Today’s Best of the Year choices come from Richmond Clements of British small press publishers FutureQuake press and co-organiser of the Hi-Ex comics convention in the capital of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness (the first one was in February of this year and you can read a report on it on the blog here; the second Hi-Ex will take part over the Valentine’s weekend in February 2009):
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?
Rich: I’m ashamed to say I’m woefully behind at reading new comics- I’ve only just managed to finish reading 52 a month or so ago! The only comics I read regularly are 2000AD and the Megazine, so I suppose they’d do.
All Star Superman is a thing of absolute beauty though. Every page oozes pure joy.
(a desperate Man of Steel learning in the worst possible way that he is still a man and not a god, not able to do everything, save everyone… All Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, (c) DC)
And Rebellion have just brought out a collected graphic novel of the strip ‘Kingdom’ by Dan Abnett and Richard Elson, which is probably the best new strip in 2k in the past 5 years.
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?
Rich: I think everyone is going to say ‘The Dark Knight’ for their movie, eh? The movie that effected me the most this year though was ‘Into the Wild’, which was extremely moving and thought provoking.
I also made my first visit to the Tate Modern this year- and saw Jackson Pollock’s ‘Summertime’ in the flesh. It’s hanging in a room opposite a Monet water lily painting, and almost had me in tears.
(a detail from Pollock’s Summertime, borrowed from the Tate’s website, which also has a podcast on the work which you can listen to)
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?
Rich: We did alright this year at FQP, I think! Really, all we can aim for is to make enough to get the next issue out- and we do that.
The comics business in general? I don’t know if I’m qualified to say, but it certainly seems to be healthy enough from what I’m seeing. We organised a comic convention in Northern Scotland in the middle of the winter and loads of folk turned up- so the market is there!
I don’t think the market is diversified as much as split- you get those who read ‘Western’ titles and nothing more and those who read Manga titles and nothing more, and I’d love to see more of a crossover between the genres and less of the looking down the nose at each other! I have spoken, people!
FPI: What’s the next project you are working on that we can look forward to?
Rich: We’re busy, as always, with the next issues of FutureQuake and MangaQuake. Both will have a new issue out in time for HiEx. But the big thing I’m looking forward too is something I can’t talk about or it’ll ruin the surprise- but trust me- it is something very VERY exciting we have planned that will be published in time for the Bristol con this year.
FPI: Lastly, are there any new names you’ve come across recently you’d like to pass on as one to watch for?
Rich: An artist called Toby Philp has just turned in a strip for us to use it FutureQuake, and his art is nothing short of astounding.
Likewise, in MangaQuake- Sophia Grant, an artist who approached us at last years HiEx, did us a lovely strip in the last issue.
The forthcoming MQ has a wonderful strip and front cover by the astonishingly talented Triluz. I’m utterly confident you’ll hear more from all these folks in the years to come.
Outside our own small comics empire, I’d go for Nick Dyer and Lee Carter as Next Big Things in 2000AD.