Today’s guest Best of the Year slot comes from a Brit comics artist who just seems to keep getting better (and more popular with many of us), a brush-jockey who’s no stranger to the blog, Boo Cook (and remember you can read an interview Matt B had with Boo right here on the blog):
FPI: Can you pick three comics/webcomics/graphic novels which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Boo: 3 graphic novels that leap straight out are Fluorescent Black by Nathan Fox and MF Wilson, Mezolith by Ben Haggerty and Adam Brockbank, and 45 by Andi Ewington. I guess the theme that ties these 3 books together is innovation. They are very different beasts, to each other and to most books on the market. The basic premise of Andi Ewington’s book 45 quickly lures the reader in, and its tempting to think that the hi-concept of having 45 artists doing a page/superhero each might be something of a one trick gimmick but Ewington’s writing holds it all together and delivers, delivers,delivers page after page. a very clever book indeed. Just when you thought the superhero genre had been done to death, Ewington throws another 45 characters into the pot – all worthy of their own adventures.
(Forty Five by and (c) Andi Ewington et al, published Com.x)
Fluorescent Black is an in your face ultraviolent techno romp with an underlying heart and soul. the pages just explodes with the enthusiasm of the creators. it feels very fresh and new – largely because of the language used and the setting of the tale – a bit like the graphic novel equivalent of listing to Die Antwoord on lsd in a Singapore brothel – not something many people , including me , have actually experienced, but we’re geeks – we’ve all got imaginations right?
(feeding the fish in Fluorescent Black by and (c) Nathan Fox and MF Wilson, published Heavy Metal)
Mezolith is a different kettle of fish yet again – almost the opposite of F.Black in terms of pace and setting, but that’s why it works for me. following the tales of a tribe of hunter gatherers from 10,000 years ago, their mythologies and methods of living are beautifully drip fed to us on a backdrop of lushly painted vistas mixed with a subtle, yet very twisted Grimms Fairy Tales style horror that lurks and jabs at the innocent ways of the tribes people. Perfect writing and perfect art – where did these creators spring from all of a sudden? If this is the standard to be expected from the DFC Library in the future then I’m definitely on board.
(cover to Mezolith by Ben Haggarty and Adam Brockbank, published DFC Library)
FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Boo: Books? I don’t often get time to read ‘em I’m afraid. actually I did manage Monkey Trap by Marcus Bolt – a faustian tale of mystical cults, the inner power of humans, and some good old Bond-esque revenge based action. I also recently read The Spellbound Hotel by Thomas Eglington – it’s actually aimed at older children but is so imaginative and bristling with messed up yet colourful ideas and concepts that any adult with an imagination would be more than happy there. Tom is a writer who I’m currently collaborating with myself on a creator owned comics project: ‘Blunt’… more on that later!
FPI: Can you pick three TV shows and/or movies which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Boo: Do I really want to watch multiple seasons of a tv show based on the arch-nemesis of high art and free thought known as advertising? I asked myself… the answer was kinda no, but curiosity got the better of me and I decided to join the masses of people heading like brainwashed consumers into the world of Madmen – mighty glad I did too…faultless, effortless TV.
I’ve also been a massive fan of Dexter since its start and have recently discovered Breaking Bad – another show where they pluck a vaguely well know actor (in this case Bryan Cranston – that guy who plays the dad in Malcolm in the Middle) and give them the role of their career – much like Ian McShane in Deadwood. It’s gritty,moving,funny,extremely well written and acted.
I have to give massive kudos to The Walking Dead tv series of course, which I’ve been enjoying immensely – good to see they’re veering out of a straight adaptaion in terms of the plot, but keeping all the tension and character driven brilliance of the comic.
After last years incredible sci-fi renaissance in the cinema, this year has seemed a little flat with Iron Man 2 and Skyline disappointing in the script department . A film that I hired thinking it was gonna be okay, but turned out to be really rather mental was The Box. essentially a Twilight Zone episode expansion, it’s superbly acted and directed. right from the off, everything is slightly wrong – this wrongness builds and builds into a crazy crescendo I really wasn’t expecting .
