Dark Horse continues to publish the Mignolverse. BPRD has to be one the best books on the market if you follow it and have followed it from the beginning. Hellboy is of course part of it, but Hellboy has gone off on his own and BPRD is the story that is still following threads that have been around since the first Hellboy series. I’m sure it has been covered in some interview somewhere but I would live to know if Mignola had this all laid out years ago. An under the radar book for sure but BPRD is another 2009 best series.
Dark Horse has done plenty with the Robert E. Howard works over the last year with Conan, King Kull and Solomon Kane, but lately I have found that I hit a saturation point with that material and have dropped most of it.
Dark Horse has been publishing my favorite hard cover collections with Creepy and Eerie. This material was the heir to the old EC material. While I have not sat down to read many of these books I know what the material is and will enjoy it when I have the time. Also this material is great to read a little bit of it at a time.
The little publisher who could this year has to be Th3rd World Studios. These guys have been producing some nice material over the years, but not a lot of material. They have done anthologies which I like, but this market chews up and spits out anthologies out like it's poison. This year we got the Stuff of Legend and while we only got 2 issues and have to wait to get more it is a wonderful story. It is half Fables, half Toy Story and all original with a well written story and art that will make you drool. Only two issues and yet this book makes the best of 2009 without batting an eye.
Avatar has really started to come into their own and while they have a hug ereliance on Warren Ellis written material (Doktor Sleepless, Gravel, No Hero, Ignition City, Anna Mercury and Supergods come to mind) they also have Crossed by Ennis, Chronicles of Wormwood by Ennis and Absolution by Christos Gage. A good mix of genres and strong writing talent has taken Avatar from the soft porn / ultra violent category, to the very violent, great story category. Of everything this I think Gravel has to be their main book and one of 2009 best of the year.
Other titles that have to be best of the year are the Locke and Key series from IDW. I see Locke and Key as one of the best written series on the stands. The art by Gabriel Rodriquez is also top notch, but I love it when the characters come alive and they do in Locke and Key. IDW has also corned the Steve Niles / Bernie Wrightson market and between Dead She Said and the first issue of Ghoul we get great stories and drop dead gorgeous art in a horror/mystery genre.
Oni only got one issue of Stumptown out but I think Greg Rucka has a breakout indy hit with this story of a PI from Portland, Oregon. Dynamite brought us Garth Ennis doing more war stories with Battlefields and I believe as good as Ennis is doing other things, this is where his best work comes from, with Dear Billy being one of my favorite all time stories.
To round out the indies I would be remiss to not mention Radical, who did not crack my best of 2009, but as a publisher I always willing to try a new series from them as they know how to produce quality and I’m looking forward to the rest of the FVZA series. Archaia has made a semi-copmeback in 2009 and finally released Robotika for a few Rubles More. If you missed this series get the hardcover or trade and treat yourself to good story telling and terrific artwork.
Last and far from least is Echo by Terry Moore. Echo is a story that I have raved about constantly this year and it is obviously one of 2009 best series. More then that I think this maybe one of the best graphic novels I have ever read. Terry Moore is using a lighter line then he did in Strangers in Paradise and this story feels like it was written entirely before Terry ever started to draw it. Now I’m sure as he got into the story he may have made adjustments but the story of Julie Martin was already set in stone (in my opinion) when the series started. What that does is make the story telling better because the story has a beginning middle and an end eventually. Also Terry has created a cast of characters who are so real that you could meet them in real life and know who they are. I like to describe as a story that has science fiction elements in it and set in the day after tomorrow, but ultimately along with the action and the beta suit that Julie is partially stuck with, it is a story about Julie Martin and Annie the girl who is now an Echo.