The general sentiment of 2010 was that it was a shit year. The BP Oil Spill, Wikileaks, Republicans taking back The House, unemployment, and other global issues have dampened spirits. Not all was bad, however, looking over this list of art, I'm generally more excited about what was created this past year than I was at the end of 2009.
I should note that I'm woefully unknowledgeable about comics and music this year compared to past years because so much of my focus has been on Dark Horse Comics and Banana Stand Media. It's been a blessing and a curse. I'm actively involved in the production and promotion of art, but it limits the amount of time I have to enjoy everyone else's great work. Still, I hope this list is useful if you're looking for some quality entertainment.
The list is in no particular order.
The Best Comics of 2010 (In My Opinion)
2010 by Josh Burggaf
This self-published collection shows a lot of promise, and a strong sense of design. Burggaf spends a good deal of time creating animation as well. I encourage you to check out his blog, here.
Revolver by Matt Kindt
While I didn't enjoy Revolver as much as Super Spy or 3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man, it's a really solid book that compelled me to continue reading with every page. A unique take on a post apocalyptic world, conspiracy theory, and an Inception style mind-game - you won't be let down.
Marvel Strange Tales by Various Artists
The second issue stands out almost entirely on the basis of Raphel Grampa. Grampa's cover and Wolverine story make characters decades old amazingly fresh. Hell, the Wolverine story alone might be one of the best things Marvel has produced in years. Add a hilarious Nicholas Gurewitch strip and a host of other great independent creators, and the single issue comic is easily the best title from Disney's newest acquisition outside Cassanova.
Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition by Stan Sakai
A giant, two volume hardcover edition with a solid slipcase, this excellent collection features the first seven volumes of the series and a ton of extra content. Probably the most beautiful book on this list.
The Bulletproof Coffin by David Hine & Shaky Kane
I picked this book up almost entirely on the fact that it was the only comic on the mainstream racks that looked different in anyway from the others, which is a sorry reflection on the industry today. Image has been doing some great new stuff, including Cowboy Ninja Viking, and although The Bulletproof Coffin isn't what I hoped it would be, it's still original in a nice way.
Daytripper by Gabriel Bá & Fábio Moon
The world Daytripper creates is so deep that word fail to describe the levels. Dave Stewart's colors are out of this world. Daytripper showcases three of the best talents in modern comics firing at the highest caliber. Buy the single issues; the covers and pauses between each chapter enrich the experience.
Stumptown by Greg Rucka & Matthew Southworth
I'm skeptical of anything that uses Portland, OR as a backdrop for a story. I'm a transplant to the city, but still protective of how it appears in media. Brain Michael Bendis is trying the same thing and failing with Scarlet, but Stumptown pulls off an engaging story that doesn't seem forced. It's not that Scarlet is overtly bad, but next to Stumptown it feels less genuine as a crime-drama featuring a strong white female lead, who loves guns, set in a moderately sized Northwest city.
Unknown Soldier by Joshua Dysart & Alberto Ponticelli
A radical take on the classic character, Dysart has been creating what I believe is the most important comic series in the last two years, and probably longer. Apparently DC Comics didn't think the same, and unfortunately the series was cancelled at issue #25. Dysart spent sometime in Uganda to research the book, and his blog about the politics of the country is very interesting. You can find it, here.
Hellboy: The Wild Hunt by Mike Mignola & Duncan Fegredo
A lot of comic fans are clamoring for the return of Mignola to drawing duties in 2011 for the popular series, but I for one will miss the action and style Fegredo brought to the book. Mignola's influence in the pencils is so obvious it might as well be tracing, but Fegredo works in some subtleties I find charming. Plus, bringing in the classic English mythology of King Arthur is a pretty easy way to get me interested in a title.
Howl by Eric Drooker
I have to admit, I was a little let down by this book, but only because my standards were ridiculously high after Blood Song. It's a very nice collection that I was happy to purchase from Drooker himself, who was kind enough to sign it. I haven't seen the film yet, and I feel foolish.
Achewood: A Home for Scared People by Chris Onstad
It took a while to come out, but the third collection of Onstad's webcomic is gorgeous and features some of my favorite strips that balance nicely between blooming character development and high-brow dick & fart jokes. The introduction shorts and in-character voice are also gold.
The Goon: Fancy Pants Edition Vol. 3
Eric Powell is a mad genius, and this collection of The Goon with colors by Dave Stewart features the most consistent story-line of the series to date. Funny and dark, absolutely marvelous, it renews my faith in the medium.
Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson
The hardcover collection finally brings together the scattered shorts and the new mini-series. The writing is superb, the art is top-notch, and even the hardest of hearts will fucking weep at the shocking humanity of some of the stories. Dorkin feeds off your glass case of emotion, let him taste your tears of sad and happy.
Orc Stain by James Stokoe
Stokoe may just be the creator with the most potential in comics right now. His style is familiar, but unique, and the world he's built with Orc Stain is marvelous. A modern fantasy for adults, the creatures that inhabit it are as bizarre as they are often unexplained. Like most great fantasy stories, Stokoe doesn't reveal a history of back information, and instead lets the reader inhabit a strange land for the sake of being bewildered.
Well that's the list for comics. I tried not to include too many Dark Horse books, but it was unavoidable considering they are the bulk of what I read these days. I want to note that Dresden Codak is probably the best webcomic around as of late. And a special tip of the hat to Hark A Vagrant and Octopus Pie for being consistently great.
Although I didn't read it, I've heard good things about Mighty Thor, and it was a shame to see Marvel cancel that book, one can assume to not saturate the market before the movie release. Finally, for an aging licensed property Zack Whedon and Andy MacDonald managed to create a really solid series with Terminator 2029 & 1984. I recently picked up Ducan: The Wonder Dog and have been promised that is amazing from reputable sources, so, check that out if you so desire.
I purposefully didn't include links to purchase these books online. If you're purchasing comics, I recommend you get them at Floating World or Cosmic Monkey if in Portland, and at Bergen St. Comics or Desert Island if in New York.
*Coming Soon - The Best Music of 2010*