Richard Van Camp
I have always believed that some of the finest storytellers are to be found in the comics and graphic novels lining the racks in our comic shops. However, the biggest challenge for us as collectors is to find a comic or graphic novel that is intelligent, believable and brilliantly illustrated.
For anyone out there thinking that the industry is swamped with print run after print run of nothing but uglies, I'm here to suggest ten brilliant titles that will renew your faith in the comic book industry. Here are my top ten pics of illustrated magic for 2002.
- Hellspawn (Todd McFarlane and Image Comics) This comic series is a celebration of the arcane. Check out any issue and you'll be hooked for life.
- Sam & Twitch (Todd McFarlane and Image Comics) This comic series is so smartly written by Brian Michael Bendis with such a tenderness for the humanity behind both cops, Sam and Twitch, that this story could easily translate into a series of novels and movies.
- The Path (CrossGen Comics). Need a Japanese epic to get you through those long winter nights? This is it. Ron Marz, Bart Sears, Mark Pennington and Michael Atiyeh all need to be given a million bucks each and told to just keep on keepin' as a creative time that's just unbeatable. While the stories are starting to get skimpier as the series progresses (at 5 bucks a crack for each issue up here in Canada), check out the graphic novel, "A Crisis of Faith" to collect the first part of the series and save some cash while you're at it.
- Skinwalkers (ONI Press). Mix a little murder with a little Skinwalking on an Indian reserve in the states with two cops, one American Indian tribal police officer and one Federal agent, and you have a 4 issue mini series that deserves to be made into a movie. Christina Weir and Nunzio DeFillippis have done a great job with the story. Brian Hurtt's pencils and finishes by Arthur Dela Cruz rock as a creative team and ONI Press should be very proud of themselves for this great story.
- 30 Days of Night (IDW Press) written by Steve Niles, illustrated by Ben Templesmith. Anyone who follows anything to do with vampires, needs to check this out. I believe that this 3 issue mini-series wanted and needed to be longer (It should have been a 6 issue-mini), but Ben Templesmith's art carries the story so well that you just have to check it out. Wait for the graphic novel though as there'll be some art in there that didn't make it to the 3 issue miniseries. Get ready to see Ò30 DaysÓ on the big screen as IDW and Steve just sold the rights to Hollywood.
- Defiance (Image). Nothing prepared me for the brilliant storytelling and dialogue of Douglass D. Barre or the magnificent artwork by Kanno Kang and Zach Suh. Thank God Image is continuing the series with Act Two: "The Scabbard."
- Wolverine: Netsuke (Marvel) written and illustrated by George Pratt. While I believe Marvel needed to make this a 6 issue mini-series, get ready for one of the most brilliantly written and truly uniquely illustrated stories about Wolverine. Brilliant!
- Savage Membrane (IDW Press) written by Steve Niles, illustrated by Ashley Wood. Need a detective series filled with a detective named Cal McDonald who can see the dead and a ghoul side kick named Mo'Lock? This one's for you. Funny, witty, smart writing by Steve Niles (who's become one of my all time fave writers) and wicked art by Ashley Wood, make this an illustrated novel that should be in bookstores everywhere.
- Guns, Drugs and Monsters (IDW Press) written by Steve Niles, illustrated by Ashley Wood. While Ashley Wood's artwork fades to the point of rough sketches in this second illustrated novel in the Cal McDonald series, I am wondering why IDW didn't just get Ben Templesmith to illustrate the novel. Steve Niles only improves as a storyteller as Mo'Lock's love only shines brighter and deeper for Cal as he dances with the power of becoming a werewolf. This series is cool, sexy, kick assÉIf you need a good laugh, check it out!
- Grendel: Warchild (Darkhorse Comics). If you missed this the first time around, get the re-released graphic novel of this wickedly brutal story of Grendel. The battle scenes are awesome. The weaponry is great. But there's a story in here too that'll win your heart.
© 2002 Richard Van Camp
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