Bag and Bored’s ‘Best Of 2013′: BRAD GISCHIA

BEST OF 2013
with Brad Gischia

I began reviewing comics for about six months ago.  I was so fired up to get into it, but I specified, when I talked to our fearless leader, Cory, that I would be in more than a little bit of a jam when it comes to reviewing books.  I am not near a comic store.  So to get a gig that is so centered on ever changing wall books, or even monthly, well…it wouldn’t be easy.  But he came through, and began hooking me up with digital copies to review.  This has literally changed my taste in books and broadened the scope of my comic reading experience.

I have become enamored with indie comics and with those excellent people who work their asses off every day to make a product that they believe in.  They put their art into the world, not for the monetary gain, but for their love of story and craft.  The world of the Indie Comic is an ever-expanding, wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey sort of thing, and I thoroughly love it.

So with that overly long and wordy introduction, I give you my favorite Indie books of the year.  The one caveat is that, although I feel like I read a lot this year, I’m sure that there are many more that I missed.  These are in no particular order, last but not least and all that jazz.

Titan Comics –

Death Sentence
Written by Montynero
Art by Mike Dowling
October 2013

This was one of the most original concepts I saw for the year.  A plague that grants super powers to the infected, and also shortens their lifespan.  It’s the double-edged sword that never cuts in the “real” comics world, but slices deep in this fantastic short series from Montynero and Mike Dowling.  Superb artwork and fast-paced writing deliver gut-wrenching drama in this book.

Chronos Commandos
Dawn Patrol
Created, Written, Illustrated – Stuart Jennett
Logo Design and Lettering Assists – Donna Jennett

Machine guns, dinosaurs, Nazis, Albert Einstein, all rolled into one action-packed comic.  An elite force of time-traveling soldiers fights the Third Reich through the time stream, looking for the edge that will give them the power to win the Second World War.  Bad-assery at its finest.

Monkeybrain Comics –

Jon Morris and Manning Krull

I love a good anthology book, and Morris and Krull have taken the reality show concept and filled it with your favorite horror hosts, pitting them against each other in a story-telling contest.  Stories combine The Twilight Zone and Tales From the Crypt, enough weirdness and quirky, slapstick gore to satisfy even the most stoic of fans, and enough funny to offset those tales that actually begin to crawl through you a little.

Writers-Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley
Pencils - Kyle Latino
Colors - Jordan Gibson

Along with penning Hoaxhunters for Image, also one of my favorites, Moreci and Seeley have hit upon a great concept and a thoroughly fun book.  A group of monkeys, once a super-team come from the stars to save Earth and now separated, must reunite to confront the worst of their foes.  Art matches the tone perfectly, fun and light, and the writing is some of the best in the industry.

Code Monkey Save World
Written by Greg Pak
Based on the songs of Jonathan Coulton
Pencils and Inks by Takeshi Miyazawa
Colors by Jessica Kholinne
Letters by Simon Bowland

Greg Pak lends his style and fantastic writer’s mind to this book, based on a song by Jonathan Coulton.  Code Monkey like Fritos…and also Matilde, the secretary in his department.  But when the Robot Queen Laura and her drones takes Matilde hostage to the slave planet, it is up to Code Monkey to save the day…by teaming up with Skullcrusher, the unrequited love of Laura.  Throw in a government agent named B-12 and a pro-curler, and you have the makings of a great book.

Greentea Publishing -

Nenetl of the Forgotten Spirits
Written by Vera Greentea
Art and Colors by Laura Muller
Letters by Frank Cvetkovic

The most beautiful, visually compelling book I read this year.  The story of Nenetl is one taken from Mexican folklore, of the third stage of death, the worst stage, the forgetting stage.  Vera Greentea weaves an enchanting fairytale which Laura Muller’s art makes haunting and eye-catchingly stunning.  An all-ages book that will make the hairs on your arm stand up.

Monsterverse –

Bela Lugosi’s Tales From the Grave
Publisher/Editor – Kerry Gammill
Writers – Mark Finn, Lowell Isaac, Ed Polgardy, Michael Leal, Kerry Gammill
Artists – John Lucas, Bill Sienkiewicz, Lowell Isaac, Rob Brown, Nik Poliwko, Kerry Gammill

I love this book because I love anthologies and I love horror books.  Gathering groups of artists and writers together to make something special seems the hardest of things, having to contend with a thousand schedules and a thousand personalities to make one wonderful whole.  But with Bela Lugosi at the helm, this series takes those things and molds them into a wonderful mash of styles and stories, all of them fun and some of them down-right scary.

Black Mask Studios-

Creator/Writer – Matt Miner
Art – Javier Sanchez Aranda
Colors – Joaquin Pereyra
Letters/Edits – Vito Delsante

Can an idea, a belief, spawn good, convincing art?  Liberator does.  Creator Matt Miner has woven his passion for animal welfare into a stunning four-part series.  We follow two activists from different beliefs, backgrounds, and methods, drawn together by their love of animals and their hatred for those that do them harm.  Javier Sanchez Aranda brings the characters to life.  It is a book that will make you question your own beliefs, and perhaps your lack of action.

Unlikely Heroes Studios –

Creators – Zachary Dolan and Justin Piatt
Pencils – Zachary Dolan
Inks (#2 and #3) – Laurie Foster
Lettering – Justin Piatt
Colors – Everardo Orozco
Color Assist – Ludwig Olimba
Additional Pencils and Inks – Tara Kappal
Unlikely Heroes Studios - 2011-2013

My favorite all around book of the year.  Kickstarted for the first three issues, Super! tells the story of the “bad news bears” of Cosmopolis, a super hero infested city.  Art by Zachary Dolan and Laurie Foster is as good as anything on the market, and better than many.  The writing is easy going and fun; with plenty of ass kicking and intrigue to keep every page turn fresh and exciting.  These people don’t just have a Kickstarter, they have a comic franchise in the making.  I see a good future for Super! and I don’t even have powers.

So there it is…my “best of” list for 2013.  I know…believe me…that there are hundreds of books out there that I’ve probably missed.  I can only pledge to do better next time, and hope that you’ll continue reading.  Until the New Year…here’s to 2013, and the great books therein contained. On to 2014 and the books yet to come.


Follow Brad Gischia on Twitter:  @comicwasteland

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