Best of the Year 2012: Chris Ryall

Published On December 4, 2012 | By Joe Gordon | Best of the Year 2012, Comics

Day four of our now traditional annual guest series of Best of the Year posts (for those of you new to the blog, each December in addition to our own selection we ask a series of writers, editors, artists and others to pick their faves from the year and run them each day through December). Hopefully you’ve been enjoying the first few posts for this year (from Matt Badham, Martin Conaghan and Brendan McCarthy – you can see them here) which kicked off over the weekend. Today we carry on with  writer, publisher, huge Dredd fan and Grande Fromage at IDW, Chris Ryall:

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?

Chris:  Saga – not an original pick, I know. I mean, it’s not like Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ book flew under anyone’s radar. But it shouldn’t, either—it’s that good. A stunning, touching, brilliantly envisioned world they’ve created.

The Judas Coin: Walter Simonson’s decades-spanning standalone graphic novel from DC. Walter not only hasn’t lost a step since his great runs in the ‘80s, he just might’ve added a few more. The book is gorgeous, and colourist Lovern Kindzierski did an amazing job on his stuff.

Mark Waid’s Daredevil and The Rocketeer: Daredevil has won enough awards and applause already, I know, but like Saga, it’s deserved. The shadow of Frank Miller still looms so large on that title that it even persisted through long, impressive and dour runs by Bendis and Brubaker. So it took a left turn like Waid gave it to really get people to see the book in a new light. And Waid and Samnee doing the Rocketeer worked just as well for me.

Honourable mentions: it’s hard not to name a dozen or more IDW titles here, but other than the Rocketeer mention, I’ll resist that. Too hard not to be biased, but I’m damned proud of what we did this year. For that reason, I won’t single out Duane Swierczynski’s Judge Dredd and Godzilla, although both are just great, exactly the kind of books I want to be doing with those properties. So instead, I’ll mention Swierczynski’s Bloodshot, another title that very much plays into Duane’s many strengths. I was never a Valiant guy before, and I don’t really follow the titles now, either, but this one, I’m with it as long as Duane is. I love that he’s finally getting some comics gigs that really hit his skillset so directly.

Bulding Stories by Chris Ware: Good God, it’s a masterpiece. What else can anyone say about it? It should make the rest of the industry want to try harder.

FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?

Chris:  This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz: some reviews said this book was somehow “lesser” than his Pulitzer Prize-winner, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, but just because it’s filled with inter-connected short stories doesn’t make it any less wonderful. Diaz’s dialogue, ability to bring to life a world that is entirely foreign and entirely relatable, and filled with some of the best dialogue and most interesting characters you’ll ever read about even if you don’t like ‘em all is a bried and wondrous read all its own.

Supergods by Grant Morrison and Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe. I’m biased since these books cover so many comics I grew up with and loved, but I so enjoy reading, first, Grant Morrison’s take on anything, and second, the behind-the-scenes machinations of Marvel Comics, especially during the Shooter years I grew up with.

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon. If you write about comics, or music, you’ve pretty much got me pre-sold already.

And I know I’m only supposed to single out three books, but Christopher Moore’s Sacre Bleu was another fun twisted history lesson from the funny, smart Moore.

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?

Chris: Dexter: the show is wildly hit and miss, and the inconsistencies have only grown as the show has aged, but after two seasons that did their best to drive me away—the last two—it’s nice to see them get back on track this year. It still hasn’t quite reached the heights of the first three seasons but at least it’s once again aspiring to get there again.

Mad Men: Did this one air in 2012? I think it did, but the time lags between seasons make it hard to keep track of. Whenever it does air, it’s my favourite thing to watch. I came from an advertising background so it works for me on a few levels, and the show has remained largely the singular vision of its creator, which is always nice to see.

The Avengers: It’s funny, I don’t actually care to watch this one multiple times—there aren’t many comic book movies, even if I like them, that reward you on multiple viewings and I don’t know that this one would, either. But just the sheer joy this lifelong comics fan felt when I saw the Avengers appear on-screen is hard to match. And add to this one a mostly fun Amazing Spider-Man, a really well-done Dredd, and a not-great-but-still-enjoyable (once) Batman finale and we had a pretty solid year of comic-book movies. Although I’d still rather watch Scott Pilgrim again instead of any of these.

Amped by Daniel Wilson: The book isn’t like to sink in deep once you read it but Daniel Wilson once again merges smart near-science and actual science with page-turning storytelling. Between this and his earlier Robopocalypse, Wilson is someone I expect to be reading with the same fervor that younger Chris used to greet a new Chricton book.

