Best of the Year – Joel Meadows

Published On January 6, 2012 | By Joe Gordon | Best of the Year 2011, Books, Comics

Today’s guest Best of the Year post comes from writer, comics champion and photographer, Tripwire supremo Joel Meadows:

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?

JM: First of my choices is Joe The Barbarian by Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy. Despite years in the industry, Morrison can still surprise you with his personal work. Unlike some of his contemporaries, what marks him out as a great writer is the fact that the best of his output has real heart and passion to it. Joe The Barbarian is helped by the fact that artist Murphy is one of the best artists to rise to prominence in the past five years in American comics. Every page drips with atmosphere and he is the perfect counterpoint to Morrison’s clever script. Despite DC’s recent treatment of Vertigo (shifting a number of its characters back to the main DC Universe and cutting back its line), it’s good to see that this series got its own slightly oversized hardcover. A brilliant modern-day fantasy series with some intelligent touches, it’s highly recommended…

My second choice is not a book that came out in 2011 but I hope you’ll let me have it. Criminal is a comic that shows why Ed Brubaker is probably the best and most consistent mainstream comic writer of the last ten years. The hardcover that reprints Volume 1 1-10 and Volume 2 1-3 is a monstrously lavish affair, showing off Sean Phlllips’s simple but brilliant art to magnificent effect. Brubaker really understands noir and Criminal is a fantastic series. It was great to hear that it’s been optioned but let’s hope that it’s treated with some respect and the flavour of the comic remains when it’s transferred to the big screen. Criminal channels Chandler, Hammett and Spillane but Brubaker has an obvious love and affection for the comic form which shines through…

The third choice is Hellboy: The Fury by Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo. The third Hellboy series by the pair of creators, they end the story with a real bang and Fegredo takes some chances artistically. His art on The Fury pays homage to Mignola but takes things in a different direction. All three of Mignola and Fegredo’s Hellboy stories have captured all that is best about the character and The Fury sets up Mignola’s return to drawing the character again. He continues to express his deep interest in folklore in a fun and accessible fashion and Fegredo is doing some of the best work of his career…

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

JM: Christopher Fowler is an author who has always delivered likeable, enjoyable prose and Bryant & May and The Memory of Blood, the ninth book featuring his pensioner detectives, doesn’t disappoint. He makes good writing seem easy while packing a lot into a single novel. He has a great ear for amusing dialogue that still moves the plot along and a knack for credible characters. He doesn’t get the attention he should even though he is a prolific writer of entertaining crime novels…

Another book that I read this year that I would pick out, even though it wasn’t published this year, is Erik Larson‘s Devil In the White City. He tells two connected tales, one of the building of the World’s Fair in Chicago in the Thirties and the other of a serial killer who uses the mayhem and chaos of that event to murder his victims, but does so with rare style and panache. It is a fairly dense book but you are carried along by the skill in which he tells his stories. Along with Glen David Gold and Michael Chabon, Larson is probably one of the best writers in this particular field of fictionalised history…

My last choice is Lee Child‘s The Affair, the latest of his Jack Reacher novels. Child has gone back to when the character was a military policeman, investigating the murders of four women in a town in Mississippi in 1997. He has a very smooth way with prose, he moves the action along at a decent pace and Reacher is a well-rounded action hero albeit rather damaged. Child writes very readable books…

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?

JM: 2011 has been another great year for television. I picked it last year but I have to pick it again this year because the second series has been even better than the first and that’s HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, showing in the UK on Sky Atlantic. Steve Buscemi as gangster Nucky Thompson is brilliant and the rest of the cast are also magnificent especially Michael Pitt as Jimmy Darmody, with the interplay between the two characters at the heart of the second season. Boardwalk Empire shows why TV continues to steal a march on cinema these days…

My second choice is Showtime’s Homeland, an intelligent and well-made drama about a Us Marine (Nicholas Broady, played by Damian Lewis) who has returned from Iraq. But has he been turned to act as an agent of Al Qaeda? Claire Danes is excellent as manic CIA agent Carrie Matheson as is Lewis himself. Based on an Israeli TV miniseries, Homeland is compulsive viewing and it will be intriguing to see where they go with a second season.

My film choice for 2011 is Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows. With this second outing for Guy Ritchie’s retooled and revamped iconic detective, the director has shown that there is real chemistry between Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law as Holmes and Watson. And with the introduction of Jared Harris as Moriarty, Ritchie has made a pulp adventure story with a true sense of fun at its heart. It proves that, given the right material and the correct cast, the director is actually very talented.

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

We did get another Tripwire print issue out in 2011, so I am glad we did. But it’s very hard out there especially in terms of advertising so it was a harder issue than 2010’s. But at least we got back into Diamond for the first time since our Superhero Special in 2009. It was good to get issues out digitally of TRIPWIRE as well. Personally speaking, I continued with my photography and that has born fruit for 2012, and I did some work on my detective novel. I also continued to freelance for places like the Judge Dredd Megazine and Big Issue in The North, so that was also good news.

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

TRIPWIRE celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2012 so there’ll be an anniversary book later in the summer, which will hopefully top the 10th anniversary book we put out in 2002. We are also planning a TRIPWIRE 20th evening at Gosh later in the summer with guests like Michael Moorcock and Mike Carey, plus we’ll be kicking off things at Bristol in May with a 20th anniversary print and a panel there. Speaking of Gosh, the shop will also be putting on an exhibition of my comic creator portrait photos from March 9th for three weeks, which is very exciting and feels a little bit weird (check out some of Joels’ excellent photos on his Flickr stream here – Joe). If all goes to plan, we’ll be launching TRIPWIRE as an app at the end of February after our experiment with digital publishing this year.

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

JM: I think Sean Murphy will continue to be a name to watch in comics and Kody Chamberlain, whose Sweets made quite an impact at Image last year, will build on his strengths. With Jack Reacher on the big screen via Tom Cruise (slight groan), I think Lee Child will become more visible. Director Gareth Edwards (Monsters) will move up the Hollywood food chain as will Kill List’s Ben Wheatley. This continues to be the toughest question to answer here as there are a load of people worth watching who work in film, TV, genre, animation and comics.

(page from Sweet #1 by and (c) Kody Chamberlain, published Image Comics)

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About The Author

Joe Gordon
Joe Gordon is'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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