2019 in Review
Best Comic to End Its Run This Year:
Christopher Priest wrote all 50 issues of, "Deathstroke," and was involved in some issues where it crossed-over with, "Teen Titans." It was an amazing run that began with the start of DC's latest re-launch, this time called, "Rebirth," and it concluded on its own terms. It had the character of Slade Wilson grow in fascinating ways yet also left him perfectly suited and arguably somewhat reset for whoever wants to take over the character next. An assortment of artists did a fantastic job illustrating the series as Priest delivered yet another masterclass in making comics--he's given us countless masterpieces in his amazing career and this run on, "Deathstroke," shall be another feather in his hat/trophy on his shelf.
Comic Writers of the Year:
Bryan Edward Hill has written a lot of stellar stuff this year, but his nine-issue series, "American Carnage," is what stuck with me the most. I address why further down as it is recognized below, but if Hill had written nothing else besides, "American Carnage," this year (and he did a lot of stellar work), he would still be on this list for how amazing a book it was.
Whether you read it online or can find it in the funny pages section of your newspaper, "Nancy," went from a perfectly fine and at times humorous strip to a phenomenal blend of quirky, clever, and outright hilarious under the writing (and art) of Olivia Jaimes. I mean, it's 2019 and people are raving about, "Nancy," that tells you a lot.
The X-Men franchise had been stagnant for good long while. It had been mostly ignored as Marvel desperately tried--and failed--to make people care about the, "Inhumans," with the X-Men withering on the vine in a series of mostly-ignored books. Then Marvel called-up/begged Jonathan Hickman to come back to the company and work his writing-magic to revitalize the brand. He gave us the two symbioticly-linked mini-series, "House of X, " and, "Powers of X," which threw a whole lot of stuff out the window, brought in a bunch of old goodness too, and otherwise finally gave us something to get excited about with the X-franchise. All the books since have been closely-linked and while they lack some of the mad-glee from the initial spark that is HOX/POX, they've still been a Hell of a lot better than what we were getting for years before.
Colorist of the Year:
I and others have remarked how colorists often seem to be ignored unless they are doing a bad job, then people notice the colors. Brad Simpson is one exception to this as he is a man whose colors you notice because he's doing such a damn fine job. He can take a comic that otherwise I find perfectly decent-but-unremarkable like, "Coffinbound," and astound me with his ability to give us everything from lush and vibrant scenes to purposely dull and dreary landscapes of desolation. The man has skills, in other words.
Ongoing Series of the Year:
It started out as a terrifying piece of body-horror and has shifted into discussing the scariest thing of all--corporate America. Through all of its shifts in focus and tone, "Immortal Hulk," has been a stellar read that is as able to frighten readers as it is to make them think about philosophy and the World.
Original Graphic Novel of the Year:
Bill Griffith (of, "Zippy the Pinhead," fame), presents a biographical account of famous circus performer Schiltizie and his strange life. Griffith makes even the wildest and fantastical elements come off as grounded and doesn't avoid the more heartbreaking aspects of Schiltizie's life either.
Mini/Maxi-series of the Year:
No comic better served as an illustration of everything going on in America right now this year than, "American Carnage." It was not only topical, but it also made us care deeply about the characters or fear how dangerous they were in this tale of a biracial former FBI agent infiltrating a white supremacist group (that happens to be led by a charismatic businessman running for congress). An intense nine-issue series that never lets-up, this should be required reading for anyone wanting to both understand the World today and take-in a great story.
A comic-book about comic-books can sound a bit too navel-gazey, but Kireon Gillen and Caspar Wijngaard make it work phenomenally well, riffing on everything from, "Watchmen," to modern cinematic-styled comics, indie-books, and the complicated publishing history of the character Peter Cannon himself. The book flirts with getting almost too meta at times, but always manages to land in the sweet spot of being perfectly self-aware whilst also telling an amazing story.
Comic Artists of the Year
I'll be honest and say I'm already pretty worn-out on this whole, "Batman Who Laughs," character. That said, having Jock do the art for an eight-issue mini-series focused on Bruce Wayne fighting this evil-version resulted in an absolutely gorgeous book I could not wait to read thanks to Jock's incredible talent.
