Today’s Best of the Year guest post comes courtesy of Martin Eden, a comics creator who always looks good in Spandex; Martin’s managed to combine sexual politics and identity with the capes’n'tights genre in a unique and unusual way – while mainstream comics make a big thing out of having a token, solitary gay character Martin has an entire LGBT superteam in a cracking series!
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?
Martin: People I Know – this is a webcomic – and a physical comic at conventions – by ‘Timothy Winchester’ and it’s basically all very funny and silly and full of funny drama and silly tears. It cracks me up and brings a huge smile to my face every time I read it. It features characters like Christina the toast and Toby the gay dragon, and it’s completely daft, sometimes rude, but utterly genius. Timothy is one of the regular faces you will see at most comic conventions, working really hard to sell his stuff. I really wish the guy the best of success and I’d love his comics to become a TV show.
(recent strip from Timothy Winchester’s People I Know webcomic)
Bakuman by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata (Viz Media) – I have strayed away from mainstream comics recently, and I’ve been exploring a lot more manga. This little gem is by the creators of the amazing Death Note comic (which was only 12 volumes, so didn’t sprawl too much like other manga). It’s basically about two schoolkids who want to be top manga creators. They do start to get published in one of the big manga titles, and it follows their careers from there. It can be a bit geeky and monotonous in places, but the characters are so loveable and distinct, and anyone who has an interest in comic-creating, the creative process and manga should give it a go! The covers are absolutely exquisite too.
(a scene from Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s Bakuman)
Love and Rockets New Stories Book 4 by Los Bros Hernandez (Fantagraphics) – My attention had been waning a bit with the Love and Rockets comics, and then 2010′s Love and Rockets 3 came out and it blew my mind – it was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever read. So much so, that I found myself re-reading the entire series and tracking down all the issues I’d missed. This year’s Love and Rockets 4 wasn’t quite as good as 2010′s book, but it was still utterly mind-blowing, and Jaime Hernandez is producing the best work he’s ever done, in my opinion.
(some local, neighbourhood vamp fun for all the family with Los Bros Hernandez)
FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Martin: I suspect a few other people will choose this one, but I’m going for Grant Morrison’s Supergods. It is a fantastic read, so interesting, and Morrison is so naughty – he throws in loads of little sassy comments about some well known creators. It also made me come away from it and want to re-read about 50 of the classic graphic novels/comics he discusses.
I’m cheating a bit here, as I haven’t read many novels this year, so I’m picking the omnibus books of the Bleach manga (okay, it is cheating a little, but we’ll let you away with it! – Joe). They are such nice collections, containing three volumes in one big book. Bleach is crazy – it just keeps throwing tons of new characters at you all the time. My favourite is the girl who has six superhero fairies as her bodyguards!
I’m cheating again but I guess you can call it a book – I really got obsessed with Jeffrey Brown this year, and I loved I Am Going To Be Small, which is a collection of little gags in the Brown style! I was reading it while waiting for a friend to arrive at a restaurant, and I was laughing out loud in the street…
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?
Martin: First up, there’s the Japanese movie Confessions, which is about a teacher whose young daughter is killed by two of her students (not a spoiler – this is revealed right at the start). It’s so clever, so intricate, so moving, has an unbelievable climax, and it has an amazing soundtrack full of bands like Radiohead. In fact, to be honest, it’s like watching a two-hour Radiohead movie. Very intense!
I really liked Sucker Punch – but I seem to have been in the minority! It didn’t make any sense whatsoever, but it was great to look at and the soundtrack was very cool.
Finally, I’d pick The Big Bang Theory, because it makes me laugh so much and it is so entertaining. It’s kind of like Friends for geeks. You get a warm glow when you watch it!
FPI: How did 2011 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
Martin: It was a good year, I don’t think I could have been more satisfied, to be honest. Whenever I put out an issue of Spandex, I have no idea what people are going to make of it, but luckily, people seem to be connecting with the series. I started a new 4-part storyline called ‘O.M.F.G.’, where I introduce a lot of the series’ twists and my lesbian villain team unleash their nasty plans on my characters – and my readers were suitably horrified!
I worked with some other indie creators on some exciting new comics, such as Daniel Clifford’s Sugar Glider and Rol Hirst’s Too Much Sex and Violence. I contributed a strip to the Spirit of Hope anthology, which raises money for the disasters in Japan and New Zealand this year. As someone who has a deep affection for Japan and Japanese culture (and I’m learning the language), and has made many Japanese friends, it was a real honour to be asked to take part. It’s also one of the most high profile things I’ve ever done,which is exciting. I’m not used to being printed in ‘proper books’. I rounded off the year by providing art for the (literally) huge fashion magazine Dragmag, and creating the poster artwork for the Caped Crusaid project.
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2012?
Martin: It’s going to be cool! I’m finishing off my epic ‘O.M.F.G.’ storyline in Spandex issues 6 and 7. Issue 6 reveals all of Diva’s secrets – and they are shocking. To be honest, I’m bracing myself for the reaction, as it’s a bit controversial. I’ll also be releasing some mini-comics with the issue focusing on some of the series’ supporting characters, namely Hag, Cherry Blossom Girl and Bear Man & Twinkle. They’ll be drawn by other indie creators and will be a lot of fun! Issue 7 is the grand finale – and I do mean grand and I do mean finale! I’m not gonna say any more.
I’ll be doing more work on Rol Hirst’s Too Much Sex and Violence, working on The Abnormals Anthology, and I have some other projects in mind, mostly collaborations with some very talented people.
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
Martin: It’s a hard one to answer, because I am friends with tons of talented, up-and-coming indie creators. It’s like ‘Martin’s Choice’ lol. But I will nominate T’sao Wei, the guy who creates indie comics under the banner Daventer Projects. This guy is an incredible talent and he is just getting better and better. He’s so eclectic. He’s done comics about racism and prejudice, he’s done a graphic interpretation of Poe’s The Raven, and he’s currently working on a gothic superhero story called Windrush, which looks stunning (you can see the first 10 pages here.
People who saw preview pages at a couple of recent cons were in awe. He has a very individual style and I can see him illustrating twisted children’s books in the future! You can see him at most comic conventions where he plugs away with his comics. I’ll also hopefully be working with him on at least a couple of projects next year. I really hope he gets the recognition and success he deserves.