Best Comics of 2016 is just that, our list of books, within each genre of storytelling, that stood out amongst all the others this year.
Here we are, another day and another series of comics that genuinely left a mark on my reading experience this year. As I’ve been going through a ton of books, searching and recalling all the different stories I’ve read this year, all in the effort to bring a comprehensive list of great 2016 books, I remembered that I had a fresh experience with today’s genre. This is the first time in my twenty plus years of reading comics that I’ve read horror comics. It was weird to realize that because I wasn’t avoiding them. I didn’t go out of my way to NOT read horror, but for some reason I guess they never really appealed to me, that is, until I read these comics. This list has literally changed my comic reading life because of the great experiences I had with each of this books.
Written By: Eric Powell
Art By: Eric Powell
First Issue Published: June 29, 2015 by Albatross
Eric Powell is, in my opinion, a fairly well know creator. His most famous series, The Goon, was where I first learned of this amazing creator, and because of that comic, I have since become a complete and total fanboy. I met Powell at San Diego Comicon (I believe, possibly Wondercon) and frankly, my experience was wonderful. He’s amazingly nice, friendly, more than willing to chat, and seems genuinely appreciative to his fans. Hillbilly is his latest creation, and in my opinion, this might be some of his best work.
Hillbilly is about, you guessed it, a hillbilly. Yet, this dude isn’t your normal backwoods wanderer. No, Powell’s Hillbilly, Rondel, is a demon hunting, witch killing, protector of the innocent that wields Satan’s cleaver. Yes…you read that correctly…Rondel wields the Devil’s cleaver as a weapon, and does so with maximum awesomeness. This series is an amazing mixture of folklore, creepiness, and straight terror. While Rondel is by all accounts a good guy, what he faces is nothing short of nightmares. Mix that level of storytelling with Powell’s unbelievable art and what you have is a downright wonderfully scary book.
Written By: Brian Azzerello
Art By: Eduardo Risso
First Issue Published: October 5, 2016 by Image Comics
I wrote about Moonshine a couple months ago, shortly after I flipped out that this book wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. Normally, I’m decent at catching a play on words, especially in comics, but Moonshine got one by me. When I picked up the first issue I genuinely thought I was buying a 1920’s speakeasy, mobster, crime book. Turns out, I was, but it didn’t stop there, no, because while all those things are included, Moonshine is a werewolf book. Get it? Moonshine…booze, but also, Moonshine…moon…shine, the moon cause werewolves. Yeah, sorry, you probably got that but I lost it when my wife pointed it out to me.
Our story is set during prohibition, and the deep….we’re talking deep deep, backwoods of Appalachia. We follow Lou as he’s sent by one of New York’s prominent mob leaders to strike a deal with a moonshiner in Virgina. Lou believes this will be one of the easiest, most laid back jobs he’s done, because in his mind these moonshiners are all dumb. Turns out, this particular group of moonshiners might actually be better con-men than Lou, and things aren’t going so well. Lou can’t seem to secure a deal with the moonshiners and was basically told he’d be killed if he came back, then a conversation with his mobster boss results in a similar threat if he didn’t make the deal. What’s a guy supposed to do? Well, Lou hasn’t figured that out quite yet, and unfortunately things get far more difficult when it turns out the moonshiners are hiding more than booze in those hills. Lou’s now being threatened by everyone around him, and is smack in the middle of some supernatural, bloody, family secrets that are just making things far more difficult.
Written By: Peter J. Tomasi
Art By: Ian Bertram
First Issue Published: April 13, 2016 by Dark Horse Comics
This is it folks, the book of all horror books. This is the book, if you read the intro to this post, that broke the blockade on my lack of horror books. For some reason, and I honestly don’t know what it was about this book in particular, but when I saw it, I knew I wanted to read it. I grabbed the first issue, learned that comics can actually be terrifying, and had this put on my pull list immediately. This book was so amazingly creepy and scary that I anticipated the final issue both because it was such a great series, and because I needed to find some form of resolution from these creepy pages.
House of Penance follows Warren Peck, an outlaw hitman, and Sarah Winchester, the daughter of the famous gunsmith. Her fortune and life has been wrapped around the creation of guns, and poor Sarah is haunted by the lost lives those guns have taken. She’s filled her house with noise, the banging of hammers and construction in order to keep the demons fo the dead at bay, and unfortunately for Warren Peck, he seeks solitude in the Winchester house but brings with him demons of his own.
From the first issue to the last this book creeped me the heck out, and I loved every page. Tomasi is an amazing storyteller, and the fact that he managed to craft a scary comic book is nothing short of genius. In addition to that, Bertram’s art gives such power to the already terrifying story. The combination to Tomasi and Bertram formed nothing short of a horrific spectacle of a comic. It is this book that forever changed my comic buying habits. Normally, I would’ve just skipped by horror books, dismissing them as boring because how can a comic be scary? Now, I browsing each and every book because this series showed me there’s no such thing as a genre comics cannot pull off.