2021 was a year that existed. Maybe. Depends. If this really is a simulation, does this past year actually exist? And could we get the cosmic administrator to stop hitting the "induce a disaster" button, please?
As with last year, I tried very hard to sample new things but stay clear of books I had a feeling I wouldn't like. I think I did a pretty good job of that. There were really only about 10 or so books where I wanted to swear off reading for the rest of my life and go play Cities Skylines instead. No, I'm not telling you what they were but one of them shares part of its title with a Roger Corman film.) Add in another 25 or so "Wow, that was disappointing" books and all in all, for reading 200 items across FIFTY-FIVE(!!) publishers, I think I did pretty good at ensuring I skipped over items that wouldn't be my thing while still trying to expose myself as much as possible to new ideas and new creators.
The end result, as you'll see, was a little mixed in terms of getting more new names into my lists. I admit, I'm the type of person who reads broadly, but if I like you, I devour anything and everything you publish. That means it can be hard to break out of the "long list" and into my rotation. But once you do, like Maria Llovett, for example, I'm a fan for life.
Okay, that's enough preamble. Let's get down to it! as with past years, my short list + favorites = roughly 25% of what I read. So this year, that means 50, which is high, but whatever. My site, my list, my rules! Today we'll be going over the 25 books I thought were awesome but didn't quite get to the favorites list. Almost all of these were extremely close calls. If you made this list and you care about my opinion as a comics reader, congratulations. Your work is important to me if it's on this list. I loved it and I'd recommend it to anyone.
Last year, I added a few notes to each book and I'll be doing that again this time, too. It's almost like I wrote them to be things you could put in a tweet so creators can promote themselves. I'm sure it's 100% coincidence.
Without further ado, here we go! These are in alphabetical order, as per usual.
Adventureman by Matt Fraction, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson, and Clayton Cowles, published by Image
Asadora by Naoki Urasawa, published by Viz
Avengers Mech Strike by Jed Mackay, Carlos Magno, Guru-eFX, and C’s Cory Pettit, published by Marvel
Backtrack by Brian Joines, Jake Elphick, Doug Garbark, and Jim Campbell, published by Oni Press
Batman and Robin and Howard by Jeffrey Brown, published by DC
Bitter Root by David F. Walker, Sanford Greene, Chuck Brown, Sofie Dodgson, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, published by Image
Department of Truth by James Tynion IV, Martin Simmonds, Aditya Bidikar, and Others, published by Image
Dragon Racer by Joe Weiser, published by Oni
Godzilla Rivals by Paul Allor, Mary Kenney, and others, published by IDW
HaHa by W. Maxwell Prince and Others, published by Image
Ice Cream Man by W. Maxwell Prince, Martin Morazzo, Chris O'Halloran, and Good Old Neon, published by Image
Iron Man by Christopher Cantwell, Cafu, and Others, published by Marvel
Johnny Boo and the Silly Blizzard by James Kochalka, published by Top Shelf
Monster Fun Halloween Spookacular by Various Creators, published by Rebellion/2000AD
Murky Water by Kel McDonald, Self-Published
Non-Stop Spider-Man Joe Kelly, Chris Bachalo, and a lot of others, published by Marvel
Out by Rob Williams, Will Conrad, and Marco Lesco, published by AWA
Proctor Valley Road by Grant Morrison, Alex Child, Naomi Franquiz, Tamra Bonvillain, and Jim Campbell, published by Boom!
Silver Coin by Michael Walsh, Chip Zdarsky, Kelly Thompson, Ed Brisson, Jeff Lemire, and Toni Marie Griffin, published by Image
Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton by Kyle Starks, Chris Schweizer, and Liz Trice Schweizer, published by Image
Tales of Mother F Goose by Frank Tieri, Joe Eisma, Matt Herms, and Carlos M. Manguel, published by Aftershock
The Fang Weekend at Medusa's by Marc Palm, published by Self-Satisfied/Fantagraphics
Vampiverse by Thomas Sniegoski, Jeannine Acheson, Daniel Maine, Francesca Cittarelli, and Taylor Esposito, published by Dynamite
Wicked Things by John Allison, Max Sarin, Whitney Cogar, and Jim Campbell, published by Boom!
Worst Dudes by Aubrey Sitterson, Tony Gregori, Lovern Kindzierski, and Taylor Esposito, published by Dark Horse