After a holiday break, the SKTCHD AWRDS are back with the third day of my comics of the decade. I’m revealing my 25 favorite comics of this decade this week, with five dropping at a time. Favorite is the key word there, though. These are my favorite titles, whether that means they brought me the most joy or excited me the most or were just amongst the best I read.
But there’s methodology behind this exercise! It’s not just me grabbing favorites all willy nilly. I had rules, as I tend to do.
- This only features comics that were published between the years of 2010 and 2019
- If a comic was originally published in another language, I’m using that version’s original release date as my date of determination
- Reprints do not count in any way – this has to be an original comic, unless it’s the first version that is widely available
- I considered comics of all varieties – single issues, arcs, graphic novels, webcomics, kids comics, adult comics, etc. etc.
- I tried to read as many comics as I could, but as a one person show, I could only do my best. This list is criminally empty of manga. It’s a weakness, I know.
That’s it! I put a ton of thought into this, and I had to make some very, very tough cuts (shouts to Ben Dewey’s Tragedy Series and Saga, my final two cuts) in the process. These are the ones I ended up with, though, and the ones that I think best represent what I loved most about this decade in comics, which was one I thought was quite good indeed.
The Influences Award: Fantasy Sports
Written and drawn by Sam Bosma
Fantasy Sports, the so far three volume graphic novel series from Sam Bosma and Nobrow Press, is a comic you can see and feel the influences throughout. Its origins are heavily rooted in dungeon crawler games (both of the video and tabletop variety) and Bosma’s deep love of basketball – this series originally started as a self-published title called Fantasy Basketball – with the whole thing baked around those passions. The whole premise orbits around those dungeon crawler roots, as leads Wiz-Kid and Mean Mug are literally in the business of recapturing treasures in dungeons for the United and Ancient Order of Mages, with treasures only able to be acquired if the pair wins at a particular sport.
And in the first volume, basketball is the game, and hoops fans can see favorites in the games of Wiz (Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving are there, with Curry being particularly evident), I’d argue you can see Russell Westbrook in Mug’s jumper, and the first volume’s villain He of the Giant Steps is built off Hakeem Olajuwon and Kareem Abdul-Jabaar (particularly the latter’s skyhook). So the influences are evident.
But it’s more than a jumble of influences, as Bosma has turned what could have been a cute one-off into an engrossing series with an imaginative world and rich characters throughout. Each volume leverages a different game as its spine – the others were volleyball and golf – which gives each book their own flavor. 2 They’re also a blast to read, with charming, manga influenced art and phenomenal storytelling guiding the way throughout, as well as a mystery involving the organization Wiz and Mug work for developing within the three books.
Also, I’d be wildly off brand if I didn’t mention how much I love Nobrow’s production value. These books have a high end, super sized Little Gold Books feel, matching the all-ages readers nature of Fantasy Sports as a series. The stellar paper stock adds weight to the impact of the story and the desirability of the product, making it all the better. This is a wonderful series, and while it’s uncertain if it will ever finish – Bosma seems focused on non-comics projects right now – whatever happens, I’m happy to have had this series in my life all the same.