ComicsAlliance’s Best Of 2016: Outstanding Artist Of 2016
Our writers and editors have made their picks of the best comics and creators of the past year, and you, the readers of ComicsAlliance, have voted for your favorites.
Check out the best artists of 2016, including our critics’ picks, listed in alphabetical order, and the artists you voted the runner up and winner in this category! This is the very best of 2016!
Ben Caldwell's fluid, expressive artwork absolutely explodes with the kind of energy that makes a reader feel like the page is struggling to contain it. That alone would be enough to earn him a place on this list, but then you have to remember to factor in the charm, style, and personality on display in every character, location, and page layout he produces. [Chris Haley]
Any artist stepping into the new Archie Comics has their work cut out for themselves, especially at a publisher known for its house styles. Veronica Fish rang in 2016 by taking over as the artist of the new Archie and blew us all away with her brilliant take on the Riverdale teens, their melodrama, and their fashions. At Marvel she's also helped lift books like Howard The Duck and Spider-Woman, making 2016 a banner year for her talents. [James Leask]
Marguerite Sauvage draws the way dreams look. There’s something ethereal about her characters, who have an undeniable presence while also appearing light as the air we breathe. And that’s just considering her covers. When it comes to interiors, Sauvage is just as strong, rendering pages that show an impressive array of storytelling techniques. Her best work comes through in her dramatic, stream-of-consciousness splash pages. Each is brimming with small detail, and though it's easy to get lost in the imagery, Sauvage is deft enough not to lose the threads holding everything together. [Luke Brown]
When you look at just about anything drawn by Evan "Doc" Shaner, you can't help but feel like you've been reading his comics your entire life. There's a warm, welcoming familiarity about his style that's reminiscent of masters of the past, but his energetic heroes, maniacal villains, and all the aliens and animals in between that populate his panels crackle with a kind of joyful, exuberant heart that feels as modern as the not too distant future. [Chris Haley]
Ramon Villalobos has been an artist to watch for a while, but in 2016 he exploded with his work with David Walker and Tamra Bonvillain on the critically acclaimed Nighthawk. While some artists work well in tight panel structures and some work better with space to play, Villalobos can do it all, and his fight scenes in Nighthawk were the best of the year. Marvel best have something good lined up for him for 2017, because he's already a superstar, and everyone else just needs to realize it. [Kieran Shiach]
In both Goldie Vance and Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat, Brittney Williams' art plays a major role in establishing tone. Her work is clean and smooth and well-defined, and yet looks nothing like the norm in mainstream comics (and I mean that as a compliment). Her style owes something to animation, with character designs so dynamic they practically seem to move on the page. Despite being relatively new on the scene, she's a one-woman masterclass in how to make great-looking comics. [Elle Collins]
There's a sincerity to Annie Wu's art. A minimalist with very fine line control, Wu accomplishes a lot with surprisingly little, especially in her character work. Just a couple of seemingly dashed-off lines, and she creates facial expressions that are downright revelatory. With a great actor capable of portraying a range of emotions, you can watch a classic scene on mute and still understand exactly what's happening. In Annie Wu's comics, you could just as easily remove the words and wholly comprehend how every character feels in every single panel. In a word: wow. [John R. Parker]
For sixteen issues, Babs Tarr's slick, sketchy style made the Batgirl of Burnside both easily recognizable and a hit with cosplayers around the world. Working alongside Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher, her quirky take on Barbara Gordon and her super stylish friends and foes alike made the character even more accessible to an audience largely made up of young women and girls, and now she looks set to impress us all again with Motor Crush. [Zina H]
There is nobody I’d rather see drawing Wonder Woman’s origin than Nicola Scott. Her intricately detailed artwork looks nothing like that of Wonder Woman’s original artist Harry Peter, whose style was that of a Victorian illustrator, but the two share an affinity for classical mythological imagery --- swords, armor, architecture --- that makes Scott the perfect inheritor of not just Princess Diana, but her entire society of Amazons and gods. Scott is drawing not just a great Wonder Woman comic, but a gorgeous fantasy comic that stands on its own. [Elle Collins]
After five years of crystal-clear superhero action in the pages of Wonder Woman, Cliff Chiang turned hard right for his follow-up, teaming with Brian K. Vaughan on Paper Girls. The time-traveling '80s adventure is grittier and looser than we’ve grown to expect from Chiang, but it's still got all the hallmarks of his earlier work. Chiang's ability to capture real emotion in moments of pure sci-fi absurdity make each page and panel of this more character-driven work believable. Plus, my man draws some creepy cool monsters, which look so, so sweet in his stylized linework. [Luke Brown]
With her work on Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Erica Henderson has basically ruined the character for every other artist. The costume, the jawline, the way her facial expressions exude the same good-heartedness and generosity as the book itself... When Doreen appears in any other book now, it just doesn't feel like her, and that is the highest compliment. Henderson doesn't just draw her characters; she defines them. [Alex Spencer]
Chris Samnee is a genuine throwback, a classicist. By any reasonable evaluation he has more in common with Alex Toth, Jim Steranko, and Milt Caniff than trends in modern superhero art, and we should all be thankful. Only a few artists today work with the same kind of cleanliness, simplicity, badass lighting skills, and non-stop ingenuity that seemed readily abundant up through the Silver Age, and Samnee is one of the very best. With deft manipulation of layouts, framing, and eyelines, sharply articulated characters, and an uncanny understanding of mood, Samnee glides through twenty pages in ways that make your head spin. A modern master has emerged. [John R. Parker]