Ten for '10: Things to Watch in the New Year - CREATORS

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They’re the people that make it all happen. No, not editors… although they’re important too. What we’re talking about today is creators: the writers, the artists and those cartoonists who do it all. Comics have the unique ability to turn an unknown into a fan’s favorite with just one comic and a lot of buzz. And that same buzz can propel a comics veteran into the stratosphere many years after they broke in.

For Newsarama’s 10 Creators To Watch in 2010, we scoured the comic shelves and shook the trees with publishers, critics and fellow creators looking to see who would be doing breakthrough work for 2010. Some are familiar favorites on the rise, and others are newcomers coming out of nowhere that could be the next big thing.

Joe the Barbarian Page

Sean Murphy

He’s come so far. After being named an honorable mention in last year’s 9 To Watch in 2009, artist Sean Murphy has stepped up and stepped into a vaulted position drawing the upcoming new Grant Morrison miniseries Joe The Barbarian for Vertigo Comics. After spending years in the trenches doing comics for Dark Horse, Vertigo, IDW and (get this) Land Rover, Murphy has turned in some career defining work with this Vertigo series. An advance copy of Joe The Barbarian #1 landed at Newsarama’s offices last week and this writer went ga-ga. In addition to this work, Murphy has some unpublished Hellblazer issues that may or may not come to light, as well as a bevy of creator-owned ideas including a concept called Punk Rock Jesus.

At one time, Murphy was courted by both Marvel and DC for an exclusive contract before he eventually went with the latter. And it looks like DC is coming out winning that head-to-head.

Kieron Gillen

Kieron is just the latest in a line of entertainment journalists that have transitioned to being a full-time comics writer, and boy has he taken to his new field. After some early work in UK anthologies, Gillen officially broke in doing the Image miniseries Phonogram with artist Jamie McKelvie. He followed it up with work on the Boom! Warhammer series before joining the fold at Marvel where he is today writing both Thor and S.W.O.R.D.. He’s quickly becoming one of the next generation of writers at the House of Ideas,  but with no exclusive contract apparent he might show up at other publishers sooner or later.

Bryan Lee O’Malley


Our second repeat from last year’s 9 To Watch in 2009 is cartoonist Bryan Lee O’Malley. His work on Scott Pilgrim turned heads and topped critics list, and the six-volume series is aiming for a conclusion in 2010. O’Malley came into comics with years working in webcomics, before doing his first big work drawing a volume of Hopeless Savagers. That quickly propelled him to his first graphic novel, Lost at Sea. The 2004 debut of Scott Pilgrim cemented his name in the comics industry, putting him on the frontline of the emerging next generation of independent comic book creators. As he finishes up Scott Pilgrim this year just in time for the movie adaptation from director Edgar Wright, the next question on everyone’s mind for Bryan is “What’s next?”

Chris Samnee

Artist Chris Samnee has been dazzling comics fan far and wide doing work simultaneously for Marvel, DC and the new Vertigo Crime imprint. He cut his teeth at Oni Press, being nominated in 2006 for the Russ Manning Award and has been very prodigious, doing more than the usual rate of one comic a month --- all the while posting sketches and commissions regularly on his blog. Currently he’s finishing up work on the underrated DC series The Mighty while prepping Siege: Embedded. He recently finished work on the graphic novel Area Ten at Vertigo Crime, with the advance copy looks extremely impressive. Doing such diverse works as crime noir to a recent Green Lantern Corps issue and the aforementioned upcoming Siege: Embedded shows an incredible range and amazing speed that comics fans – and publishers—should love.

Francis Manapul

Nominated last year in Newsarama’s 9 To Watch in 2009, Francis Manapul is set to to out-do himself in 2010 as he and Adventure Comics partner Geoff Johns move over to launch the new Flash series. After years on the fringes of mainstream comics work, his work on Legion of Super-heroes and the relaunched Adventure Comics have wowed fans with his kinetic and shaded line-work. Manapul is quickly becoming one in a line-up of future pillars to DC Comics, let’s just hope he’s given the room to prove it.

Rafael Albuquerque

After breaking into the American comics scene with the 2007 graphic novel Crimeland, Rafael Albuquerque was picked up by DC and quickly rose through the ranks working on Blue Beetle, Stranger Adventures and Superman/Batman. Although his artwork began popping up at Marvel doing covers for Nomad: Girl Without A World, he ended up staying at DC with the announcement of him doing artwork for the Stephen King & Scott Snyder series American Vampire for Vertigo. Having your name next to Stephen King will do wonders, but it’s a big help that Albuquerque is as talented as he is. While his DC work showed an impeccable clean style, his earlier work at Boom! And Image displayed an equally impressive noir style that showed a remarkable diversity. Hopefully, this upcoming series will show both sides of Albuquerque – and maybe some new tricks he has up his sleeves.

