Why Ryan Stegman is my Favorite Comic Artist of 2019?

Last Thursday (the last comic release of 2019, damn that flew) Venom #21 was released with the iconic Spider-man artist Mark Bagley doing the artwork, and as much as I love Bagley’s artwork, I realized that Ryan Stegman was my favorite artist of 2019. Its not fair to compare Bagley and Stegman because the art in Venom #21 is still amazing, but Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman created magic together on Venom and Absolute Carnage.

As certain friends would call me a walking contradiction, I am aware that there are better artist out there who dominated 2019 as well. For example what Jamal Campbell has done with Naomi and Far Sector is nothing but breathtaking. Ian Bertram had me drooling over Little Bird (which if you have not read yet, do yourself a favor and read it. It is a damn masterpiece) and as I have These Savage Shores sitting on my bookshelf to be read soon with beautiful art by Sumit Kumar, I have to admit that Stegman had a lasting effect on me.

Before Venom #1 in July 2018, I knew of Ryan Stegman but truthfully I would say I was not a die hard fan. I was going into Venom with the idea that Donny Cates was going to write a crazy ass story like he did with Thanos Wins. Little did I know I was about to fall in love with the artist. From just the cover alone, it had a sense of beautiful action horror, the way he drew Venom was perfect.

Throughout the series, Stegman would continue to create a haunting rendition of a character that was pretty well established. In Venom #3, the evil deity of Knull is introduced in the story and Stegman’s art makes the character unforgettable. The first volume of Venom is the Stegman show and his partnership with Donny Cates, made the book one of the best surprises of 2018. Stegman couldn’t surprise me again, can he?

Cates and Stegman would continue to dominate Venom and turn the series into the second best series coming out of Marvel. (Immortal Hulk is the best, if you are curious) Then in March 2019 at C2E2, Marvel would announce the comic event of Absolute Carnage. We were at the show and I remember looking Nora straight in the eyes and saying “Holy shit, this book is gonna be huge.”

Sure enough the first taste of Absolute Carnage came in the form of the Free Comic Book Day exclusive Spider-Man and I needed more. The way that Cates and Stegman changed Carnage was crazy, he became this creature that would induce nightmares and yet it was so damn beautiful. Carnage went from being kind of scary to “shit my pants” scary with Cates and Stegman turning him into a monstrous skeleton like god. I am sure other artist could had pulled it off, but there was something to Stegman’s artwork that made this version of carnage unforgettable. As some critics would say, Stegman was born to draw the book and they were not wrong, for the entire event, Stegman went crazy and crafted the most insane artwork of the year.

The thing that makes Stegman’s artwork so enjoyable, is that it’s so messed up, I can pick up a issue of Absolute Carnage or Venom and show a non-comic fan and they would be grossed out. It reminds me of Spawn and the work of Todd McFarland and Greg Capullo in that sense, the insanity of the art causes an emotion. McFarland and Capullo are among my favorite artists due to growing up loving Spawn and Batman, and it is obvious that they had a impact on Stegman through his artwork and that could be a reason beyond my love for his art this year.

Is his frenetic style for everyone? no, but it he is the perfect artist for Absolute Carnage and Venom. It will be interest to seeing what he does next after Venom. I have to ask, what type of craziness would Cates and Stegman think of on a creator own book, if they ever got the chance to do one. I look forward to the future of Stegman and Cates, as they work together and other projects.

Also his podcast, “Stegman and his amazing friends” is a blast to listen to. It is a lot like Venom and Absolute Carnage, you never know what is going to happen next.

Hope You All Had A Merry Nerdmas!

Now, you may be saying “hey dumbass, nerdmas is not a word”, which you would be correct but see here is the thing, much like “Noggin”, Nerdmas means something to us, it is every Christmas that we spend together.

While we see our families on Christmas, Nora (Other half of Noggin) and I also have our own holiday. We take a Christmas tree (sometimes the size of a charlie brown tree) and we fill it up with funko key chains and superhero ornaments. And underneath this tree, our gifts are wrapped in strange and unique paper. This year it was Star Wars and Umbrella Academy.

While most couples give gifts that represent their love, we buy each other Funko pops and graphic novels. Nora got herself a first print of Black Hammer #1 and I am still waiting on her to get me a key issues of a book I love. Hint, The Batman Adventures #12 or Mister Miracle #1.

We promise that not every blog will be like this, we will break down comics, films, and video games but after hearing Nora wish me a Merry Nerdmas on Christmas, I had to write about it. Now we have a tradition, instead of having “All I Want For Christmas is you” playing, we have the Into the Spider-Verse Christmas EP playing with the DC Universe Yule Log on the TV. Also, Batman Returns is a Christmas Movie, we may have to add that to our tradition next year.

But as we get back to the daily grind, we hope that whoever is reading this had or is having a happy holidays.

Scuse Me? I liked Jar Jar Binks

With Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker coming out today, it has caused a moment of reflection and even a confession, that confession being that I like Jar Jar Binks.

