5 Comic Creators to Watch for in 2017

There's plenty of talent poised to pop in the next year.
John Allison/Oni Press
Above: 'Bad Machinery' by John Allison

As with every year in comics, 2016 saw the emergence of a number of new voices into the mainstream, as the medium continued its slow shift toward an audience that isn't just looking for traditional superheroics — but would like some good superhero comics, all the same. As that move extends into 2017, you might be wondering what creators are primed for success over the next twelve months. Wonder no more; here are five people to pay close attention to next year.

Steve Orlando

If Orlando's work on DC's Midnighter (and, more recently, Supergirl) has demonstrated anything, it's his ability to combine strong character work with unexpected plots and concepts, resulting in some of the most solid, enjoyable adventure comics around. Next year, he'll get to show off his chops with his highest profile project yet: a relaunch of DC's Justice League of America that begins with a number of one-off issues spotlighting the group's lesser-known members, all written or co-written by Orlando. If he handles ensemble comics as well as single heroes, expect to have a new favorite comic book very soon.

Hannah Blumenreich

Blumenreich's rise to notice came thanks to her online fan comics starring Marvel's Spider-Man, which demonstrated a subtlety and depth of character that the official material often lacks — instead of fighting numerous physical and existential threats, Blumenreich's Spidey was a kind, lonely, recognizably human teen who wanted to make sure that women got home alright at night, play ball with friends or watch Gilmore Girls in peace. The acclaim that built around the cartoonist — helped by a great Twitter feed — was finally noticed by the right people, and Blumenreich will be contributing to the official Amazing Spider-Man series with No. 25 in March. If Marvel has any sense, it'll find a way to keep her around.

John Allison

Allison has been an underrated favorite of comic fans for awhile, with his Bad Machinery webcomic and print editions from Oni Press building a fanbase that the later quasi-spinoff Giant Days (BOOM! Studios) grew even further. In 2016, he crossed over into the superhero mainstream writing a short story for Marvel, which might open the door for further adventures in that genre — something his own previous work has hinted at, with in-jokes and references that betray his love for the material. He's primed to follow the likes of Ryan North and Hope Larson into an ongoing, off-kilter superhero series; the only question is, which one?

Natalie Reiss

Reiss's 2016 saw her not only continuing her Snarlbear webcomic — a project she describes as being "about a girl that punches monsters and learns about the power of friendship in a brightly colored yet unforgiving dark fantasy setting," which is actually a great summation — but also launching Space Battle Lunchtime, an Oni Press print comic that mixes Iron Chef and Star Trek to come up with something gloriously fun, with an individual voice that nonetheless spoke to a mass audience. With SBL finishing its run in early 2017, it'll be fascinating to see where she goes next.

Jody Houser

Jody Houser's two high-profile 2016 projects have shown her breadth as a writer: her work on Valiant Entertainment's Faith is a joy, featuring an optimistic hero in a series that's as upbeat as she tries to be, while DC Entertainment's Mother Panic centers around a broken dark cloud of a lead, who would likely reject any attempt to be characterized as a hero. With other projects including IDW's first best-selling Orphan Black comic and work for Marvel, she's proven herself to be able to fit into any world and maintain her own voice. Next year, it'll be good to see just what worlds she explores — and hopefully which ones she invents from cloth, as well.

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