Day Two of the comic-centric section of the SKTCHD AWRDS is up, and with comes a quintet of awards for some of my favorite comics of the year – including my very favorite one! – with four publishers and five imprints highlighted today as well. It was a grand year for comics, and I was enthusiastic about the mix of titles that came our way whether it was from different publishers or different houses within each. It led to some eclectic options even within specific shops.
The way I created my award choices are simple, of course. Just like with my creators of 2019, I read a whole lot of comics, came up with a big list reflecting my favorites, and then spent way too much brainpower reducing said list into the 25 you’re going to read about this week. It’s that simple, but it’s worth noting, as per usual, that these are my favorites. I’m not saying these are the best, and I think most who claim something to be the best are conflating the two ideas. It’s a crucial difference. Consider this my guide to 2019, in the form of a million words about 25 comics.
We’ll be going in alphabetical order based off title, and as per usual, if you think I missed something, consider jumping into the comments and sharing it! I for one am more than happy to read comics that were great that I might have missed on, so let’s discuss our favorites there!
The Under the Influence Award: Dial H for Hero
Written by Sam Humphries
Line art by Joe Quinones, Paulina Ganucheau, Colleen Doran, Erica Henderson, Michael Avon Oeming and Stacey Lee
Colors by Jordan Gibson
Letters by Dave Sharpe
There’s a big part of all of us that is heavily influenced by the stories we enjoyed as we were growing up. Whether you’re someone who makes comics, movies, TV shows, or books, or perhaps you just engage with them, what you enjoyed when you were younger plays a big part in what comes next for you. Usually when that manifests itself, it’s a feel based thing. The emotions are evoked, even if it’s not exactly what came before.
Don’t tell Sam Humphries and Joe Quinones that, as that pair took Dial H for Hero, a title that long struggled to connect with audiences and fused its core premise – the idea that a ring of the H Dial turns you into a different hero each time – with their own personal comic book history to make something special. Dial H for Hero is a tour through their own experiences with and loves from the medium. A little of everything is present here, as we see not just your DC influences, but early Image, Moebius, Frank Miller, Jamie Hewlett, Mike Allred, and on and on and on. Humphries, Quinones, colorist Jordan Gibson and the rest of the team swing in and out of the stylings of those influences, and it’s always a thrill to see what they come up with.
It’s not just style, of course. They’ve created a remarkably winning pair in series leads Miguel and Summer, and their adventure together is endlessly entertaining. They’re building a new Dial H mythology, and it’s one that somehow expands the idea while also making it more personal. It’s built for a tight, 12 issue story, and one that accomplishes a lot yet entertains in a thoroughly small and delightful ways. This is my favorite part of the rather underrated Wonder Comics imprint Brian Michael Bendis put together at DC, and a wonderful example of what happens when you empower creators to look inwards and find the right story for them. You get a killer Dial H comic! Who saw that coming? I certainly didn’t!
I talked with Humphries about this book on Off Panel, but I’ll be honest, a lot of it was “THAT JOE QUINONES GUY SURE IS GOOD!” Sam, you’re rad too!