The SKTCHD AWRDS: The Comics of 2019 (Part Five)

The end is here, as 2019’s comic-centric portion of The SKTCHD AWRDS concludes today with a slate full of endings and beginnings. It’s a fitting place to end, as this end only leads to one more round of SKTCHD AWARDS next week with my look at the past decade in comics. But before we get there, let’s look at my last quintet of awards.

For each, I’ve developed a special award reflecting the contributions these titles brought to the world of comics in the year that was. My methodology was of course crazy simple. I read a whole lot of comics. I reduced that number to a gigantic initial list. From there, I started reducing, with the results of that reduction being highlighted in these five days of awards. That’s it! I put them in alphabetical order and then BAM! We got ourselves an ongoing feature.

Let’s move onto the final award winners, but as per usual, let me know your thoughts in the comments! Think I missed something I’d love, or just something that was good? Let me know in the comments. I’m quite willing to expand my horizons, as there is no way one person can read everything, no matter how hard they try.

The Team Supreme Award: Sea of Stars

Written by Jason Aaron and Dennis Hallum
Line art by Stephen Green
Colors by Rico Renzi
Lettering and design by Jared K. Fletcher

While creator-owned titles are likely more certain to have cohesive creative teams than for-hire ones, as the latter can often seem like arranged marriages between poorly matching creatives, that doesn’t mean they’re without risk. You never know how something is going to jive until you read the comic. Take Sea of Stars, for example. On the surface, Jason Aaron co-writing with basically any human seems appealing, but with Dennis Hallum 2 onboard it should be even better right? And Stephen Green’s great already, but when you pair him with Rico Renzi, it should cook, seemingly. Jared K. Fletcher can make any situation work, so yeah, this title should be great on paper.

On paper.

Not every title meets the heights built up by its creators because while comics are printed on paper, it takes more than talent to make a series pop. You need complementary skills, flexibility and assuredly many other things. Those are important too, and seemingly, they’re attributes Team Sea of Stars doesn’t lack in, as this title is greater than the sum of its parts. Aaron and Hallum cooked up a heartfelt adventure story about a young boy discovering the wonder of space and the pros and cons of superpowers, while his father attempts to find and rescue him after the demise of his wife and the destruction of the ship he shared with his son. It’s at its core a rescue comic – it’s like Toy Story 2, but set in space, featuring aliens, and mythological beings that aren’t too kind to those around them, so I guess not really like Toy Story 2 at all – but one that speaks to the complications that come with family and feelings of responsibility

While the premise is top notch and the execution on that side is exemplary, it truly is the art that drives this book. Green’s art is a revelation each and every issue, whether we’re talking the life he brings to the cast of the book – while he excels throughout, his handling of the son character Kadyn and his space alien pals, Monkey and Dolphin, is astonishing, with an animation-like vitality to their mannerisms and behavior – or the imagination he shows in realizing the worlds they visit and the flora and fauna they find. The scale is staggering at times, but Green never fails to ground it. That makes it stand out all the more.

And Renzi, as per usual, delivers impressive work. I’ve spent so long complimenting the guy for his work on Squirrel Girl that it feels weird writing about him for another title, but Sea of Stars is a perfect marriage of colorist and story. The blues and purples Renzi gives to deep space give the world a vibrancy and light warmth (at least on the purples side) that makes the adventure feel a little more on the inviting side, turning what could be something scary into wonder. Renzi’s a pro at controlling our emotions with color, and when paired with the demonstrative character work of Green, we have a title that could make us feel the high highs and low lows of the story without any words.

Work in Fletcher – his design work is endlessly underrated, and I love the titling on the book’s covers and the choices he made throughout – and you have one of the best looking comics around, full stop. Fuse it with Aaron and Hallum’s writing and we’re elevated even higher. This is on my shortlist for best Image titles going right now, and it’s because this isn’t just a murderer’s row of creators, but a true team, with complementary skill sets that elevate each other’s work in a real way.

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  1. This veteran writer might be better known to you as Dennis Hopeless.

  2. This veteran writer might be better known to you as Dennis Hopeless.