January 2, 2020

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Rob's Favorite Comics of 2019 Part 1: The Runners-Up

What happened to 2019? I feel like it was July and San Diego Comic-Con just a short while ago! Was this really a year I judged the Ignatz and Prism Awards and managed to keep my eyeballs from falling out from all the reading? Why yes, yes it was.

I said it in 2018 and I'll say it again here in 2019--we have an embarrassment of comic riches right now. I read well over 200 different comics in various shapes and sizes--from very small minis to epic-long book length features--and I barely scratched the surface of what was out there. There are so many, many comics I never got a chance to read. That's why I use "favorite" instead of "best" --there's no way to call things best when you look and go, "Oh crap, I didn't even get to read Insert Title Here yet!"

Still, I had a pretty good sample size between my award reading and my normal reading. I didn't get to write as many reviews as I wanted to, but I assure you, I was reading, reading reading.

Let's talk a bit about process here. My goal was to get the final list to about 10% of what I read, regardless of the form of the comic, its genre, or length. That's in the next column. Of the comics I read, though, I am very happy to report that only about 1/3 were books I didn't really engage with. The other 2/3rds were good books. They'd all be 3 stars or better on my Goodreads profile, and you can find some of them over there, if you care to look.

That started the hard part. Liking a book is one thing, but I had to *really* like it to get it over to the short list and final list. So books like the IDW Marvel offerings, while a lot of fun, just weren't going to get over that hump, though I thoroughly recommend them for anyone who just wants fun adventures with familiar characters and not a lot of continuity to weigh them down. Similarly, I enjoyed a lot of Dynamite books this year (Nancy Drew, the new Vampirella, Elvira, and more) but most didn't quite make the cut. And that's to say nothing of some really solid work from Panel Pals like Kevin Budnik or the beautiful Cult of the Ibis from Fantagraphics or things from 2018 that kept on being great (Farmhand, Ice Cream Man, Lumberjanes, just to name a few).

It was pretty damned hard to make this short list, but here they are. These were really, really great books from 2019, for a plethora of different reasons. Listed in alphabetical order, I present my Shortlist for 2019:


  • Assassin Nation by Kyle Starks and Erica Henderson, published by Image
  • Black Badge by Matt Kindt, Tyler Jenkins, and Hilary Jenkins, published by Boom! Studios
  • By Night by John Allison, Christine Larsen, Sarah Stern, and Jim Campbell, published by Boom! Studios
  • Cannabis: The Illegalization of Weed in America by Box Brown, published by First Second
  • Consumptive by Jamie Tanner, Self-Published
  • Dick Tracy Dead or Alive by Lee Allred, Mike Allred, Rich Tommaso, and Laura Allred, published by IDW
  • Exorsisters by Ian Boothby, Gisele Lagace, Pete Pantazis, and Taylor Esposito, published by Image
  • Faithless by Brian Azzarello, Maria Llovet, and Andworld Design, published by Boom! Studios
  • Fast Enough by Joel Christian Gill, published by Lion Forge
  • Fearscape by Ryan O'Sullivan, Andrea Mutti, Vladimir Popov, and Andworld Design, published by Vault
  • Ghost Tree by Bobby Curnow, Simon Gane, Ian Herring, and Becka Kinzie, published by IDW
  • Giraffes on Horseback Salad by by Josh Frank, Tim Heidecker, and Manuela Pertega, published by Quirk Books
  • The Girl from the Other Side by Nagabe, published by Seven Seas
  • Glitch by Sarah Graley, published by Scholastic
  • Gogor by Ken Garing, published by Image
  • High and Shy by Amy Jame, published by Silver Sprocket
  • Hobo Mom by Charles Forsman and Max de Radigu├Ęs, published by Fantagraphics
  • James Bond: Origin by Jeff Parker, Bob Q, Jordan Boyd, Simon Bowland, and others, published by Dynamite
  • Lorna by Benji Nate, published by Silver Sprocket
  • Mary Shelly Monster Hunter by Adam Glass, Olivia Cuartero-Briggs, Hayden Sherman, and Sal Cipriano, published by Aftershock
  • No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular! by Nico Tanigawa, published by Yen Press
  • Rai by Dan Abnett, Juan Jose RYP, Andrew Dalhouse, and Dave Sharp, published by Valiant
  • Ronin Island by Greg Pak, Giannis Milonogiannis, Simon Bowland, and Irma Kniivila, published by Boom! Studios
  • Self/Made by Mat Groom, Eduardo Ferigato,  Marcelo Costa, and Troy Petari, published by Image
  • A Shining Beacon by James Albon, published by IDW/Top Shelf
  • Shirtlifter 6 by Steve MacIsaac and Todd Brower
  • Shout Out by Various Creators, published by TO Comix Press
  • So Buttons Slice of Cake by Jonathan Bayliss and Others
  • They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker, published by IDW/Top Shelf
  • Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai and Tom Luth, published by IDW
  • Wizard Beach by Shaun Simon, Conor Nolan, Meg Casey, and others, published by Boom! Studios