Being blunt, "Little Bird," at first reads like the usual, "Dark future for America," yarn before it grows into something a bit more interesting. One thing about the comic that keeps your attention from the first panel however is just how damn amazing Ian Bertram is as an artist. With absurdly intricate details every page feels like stepping into a magnificent scene that breathes with possibility. It is all just frankly awesome.
Funniest Comics this Year
"Wyrd," by Curt Pires riffs on everything from rumors of real-life Prime Ministers having sex with livestock to satirizing depressing tales set in the future, paying homage to Hunter S. Thompson, and having some fun with the, "Evil Superman as a kid," trope. It sounds incredibly disjointed, and maybe at some times it was (just a little bit), but that doesn't take away from how outright hilarious and insightful it was over its four issues.
I had said the comic looked, "Cheerfully insane," when it was first announced and it exceeded my expectations. Any comics that has Conan the Barbarian flailing-around a passed-out Wolverine by his feet so his claws slice a bunch of evil wizards is a comic with a heaping dose of gall and humor. A book full of Marvel's potentially deadliest heroes could have been a grim and dreary affair, but thankfully, "Savage Avengers," is savagely funny.
Comic Relaunch of the Year
I already heaped praise on Jonathan Hickman for his key role in bringing the X-Men back to prominence, but, "House of X/Powers of X," was simply the beginning of some incredible stuff. After it wrapped we spent the rest of 2019 having a number of closely related X-books all releasing on time and playing-off each other in quite an impressive fashion. This has created an overall mega-story that slowly is getting filled-in while each individual book has been allowed to have its own vibe and plot. Something so complicated could easily have collapsed, but it didn't, it just kept rolling along impressively through the end of 2019. Now to see if this momentum can be kept-up into 2020.
New Series of the Year
Not a porn comic, but a comic about scientists who make porn to fund their exploration into outer space. It sounds quite off-the-wall, and it frankly is. Only three issues have been released so far, but, "Money Shot," already was announced as being upgraded from a mini-series to an ongoing, so clearly there are many adventures in store!
Television shows of the Year
The first season was phenomenal and the second has only gotten better. This show comes on after the now long-past-its-prime-and-thankfully-ending, "Modern Family," and while it also has an ensemble cast, it is quite different thanks to some delightfully sharp and cutting humor mixed with a bit of heart.
Not many shows can get to a tenth season and still be this consistently great. Seriously, besides maybe one or two clunkers in its history, "Bob's Burgers," is almost always hilarious. It is saying something when even a weaker episode of, "Bob's Burgers," is still better than most of what is on television.
Video-Game of the Year
Not to be confused with the similarly-titled and fun but quite different, "The Outer Worlds," this game features flying in space and exploring a small little Universe as time keeps restarting every 20-ish minutes. There is no combat, no need to collect a bunch of useless objects, just exploration, learning, and the beauty of the Universe. I have not finished, "The Outer Wilds," and I'm not sure I want to, it is just that magical.
Album-ish of the Year
Remember that year I didn't really have a favorite album? Yeah, it kind of happened again. This time I found myself making Spotify playlists of various songs I liked which served as strange little anthology albums of sorts. I really do still like the idea of buying an album, sitting down, and enjoying it all the way through, but that era seems to be moving further and further away. Perhaps sometime in the future, we'll have something miraculous happen like finally getting a new OutKast album. That would almost surely win album of the year. Till then, I guess I'll just make my little Spotify playlists.
Movies of the Year That I Didn't See
When I do this as its own post it is a long and sprawling list of all the movies I did not see this year that came out anywhere from January to the last weeks of December. I'm not going to break them all down this year, but just know my list of flicks I need to catch-up on is incredibly lengthy. It encompasses everything from big stuff like, "Spider-Man: Far From Home," to box office bombs like, "Ugly Dolls," and smaller hits such as, "Dolemite is my Name," or, "Honey Boy." I did manage to see, "Stuber," though. That was pretty funny.
Food of the Year
In 2019 I often found myself craving, for reasons I do not understand, potato skins. Something about a chunk of potato filled with cheese and bits of bacon just sounded delicious to me for much of 2019. Sour cream pairs well with them too. No little green onions on them though, that stuff is nasty.
People of the Year
Throughout 2019 I wrote about a lot of personal things in addition to my usual witty and clever (in my opinion) thoughts on popular culture. I really appreciate how much love and support was provided by everyone Samii, Clarkson, and myself both know personally and via the internet (or both). You all are wonderful.