Today’s Best of the Year comes courtesy of Swedish illustrator and comics artist Mattias Elftorp, who has been involved with a variety of comics and journals but is probably best known to English language readers for his Piracy is Liberation series and the highly respected ongoing anthology series C’est Bon, the sixth volume of which is due to be published shortly and which, like its predecessors, boasts an impressive roster of international comics talent within its pages; let’s see what Mattias has been reading in 2008:
FPI: Could you tell us what your favourite comics/graphic novels and/or books have been this year and why they stood out for you?
Mattias: DC finally started to release trades of the old Hellblazer material. I’ve been trying to track down Jamie Delano’s run in single issues, downloading what was otherwise impossible to find, but now I don’t have to look anymore. The Fear Machine was quite inspiring when I read it the first time, so I had to get the trade to be able to lend it out to people. How Delano drags the story out, giving it space to grow organically is very nice. The characters felt very much like real people to me.
(cover to the new collected edition of Hellblazer: the Fear Machine, written by Jamie Delano, cover art by Phil Hale, (c) DC/Vertigo)
I also read the last 20 or so parts of Lone Wolf and Cub this year. It’s a great comic. The first parts were published in Swedish in the beginning of the 90s, but I’d never read the rest of the series before. I don’t really know what to say. Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima together are genius.
Been a lot of Warren Ellis this year for me. Not only did I finally get around to start reading Transmetropolitan (don’t know why I waited so long), I also enjoyed Black Summer and Doktor Sleepless very much. All three are interesting politically. Science fiction used as a mirror, in sorts, just the way I like it. I am also following Ellis’ Freakangels in digital form. It’s a great way to read a webcomic. I save it for a couple of weeks, then read four or five six-page instalments at a time. I love his writing and have a weak spot for post-apocalyptic themes…
(flooded London in a scene from Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield’s FreakAngels, (c) Ellis and Duffield)
This year saw the conclusion to David Mack’s latest Kabuki storyline. Kabuki is one of the most interesting comics out there right now, in my opinion. Revolutionary both in form and, as it turns out, in content. It just gets better, so I look forward to seeing what Mack’s got planned for the future.
One of the few comics I follow in single issue format is DMZ by Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli. They’ve found a great way to comment on war and politics through this comic. Bring the war home and look at it through the eyes of the people living in it rather than fighting it.
More people should read this.
Another thing I’m very excited about is that Optimum Wound Comics are publishing Danijel Zezelj’s older material. Rex came out a while ago and I believe more is on its way. Or is that something I just dreamed about? This material has mostly been available in Italian before, and I’ve been waiting for someone to release it in a language I can read. Zezelj’s Small Hands came out from Petikat a couple of years ago and it’s one of my favourite graphic novels. Beautiful artwork and equally poetic story.
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?
(cover to Piracy is Liberation 5 written and illustrated by Mattias, cover art by Susanne Johansson)
Mattias: As far as my own work goes, this morning I started working on the script for Piracy is Liberation 006: Violence. I know pretty much what’s going to happen in it, but new elements keep popping up and needing to get in there. So now the process of getting it all together starts. I plan to have the thing printed and available in time for the Small Press eXpo in Stockholm in April. Book 005 is on its way right now. I’ll be getting it from the printer in the beginning of January. I have a bit of a problem with the distribution, since Diamond won’t carry it since book 003, so right now it’s only available directly from the publisher (C’est Bon Kultur) or some smaller local distributors. Still, creatively, it’s been a good year for me and I hope to be able to keep it up for 2009.
During 2008 I’ve released Piracy is Liberation 004: Copies and Originals. Book 005: Free Section will come from the printer about a week into January. I usually describe the series as political theory, filtered through autobiography, masked as fiction in the form of cyberpunk post-apocalypse…
When it comes to C’est Bon Anthology, volume 4 came out in January 2008, and (as you know) volume 6 will be out in February. Some artists that were in the book this year: David Mack, Amanda Vähämäki (who incidentally has a new book, Bun Field, coming from D&Q this spring), Rutu Modan, Andrea Bruno and John Malloy.