Best of the Year – Gary Northfield

Published On January 4, 2012 | By Joe Gordon | Best of the Year 2011, Books, Comics, Film TV & Theatre

Today’s guest Best of the Year selection comes from one of those fine, if barking mad, Fleece Station studio people, it’s Gary Northfield:

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?

Gary: 1) Tank Tankuro by Gajo Sakamoto from Press Pop I’m really enjoying the current wave of old comic strip reprints, including the gorgeous and rightly highly praised Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck books from Fantagraphics and the amazing Moomin comic strips from Drawn and Quarterly. Flying under the radar came the beautiful reprint of impossible to get hold of pre-war strips from Gajo Sakamoto. With a cover designed by Chris Ware, these very surreal, but still quite simplistic strips about a superhero machine-thing amble from one bizarre scenario to the next (Octopus cannonball attack!), as if written at breakneck speed by an excitable 8 year old. Just the sort of stories I love, in fact!

2) Pinocchio by Winshluss published by Knockabout I came across Winshluss’ work a few years ago when he was involved in the crazy concept of the multi-stylistic, era-spanning Monsieur Ferraille and the mind-boggling exhibition that went along with it in Angouleme. Pinocchio was being serialised in the French anthology magazine “Ferraille Illustre” and I was very excited when I found out Knockabout were bringing out a translated edition of the collection. Winshluss’ dark, surreal retelling of the story is beautifully loose and steeped in old-school cartooning aesthetics. Very inspiring.

3) Le Trop Grand Vide d’Alphonse Tabrouret by Sibylline, Capucine and Jerome d’Aviau from Etincelle I spotted this book mentioned on your blog last year (see here) and endeavoured to pick it up from my trip to Angouleme this January. it took me a while to track it down, but boy I’m glad I did. I confess, my French is weak at best, but the deceptively simple drawings are so packed with charm, emotion and character that I treasure this book more than most. Someone translate it into English please!

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

Gary: 1) I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen (Walker Books)

Simplicity is the key when it comes to great storytelling and I don’t think I’ve ever read anything simpler that leaves you laughing so much at the blank expressions of the bear who wants to find his hat. It’s a perfectly told story that you will read in less than three minutes, yet be glad you spent £12 on.

2) A Bit Lost by Chris Haughton(Walker Books)

Not too dissimilar to I want My Hat Back, A Bit Lost is about a baby owl looking for his mum. It’ll break your heart and make you laugh, and again it’s a story told in less than 5 minutes. But the artwork is stunningly designed and the story so beautifully rolled out, it’s another book to treasure and show off to friends.

3) Stitch London by Lauren O’Farrell (David & Charles)

(Full disclosure – Lauren is my studiomate and my girlfriend. So sue me 😛 ) Lauren loves making quirky little knitted creatures, often for the cause of knitted graffiti (see her OTHER book Knit The City) and when offered the chance to create a whole book of knitting patterns she grabbed the opportunity with two hands and after months of hard graft, presented to the world a book full of her crazy creations, including Cooey the pigeon, Fleabag the fox, Toerag the tube mouse and even the Queen (and Big Ben!) for everyone to knit. Totally nutty.

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?

Gary: 1) Game of Thrones – I don’t watch much telly, but Game of Thrones had me totally glued and and counting down the minutes till the next episode. so many interweaving stories, so many complete bastards! loved it.

2) Thor – I loved Thor, I genuinely thought it was rollicking fun. Chris Hemsworth was a jovial version of the grim comicbook character and it was visually stunning. Everyone keeps telling me it was boring and Captain America was better, but we must have watched different films; Captain America was as flat as a pancake.

3) West Side Story (Remastered) – Watched this at the BFI over the summer and the remastered print was probably as bold and fresh as the day it was released. I totally forgot how sad the end was though. :,(

FPI: How did 2011 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?

Gary: Derek the Sheep finished his popular run in the Beano. But this gave me time to work on my new 70 page dinosaur book for Walker Children’s books. I dove headfirst into the project, to prove to myself, if nothing else, that I was still capable of producing good, funny stories for children. It’s quite a different approach to my usual comics and I reckon it will surprise a lot of people. You’ll have to wait till 2013 before it turns up though.

FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2012?

Gary: I’m still writing and drawing comic strips for National Geographic Kids every month, so fingers crossed I’ll keep on doing that. I’m also writing and drawing a new strip for The Phoenix Comic, coming out in January, called Gary’s Garden. I’m having great fun working on this strip too and from what I’ve seen in issue 0, I reckon The Phoenix is going to make quite a splash. It’s also been fantastic to play a part in two brilliant anthologies this year; Nelson from Blank Slate and Jim Medway’s online Comical Animal. Two cracking projects that were desperate to show off to the world the amazing cartooning pedigree we have in this country and did so with aplomb!

(Panels from Gary’s Einstein strip for National Geographic)

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

Gary: I’m hoping Warwick Cadwell’s Gungle finally turns up next year from Blank Slate. That guy is a wizard with a pencil and the pages that have previewed so far are stunning. Also Will Morris, who is bringing out out a book from Blank Slate. Boy, can he draw too!

(some beautiful artwork from the forthcoming Blank Slate release The Silver Darlings by and (c) Will Morris)

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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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