ComVan’s Writers of the Year

We’re not doing a top ten, and there are so many writers who we’ve probably left out that you’re going to want to pelt the computer screen with hot bricks once you finish. But 2011 was an interesting year for comics, with a number of writers making a breakthrough into the mainstream, delivering top-notch creator-owned works, or continuing to do whatever it is they do. Writing is the easiest thing to talk about, so let us do so through the very medium of writing itself. Here are Comics Vanguard’s WRITERS OF THE YEAR

Rick Remender

Here is how you get more people to read your series about black ops agents working to take down evil corporations: get Rick Remender to write it. 2011 saw the writer make a series about Deadpool, Fantomex, Psylocke and Deathlok into something readable, and reinvented the concept of Venom. He also wrote the definitive Punisher storyline, but I can never remember whenabouts that happened. Frankencastle was just the greatest, you guys. I miss it terribly. Remender didn’t stop with his Marvel work, though! His creator-owned series Fear Agent, published by Dark Horse, concluded this year. Didn’t it? Or did it conclude last year. Oh dear, this article simply couldn’t be less researched than it is right now. Rick Remender has established himself as one of the top new writers at Marvel, at any rate. So that’s a good thing.

Jeff Lemire

Jeff Lemire’s series Sweet Tooth continued on this year, garnering plaudits and odd antler cosplay wherever it went. On top of that, the writer managed to sneak into DC’s New 52 and take control of writing two solo books featuring characters made famous by Grant Morrison. And while Animal Man is an obviously brilliant take on the character, updating and renovating him whilst staying somewhat true to Morrison’s style, Frankenstein is just as crazy as anything that Grant could ever put out. It has Ray Palmer in it, for goodness’ sake! And it’s still entertaining! With three critically acclaimed titles under his arm as he walks out of 2011 and into 2012, it looks like the next twelve months are his to claim.

Kate Beaton

Kate Beaton’s webseries ‘Hark, A Vagrant’ continued apace, with frequent new updates over the course of the year. From the return of her Wonder Woman comics to her time-travelling re-contextualising of notable historic figures, the series continues to be one of the most entertaining things you can get for free over the internet. Not only that, but Beaton this year released a print version of her work, offering readers hundreds of strips packaged into one book. Not only that, but each strip comes with commentary from Beaton herself, explaining the creative process. Not only that, but this entry seems to be some kind of promotion for her book instead of an explanation for why she is one of our writers of the year. Beaton’s other work this year included the creation of the Strong Female Characters alongside Carly Monardo and Meredith Gran; a prescient move which seemed to guess the direction that 2011 would ultimately head into, as discussion of female characters became one of the main topics for online fan debate.

Scott Snyder

What do you do after writing one of the most critically-acclaimed Batman stories in recent history? You take over the main title, putting yourself squarely in the crosshairs of disgruntled fans, and make Batman #1 a great comic. And simultaneously take Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing and make Swamp Thing #1 into a great comic. Which is what Scott Snyder managed to do this year. The Black Mirror alone – his arc on Detective Comics with artists Francesco Francavilla and Jock – would probably alone be a good enough reason to put Snyder into the list. But when you take two difficult titles and make them into must-reads, there’s something more than good writing going on. Scott Snyder is probably using pixie dust on his laptop. That’s our guess. ComVan’s writing staff are drunk again you guys.

Kieron Gillen

No surprise that Gillen makes the list, because we pretty routinely namecheck him on this site. There are those who believe the site should be renamed Kieron Vanguard, but that seems like fairly blatant pandering. Gillen’s run on Uncanny X-Men has started off well, and for a title that is routinely a poisoned chalice, you have to applaud him for that. But he’s also been busy elsewhere, writing this book – you might have heard of it – called “Journey Into Mystery”. It’s all about this talking magpie and his adventures with a hopeless demi-god sidekick called Loki. Thor shows up in it sometimes, and there’s all this magic involved and stuff. It’s great. People say Marvel don’t take many risks, but it doesn’t get more risky than making a talking crow your protagonist.

Jonathan Hickman

He wrote that Red Wing comic, but really this is all about FANTASTIC FOUR #600. What a fantastic piece of writing that was. Yep.

Mark Waid

One of two writers to leap away from DC comics in order to work alongside editor Steve Wacker (the other being Greg Rucka), Mark Waid’s 2011 can be summed up with one word: Daredevil. The relaunch of Matt Murdock’s series has been an utter success thus far, with Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin making sure the book looked absolutely fantastic. But Waid’s contribution to the book shouldn’t be overlooked – although it has, a little – as his stories have been tight, fun adventures which throw all kinds of strange villains at the hero. Starting off with the Spot and moving on to a new character, called Bruiser (who wants to build up a reputation as a hero-beater so he will become famous enough that Hulk will want to fight him), Waid’s procession of villains were matched only by his happy-go-lucky characterisation of Murdock himself. Daredevil is one of the best books of the year, and most of that lies in Waid’s writing.

Dan Slott

I know we said that we wouldn’t be doing this as a top ten, but Dan Slott was the best this year. Rampaging out of his comfort zone to write an epic summer event, Slott succeeded where basically everybody else failed, and made Spider-Island an entertaining, smart, silly read. While other crossovers and events fell apart this year, Slott’s Spidey remained one of Marvel’s best titles. In the face of crushing odds, he’s managed to keep this book engaging, faithful to its central character, and progressive.

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