Nick Spencer

The freshest face in this year’s line-up, Spencer has quickly hit the scene with the Image series Existence 2.0 and it’s sequel. Earlier this month his new series, Forgetless, debuted earlier this month and showed a big range while not sacrificing his own emerging style. With the latter two series currently underway and promise of two new series -- Morning Glories and Shuddertown -- give a lot of promise for this New York-based writer.

Kathryn Immonen

Although her name might seem new, she’s been working in comics for some time. She broke in during the early 90s at the same time as her husband Stuart Immonen, but took time away to finish school. With a degree under her belt, Kathryn came back to comics – first with webcomics, and then with a Hellcat story in Marvel Comics Presents that quickly led to a solo miniseries with the same character. After the success of that series, she was announced as the new writer for Runaways, and the recently announced X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back miniseries. We’re excited to read the stories Kathryn tells next.

J.T. Krul

J.T. Krul left a fast-rising career in television as the production coordinator for Seinfeld to sign up to the comics world, breaking in with a story in 2004’s X-Men Unlimited #1. He followed that up with years working on Aspen titles such as Fathom and Soulfire meanwhile making entry into DC Comics with work on Joker’s Asylum: Poison Ivy, several issues of Titans and Teen Titans, as well as the just completed Blackest Night: Titans miniseries. DC’s recent announcements of the writer taking over the Green Arrow series as well as the Justice League: Rise And Fall and Rise of Arsenal one-shots have officially marked his arrival as a go-to writer. With that and his first creator-owned work Mindfield planned for 2010, Krul could make this year the year he breaks through the glass ceiling.

Fabio Moon & Gabriel Ba

Although each are accomplished cartoonists on their own, it was their work on the recently debuted series Daytripper that these Brazilian brothers assured their spot on this year’s list. Their first big appearance in America was on the Gunned Down graphic novel, before showing their own mettle with the graphic novel Ursula. They quickly spread their wings with work on 5, Pixu, Umbrella Academy, Casanova and two BPRD miniseries. Their work on Daytripper seems the culmination of their work so far, but the relative youth promises a long career in comics with many comics --- and hopefully more Daytripper -- to come in the future.

IN THE CORNER OF OUR EYE

There’s more creators in comics than we can count…. And there’s more coming in everyday. We’re talking to them day-in and day-out, and finalizing this list of 10 was a tough thing to do in the office. But while the 10 was set, we had a couple that we couldn’t go without mentioning. Consider them honorable mentions!

Brian Stelfreeze: A renowned cover artist for sometime, the long-time Gaijin Studios member has recently begun committing to more interior pages.     With a Domino series for Marvel and Matador for DC under his belt, his most recent work was the Demon/Catwoman strip in last year’s Wednesday Comics. With 2010 coming upon us, he’s signed on for several projects including a stint on The Authority: The Lost Year. 


Paul Azaceta: Azaceta’s one of the freshest faces that surprisingly has been around awhile. First making his name on Captain Marvel, he went back independent working on Grounded and Potter’s Field. The latter was the first in a long collaboration with writer Mark Waid which propelled the two back into a recent run on Amazing Spider-Man that has turned heads.



Marjorie Liu: Laywer-turned-comics creator; sounds like a good secret origin for me. But the writer herself is no secret at Marvel, where she’s quickly racked up a variety of work including Nyx and Dark Wolverine with co-writer Daniel Way. Besides comics, she’s racked up multiple tenures on the New York Times bestsellers list for her novels Dirk and Steel and Hunter’s Kiss.

Joe Quinones: Coming out of nowhere to draw the Green Lantern strip in Wednesday Comics, Quinones followed it up with doing covers for Amazing Spider-man… not too bad for his first full year in comics. Next up for him is two issues of Amazing Spider-Man with Fred Van Lente, as well as a series of covers for DC’s Adventure Comics. And word is he’s also got a graphic novel in his future… .so let’s see what he’s got!

Ben Templesmith: How can someone who racked up 3 consecutive years as an Eisner nominee go any higher? We’re looking to see that as Ben Templesmith returns to familiar territory with the upcoming series Choker. Displaying one of the most unconvention comic styles out there, his brand of uniqueness makes his occassional jaunt into other people’s work such as on Doctor Who and G.I. Joe unique and unexpected.

By the time you’ve made it this far, I’m sure you’re thought of someone we missed out on. So we want to hear what you have to say --- and don’t just chime in a name, tell us why 2010 is their year… ya hear?

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