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Best Publishing Company 

Image Comics

Besides being the only comic book publisher that grants artists the rights to their own images, this Berkeley-based company has produced some of the most compelling graphic novels to emerge in recent years. Its canon includes Fell, the tale of a lonely investigator who moves to a strange city where he encounters various harbingers of doom (including a nun in a Richard Nixon mask); zombie series The Walking Dead, which is largely driven by the psychology of its central character; and even an anthology of dream-like illustrations inspired by Belle & Sebastian lyrics. Now under the wing of ex-Spiderman artist Erik Larsen — whose own series, The Savage Dragon, helped launch the company in 1992 — Image ranks just below comic book goliaths Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse in terms of catalog size. In terms of substantive content, it's unparalleled.

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(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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