Best of the year – Kenny’s faves
Today’s Best of the Year selection comes from FPI’s own Kenny Penman, also turned gentleman publisher with Blank Slate Books which has been bringing us new talent from the UK and translating some great work from the European comics scene:
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?
Kenny: Quite hard to pick but things I’ve enjoyed included Darwyn Cooke’s Parker: The Hunter, sometimes the pulp plot left me uninspired but the art was simply stunning.
Tony Millionaire has been one of the best cartoonists around for over 15 years now – the Art of Tony Millionaire showed you what a stupendous artist he is and allows you a look inside his comics version of the Hunter S. Thompson life – brilliant and funny. The third volume of the collected ‘Cinque Allegri Ragazzi Morti‘ by Italian artist Davide Toffolo came out and I loved the art so much it didn’t overly matter that I couldn’t follow the story.
I haven’t finished Asterios Polyp though it looks like it was probably the top title to come from the US in a year I found a little dispiriting with top creators seemingly running off to kids comics and adaptation projects right and left. I also must mention The Sacrifice by Bruce Mutard – released in Australia in 2008 but I only read it this year and it’s a significant work up there with Jason Lute’s Berlin – if you like political, historical comics go search it out – very, very, good.
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?
Kenny: I’m not much of a TV follower really but the outstanding programme for me was ‘Skins’. Brilliantly written it captures a lot of what my memories are of being a late teen early twenties thrill seeker. If you want to know what your kids are probably up to – this hits it out the park. Brilliant.
Most other TV, and it used to be a pleasure and is now an ordeal, is watching Man United play footie. What had been a joy last year has developed into a case of watching with my hands over my eyes only able to take small glimpses as the horror continues to unfold. I also love Outnumbered – these are the kids that will grow into the ones in Skins – or worse. Movie wise i liked the US version of State of Play and enjoyed The Damned United.
FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Kenny: Not sure I’ve even read a 2009 vintage book last year. Favourite novel would be Hamid’s ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ – deft, human, but ultimately unnerving. I loved the Charley Harper monograph and gave it to quite a few friends for Christmas.
I’m not sure this belongs in comics or books but Taschen’s huge monograph of Tom of Finland – XXL will probably be the ultimate comics book for years to come. Who’d have thought it? Amazing production value for pages and pages of Tom’s gay porn comics and images. I remember being shown this material 25 years ago by Don Melia who was then the marketing man at Titan books and being pretty shocked by it. Now my sensibilities somewhat expanded it hardly raises an eyebrow that it has become an art object to rival any in comics.
FPI: How did 2009 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year and any thoughts on the comics industry in 2009?
Kenny: Blank Slate got 3 books to market. 1 more than the year before and probably 2 less than we should have. I thought all three were excellent books and they have been pretty well received. I think Oli East continues to expand the UK comics vocabulary with his Proper go well high and that Spleenal by Nigel Auchterlounie was simply the funniest thing I read all year – even if I published it. I think Blank Slate as a company could have done better reaching the market – and hopefully will in 2010. 2009 seemed a year of constant personal upheaval I’m hoping for some stability in the year we’ve just begun.
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2010?
Kenny: I’ve got 4 finished books sitting waiting to go to the printers. First up will be Oli East’s third book Berlin and That and Darryl Cunningham’s Psychiatric Tales. Darryl’s book has caused quite a stir before publication and I’m very hopeful that it will be a big hit – it’s also been sold to Bloomsbury for publication in the US in 2011 which should allow Darryl some real traction as a cartoonist.
I also have Randall C’s award winning Slaapkoppen ready at last as Sleepyheads and Ed Syder has finished his My Skateboard Life book. All 4 of those will be out by May – and we have 3 or 4 lined up after that including Stu Kolakovic’s amazing Lichen which i truly think has a chance of being a book of the year choice amongst other comics artists. On paper an exciting year.
FPI: And one final, special question – since it’s not only the end of the year approaching but also the end of the decade, is there any comics work you’d especially pick out as one of the best you’ve read this decade?
Kenny: I’m not sure it’s as simple as that – a lot of what has informed comics the past 10 years happened in the 15 years before it with Clowes, Doucet, Burns, Crumb et al. Chris Ware also emerged then but if I had to pick a book which has taken that initial vanguard forward and informed a more rigorous inventive route for comics it would have to be ACME which has pushed the door open with its awards and Ware’s continuing genius.