Welcome to the 2019 Golden Issue Awards, an annual occasion in which the many writers at ComicBook.com gather to reflect upon the best comic books (and related media) of the prior year and vote to select the best of the best for recognition.
We released our nominees in 10 categories highlighting specific publications and creative positions earlier this month, and now it is time to announce the winners from these very competitive collections.
Many of the votes were incredibly close, reflecting the incredible quality of offerings found in comics last year. Readers should be sure to check out the entire list of nominees for each category, as they all reflect some of the best stories and work published throughout 2019 and, now, into 2020.
So, without any further ado, here are the 2019 Golden Issue Award winners for comics...
- Criminal (Image Comics)
- Giant Days (Boom Studios)
- The Immortal Hulk (Marvel Comics)
- Runaways (Marvel Comics)
- Usagi Yojimbo (IDW Publishing)
There are plenty of exciting new releases to be found in any given year, but it’s rare to see a series sustain that early enthusiasm, much less build upon it. That’s exactly what The Immortal Hulk has accomplished, however. When the series began in 2018, it was instantly heralded as a thrilling new take on the character from two of Marvel’s best creators, but 2019 revealed far greater ambitions along with the inclusion of perfectly-selected guest artists. Each new issue expanded upon existing themes, while also addressing new threads of climate change and social injustice. The Immortal Hulk is the rare series that continues to build upon past successes in order to deliver ever greater adventures and formidable ideas.
- Ascender (Image Comics)
- Daredevil (Marvel Comics)
- DIE (Image Comics)
- Invisible Kingdom (Dark Horse Comics)
- Once & Future (Boom Studios)
Daredevil is a series weighted with decades of accomplishments from many of the greatest creators in superhero comics. That’s what makes Chip Zdarsky and his many collaborators' accomplishments in relaunching the series last year so impressive. The very first story tackled the terrible and chaotic nature of violence, and never provided any easy solution for this difficult problem. It has continued to investigate some of the most potent and complex themes embedded in the superhero genre, while offering new takes on classic characters and introducing new characters who will likely become classics. Daredevil is a powerful reinvention of one of Marvel’s most storied properties and remains a must-read series heading into its second year of publication.
- Are You Listening? (First Second)
- The Hard Tomorrow (Drawn & Quarterly)
- Harley Quinn: Broken Glass (DC Comics)
- Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me (First Second)
- Nancy: A Comic Collection (Andrews McMeel Publishing)
There has been nothing more delightful in comics throughout the past couple of years than discovering each daily installment of Nancy after cartoonist Olivia Jaimes took over the strip on April 9, 2018. This first collection of Jaimes’ work represents why she has earned admirers in every facet of the modern comics industry. These assembled strips offer an abundance of laughter, along with insightful commentary on our modern era and a mastery of the minimalist comic strip format. Short, sweet, and always excellent, Nancy: A Comic Collection delivers an outstanding collection that can be enjoyed and appreciated by any comics fan.
- Assassin Nation (Image Comics)
- House of X/Powers of X (Marvel Comics)
- Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen (DC Comics)
- The White Trees (Image Comics)
For three months in 2019, it felt like absolutely everyone in comics was talking about X-Men, a franchise that had been reheated to the point of being tasteless across the past decade. That excitement explains why the interwoven series House of X and Powers of X are a tremendous accomplishment. They reimagined one of the most popular superhero franchises, updating it for the modern era and delivering irresistible concepts to lure new and lapsed fans to Krakoa. The completed collection reads like the bold, new dawn that was promised and the flurry of acclaimed new X-series proves how fertile this foundation really is. House of X and Powers of X made the classic new again in an event that exceeded all expectations.
- Jen Bartel (Blackbird)
- Nick Derington (Batman: Universe)
- Stephanie Hans (DIE)
- Javier Rodriguez (History of the Marvel Universe)
- Alex Ross (Immortal Hulk)
Since comics like Kingdom Come and Marvels, it has been easy for comics fans to take Alex Ross and his painted triumphs for granted. However, his work on the covers of The Immortal Hulk throughout 2019 serve as a potent reminder why Ross is renowned as a living legend. As a cover artist, he transforms the literal and thematic content of the series into grand statements capable of luring readers in and informing them what the series is about. Unique perspectives and visual metaphors are common components in a collection of covers that were unparalleled in 2019. Not only is Alex Ross an essential part of The Immortal Hulk team, but he’s reminding us all why his name has already been revered for decades.
