Today’s Best of the Year guest post comes from Dan Lockwood, linguistic scholar, SF&F fan and freelance editor; Dan has, amongst others, worked for SelfMadeHero on their graphic literary adaptations The Master and Margarita and The Trial. He’s currently getting to indulge his inner geek editing SMH’s upcoming H.P. Lovecraft anthology due next year. Let’s see what Dan’s been enjoying this year:
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?
Dan: I’ll start with my favourite graphic novel of the year, ‘At the Mountains of Madness‘ by I.N.J. Culbard. A thrilling and faithful rendition of H.P. Lovecraft’s most successful long tale (with tighter pacing and stronger characterisation), the book has been picking up great reviews and a lot of word-of-mouth interest in the last couple of months, and should be read by anyone with even a passing interest in Lovecraft, horror in general or polar exploration.
(the great Polar icy wastes – or it might be any part of wintery Britain recently, come to think of it; Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness by Ian Culbard, published SelfMadeHero)
Back in September, I picked up a copy of ‘Dance by the Light of the Moon‘ by Judith Vanistendael. Twice nominated for the Angoulême Grand Prix, and now available in English, this semi-autobiographical work is a heartfelt and captivating story about love, politics and immigration. The characters are well rounded and their relationships believable, but the image which stayed with me is one of barbed wire encroaching on the mind and dreams of a troubled refugee. Excellent notes at the end also put into perspective a lot of the complaints people have about asylum numbers in this country – we really can and should do more.
(Dance by the Light of the Moon by Judith Vanistendael, published SelfMadeHero)
Finally, I’m sure I won’t be alone in recommending ‘100 Months‘, John Hicklenton’s last work. A beautiful, disturbing, weird howl into the ether. I first read it a few days ago, and am still slightly reeling from the experience… Visceral and unsettling, ‘100 Months’ probably won’t find its way into too many stockings this Christmas. But it should.
(dark, disturbing and brilliant: 100 Months by Johnny Hicklenton)
FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Dan: I don’t think I’ve read anything in 2010 which was actually published this year. About the nearest I can come is ‘The Story of Edgar Sawtelle’ (published in 2008). David Wroblewski skilfully weaves elements from ‘Hamlet’ into the tale of a mute hero and his beloved Sawtelle dogs, and develops an elegant, tragic tone which I found both convincing and touching. Highly recommended.
Over the rest of the year, I’ve been gradually working my way through Peter Hamilton’s ‘Night’s Dawn’ trilogy (1996-99), which a friend inflicted on me for my birthday. Totalling 3,754 pages, this is space opera on an epic scale, with a liberal splash of metaphysical horror thrown into the mix. Generally enjoyable and at times genuinely gripping, my only real reservation about the trilogy is that I can now remember little of the detail. Still, at least I finally finished it.
(Peter F Hamilton’s massive – and fascinating – Reality Dysfunction, published Macmillan)
Now I can finally get down to Stephen King’s ‘Under the Dome’.
FPI: Can you pick three TV shows and/or movies which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Dan: I’m afraid I have to admit to getting pretty tired of the previous run of Doctor Who by the time it came to a close, so it was a pleasant surprise to find my traditional fandom fully reinvigorated by the new series. Matt Smith seems to have settled into the role nicely, and I’m hopeful that Steven Moffatt will continue to improve on the Russell T. Davies era in future episodes. Nice to get out of London/Cardiff for a change anyway…
Doctor Who contributor Mark Gatiss provided my televisual high point for the year in his BBC4 series ‘A History of Horror’. Taking a fan’s approach to the subject, Gatiss took the viewer on an informative tour of the genre from the Universal years through Hammer and back to the new American horror resurgence in the 1960s and 1970s. Filled with treats galore for horror aficionados, this was the one show I made sure not to miss during its run. And if you didn’t see it at the time, I urge you to catch it before it stops being repeated, because it’s not going to make it onto DVD due to rights issues.
The BBC wisely programmed a series of classic horror films to run alongside Gatiss’ show, giving viewers the chance to get (re)acquainted with such masterpieces as ‘Cat People’, ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ and ‘I Walked with a Zombie’. But my favourite film experience of the year came at the end of November, when BBC2 showed the excellent ‘Night of the Demon’. I had forgotten how much I liked this film, and it’s definitely something that I’ll be picking up on DVD in short order.
FPI: How did 2010 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
Dan: I’ve spent most of this year putting together ‘The Lovecraft Anthology: Volume 1‘ for SelfMadeHero. As an editor, there’s a certain satisfaction in seeing the end result of months of planning and writing, and I’m pleased to say that it’s looking lovely. And while it’s been amazing to see my own (debut) adaptations transformed into stunning artwork, I’ve also enjoyed the process of getting to meet and work with some of my favourite writers and artists.
(a scene from the 2011-scheduled Lovecraft Anthology Volume 1 from SMH)
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2011?
Dan: The aforementioned Lovecraft anthology is due to be released in April 2011. In the meantime, I’ll soon be making a start on the reading and planning for Volume 2. I’m also working on a few original stories of my own, but they’re far too embryonic to mention here just yet.
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
(a page from Hotwire: Deep Cut by Warren Ellis and Steve Pugh, published Radical)
Dan: I’m looking forward to ‘The Valley of Fear‘, which will see Ian Edginton and I.N.J. Culbard wrap up their cracking Sherlock Holmes series. And I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for a collected version of ‘Hotwire: Deep Cut‘ from Warren Ellis and Steve Pugh. Last, but by no means least, I’m getting pretty excited about Rob Davis’ upcoming Don Quixote adaptation, which – if his regular blog updates are anything to go by – is shaping up to be truly excellent.