Today’s guest Best of the Year blogger is the very fine (and far too damned talented), Vimto-swigging comics creator Adam Cadwell:
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?
Adam: I can pick more than 3 but for the purposes of this survey I’ll give you my top comic/webcomic/graphic novel followed by two others that I really enjoyed too
1 – Scenes From An Impending Marriage by Adrian Tomine (Drawn & Quarterly).
Although this had a spine, you could never call it a graphic novel, it’s a comic. Tomine hones his wryly amusing observational style and draws seemingly effortlessly in a looser style that suits it really well. It is somehow curmudgeonly and sentimental all at once. It’s an honest and sweet story of Tomine and his wife made for the guests at their wedding and never intended for publication. I feel lucky to have been able to read such a personal work of art.
2 – Chloe Noonan: Monster Hunter – Colour Special by Marc Ellerby.
Most people who know me and Marc know we have a special bromance that cannot be destroyed by stinky girls, time immortal or Death himself. Regardless of that, when I think of any single issue that impressed me this year, this story of Chloe hunting an emo monster at a student indie disco sticks out as brightly as Marc’s colouring. With this issue Marc has levelled up, adding a depth to Chloe’s character I didn’t expect. Almost every line the supporting characters utter made me LOL and his artwork has never looked fresher. It’s perfect fun pop comics.
3 – Girl & Boy by Andrew Tunney.
Tunney did the back cover for the first issue of my comic Blood Blokes. I’ve known him for years and have been prodding him to work on a comic for the whole time. Finally in November he released Girl & Boy, a one shot story of young romance told using the iconography of superheroes, fashion and street art. It’s as close to a stylish music video than I’ve ever seen comics get and the artwork is uniquely his own. It kind of makes me wish I’d never encouraged him, he’ll put us all to shame.
1 – Hemlock by Josceline Fenton.
I picked up the first two volumes of Hemlock this year at MCM in October and read them both on the train home. It’s so good that I don’t want to wait a week for each page but I don’t want to wait months for the next volume. If only Fenton could release 100 pages every few weeks, that would be perfect. Hemlock is “a fairytale set in the forests of 19th Century Scandanavia” and follows “Lumi [who] is a witch who lives in the top floor of a giant snail named Richmond” with her familiar Tristan, a three eyed, book smart frog. There’s a touch of Gaiman in this world building and imagination spills out of every page. The pointed, clean, black and white artwork is crisp and, in places, quite beautiful.
2 – Bad Machinery by John Allison.
John Allison has been creating and defining web comics for so long I think everyone takes his work for granted and I’d put him top if I hadn’t been singing his praises for years. With Bad Machinery, Allison has been creating amazing, thoroughly well written mystery stories for kids and adults alike. The most recent story, ‘The Case of the Lonely One’ is the best story about school friendships, aliens, belonging and the true power of onions you will ever read. And that’s a promise.
3 – The Abaddon by Koren Shadmi.
This is creepy, funny and wonderfully drawn stuff. This is Shadmi’s second comic work in English so far (that I’m aware of), the first being In The Flesh, a collection of eerie short stories which was one of my favourite comics of 2009. Shadmi’s talent is to create wholly disconcerting stories full of unsettling characters and places yet somehow lure the reader into them by touching upon our hidden doubts and desires. I can’t help but want to know what happens next.
1 - Love & Rockets: New Stories 4 by Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez (Fantagraphics).
When I talk (well, gush) about Love & Rockets I’m talking about Jaime’s Locas stories. The more I read L&R, the more Gilbert’s stories seem lewd and crude in comparison and I often skip them. Jaime’s work however has never been better and considering he’s a master of comics, a MASTER, that’s saying something. Like last year’s New Stories 3, Jaime has created some of the best stories of his career such as ‘Return For Me’ and with the completion of ‘The Love Bunglers’ he’s created what could be a fitting end for the characters he’s been writing about for 30 years. There’s a double page spread in here that will impress any reader, and absolutely blow the mind of any long-time L&R fan. Comics do not get any better.
2 – Hair Shirt by Patrick McEown (SelfMadeHero).
I loved the art for this book as soon as I saw it and when I read it I was taken aback by the writing. I had to read it twice to thoroughly understand the depths of the themes McEown’s touching upon here, but beneath the story of childhood friends reunited as lovers, the playful dialogue and the shaky, likeable art is a cautionary tale about the ghosts of memory and regret. A brilliant novel.
3 – Everything We Miss by Luke Pearson (NoBrow Press).
As a British comic artist, it’s hard not to hate Luke Pearson, it really is. He’s put out 2 children’s comic books and this short novella this year (THIS YEAR!) plus a slew of other accomplishments I’m too bitter to list. It was this book however that made me slump back, sigh and admit that he really is as good as everyone says. It’s half a sombre, mature tale of a dying relationship and half a playground of ideas about the things we never see, the creatures in the corner of our eyes or the giant space yetis hurtling comets at Earth. Perhaps no more a “graphic novel” than Scenes From An Impending Marriage (mentioned above) but the slew of ideas and playful page layouts here compensate for the slight page count. Truly impressive work (damn him).
FPI: How did 2010 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
Adam: Looking back I actually got a lot done this year but I’m always looking forward and trying to get more work, and better work, out there. I eventually self published Blood Blokes #1 (reviewed recently here by Richard on the blog – Joe), contributed three parts of my King of Things children’s story to Paper Science (issues 4-6, issue 7 out Jan!) and was one of the artists in Nelson.
(the old “I like you but..” movie in Blood Blokes #1 by and (c) Adam Cadwell)
I was invited to TCAF for the second year in a row, attended 4 other comic shows as well, coloured a comic called Stiffs, drew an ad storyboard for my favourite drink Vimto and as well as being featured in the Best of the Graphic Short Story Prize I was asked to do the cover for it too.
I host a monthly Drink ‘n’ Draw event in Manchester and the first big event I did in June with talks and sales tables won a 5 Star Forever Manchester award. Plus I work freelance as a storyboard artist all year too. I would have done a few things differently if I could but it all makes me more determined to get more actual comics out next year.
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2011?
Adam: Blood Blokes #2 in March/April, the conclusion of The King of Things & The Shrunken Giant Penny in Paper Science 7 in January (with a cover by me), more King of Things, more Blood Blokes, The Everyday book in Spring sometime, plus two other comic related projects that I should be able to reveal fairly soon.
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
Adam: Andrew Tunney, see above. Isabel Greenberg who won the Graphic Short Story Prize this year and had a comic in Solipsistic Pop 4, both of which are from an upcoming GN called The Encyclopedia of Early Earth which seems like a fascinating, make believe history of civilisation. And Dan Berry whose ‘After We Shot The Grizzly’ comic was wonderful and the project he’s chipping away at now, set in Dublin in 1869, looks terrific.
(Encyclopedia of Early Earth by and (c) Isabel Greenberg)