[Outside the Frame] My Favorite Comics of 2012

The holidays are a time to be thankful, to remember what was good about the year, and to give to others. Personally, I am thankful that I get to read ground-breaking comic books and talk about them every week on a Hugo-award winning fan site. While fans of mainstream comics had several reasons to be disappointed with the decisions made by the DC and Marvel – Before Watchmen, the New 52Marvel Now!, and the Batgirl firing/rehiring of Gail Simone are just a few of the controversial choices – 2012 was a great year for independent and small press comics. I looked back over my notes and put together a list of my favorite comics in case you missed something you’d love.

If you didn’t happen to find these great titles under the tree, you can always get them for yourself now (I won’t tell).

They’re listed in alphabetical order because all of these books are amazing, and it’d be difficult to rank them any other way. I’ve already reviewed a couple here at SF Signal (Click on the links to read my full reviews):

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[Outside the Frame] Interview with “Tails” creator Ethan Young

Ethan Young, whose comic Tails I reviewed in my last column, is a Chinese-American artist born and raised in NYC. He’s worked on a wide array of illustration projects, including: comics books, storyboards, t-shirt designs, video games, character designs, print ads, book covers, album covers, logos, and much more. Thought there are similarities between himself and his cartoon namesake “Ethan” – who takes his work at an animal shelter, relationship troubles, and veganism from Young’s own background – the two are different enough that you can’t know the artist simply from reading his work.

Young was kind enough to sit down and answer a few of my questions via email…

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[Outside the Frame] The Best of Both Worlds: Tails, by Ethan Young

When you buy a comic from a mainstream publisher, a single issue or graphic novel produced by a team of big-name writers, artists, colorists, letterers, editors, and so on, you can generally expect that the book won’t be terrible. You may not like the style of art or you might feel the story was weak – or, worse, sends the characters off in a direction that doesn’t feel true to who you think they are – but you can usually agree that some effort was put into producing it. As you venture into the land of alternative and small press comics, you can’t always be sure of what you’ll get. Will the art look like it was done by a small child who’s only recently been allowed to play with sharpened pencils? Will the story feel like it was written by someone who’s never actually read a book before?

You take chances with independent comics because that’s the best place to find something new.  There are brilliantly written but poorly drawn web comics, and beautiful but weakly-scripted art comics, and a range of titles in between. Some creators make stylistic choices, to be sure, and there are many comics by first time creators who will certainly get better. There is, above all, potential. It’s huge field. Anything could be out there.

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