5. Jerome Opeña
One of my favorite artists of last year and one of the best artists in the industry in general. Opeña comes in lower on the list due to a decrease in output for the year, with only two full issues of “Avengers” and some covers. However, the work that he did was absolutely fantastic. I only hope he gets a bit more regular work in 2013 after he wraps up his short stint on “Avengers.”
4. Andrea Sorrentino
Sorrentino defined “I, Vampire” this year, making it a must read book month in and out. His dark, moody work was perfect for this tragic and blood-soaked series. It’s a shame to see him leave the title, as it is struggling to begin with, but I can’t wait to see his gritty style translated over to a street-level hero like Green Arrow.
3. Doug Mankhe
Mankhe is a madman of an artist, and perfect for a book full of bizarre alien and sci-fi concepts. However, he can also handle more “down to earth” fare, presenting expressive and believable characters. After working on “Green Lantern for three years now, he still shows no signs of fatigue or burn out. While he often gets overshadowed by bigger artists, he deserves recognition as one of the industry’s best.
2. Fiona Staples
Fiona Staples has easily claimed the status of pre-eminent sci-fi/fantasy artist with her work on Saga. In just 8 short issues she hasn’t given such rich visual life to a brand new universe, full of winged soldiers, horned wizards, space ship trees, royal robots with TV heads, nude spider-women, and emaciated, lie-detecting cats. Her handwritten narration for Hazel is a beautiful touch for the book that adds to the bizarre fairytale quality of the book. Together with BKV, Staples can do no wrong, and the occasional hiatus is worth having her as the book’s sole artist. I can’t wait to see what she has in store next.
1. David Aja
It’s a terrible cliche, but “A picture is worth a thousand words” applies so fittingly to David Aja, the man who, along with writer Matt Fraction, has made “Hawkeye” my favorite book of 2012. Even without Fraction’s words, Aja crafts beautiful and emotional tales.There’s no one else like him in mainstream comics. Here’s hoping he can keep up the pace and continue to innovate in 2013.