2018: Best Ongoing Comics

So here it is. My final installment of my favorite things of twenty eighteen. I won’t drift too much from the point and simply carry on with what you’re here for: the list.

Cheers 🍻 

10 | The Amazing Spider-Man

Story by Dan Slott & Nick Spencer
Art by Humberto Ramos & Ryan Ottley
Published by Marvel

I jumped back into reading the Amazing Spider-Man earlier this year because they offered a convenient jumping back in point when they renumbered the issues back to one for the first time in over a decade. Along with the story reset, a new writer and a new artist, they came along to refresh the entire world of the characters while staying true to the core of story. My ten year old, Caleb, has been showing interest in reading comics lately, so I saw this as a perfect opportunity to read one alongside him; some father-son bonding time. I went back and read the closing story arc of Dan Slott’s and it was the best Spider-Man I’ve seen in a long time! And the birth of the Red Goblin is one of my favorite introductions to a new villain. Spider-Man comics are still fun, and I had somehow completely forgotten about them.

9 | Paper Girls

Story by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Cliff Chiang & Matt Wilson
Published by Image

Paper Girls has been around for a few years and is a consistent hyperactive good time. Every issue is intense. So much so, that it puts you at brink of exhaustion to understand how Vaughan and Chiang are able to piece together such dramatic cliffhangers at the end of literally every issue. It’s part Stranger Things, part Goonies, part Excellent Adventure (but without a Bill or a Ted), and all fun all the time. Brian K. Vaughan has some quality titles on his resume; Y: The Last Man, Saga, Ex Machina, Runaways, and the web comic Barriers, and with recent contractual signings of his with Legendary Entertainment I am certain we will be seeing at least some of this work not already brought to mainstream set for production. Be one of the hip kids and read Paper Girls before it was cool.

8 | Wasted Space

Story by Michael Moreci
Art by Hayden Sherman 
Published by Vault

If you have followed my 2018 Best-Of lists at all you would find familiarity with the name Hayden Sherman. He had a mention with Cold War back in my rundown of my favorite limited comic series this year. This time it is for his newly announced ongoing comic, Wasted Space, with Michael Moreci on a fairly new comic publication company: Vault. There hasn’t been much of anything that has been pressed at Vault that I did not enjoy, but this one is definitely a runaway favorite. It’s wild, it’s bizarre, it takes a unique response to social commentary woven throughout it’s twisted story. Some have said that if Phillip K. Dick wrote Preacher then the ending result would be Wasted Space… and I completely agree with that observation. Read this!

7 | Venom

Story by Donny Cates
Art by Ryan Stegman & Iban Coello
Published by Marvel

If  you have seen the Venom movie that came out this year then you are obviously aware at how Marvel is moving forward with the plot that Eddie Brock is mostly good but also bad. Here, with the Donny Cates Marvel comic, it is taken to the next level and illustrates Brock as being even more good surrounded by a premise and a story that is even more evil. Most people who read comics these days (especially mainstream) would be telling you without hesitation that Cates’ comics are something to not ignore; weird yet satisfying. His Thanos Wins, Dr Strange, and the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy have become (or will become) massive mainstream hits that have followed alongside some of the more interesting indie stuff in years. Venom hasn’t been any different. My advise:  if you choose to only read one comic from one of the big two (DC/Marvel) I’d quickly tell you that you’ve chosen incorrectly unless you’ve chosen this one

6 | Analog

Story by Gerry Duggan
Art by David O’Sullivan & Jordie Bellaire
Published by Image

Where does a tweet go when it is deleted? 
Do deleted emails go forgotten?
Can I access a photo from my phone once it’s already gone?
How far will a fascist government go to uncover where you’ve been?
Duggan and O’Sullivan bring us Analog, a story beginning when the internet crashes and causes all secrets to be exposed. A life online is one that is forced to be lived in complete transparency. To become free one must unplug, live life in the Analog, and paper push your way through existence. The popular phrasing “don’t tread on me” takes on new context with sharp wit, hard punches (really hard punches!), and take-no-prisoners blood and guts. Everything you’d expect from a satirical take on a future seemingly not too far off.

