Today’s guest Best of the Year comes via the good offices of the excellent Nick Abadzis, who has brought us some fabulous comics work over the years, not least the magnificent, touching and inspiring Laika, a tale of a dog and the heroic dawn days of what would become the Space Age. The new edition of his acclaimed Hugo Tate is coming from Blank Slate next spring and is eagerly anticipated by many of us.
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?
Nick: Love & Rockets New Stories No. 4 – The Love Bunglers part 2. OK, technically The Love Bunglers is one long story, the first part of which appears in Love & Rockets New Stories No. 3, but this story left me so wowed and gave me so much pleasure I feel compelled to give it top spot. Hernandez just keeps delivering stories of the highest calibre. There are no pyrotechnics or fancy-ass page layouts, just a slow burn of emotion and expression, presented in calmly immaculate style. The moments of his characters’ lives that Hernandez chooses to show in the telling of his tales are picked and deployed with such precision it betrays a wisdom and clarity very few storytellers possess, in comics or any other media. Just beautiful.
Pinocchio by Winshluss (Knockabout)
Winshluss’ hilariously pessimistic and willfully inane retelling of Carlo Collodi’s classic fairly tale is scratchy, anarchic, ingenious and essential. Laugh out loud stuff with the occasional moment of artful poignancy.
Everything We Miss by Luke Pearson (NoBrow)
A short and sensitive tale of love and reality gone awry that has a timeless quality to it. I know I can go back and read this again and again and each time find something new, and that’s a rare thing these days. A lot went into the making of this book, and you get a lot out of it.
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?
Nick: I’ve watched some truly awful movies this year. Most movies seem to be made for under-12s or simpletons with the attention spans of mayflies, although those movies in the former category are generally of far higher merit than much of the rest of Hollywood’s output. TV, on the other hand is where I go for both great drama and great genre material. Shows I’ve really enjoyed this year are
Mad Men – they say it takes fifty years for a culture to understand itself and the recent past, and Mad Men would seem to bear that theory out, being somehow a cocktail of the quotidian past and current concerns. Although it’s set in the sixties, it somehow seems incredibly relevant to today and is of course beautifully acted, designed and directed. It just gets better, season by season.
I’ve just watched season 1 and most of season 2 of this 1920s prohibition era-set gangster epic starring the great Steve Buscemi and Kelly MacDonald. It started out almost low-key for an HBO drama, despite the first episode being directed by Martin Scorsese. As with all HBO shows, it takes its own time in establishing the pace of its storytelling but when it gets going you love it for its twists and turns and the way it dovetails with recorded historical incident. It’s brutal, operatic and impeccably stylish, a sumptuous visual feast and every character in it is intriguingly messed up. I dunno, I’m just really into it right now – it’s just bloody great.
I’m a big fan of all sorts of genre shows but if I had to pick one for consistent inventive weirdness and great character development over the past year, it would be Fringe. I also loved Game of Thrones, but Fringe just pips it to the post on account of it having been around longer. Bubbling under: the highly original and whacked-out The Fades, which was also greatly enjoyed.
FPI: How did 2011 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
Nick: The most attention and feedback I got this year was from some comics published on the web at BigPlanetcomics.com. I’d heard about huge audiences for webcomics but this was the first time I experienced it myself. It’s made me want to factor in some kind of online serialization or tie-in for future projects, as print media increasingly comes under stress from digital media. I love print and don’t think it’s going to go away, but I don’t always love the way I’m treated by some print publishers. I do love the instantaneous reaction you get from online publishing. As I’m working on two big projects for print, the ends of which aren’t quite yet in sight, it’s a way of keeping visible. I’ll be keeping an eye on how the publishing world faces up to the onslaught of digital media in 2012.
(one of Nick’s alternate endings for his wonderful Laika graphic novel, featured on BigPlanetComics)
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2012?
Nick: The collected edition of Hugo Tate is coming in Spring from the wonderful Blank Slate Books and I’m proud to be a part of this increasingly stellar imprint. I’ve had so many requests for this book over the years and I’m very glad that I finally found the time to do it. The designer, Jim Green and I worked hard to make it all cohere – it was a big job, digitising and restoring artwork and figuring out a way of presenting it so it all worked nicely under one cover. There’s quite a few extras including some pages of never before seen art – it’s the definitive Hugo collection! I have other projects in the pipeline about which it’s too early to make any announcements yet, but stay tuned.
(rough cover for the upcoming Blank Slate release of Hugo Tate by and (c) Nick Abadzis, due spring 2012)
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
(some gorgeous art from Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration by and (c) Magda Boreysza)
Iain Laurie has been making some seriously weird strips for a while now and he always make me laugh. I think he deserves far more attention than he gets and he certainly merits a breakthrough year; you can see more of Iain’s work here and also here.
(some amazing cool art from All the Dead Superheroes by and (c) Iain Laurie)