FPI: How did 2012 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?

Chris:  I am—in fact, the year is ending nicely, with Sam Kieth and my project The Hollows, launching in December to much better pre-orders than we prognosticated. I managed to write more comics this year than any other, too, sometimes averaging three scripts a month on top of the IDW day job. Which means 2013 would be a good time to catch up on sleep, but I know that ain’t likely to happen. In addition to other things like Kiss and the Mars Attacks IDW issues, I got to just recently write dialogue for one of my all-time favourite comic characters in a still-unannounced project.

FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2013?

Chris: January sees the release of our big Mars Attacks IDW 5-week event, and I’m writing two of those issues, Mars Attacks Kiss and Mars Attacks Zombies vs Robots. The Kiss issue was a special kind of blast, since I took the story from the 1970s Kiss comic and did a sort of “what if?” riff on it, only this time bringing in Mars Attacks Martians. It’s one of the crazier things I’ve done, and the art was just nailed by Alan Robinson, who also had to bring my lunacy to life in our earlier Weekly World News series.

The Mars Attacks ZvR issue, I got to work with Andy Kuhn, which is always a blast.

In the spring, I’m launching a creator-owned book with artist Drew Moss called The Colonized, a sort of “zombies and aliens and milita men” series that features a logo design and covers by… Dave Sim. Which still feels crazy to even type, but it’s true.

I’m doing a couple new Kiss issues in the spring, too, solo issues with artists Angel Medina and Alan Robinson again.

And finally, Sam Kieth and I are planning out a couple of other things for next year, too. We had a blast on The Hollows and I’m happy to continue that partnership into ’13 and beyond.

And oh, when I can announce this “secret thing”…

FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?

Chris: James Stokoe – James isn’t unknown by any means: his Orc Stain book for Image gets all kinds of deserved attention, and his Godzilla: Half-Century War is an amazing detailed and gorgeous war comic with giant monsters, and a huge tour de force for James, who’s handling the writing, art, colours, and lettering on it.

Langdon Foss: Langdon’s Get Jiro graphic novel really got him noticed this year, but I’ve been in awe of the gorgeous, hyper-detailed work that Langdon has done for a while now. Before his “major label debut,” if you will. His work, like James’, rewards patient viewing, and you pick up some fun and different details each time you look at his pages.

Zach Howard: Zach knows, and I want the world to know, that I think he is one of the top two or three artists working in this business today, bar none. His craftsmanship, his attention to detail, his care and passion for his work, and his staggering talent has been on display for years but I really think it’ll be his creator-owned book, Wild Blue Yonder, in 2013, that leaves a lasting impression. He blows the doors off everything he touches and this book is going to reach new heights. Working with one of the best colourists I’ve seen in years and a damned fine artist in his own right, Nelson Daniel, WBY is one of the things I can’t wait to see next year, and to re-read for years to come.

Andy Price: Andy’s work on My Little Pony deserves every bit of the impressive orders that issue 1 has received, and I think the cult of Andy, especially alongside the immensely talented Katie Cook, is only going to grow by leaps and bounds with each issue. He packs every page full of clever pop-culture nods, ample details, and does it all with a style that appeals to my 6-year-old daughter as well as to me. When you can impress different generations like Andy’s doing here, you’re onto something special.

The Ghostbusters team of Erik Burnham, Dan Schoening, and Luis Antonio Delgado. Again, not a new team, since they’ve been delivering great Ghostbusters comics since the series started over a year ago. But, much like with My Little Pony, they do things with a licensed title that transcends what you think of from a licensed book. And much like with MLP, they pack each issue with nods to fans, fun details for anyone, and a spirit of enthusiasm that could never be contained in a Proton Pack.

The Writer/Editor: You realize I could go on all day about good talent in this business, new and old, but instead of rambling on endlessly, I’ll first apologize to anyone I didn’t mention here—I love you all—but I wanted to single out the IDW editors who also write, because in addition to the yeomen’s work they do all day producing comics for IDW, they do just as good a job steering books with their writing acumen. Tom Waltz on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Kiss, and many other titles; John Barber on Transformers: Robots in Disguise; and Bobby Curnow on Night of 1,000 Wolves and Battle Beasts – these are among some of the best books we published this year, and they’re all homegrown. Very happy to see them contribute to these titles in such well-received and well-written ways.

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About The Author

Joe Gordon
Joe Gordon is ForbiddenPlanet.co.uk's chief blogger, which he set up in 2005. Previously, he was professional bookseller for over 12 years as well as a lifelong reader and reviewer, especially of comics and science fiction works.

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