Best of the Year – Cliodhna Lyons
Today’s guest Best of the Year is from the very fine artist, animator, comics creator, powering force behind the Irish 24 Hour Comic Day and she’s a champion level hugger to boot, it’s the lovely Cliodhna Lyons:
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?
Cliodhna: I have to say I bought some really amazing comics in 2010 and it was a hard push to narrow it down to just three so I tired to pick three very different comics to show the huge range of work that was produced this year.
A Home for Mr Easter by Brooke A Allen, published NBM
This was an impulse buy at a show back in April – you know that last minute panic buying about 20 minutes before people start to pack up and you realise you’ve only made it around about a third of the tables so you speed through and just pick up anything that looks shiny and pretty. The cover for A Home for Mr Easter just jumped out at me and a quick flick through showed some really nice looking artwork so figured even if the story was blah it was worth picking up for the art alone. Well it is worth picking up for the art but also the story. It’s a witty, over the top story of magic egg laying bunnies and a cast of truly entertaining human characters. It doesn’t get bogged down in the boring fat unpopular kid vs the cheerleaders and jocks cliché that it so easily could have. The art is just so full of energy and comical touches that it’s really hard not to get swept along in the adventure.
Never Forget Never Forgive by Rami Efal, self published via Lulu
Now I could be accused of being a little bit biased with this choice as I went to college with Rami and consider him both one of the most talented and nicest people working in comics, but even if he was my most hated enemy [not that I have any such enemies mind] I would still have to put his amazing cinematic master piece Never Forget Never Forgive on any top comics of 2010 list. I’m not sure I can put into words how much I enjoyed this book both for the art, which is amazing and shows a strong eye for cinematography and understanding of light and tone, and the story which is both very familiar yet alien at the same time. The mixture of ink wash and digital tones give the art some needed texture and depth and the choice to lay the pages out like an animation storyboard combines well with the feeling of an epic film production.
What I find most interesting about the story is that it can be read as simply an epic tale of samurais and swords but can also be read into for it’s very interesting approach of contrasting feuding families in feudal Japan, with the artists feelings of being ‘Israeli’ and how as result of that the concept to never forget never forgive can feel ingrained some what.
Beard by Pranas T. Naujokaitis, self published
Now I love my fellow hard to pronounce and spell named peeps and I love pretty much everything Pranas T. Naujokaitis produces as his comics tend to feature both witty and charming stories combined with strong line work, but the comics themselves are also just beautiful objects to hold. Beard in particular I love for it’s wrap around silkscreen cover that features a happy bearded man and with a quick flick unhappy non bearded man with the aid of a clever nose slit thus getting across the very simple premise of the comic from the off. In the town of Beardville everyone has a beard, the men, the women, the babies – everyone except poor Gus…at only 16 pages I won’t give anymore of the story away but needless to say it is wonderfully presented and told.
FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Cliodhna: Honestly I can’t, I read a good few books this year but I’m honestly stuck trying to pick out one let alone three that I felt I especially enjoyed. Not saying they all sucked but rather none was more then what I was expecting. I also read a lot of heavy historical biographies in relation to a project I’m working on [see below].
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?
Cliodhna: I felt 2010 was a weak year for film. My favourite film for the year, and again I may be baised being an animator, was How to Train your Dragon. While there were a higher then normal number of big animated feature films released this year I thought How to Train your Dragon was head and shoulders above the rest both in story, design, music, and animation. I was worried Chris Sauders wonderful style of drawing wouldn’t transfer to computer animation but they really came up with a great designs for both the characters and the backgrounds, and the animation is super smooth and has some really great touches, especially with the main dragon, Toothless, and his movements.
Live action wise Bobcat Goldthwait’s Worlds Greatest Dad was a surprise, while a high number of films I had looked forward to ended up being rather average.
Other then that I caught up with a lot of films from 2009 that I missed including the amazing The White Ribbon and A Prophet.
FPI: How did 2010 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
Cliodhna: I didn’t send in a best of year for 2009 because I didn’t think I could answer this question, as I just hadn’t enjoyed creating in 2009 and found myself stuck in a bit of mental rut. I knew I needed to do something to shake myself up so in the first week of 2010 I packed some clothes, my drawing table, and two cats into the car and drove to London. It was a bit of gamble as I left behind work that while not sitmulating was at least paying the bills, I moved to an area I didn’t know into a house we’d booked via the internet having only seen pictures, and of course anyone who recalls the first week of 2010 will remember there was a blizzard which we drove right through. So lots of stuff to go wrong but it’s all turned out ok I must say.
I realized shortly after moving over I already knew loads of truly talented and wonderful comic book folks in London after doing the UK cons for the past few years and as such was able to get involved pretty quickly – submitting work to the recent Whores of Mensa and attending fun comic exhibitions and events like the monthly Comica Social Club and Ladyeez Do Comics.
Early in the year the Secret of Kells, which I was so fortunate to have worked on, was nominated for an Oscar for best Animated Feature and I started working on a new animated tv show called “The 99” based on the muslim superhero comic of the same name which will hopefully be hitting tv screens sometime in 2011. Comics wise I put out some short comics which I actually enjoyed creating something I’d lost in the previous two years and overall I just enjoyed drawing and creating again. So yeah 2010 was a pretty good year overall.
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2011?
Cliodhna: I can only hope 2011 will be half as entertaining as 2010 but I do know I’ll be working on a couple of big projects that most likely won’t see light of day in 2011 sadly, and cutting back majorly on cons to focus on getting new work done. One project is a graphic novel based on my grandfather’s time in the merchant navy which I figure I will spend most of 2011 just researching [I’m a sad nerd for historical accuracy]. It’s a project I’ve hummed and hawed about doing for so long but as he turned 90 in 2010 I figure I need to get moving. I have been and will be posting ideas and concept work and research on my blog here.
(Patrick Lonergan as a young man about to go away to sea – Cliodhna’s grandfather and subject of her graphic novel in progress)
I will be redrawing and expanding my Underground comic from October this year for MoCCA in April and hopefully find the time to fit in some more mini comics.
And speaking of MoCCA myself and the uber talents that are Ellen Linder, Sarah McIntyre and the Eagle Award winning boys from Accent UK will be exhibiting at MoCCA this year in New York. If there are any other UK or Irish comic folk heading to the show [either as punters or exhibitors] please get in touch with one of us as we’re going to do some group promotional stuff hopefully and trying to take on the every growing Scandinavian comics corner they have every year. Figure with the royal wedding in April it’s a good time to explot the American obession with the royal family and get them buying some UK comics.
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
Cliodhna: Dear Patagonia which features artwork by the simply amazing Jorge Gonzàlez. According to the blog for the protect it was to be finished at the end of this year but I’m not sure if it has as the site is in Spanish and my Spanish is…well…I have no Spanish so I’m guessing and using dodgy Bablefish translations. I’m hoping it will be finished and for sale somewhere in frankly any language – I don’t care as I just want it for Gonzalez’s amazing art work [though an English edition of it and his amazing Bandoneon would be nice]
(some lovely artwork from Dear Patagonia by and (c) Jorge Gonzàlez)