ComVan’s Artists of the Year:

Again, we’re not listing them in any order. These are the artists whose work really broke out in 2011, and pushed them into the spotlight.

Francesco Francavilla

Almost certainly the most prolific artist of 2011, Francavilla’s distinctive artwork was everywhere you looked. From his covers and interiors for Black Panther through to his role in Detective Comics, he dominated the year. And let’s not forget that every week that Doctor Who was on the air, Francavilla drew a poster on his blog which related to the episode. In a year for idiosyncratic artists, Francavilla’s unique take on perspective and layout made for some of the most striking art either Marvel or DC put out in 2011.

Nick Bradshaw

I believe he started the year off with an issue of ‘Escape From the Negative Zone’, written by James Asmus, and then moved on to become one of Marvel’s most sought-after cover artists. His art, a wonderfully cartoonish take on Marvel’s characters which have caused many to compare him to Art Adams, was everywhere. He did covers, he did interiors – and he’ll be wrapping up the year as one of the two artists for ‘Wolverine & The X-Men’ – paired up with CHRIS BACHALO. You know you’ve made it when they pair you off with Bachalo.

Humberto Ramos

Speaking of, here’s the man who used to be paired with Bachalo on Mike Carey’s X-Men run. Some bloggers were rather critical of Ramos’ appointment as one of the main Spider-Man artists for Dan Slott’s run, but were quickly left scooping up their spiel and ramming it back down their throats. Not only did Ramos deliver a vibrant, energetic take on the main character and his cast of friends, but he also delivered the artwork for an entire event storyline – on time, to schedule, and to rave reviews. Spider-Island was a demanding story to have to draw, and there was simply nobody other than Ramos who could’ve done it.

Phil Noto

Have you seen his Tumblr blog yet? Go now! Rush over! Do this now!

Mikel Janin

Coming out of nowhere with a Flashpoint tie-in, Janin’s artowkr immediately seized attention with its photo-realistic (but not creepy ((unless it needed to be))) use of expression and character. This led into a run with Peter Milligan on Justice League Dark which has been excellent thus far, giving us a wide range of characters who all look distinctive and stylish. His redesign on Zatanna was a dangerous job to take on, but was met with applause from fans, and his obvious love for the characters and story makes every page irresistible.

Travel Foreman

Known by fans for his work on Immortal Iron Fist, there was a wave of excitement when it was announced that Foreman would be partnering up with Jeff Lemire for DC’s new ‘Animal Man’ title. And that wave grew into something larger than a wave, such a omega wave, when the first issue came out. Lemire asks for a lot from Foreman over the course of the series, but each time Foreman has managed to surpass expectations. He can mangle anatomy like no other artist, and his designs for the main cast – maybe leaving aside Cliff’s unfortunate mullet – are absolutely bananas. Villains The Hunters Three are a mess of guts, leg bits, fly heads and other vague fleshy ideas, and look incredibly creepy as a result. No other DC book has an artist so perfectly in-tune with the tone of the stiry.

Cliff Chiang

The most difficult job in comics is drawing Wonder Woman, because every single fan is waiting for you to slip up and deliver something less-than-perfection. Well, the fans are still waiting for Chiang to put one foot wrong in his reinvention of the character, as every page of the book looks sumptuous. Giving us a strong but human version of Wonder Woman is just the tip on a perfectly-drawn iceberg, as the rest of the cast look fantastic too. The locations are gorgeous – helped in no part by the work of colourist Matthew Wilson – and the storytelling is top-notch.

Paolo Rivera/Marcos Martin

It’s difficult to say anything that hasn’t already been said, by us, every single week since these two took over as the artists for Daredevil. Every month readers get a flawless book, paced and told beautifully. If you don’t read Daredevil, just take a look at some preview pages – inked, coloured, lettered, any state. You’re guaranteed to be floored by how intricate they are. Steve Wacker is a very lucky editor indeed to have such talent on his books.

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