Best of Year 2007 – Alex Fitch and Patty Jeres
Another double-header for today’s Best of the Year picks – we start off with some graphic novels and some movies from broadcaster and journalist Alex Fitch. I’m sure most of our readers are familiar with Alex’s name and the shows such as Panel Borders he works on and usually posts up as podcasts after transmission on his blog so anyone, anywhere can listen to them. And with some top names in movies, art and comics appearing, from Malcolm McDowell to Alan Moore and Paul Cornell, they’ve been a very welcome bit of media exposure for our beloved genre. With Alex now also doing podcasts for SciFi London every fortnight he’s added another string to his bow and in the process ticked another of our favourite genre boxes (yeah, we know, movies, comics, science fiction, we are such geeks, but we’re proud of it!). After talking to so many folks in the arts I have to say I am curious to see what particularly stood out for Alex, so let’s have a look:
Crécy, by Warren Ellis and Raulo Caceres
A terrific prestige format one shot by Warren Ellis and Raulo Caceres about the little known battle of Crécy in 1346, which apparently was a major development in modern warfare. Mixing Caceres’ evocative black and white art which recalls 16th Century etchings, which is anachronistic, but then so is Ellis’ modernist script, which allows for ‘straight to camera’ narration that literally brings the battle down to earth and makes it incredibly accessible for modern readers. I actually learned things reading this and didn’t mind doing so!
(Prism Comics’ unusual Mark of Aeacus by Zan Christensen and Mark Brill)
The Mark of Aeacus (issue 1), by Zan Christensen and Mark Brill
Another comic mixing the archaic and new is this homoerotic vigilante tale by Zan Christensen and Mark Brill. Using the iconography of dark (super) hero comics like The Darkness and the sexually transmitted nature of vampirism, Aeacus presents a rare gay protagonist who uses his powers derived from Greek mythology to take on muggers and murderers. Not too explicit to put off casual readers and far braver than the depiction of the likes of Northstar and Pied Piper, this is a well crafted gem that will hopefully get wider distribution for subsequent issues.
Criminal (volume 1), by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
A terrific crime comic that shows both creators at the top of their game. With Powers also coming out of the Icon imprint, this is the place to go for hard-boiled noir. Criminal’s scripts mix tight plotting with a terrific number of twists, turns and an obvious love of the genre to show that while Brubaker does terrific work in the Bat books, he’s even better working free of continuity. Phillips’ moody art with deep shadows and sympathetic colouring by Val Staples bring the palpable flavour and depths of the underworld vividly to life.
A perfect animated version of the popular graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi, which mixes terrific caricature and subtle chiaroscuro shading. A touching coming of age story about an Iranian girl who never feels at home in her own country or studying abroad is the best animated film in years and one that’s attractive to older children and adults alike.
Matthew Barney’s latest cinematic masterpiece shows that artists can produce movies that are as epic and memorable as any film-maker who’s more specifically trained in movie making. Mixing his usual esoteric but beautiful imagery of sexuality, routine and symbolism Barney brings the ritual and paraphernalia of Whaling into sharp relief.
David Fincher continues his run of bringing the finest thrillers in a generation to cinema screens. Here, he has made an almost flawless melodrama that mixes Downey Jnr.’s finest performance to date with a perfect policier of the French tradition that has as many evocative temporal stylings and red herrings as you could possibly hope for.
Continuing this year’s tradition (300, Persepolis) of turning cult graphic novels into films that capture the aesthetic of their original format, 30 Days, based on Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith’s work, is the best vampire movie since the original Blade and is the best horror film set in the frozen North since John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing.
And yes, technically that is four movie choices, not three, but since they are all interesting choices we’ll let Alex away with it, even though I am jealous that he got to see Persepolis already. When he mentioned he was picking out some favourites from the year to Patty Jeres, formerly a DC staffer (among other things) and currently contributing to Prism Comics, she decided that if Alex was selecting some of his highlights from the last year then she should darn well pick some out too and kindly appended some of her favourites from the Ninth Art to Alex’s email so we could post them up as well (thanks, Patty):
Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
A magnificent “graphic memoir” that breaks new ground in a field that grows more infinite as it does diverse. pub.
All Star Superman, by Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely and Jamie Graham
At times abstruse, at times shearly lovely, this series – and subsequent collection, has become my favourite interpretation of the Big Blue Boy Scout maybe ever.
Y, the Last Man, by Brain K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra
It could have been so easy to get a simple story from this concept, but BKV has never taken the easy way out in this ingoing series, regularly collected, leaves this reader scratching her head, wishing she had thought of it all first.
Wow, how big an impression has Morrison and Quitely’s All Star Superman made on readers? Patty becomes the fifth person to name Grant and Frank’s makeover of the Big Blue Boy Scout so far in the Best of Year picks. You know, somehow I am getting the distinct impression that was a pretty popular read with a lot of folks… And the first time I think we’ve seen the movie version of Persepolis mentioned thus far, but since most of us haven’t had a chance to see that yet it isn’t too surprising; certainly it is one of the movies I am looking forward to seeing this year and I suspect in a year’s time it may well crop up in the 2008 Best of Year picks a few times.