REFLECTIONS: Comic Creators' Best of 2006

Reflections, Volume 3 Number 12

Happy holidays to all of you out in REFLECTIONS-reading land, here is hoping that your holiday is much less stressful and involves less hair-pulling than mine has thus far. In between the trimming of six trees, putting up outside lights, Christmas shopping for myself (which was completed a month ago) and then shopping for my mostly-sick family at the last minute, I'm lucky I still know my name. Up after I finish this column, you ask? Wrapping!

But none of this has stopped me from continuing my favorite REFLECTIONS holiday tradition ever, and that is to supply you, dear reader, with a list of your favorite creators' picks for best book of the year. So, without further ado, let's begin…

Joss Whedon and John Cassaday

It's everything that you'd expect to find in a Joss Whedon project, combining wonderful dialogue and perfectly judged character beats with enthralling and unpredictable action. And he makes it all look so damn easy. If I didn't enjoy reading his stuff so much, I'd have to hate him. And Cassaday's rendering of these characters - who I love - is absolutely spot-on: iconic and beautiful and unforgettable.

Mike Ploog, Gil Kane and others

"I always dug this series back in the '70s and even though I have many of the original books from the series, I didn't have them all. I am a huge monster fan and the werewolf stories were awesome. Jack Russell got into so many unusual situations, and the art is just terrific."

-- Gregory Land

Simon Oliver & Tony Moore

"There are so many good books that I enjoy on a monthly basis created by people I respect and that makes it difficult to pick just one. 'Exterminators' is sick, sometimes disgusting, funny, smart and the only comic Mrs. Gray demands I hand over immediately when the comp box arrives."

-- Justin Gray

Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialohaingham,

Lee Loughridgingham and Todd Kleiningham

"It's involving, funny, dramatic, complex and fascinating, a cast of strong characters in a world so interesting to explore that I'd be all over it even if it weren't a comic book, but Mark and Steve make it a glorious visual treat as well."

-- Kurt Busiek

Paul Grist

"Paul manages to cleverly re-work classic comic book stories into something completely original and infuse them with industry in-jokes and homages, all the while remaining accessible to fans who have no clue what he's referencing. His art is deceptively simple, but the storytelling from panel to panel is brilliant. He's a vastly underappreciated talent, one of the best in the entire industry."

-- Adam Beechen

Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray/Various artists

"I was a huge fan of the original series, as well as of 'Deadwood,' and the new 'Jonah Hex' captures the spirit of both. It's also been featuring a lot of done-in-one stories, and they're every bit as satisfying, often more so, than longer tales. The art has always been stellar, from Luke Ross to Jordi Bernet. It's also delivering something you can't find in a dozen other books; gritty, well-researched but above all entertaining Western action that will appeal to anyone who enjoys Clint Eastwood films or just plain good comics (though I should mention it ain't for kids!). Not to mention that Hex is one of the best anti-heroes ever in comics. The marketplace needs a great Western book, and this is it! I can't wait to read it every month."

-- Christos Gage

Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Various Artists

"As I've said on more than one occasion, man does not live by superheroes alone. 'Jonah Hex' is a mean little book in a genre that's too little seen these days, and the one-and-done format (except for the current three-part origin tale) makes it stand out from the current crop of bloated, talking-head extravaganzas. Featuring taut scripts from Gray and Palmiotti, and evocative art from the likes of Luke Ross, Phil Noto, Paul Gulacy and Jordi Bernet, these are stories of a bad man doing bad things to bad people. And it's all so good."

-- Ron Marz

Garth Ennis and Various, BKV and Tony Harris

"They're the two best books on the market and choosing a favorite between them is like choosing which of my two testicles I like best. There is no simple answer, but they're quite simply the books I take most pleasure from as my eyeballs soak them up every month. They're just great and I read them as a fan, almost forgetting I do the same job as these guys. Another book I have to mention is Mouse Guard because it's so great and so completely different from anything else on my shelf (ie, used tissues)."

-- Mark Millar

James Kochalka

"'Superf*ckers' is the top book on the reading stack whenever it comes out. The plot flies by the seat of its pants, so it's got a great energy as well as unexpected turns. Nowhere in the book has a "real" superhero mission or battle or saving-of-the world occurred. It's just non-stop hijinx and fun, filthy, vulgar, explicit fun, and it cracks me up. I love ridiculousness, mockery and political un-correctness, and that's what this book seems to be all about. Also, I love seeing James Kochalka's work in color. He's great."

-- Justin Ponsor

Sam Loeb & The 26

"Aside from being incredibly proud and incredibly saddened by having to do this issue without my son, seeing Sam's vision brought to life by 26 (actually it was closer to 40 when the inkers and colorists were done!) of the most talented, loyal and wonderful people one could ever hope to work with was thrilling. The back-up story, 'Sam's Story' which I did with my long time partner and friend, Tim Sale, is probably the most personal thing I've written in comics -- and maybe the most personal thing I will ever write in comics and still, I like the feel of it, the tone, the mood. I tried to tell people what it was like to love Sam and to lose him and in 6 short pages with the help of Richard Starkings, I think we got as close as we could get."

-- Jeph Loeb

Marc Guggenheim and Humberto Ramos

"Best comic I have read in years."

-- Paul Jenkins

Mike Carey, Pasqual Ferry and Justin Ponsor

"Well, I still don't read many comics and if I were lazy, I would just choose "The Goon" again this year. But wait! I came across a comic that I really took a shining to, and that book is...'Ultimate Fantastic Four' by Mike Carey, Pasqual Ferry and Justin Ponsor! I dig it because of its sci-fi creativity, both in its design and content. It actually reminds me of a book I once worked on at Crossgen. In fact, if I were as talented as Mr. Ferry is, "Negation" would have looked a lot like his "Ultimate Fantastic Four!"

-- Paul Pelletier

Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

"Not only have Brian Bendis and Mark Bagley broken the record for the longest consecutive issue streak by one creative team, they've done it with what has appeared, from the outside, as complete and utter ease. Each issue of this book floats by -- it's read in a heartbeat and you're always wanting more. The book is never late -- in fact, it's frequently released faster than a monthly schedule. This team is the Michael Jordan of comics -- they do it better, faster and cooler than everyone else, and they make it look too damn easy.

"The artwork is superb, especially the dynamic panel layout which has made me rethink everything I knew about comics and led me to try to be more daring with my own book. This young Peter Parker, thanks to his steady, loving creative team, is the most consistent and realistic character in super hero comics today, the true legacy of the wonderful iconic part of our culture created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. His life and his loves sometimes even transcend the action plots, and that's saying a lot.

"Would I do things the way they do? Nah... I don't really dig a big fiery Green Goblin. But if I got to do it, I wouldn't have the opportunity to read their version, and that would cost me my favorite part of the month. Thanks to Mark and Brian for offering up 100+ fantastic adventures, and know that, as your streak ends, your place in history is well-deserved and very much beloved by this die-hard Spidey fan."

-- Hugh Sterbakov

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