5 | Gideon Falls

Story by Jeff Lemire
Art by Andrea Sorrentino & Dave Stewart
Published by Image

Lemire makes so many appearances in all of my year end lists that one may be able to piece things together and justify a conspiracy theory of our alliance being something other than what it is. I promise I have nothing to gain from recommending literally everything he has done this year other than the satisfaction of sharing some of my favorite stories with others. This one in particular is his most daunting and horrific yet. Gideon Falls is a story that will stay with you long after you close the book, and for some it is a story that you will wish did not stay with you long after you close the book. A dueling story told simultaneously of a recluse on one hand, and of a washed up priest on the other. It weaves back and forth with the only common thread among the two being a mysterious black barn. After reading this you will never look at a barn the same way again. Be scared. 

4 | The Weatherman

Story by Jody Leheup
Art by Nathan Fox & Dave Stewart
Published by Image

A fantastic read with a fantastic creative team telling a fast-paced, quick-witted story about life on Mars. The inhabitation of Mars is a forced occurrence after the entire population of Earth was purposefully expunged from existence. The purpose of the expungement and the reason and the fault thereof is the entire path of the first story arc of a comic that could easily be around for quite a long time. This is a real fun story that follows the quirky and witty, but dense and conceited weatherman, Nathan Bright. The pacing of this story starts lighthearted and fun and ends with an intensity that I didn’t see coming. I intend to see this comic to be around for a while. 

3 | Ice Cream Man

Story by W. Maxwell Prince
Art by Martín Morazzo & Chris O’Halloran
Published by Image

Don’t let the title fool you, this isn’t a book for the kids bookshelf in the spare bedroom. If there were a comic incarnate of The Twilight Zone then this would be it. Every issue of this comic is a stand alone story, but it seems that they may have a subtle and carefully structured elasticity in the individual stories as they relate to one another and tell a much larger one. Small town horror stories. Individual mishaps in interpersonal traumatic devastation. The ice cream man makes cameos in nearly all the issues and we are still left asking, the “what for” question. The stories alone are reason for me to recommend this comic, but it is the illustrations and the perfection in the art that complements the eeriness of the storytelling that make this a can’t miss. There are two collected volumes out now. If you haven’t Christmas gifted yourself yet this holiday season, by all means.. this is a quality pick up for those that enjoy giving themselves the creeps.

2 | Black Hammer

Story by Jeff Lemire
Art by Dean Ormston, Dave Stewart & Rich Tomasso
Published by Dark Horse

This is a phenomenal read. I cannot stress that enough. If you can stomach in the slightest bit bringing yourself to read a comic then let this one be the one you do. Black Hammer is a beautiful and inventive story told of a group of superheroes lost in a small town that they cannot escape.. or can they? The concept is so simple, the telling of the story is so inspiring, the representation of the characters are so dense, and the creation of the universe that Lemire has done here is something that hasn’t been done in book form since (arguably) Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. Fight me on that. That claim may be a bit premature, but just wait.. I promise you that if you give me a few years or so, you’ll agree with me. In the mean time, go pick up the Black Hammer Library Edition Vol. 1 that just came out this month and read along with me.

1 | Crowded

Story by Christopher Sebela
Art by Ro Stein, Ted Brandt, Triona Farrell
Published by Image

Imagine finding yourself being chased by everyone. Imagine those chasing you (a.k.a. everyone) holding loaded shotguns and logging off of a crowdfunding website looking up the latest updates to the online campaign to assassinate you. This is a story set in a future that feels could be a close, and real tomorrow that has an app for literally everything. One of those specific “everything’s” is a legal format to off someone for any reason (or no reason) and get a pay-out, just so long as the funding gets crowded. If you’re looking for an offbeat story teetering on the terrible, but seemingly so relevant and entertaining that it could pass as realistic I’d suggest this as the book to satisfy that urge. Follow along with the rest of us as we attempt to uncover the reason for the crowded campaign to kill. 

2018: Best Comics as a Limited Series

It’s another day in December and another end-of-year best-of 2018 list goes live. This time it is one of mine and it counts down my top ten favorite limited series in comics.

Some of these were previously ongoing but have found an end to their story recently so my consideration for their importance lies with the similar and smaller ones.

I had a lot of fun reading these over the last several months and I hope my recommendations fall on eager ears looking for something new and fresh to read.

Enjoy.

Cheers 🍻

10 | Days Of Hate

Story by Aleš Kot

Art by Danijel Žežlj

Published by Image

The year is 2022 and the world has gotten steadily worse; people have become desensitized to it and this controversial story tackles the inevitable pessimistic premise that starts off by saying “America first”.

9 | Punks Not Dead

Story by David Barnett

Art by Martin Simmonds

Published by IDW

Sid Vicious is back.. well, sorta. Not much else needing said other than that his ghost is ferociously attached to a mild mannered misfit outcast named Feargal Ferguson. Read this with your favorite punk LP spinning in the background.

