Today’s Best of the Year choices come from Dan Goldman; I first encountered Dan’s work via Smithmag’s online serialisation of Shooting War (which on its print release became my favourite graphic novel of 2007, Anthony’s story carried the ring of authenticity, drawn on personal experience and Dan’s mix of media for the artwork was brilliant). From there I started taking in Dan’s online work like Kelly (where his penchant for more weirdness and sometimes some truly freaky art and colouring jobs hooked me), which also had the bonus of introducing me to the Act-I-Vate! comics collective, which in turn has introduced me to some other very cool strips and artists I might have easily missed otherwise (don’t you love when one good book leads you to several others?).
(time for a trip… A scene from Kelly by and (c) Dan Goldman, currently being serialised on Act-I-Vate!)
Dan’s been working on a graphic novel covering the presidential election campaign this year and has also just returned to creating new episodes of Kelly on Act-I-Vate!, as well as contributing to the recent comics anthology Popgun 2. Let’s see what Dan liked in 2008 when he wasn’t glued to political coverage or haunting his local bakery for fresh bagels, or indeed glueing bagels to politicians:
FPI: Could you tell us what your favourite three comics/graphic novels and/or books have been this year and why they stood out for you?
Dan: Skyscrapers of the Midwest (AdHouse Books) – I’ve loved this with the first issue and “got” it with the second, waiting only for the joyful day I could sit on my couch and devour this novel as intended. Skyscrapers is both childlike and “ugly-American”… true and sweet and utterly heart-breaking.
(cover to Skyscrapers of the Midwest by and (c) Joshua Cotter, published by AdHouse)
The Cream of Tank Girl (Titan Books) – Deadline mag was one of my high-water marks of comics+culture I’ve seen in my lifetime, and this reproduces many of those moments in full pill-twisted colour. We don’t get comics (or drugs) like this anymore, and the world is greyer for it. I didn’t even know this volume was coming out and nearly peed when I snagged it in NY; it’s blasphemy that Tank Girl isn’t considered essential reading for cartoonists.
(cover to Freddie & Me, written and illustrated by Mike Dawson, published in the UK by Jonathan Cape)
Freddie & Me (Bloomsbury (US), Jonathan Cape (UK edition)) – I fell in love with this story when I read a chunk of it on Dawson’s site, and the final product is just a thousand times tighter; my copy never even met a bookmark. Freddie delivers everything what I want from a work of art: I want to ache and cringe and soar, and Dawson delivers all of those moments in a tightly-controlled narrative whose apologies get it the pass to be less than fiction but more than memoir.
FPI: In other art forms was there anything in the world of radio, TV, film or other artistic endeavours that really drew your attention this year?
Dan: I’m a big fan of British comedy (sadly via BitTorrent), and I’ve gone through Matt Berry and Rich Fulcher’s short-lived SnuffBox series for the third time recently. I’ll watch anything those two touch… and if there’s ever to be a film version of “Kelly”, Rich Fulcher would be my first choice.
(Matt Berry and Rich Fulcher in SnuffBox; not many know but Dan Goldman spend much of his spare time at his Refined Gentlemen Artist’s Club in New York, which has a study which is an almost exact replica of this set)
FPI: On the professional front how did you see the comics world in 2008, from your own point of view as a creator putting your work out there (did you feel it was a good year for you?) and what did you think of the way the comics biz was in general this year? The business becoming more diversified, more accessible to new readers and creators or less welcoming?
Dan: I can’t really speak to personal experience as I’ve been at the table and not releasing anything but a short anthology piece in 2008, but I can say this past year has seen an incredible wealth of new voices in comics; sure, there have been an even larger crop of truly great new books… but the breadth/range of the material seems to be wider and generally smarter. We’re living in an incredible time to be reading and making comics; I envision 2009 will be even brighter.
FPI: What’s the next project you are working on that we can look forward to?
Dan: Well, I’ve just finished 08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail, and it will be released next month for Inauguration Day from Crown Books… and the next book I do will be fully my own, along the lines of “Kelly”. It’s called Red Light Properties and that’s really all I should say about it at the moment.
FPI: Lastly, are there any new names you’ve come across recently you’d like to pass on as one to watch for?
Dan: Definitely check out Reich (Sparkplug Comics). A well-researched bio-in-minicomic format about Wilhelm Reich’s life? I would’ve subscribed to the whole thing before even opening it. Elijah Brubaker paints a less-than-flattering portrait of one of my most-underappreciated heroes with an ear for the period and virtuoso storytelling carried in his warm and etchy style.