I was at the young age of seven when The Phantom Menace was released and the excitement that my father was exhibiting for the film was contagious, I found myself wanting to see this film. The Phantom Menace was the perfect storm of pod-racing, light saber battles, and awesome creatures, but the one thing I loved the most about the film was Jar Jar Binks. I loved that damn gungan. Jar Jar was entertaining and goofy, it was everything I wanted from a character.

Looking back on it, I can see why I loved Jar Jar, it is the same reasons why my baby nieces like me. The pure stupidity and goofy demeanor was enough to have me want more from this character at that age. It was hilarious to see this computer generated character act like a cartoon with his lumpy style of walking and goofy voice. I was the right demographic for the character and I was loving every moment of it.

When The Phantom Menace was released I thought it was brilliant, same with Attack of the clones but I would never forget the moments after seeing Revenge of the Sith. The third entry in the prequel series is by far my favorite and I think its due to the feeling of viewing it with my father. On the way back home from the theater, we could not stop discussing it and we had to tell my mother about that Darth Vader scene. This was the moment I realized how special Star Wars was, its a science fiction soap opera that brings the family together.

Over the years, I would become more fond of the original trilogy and realize the greatness of A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back would become one of my all time favorite films. That love I had for the prequels would disappear, especially when The Force Awakens was released.

Today, I have to force myself through Attack of the Clones, but I still love Star Wars. Although now I root for the villains such as Kylo Ren in the recent trilogy and Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace and the animated shows. Rarely do I find myself liking the cute supporting characters like Porgs (except Baby Yoda, so damn adorable). I have to look at Jar Jar Binks and not hate the character. If it was not for my fondness of Jar Jar as a child, I would not be looking forward to the finale of this galactic saga.

So this is a thank you Jar Jar! If it was not for your goofy ass, I would never realize how special Star Wars is. It could be said that Star Wars is the reason we created Noggin, because our first date was The Force Awakens.

What Comics Mean to me (His story)

The funny thing about my love for comics, is that it started off as hatred. Growing up I loved watching the animated series, Spider-man was my shit, I remember thinking “let that spider bite me, I want powers.” But, my uncle was the comic collector and I felt that it was strange that a grown man was reading comics and asking myself “What is up with that nasty beat up white box?”. Fast forward almost twenty years later and I am that grow up reading comics with a room filled with those boxes (not beat up and nasty, most have graphic designs on them), but how did I get here? How did I fall in love with Comics?

I enjoyed the X-men films as a kid and the animated version of Teen titans was among my favorites, but I would have to say in 2008 the release of The Dark Knight and Iron Man would spark an interest in comics. But, it was mainly the films that had me intrigued, reading the comics was intimidating and plus I had this mindset of what if she catches me reading comics. There was always that one girl that I was trying to impress and this fear of being caught reading a comic would drive her away. I would continue to be a fan of comic based films but I would never read one, until I had no choice. The following year, Watchmen the film was released and I loved it, I had to read the graphic novel.

So I waited until a family trip the following year to finally dive in to Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. My mind was blown by this book, at that time, it would had been shocking to see me read anything but for some unknown reason, this book had capture my attention and imagination unlike anything before. Sadly, I do not recall events from the family trip, but I remember that feeling of falling in love with something I once felt was childish.

After finishing Watchmen, I had to find something else to read and I figured hey, The Dark Knight Rises is around corner, why not check out Batman: The Killing Joke. If I was not falling in love with comics after Watchmen, than The Killing Joke was the final straw, I was hooked.

I would spend years just causally reading, I had no idea what a Wednesday warrior was until I met the other half of Noggin. See, she had never touched a comic in her life and after a couple months together, she borrowed a Deadpool graphic Novel from the collection and from that moment our lives were change. We would find ourselves collecting single issues and graphic novels as date nights. Together, we became Wednesday Warriors and we consider our local comic shop (Issues Needed) as our second home.

So what do comics mean to me? I think they represent an idea of expressive creativity, something that I was lacking while growing up. They also represent a connection and bound that was strengthen between two. I know it may seem cheesy, but comics saved my life and allowed me to find the love of my life.

Our Story! (Why Noggin?)

Noggin means I love you! No seriously it does. See when we first started to date, One of us could not say I love you. I know, stupid right? If you love someone say it. Instead to get past this fear of saying “I love you”, one would say “Noggin” and the other would reply back “Dude”. We took a quote from Finding Nemo and turned it into something romantic. Now we are way past that point and the fear of three little words has disappeared, but we wanted do something to remember those days and show how far we have come as a team. So two years ago, crammed in a tiny apartment we decided to start Noggin Comics on Instagram as a hobby. Took the saying of Noggin, which to us meant love and aimed it towards something that we both loved, that being comic books and pop culture. At first it was a sense of discovery and rediscovery, as one was discovering the utter enjoyment of comics, the other was rediscovering the emotional connection to comics. Little did we know, Noggin would become a part of our lives, almost daily we would be posting about something related to comics and nerd culture.

One of us would find themselves writing comic reviews for a local geek culture magazine. Which would ultimately create the idea of why not have a blog for Noggin. Now, we are here, hoping to create weekly to daily content on how we feel about a certain comic or film.