8 | Descender

Story by Jeff Lemire

Art by Dustin Nguyen

Publisher by Image

I really didn’t want this story to end. Descender is that story you read and immediately feel drawn to the characters as you push and pull for the varying pathways that the story takes you. This comic, now a fully completed story, comes with personal high recommendations. Read this before Spielberg attempts his cinematic take on it.

7 | Hungry Ghosts

Story by Anthony Bourdain & Joel Rose

Art by Alberto Ponticelli, Vanessa Del Rey, Mateus Santolouco, Leonardo Manco, Paul Pope, Sebastian Cabrol, Francesco Francavilla & Irene Koh

Published by Dark Horse

One of my favorite fictional haunting stories of the year is paired with something non-fictionally tragic as well. Anthony Bourdain managed to add to his lasting legacy before he departed us with a miniature anthology of food themed stories inspired by classic Japanese tales. What was Anthony not capable of?

Rest In Peace, friend.

6 | Kill or be Killed

Story by Ed Brubaker

Art by Sean Phillips & Elizabeth Breitwesier

Published by Image

This is an inventive perspective of a story that follows a man on a mission. That mission is murder and, believe me, it is so much more captivating than it sounds. It shares intentional themes of divine right, mental illness and personal demons as the story unfolds itself and leads to an ending that you won’t see coming.

5 | Abbott

Story by Saladin Ahmad

Art by Sami Kivelä

Published by BOOM!

Abbott is a book that is so dense with social commentary that you may forget that you are reading something about supernaturally provoked crime. This is quite an intense read and I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, but if you enjoy stories that involve crimes committed by the divinely intervened.. then this’ll be a total hit.

4 | Cold War

Story by Christopher Sebela

Art by Hayden Sherman

Published by Aftershock

Ok. Full disclosure. I’m a sucker for Hayden Sherman art. His illustrations are raw and organic and are so gritty that it fits this story perfectly. Christopher Sebela is one of the more offbeat writers in the industry right now and this story is no exception.

3 | Batman: White Knight

Story & Art by Sean Murphy

Published by DC

I’m a huge Sean Murphy fanboy. (Is that still ok to call yourself a fanboy at the age of 38?) I’ve recently grown tired of cape and cowl comics, and more specifically with Batman ones. It just seems that they don’t really have much more to offer other than just some more of the same; recreating an already drawn out character design. Hold up! White Knight turned my head, along with so many others and decided to make Joker the protagonist and Batman the antagonist. If this has been done before, someone please share with me the time.. because this version of Batman is one of the best in a very long time.

2 | She Could Fly

Story by Christopher Cantwell

Art by Martin Morazzo

Published by Dark Horse

One of my favorite stories in comics of the year was one so vulnerable, so painful, so descriptive in nature, that it had me gripping the pages so tightly as I read it. Christopher Cantwell tells such a haunting tale in She Could Fly that it comes at much surprise that it’s premise is driven by his own personal struggles with mental illness. I really enjoyed this story, and I think anyone reading my thoughts here would also.

1 | Doctor Star & the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows

Story by Jeff Lemire

Art by Max Fiumara

Published by Dark Horse

It is literally surprise to no one that Jeff Lemire is my favorite comic creator. This story is a spin off to the ongoing, Black Hammer, and is so touching and heartbreaking that it is instantly a classic in my mind. This is a love story of a father and son. If the last page does not bring you a tear.. then you’ve probably ought to seek out a plumber because you’ve got a duct clogged somewhere.

2018: Top Ten Albums

I obviously haven’t listened to every album that’s come out this year (let’s be real.. no one has), but these are the records that found their way to my ears and in some way or another were written especially for me. The following are my personal favorite albums from the past year with a few extra honorable mentions that I couldn’t fit in, but still wanted to notate as worth checking out if you haven’t already.

Cheers 

Honorable Mentions

El Ten Eleven | Banker’s Hill | Topshelf Records

Favorite Tracks:  Phenomenal Problems, Reverie, You Are Enough

Shame | Songs of Praise | Dead Oceans 

Favorite Tracks:  One Rizla, Tasteless, Concrete

The Drowns | View From The Bottom | Gunner Records

Favorite Tracks:  Eternal Debate, Take Me Back, Where’s Bobby?

Eels | The Deconstruction | E Works Records

Favorite Tracks:  Be Hurt, Today Is The Day, There I Said It

Gouge Away | Burnt Sugar | Deathwish Inc.

