This week, we’re handing out the First Annual Comics Daily awards – one per day – between Christmas and New Year. Each award has been written up by a member of the Comics Daily team after a consensus was reached, and highlights what we feel have been the best of superhero comics this year.
Best Artist : Jamie McKelvie
Though 2006 saw him explode onto the scene with Phonogram, and 2007 saw the launch of his own miniseries Suburban Glamour, we reckon 2008 is the year that McKelvie became a bona fide comics star.
Now, just to head off any accusations of nepotism – Jamie would be getting this award whether we were friends with him or not. In fact, to tell you the truth, we’re only really friends with him because we like his art. It’s not like we actually like him or anything. So we have legitimate comics-based reasons for declaring him our artist of the year, even if it means heading off the likes of Frank Quitely (magnificent, of course, but also far from prolific – and besides, we’ve got him mentioned in a later category).
It kicked off with the closing couple of issues of Sub Glam, in which the progression in his style and storytelling ability was clear. The move to colour worked wonders, and in those two issues there were some truly beautiful, expansive images (click the thumbnail above if you haven’t read the series, and get ready to pick up your jaw). Moving out of the familiar environment of Image, meanwhile, saw a surprise appointment in the spring by Marvel to draw a short Matt Fraction-penned story in the X-Men : Divided We Stand mini. Again, bias aside, it happened to be the best part of the issue – as strange as it was to see his work inked and coloured in the “house” Marvel style, and although it wasn’t really a full-on superhero action tale, it was nevertheless an environment in which he was immediately comfortable, and we await his upcoming stint on Cable with great interest.
The real capstone to the year, though, was the opening issue of Phonogram : The Singles Club. Compared with how much there was to say about Gillen’s writing, we didn’t talk a huge amount in our review about the artwork – but it really is a stunning piece of work, showing an increased level of flair and confidence, and some absolutely top-notch character design and expression. One thing that can’t be understated is his ability to perfectly craft an accurate atmosphere – using just the right amount of background detail (without ever overloading it – much like his sparing use of linework, in fact) allied to an almost obsessive eye for the styles, fashions, haunts and faces of Young People Today.
His comics are easily among the most instantly, classically aesthetically pleasing on the racks (second only to Quitely in my book, although the emergence of Mario Alberti might just be a challenger), and we eagerly wait to see where his talent will take him next. Upwards, surely.
Runners Up : John Romita Jr (Kick Ass, Amazing Spider-Man), Marcos Martin (Amazing Spider-Man), Mike Choi (X-Force), Frank Quitely (All-Star Superman), Mario Alberti (X-Men/Spider-Man)