling was clever and intuitive. Some of his panel work was a joy to behold.

  1. Which colourist has caught your eye this year?

11357364_904957292883587_956337354_n1. Matt Wilson           19%

2. Jordie Bellaire                               12%

=Matt Milla

=Tamra Bonvillain

Equal fifth are almost all of the other colourists mentioned. I decided against doing a top three this year because it was difficult for many last year to provide three answers. In any case Matt Wilson defends his title from last year with his stellar work on Thor and WicDiv amongst many others. What interests me is that how varied the answers were for this question, which highlights how readers are starting to think more about colour.

So many to choose from, not new, but I’d have to say Jordie Bellaire, the work on the IDW ongoing series has been terrific, and Bellaire’s colors are always so good. Can I pick two? Hell, I’m going to anyway! Matt Milla on Daredevil, simply beautiful use of color there as well – especially when it comes to realising DD’s radar sense at times. 

Nick Filardi: Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye is an artistic tour de force, and a big part of that is the multimedia colouring, incorporating retro techniques to really make the book pop.
Matt Wilson is one of this artists that makes a book look so effortlessly good that when you notice it is he that has coloured it, it makes perfect sense. Just compare the tone and the kind of story told in #WicDiv compared to Black Widow and you can appreciate the diversity in this skillset. 
  1. Which creative combination has stole the show this year?

382383-_sx1280_ql80_ttd_1. Tom King, Gabriel Walta & Jordie Bellaire   14%

2.  Mark Waid, Chris Samnee & Matt Wilson                                                         10%

Joint third consists of multiple choices and once again highlights the variety in peoples favourite creative teams. There are some teams that are simply perfection and I genuinely believe that The Vision had one such group of talented individuals. This book has been praised consistently and it is no surprise it has topped this category.

King/Walta/Bellaire are such a unified team that the slow drawn out emotion of Vision and his family is expressed so beautifully and tragically. The movements are slow, the colours are dark at times but the book always feels wonderful. 

Capullo/Millar – Reborn….in that “stealing the show” implies excitement for that combo’s  product…I’d say Reborn was that book…mostly because people wanted to see Capullo stretch a bit…

Charles Soule, Ron Garney, and Matt Milla without doubt as the art has made DD even more visually striking than ever. I’ve already said why I love the new run of Daredevil so much, but the art is really stunning, the noir-like-look of Hells Kitchen is totally captivating, DD’s new costumes is stunning, and Garney has simply made DD my rock in these times when the big two comic companies are producing stuff that often fails to excite or hold my interest for very long

  1. Which have been your top three favourite comics?

portrait_incredible1. Vision                     33pts 

2. Mockingbird                                 24pts

3. Superman                                     18pts

It comes as no surprise that Vision is the best comic of 2016 especially considering that both Tom King and Gabriel Walta featured very high on their individual categories. However it is impressive to see the impact that Mockingbird had on people because despite all the positive press DC has received, it still out scored them all. That is probably the real success of this category which we will come to again later.

Spider-Woman– it actually managed you make me care about babies and pregnancy which is something I’ve never done before.  

Superman – A year ago, the idea of Superman as a father would have been laughed at by many. Remarkably, the addition of Jonathan Kent makes Superman more relatable and human than he has been in years, and with lovely homages to New Frontier and a riotous Frankenstein two-parter, plus the endlessly-charming issue devoted to the visit to the County Fair, this books knows how to make Superman an interesting read.

(My own answer) Vision: The premise of creating and destroying a family has no business being in a solo book about an Avenger. But it was and brought such emotion and empathy for non sentient life in a way no one could have imagined.

Mockingbird had a strong lead who wasn’t afraid to be herself with confidence, strength and a femininity that is rarely seen in comics. 

  1. What has been your favourite single issue book this year?

414078-_sx1280_ql80_ttd_1. The Mighty Thor #12            19%

2. Darth Vader #24                                                        14%

3. Vision #12                                                                    10%

=4. Chew #59, 4 Kids Walk into a Bank, Spider-Woman #4 7%.

As always this category does always bring up single issues that you may have completely forgotten about. The top three books have all been seminal issues of this year, and Thor #12 was an amazing issue about Mjolnir with glorious art from Dauterman and Irving. It is good to see some accolades towards Thor this year.

  1. If you could bring back one book or creator on a comic that ended this year, which would it be?

414083-_sx1280_ql80_ttd_1. Mockingbird                         19%

2. Vision                                                                          14%

=3. Hickman on Avengers                                        7%

=Steve Dillon on anything

=Darth Vader

And instantly you can see where the love of the comic fans lies and where it is sorely missed. I have always been an advocate of letting things finish where they are and not abusing or overusing simply because they sell. Darth Vader and Mockingbird are certainly examples of that but they were both extremely popular. Hickman has certainly left a massive void because he and his books won awards last year and now we have only Black Monday Murders to enjoy. But it is not that, it is more that the gap has yet to be filled as the current Avengers books are pretty lack lustre. Mockingbird adds an additional type of loss because it was so unique in story but also a new strong female lead that is always needed in modern comics. The fact that Chelsea Cain left Twitter because of abuse leaves a another stain on the world of comics and their fans. I am glad Mockingbird and Chelsea have a place in fans hearts, and I will certainly be an advocate of them both in the future.

I think everyone’s sad that Vision is already over. There’s something to be said for a limited-run story finishing as it was intended, but Tom King’s exclusive with DC leaves us wondering what might have been if he’d stayed with Marvel.

Mockingbird – it was witty, clever, brilliant, funny, touching, crazy, beautiful and always entertaining and yet Cain knew the character inside out and that was the best part of it.

Transformers More Than Meets the Eye ended this year. I loved that book so much, wonderful storylines over the last five years. It was the title I always held back and read after new comic book day, you know, to just saviour and enjoy it. I never reviewed it either, that book was my guilty pleasure, Transformers at their very best.

The Hulk. I’ve always loved the Hulk, I hate how the character has been treated in recent years, FFS, someone, anyone, but lets see the Hulk be Incredible again!

And that brings us to a close of the main segment of these awards for another year. As much as it has been a smaller set of questions, the answers always are provided with such great passion and love. It inspires me when I sometimes fail to be because there are always good quality comics out there, sometimes in places where you just don’t expect. I shall be taking the recommendations as I do every year and finding those delights that I have missed, and I hope you will do the same. This yearly labour of love always reaps its rewards and in times of hell and highwater, sometimes you forget and wonder whether you have the energy to do it anymore. Especially as the Twitter machine that brought us all together has been so rabidly infested with hate. So this year is not just a thank you for participation because is ever present, but a thank you for sharing your love of comics with me at a time where I feel I have failed to share it with you.

The best and the worst of 2016 post awaits!

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