Day 3 of the 4th Annual Occult Detective Awards: Comics

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COMICS

Best Occult Detective Comic

DRUMHELLAR (Image) — From Riley Rossmo and Alex Link comes this unique take on the occult detective via psychedelic gumshoe Drum Hellar and his omnipresent partner, a purple ghost cat named Harold. It’s a surreal book, like some sort of hypnagogic marriage between Hunter S. Thompson and Tiziano Sclavi. With bog people, werewolves, demons and more tied together in a noir-styled narrative, Drumhellar has a lot of promise.

Best Ongoing Series

THOR: GOD OF THUNDER (Marvel) — Jason Aaron has breathed new life into the Thunder God by returning a sense of wonder and myth to the book, all tied together with some spectacular artwork from the likes of Esad Ribic and Ron Garney.

Best Graphic Novel

HELLBOY: THE MIDNIGHT CIRCUS (Dark Horse) — Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo’s tale of a young Hellboy running away from “home” only to stumble upon a demonic carnival is a masterful adventure with a not-so-subtle nod to Pinocchio. The artwork is simply gorgeous and the narrative poignant and engaging.

Best Maxi Series

LOCKE & KEY (IDW) — I did not want this to end, but, as they say, all things must pass, and so Locke & Key has, but not without leaving its mark as one of the most brilliant and creative comics ever printed. Creators Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez delivered something truly special, a comic that is both heartfelt and terrifying.

Best Mini-Series

KING CONAN: THE HOUR OF THE DRAGON (Dark Horse) — Adapting the first half of Robert E. Howard’s only Conan novel, writer Tim Truman and artists Tomas Giorello and Jose Villarrubia not only honored my favorite author’s legacy, but elevated it. This was a stirring example of sword and sorcery at its finest and in the hands of these creators, Conan has never looked better and the Hyborian Age has never felt more real.

Best Collection

THE SIXTH GUN DELUXE HARDCOVER EDITION, VOL 1 (Oni Press) — A brilliant comic made even more so by one of the most brilliantly packaged hardcover collections I’ve ever seen. This one is lovingly and perfectly crafted. A beautiful book and a perfect gift for any and every comic fan. Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt have created the perfect weird western, and now Oni Press has made it even better. This is a must-have book, plain and simple.

Best Annual

STAR TREK ANNUAL 2013 (IDW) — John Byrne. Star Trek. Photo Novel. What the – ? “Strange New Worlds” was certainly the most innovative thing to come out of comic publishing this year. I have been a lifelong John Byrne fan. He is a living legend, plain and simple. Using Photoshop to create a new and exciting Star Trek Original Series, utilizing film stills and careful manipulation, is a brilliant move and Byrne creates a vivid and compelling tale, perfectly matching the tone and dialogue of Roddenberry’s classic.

Best Comic

THE SANDMAN: OVERTURE (DC/Vertigo) — Whoever decreed the marriage of JH Williams III’s fantastical draftsmanship with the mythbuilding mad-genius writing talents of Neil Gaiman deserves a bloody Nobel Prize or something. We’ve waited 25 years for Gaiman’s return to The Sandman. I can think of no better way fro his words to be expressed in pictures than by Williams’ equivalent brilliance. This book was a tour de force, to be sure, with enormous promise for what is yet to come.

Best Writer

JASON AARON — Aaron has been building quite the reputation for himself, from his creator-owned work on Scalped to his Eisner Award nominated miniseries The Other Side, but for me it all came to a head when he took the reins of Thor: God of Thunder, returning the Odinsson to his proper place at the top of the Marvel Pantheon of Heroes.

Best Artist

TOMAS GIORELLO — Certainly the finest artist to tackle Howard’s towering Cimmerian since Big John Buscema, Giorello’s artwork is masterful in every sense of the word, bringing to the page a kinetic energy that is not only powerful and brutal, but fluid and sensual as well.

Best Cover Artist

FRANCESCO FRANCAVILLA — Retro Pulp Genius. There’s something altogether magical and incomparably wonderful about Francavilla’s cover and poster art. It never ceases to put a smile on my face. His run on Dark Shadows made me feel like a kid again, giddy with excitement, and the recent retro Highlander poster he did for Mondo — nothing short of transcendent. Love, love, love everything he does. He inspires me to be better a better artist. I can’t think of any higher praise than that.

Biggest Disappointment

CONSTANTINE (DC) — I loved Hellblazer and was there for all 300 issues of it. Granted, the final issue limped out with a whimper on its cracked and nicotine stained lips, but all in all, the series was something different, something quite dark, and it oozed with a cthonic malevolence. DC, in turn, took our rowdy occult detective and slapped a fresh coat of paint on him and dropped him into the Nu52, surrounded by capes and cowls, and there the magic died. I just can’t stomach it. Thank the devil I’ve a collection of back issues to revisit, because I barely recognize the bloke in his new digs. It makes the Constantine movie seem like a faithful adaptation by comparison. And that’s really and truly sad.

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