Predators was pretty good. I had a flurry of Werner Herzog enjoyment with Rescue Dawn (Christian Bale at his method best), My Son, My Son What Have Ye Done (co directed by David Lynch) and the crazed Bad Lieutenant remake. I’ll give a massive tip of the hat to Banksy’s film Exit Through the Gift Shop – an amazing insight into the backwards world of modern art, and I loved Chris Morris’ terrorism comedy Four Lions. Looking forward to some Monsters goodness!
FPI: How did 2010 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
Boo: Yeah, this year’s been good! I’ve been given some lovely jobs to do, and hit them all with the approach of trying my damndest at all times – working with Al Ewing on Damnation Staion for 2000 AD was very enjoyable, and ticked a good box for me, as I’ve long wished to do some sci-fi strip work with the mighty Al. it was also a great pleasure to be working on Dredd again, albeit briefly, with my go to Dredd writer Rob Williams who always delivers!
(cover art for Elephantmen War Toys Volume 2 – Enemy Species by Richard Starkings and Boo Cook, published Image)
I’ve had some great covers thrown my way as well this year for 2000 AD, Elephantmen, and Murderland but I think my favourite achievment of the year has been the Elephantmen graphic novel I’ve been working on with writer Richard Starkings – he really knows what I love drawing, and has crammed as much of it into this book as is humanly possible – it’s gonna boot glute! recently I’ve been blessed with a few team-up jobs, colouring the mighty Marvel-ous Ed McGuiness’ covers – one for Elephantmen and 2 for Marvel which should be airing soon… Ed is a total master at big bombastic covers, and colouring them has been wicked fun indeed.
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2010?
Boo: the Elephantmen graphic novel ‘War Toys 2 Enemy Species‘ which I’m just finishing off should hopfeully be out some time in the spring, closely followed by ‘Cover Stories’ which will feature all my Elephantmen covers, plus sketches etc in a 64 page Image book – it will also feature the various other E’men cover artists such as Ladronn, J Scott Campbell, Bolland etc.
I’m currently working on a new Anderson Psi strip for the Judge Dredd Megazine – last year I had problems with my shoulder and minor motivational issues concerning the character and produced work that I’ll admit wasn’t my best… then a year later it sees print and reminds you that you should always do your best no matter what! So, with a fixed shoulder, renewed vigour, and a mindblowingly good Anderson script from Alan Grant which really moves the character along, I’m considering the Anderson strip which should be in print around summer 2011 to be something of a re-boot for the series. I’m one episode in so far and really enjoying it…
After I’ve finished that, I’d like to sway towards doing a year of covers -Ive got more Marvel stuff in the pipeline, plus my ongoing duties with Elephantmen, 2000AD and Murderland etc. that should hopefully pay the bills well enough for me to also concentrate on a creator owned project: ‘Blunt’ with writer Tom Eglington – a cautionary thrill ride about over reliance on technology, it’s a sandy sci-fi epic starring Blunt, a moonshine brewing ex-terraformer with neanderthal genes grappling with life, both real and artificial,on a freshly colonised planet. I can’t wait to get to get stuck into it! that, anyway, it’s the plan for 2011…
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
Boo: well, I’d say keep yer eyes peeled for Tom Eglington’s work – he’s written several novels for older children, and has just written a slew of Future Shocks for 2000AD which are pretty amazing – I fully expect him to doing great things for Tharg, and comics in general in the future, as well as writing Blunt for me of course… Aside from that, I think Al Ewing is set to go interstellar next year – as a writer he can do no wrong! his recent work on Dredd and Zombo etc. has been top notch, and it’s just a matter of time before he’s up there juking it out with the heavy hitters of the writing world…
(cover to the collected Zombo by Al Ewing and Henry Flint, published 2000 AD/Rebellion)
Artist wise, Axel Medellin who has recently taken over interior art duties on Elephantmen is blowing people away with his work – a worthy successor to the much missed Moritat. also, my favourite new artist at 2000AD, Nick Dyer has been flirting with short-length Dredd strips for a while, and is a massive hit with the fans, so I’m expecting him to take off with a long meaty series or 2 next year…fingers crossed!
You can catch up with all the guest Best of the Year posts to date here on the blog