- Ezra Clayton Daniels (BTTM FDRS)
- Al Ewing (The Immortal Hulk)
- Kieron Gillen (Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt)
- Mariko Tamaki (Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me)
- Chip Zdarsky (The White Trees)
After an explosive debut and first year, it was difficult to imagine where The Immortal Hulk would go next, but 2019 made it clear the series was far from complete. Al Ewing has delved into the intensely personal, outlining the detailed psychology of Bruce Banner and his compatriots, and expanded to the cosmic, delivering stories from the universe’s final days. What’s most impressive is that these very different scales and ideas work perfectly as independent pieces and a whole. The Immortal Hulk presents one of the most ambitious and comprehensive visions to appear in superhero comics from the past decade, and it’s a vision masterminded to work with an array of different artists and within the endlessly strange continuity of Marvel Comics. Al Ewing’s accomplishments in writing The Immortal Hulk already appear tremendous, and he’s far from done.
- Kris Anka (The White Trees)
- Ian Bertram (Little Bird)
- Rafael Grampa (The Golden Child)
- Steve Lieber (Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen)
- Emma Rios (Pretty Deadly: The Rat)
Steve Lieber is one of the best storytellers operating in comics today. Full stop. He has a reputation for being an artist’s artist, someone whose mastery often goes unnoticed except by those who are capable of noticing the subtle choices that make each comic drawn by Lieber a delight. Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen is a testament to his immense skill, one drawing attention from new readers and comics curmudgeons alike. Each issue delivers a flurry of different stories, all of which deliver different stories, tones, and styles, while simultaneously assembling a greater whole. Almost every page is able to provide multiple laughs, a testament to Lieber’s pacing and presentation. Re-reading these issues it’s clear that not only was Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen one of the best new series to emerge from 2019, but that it’s the perfect showcase for one of the greatest artists working in comics today.
- Jordie Bellaire (Pretty Deadly: The Rat)
- Tamra Bonvillain (Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds)
- Jacob Phillips (Criminal)
- Dave Stewart (Gideon Falls)
- Matt Wilson (The Wicked + The Divine)
Matt Wilson is an integral part of every series to which he contributes. Celebrated comics like Paper Girls and The War of the Realms are realized in his palettes which bring their distinctive worlds to life. Nowhere has that been more clear than in the pages of The Wicked + The Divine. In the series' final year, Wilson’s colors made explosive climaxes radiate with heat, final performances exude wonder, and, ultimately, reaffirmed the humanity of its complexly flawed characters. Even when working with some of the most acclaimed artists in the industry, Wilson’s work clearly enhances every page reminding readers why he is one of the best colorists in the industry today.
- Aditya Bidikar (Little Bird)
- Simon Bowland (The Dreaming)
- Clayton Cowles (DIE)
- Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt)
- John Workman (The Golden Child)
Lettering is an impossibly subtle craft; it is simultaneously a part of everything occurring on most comics’ pages, yet intended to not draw attention directly to itself. Clayton Cowles’ work on DIE is a testament to how letterers can enhance a series in rich, although not easily recognized, fashions. He guides readers’ eyes through sprawling panels and rich landscapes, enhancing the diverse array of characters through careful selection of fonts. Arguments are made richer and whispered conversations more delicate. Cowles’ lettering on DIE has served to introduce its audience to one of the most robust and varied new settings in comics this past year, and he continues to make each new chapter an absorbing experience.
- Eleanor Davis (The Hard Tomorrow)
- Michel Fiffe (COPRA)
- Olivia Jaimes (Nancy)
- Daniel Warren Johnson (Wonder Woman: Dead Earth)
- Tillie Walden (Are You Listening?)
Ernie Bushmiller’s original Nancy strips are renowned for their craftsmanship, marking Bushmiller as a master of the comics medium and generating an array of critical media assessing his mastery. Olivia Jaimes has taken that same strip and brought a similar level of skill to the minimal format of a weekly comic strip, while updating its approach and gags for a new century. Each daily installment delivers its joke(s) with precision and comments on the absurdities of social media and the stress of generational gaps. Her cartoons can be read purely for pleasure or studied for their precision and amusing insights. Jaimes has shown herself to be a tremendous talent, stepping out of Bushmiller’s shadow prepared to cast a long shadow of her own.
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