Favorite Tracks:  Only Friend, Ghost, Dissociation

The Top Ten

10 | J Mascis | Elastic Days | Sub Pop

Favorite Tracks:  See You At The Movies, Web So Dense, Everything She Said

9 | Turnstile | Time & Space | Roadrunner Records

Favorite Tracks:  Real Thing, I Don’t Wanna Be Blind, Generator

8 | Tiny Moving Parts | Swell | Triple Crown Records

Favorite Tracks:  Applause, Caution, Feel Alive

7 | Phosphorescent | C’est La Vie | Dead Oceans

Favorite Tracks:  C’est La Vie No. 2, Christmas Down Under, New Birth in New England

6 | Wye Oak | The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs | Merge Records

Favorite Tracks:  It Was Not Natural, Symmetry, The Louder I Call the Faster It Runs

5 | Kurt Vile | Bottle It In | Matador

Favorite Tracks:  Bassackwards, Rollin With The Flow, One Trick Ponies

4 | mewithoutYou | [Untitled] EP/LP | Run For Cover Records

Favorite Tracks: 9:27a.m. 7/29, Julia (or, ‘Holy to the LORD’ on the Bells of Horses), Winter Solstice

3 | Low | Double Negative | Sub Pop

Favorite Tracks:  Quorum, Fly, Always Trying To Work It Out

2 | Courtney Barnett | Tell Me How You Really Feel | Milk! Records

Favorite Tracks:  City Looks Pretty, Charity, I’m Not Your Mother I’m Not Your Bitch

1 | IDLES | Joy As An Act Of Resistance | Partisan Records

Favorite Tracks:  Danny Nedelko, Colossus, Never Fight A Man With A Perm

2018: Best Creator Owned First Issue

This weekend starts the last month of the year, which also kick starts my annual excursion for looking backwards on things that made the year less sucky.

We all have routines and schedules that get in the way of happiness, and we also have friends and family that assist in moving the pendulum back toward the positive when moments sway too heavy. Read More

Batman’s iPod

Batman spends a lot of his time alone in the cave, brooding about with the many frustrations that come along with being the man dressed in black as a bat alone in the darkness. Some may say the darkness is self-provoked. Others, coincidentally, couldn’t care less.

What does he listen to as he battles the villains of Gotham when he’s not losing himself in his self-depreciating thoughts?

How does he regroup and refocus?

Why does this even matter?*

*it really doesn’t.. I did this to keep my mind off of other more important but rather stressful circumstances.

In the end, we find out that one of The Bat’s guilty pleasures is a terrible nü-metal band from the mid-90s.  Read More

13 essential frightened rabbit

To some, music is a background; a simple nullification of the voidance to silence. To the other some, music is a passion; a collected series of human existence with song to fill that silence. To the few, music is a lifeline; that thread you desperately hold onto so that you do not fall into the void that the first some was seeking avoidance.  Read More

13 essential by the national

Last year began in a way, for me, that could only have been worse if I were in direct impact of one of the many California fires. Things got off to an incredibly rocky start when what turned out to be my last pick from the right side of the debate for commander-in-chief was preparing to be sworn into office. (Kasich was my gop preference, although I would have even taken Rubio or Jeb over the eventual DT.) Read More

Best Albums of 2017 | The Top 10

The holidays snuck up on me this year. I didn’t realize it could be nearly seventy and also the winter solstice. But hey, it’s Fresno. So as we say goodbye to the holidays and to twenty seventeen let me remind you (and the future me) of what my favorite music from the past year was. I’ve already reflected upon the music that impacted me this year beyond my top ten, and here is where I end the conversation.

Cheers🍻 Read More

Best Albums of 2017 | Runner Up Top 10

As promised, here is part two of my three part series of my favorite music from this twelve month nightmare I was told was supposed be called twenty seventeen. I truly hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did putting it together.

Cheers🍻 Read More

Best Albums of 2017 | Honorary Mentions

Hard to believe that twenty seventeen is already almost over.

I specifically remember back in the early-nineties as a preteen imagining ahead to the year two thousand. I would fantasize about things such as what I would look like as I aged, if I’d still be reading comics, and even doing simple math in my head calculating how old I would be once I reached the specific year being imagined. Twelve year old me would be in for a surprise seeing what the me of twenty seventeen has become. Some good, some bad, all of it me, and I am still managing to perfect the style which is able to portray the best version. Often disappointed and sometimes surprised, I am able to take this all in stride while enjoying one of my first loves: music. Read More