Best Of Year – Richard’s Propaganda List 2011

Published On January 11, 2012 | By Richard Bruton | Best of the Year 2011, Comics, Reviews

Here we go, late as usual, what I reckoned were the best ten comics published in 2011.

And hell, it was a good, good year. There have been far, far, far too many comics released this year that I really wanted to read, and sadly some of the ones I’ve bought for myself, desperate to get around to, and possibly ones that would have made it to this list, have remained unread. I reckon Mark Kalesniko’s Freeway and Howard Cruse’s Complete Wendel would have been on here – if only there were 28 hours in the day eh?

I even managed to read some comics (those floppy things) from the big two this year – I’ve no idea if the new 52 will provide the long-term boost to DC that they obviously hope, but the actual quality of some of the books really surprised me, with quite a few passing muster for second and third issue reads, and there will be several amongst them that I’ll be waiting for the trade – OMAC, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Batwoman and maybe a few more. On the Marvel side, the new Ultimate line was particularly strong in the early issues, but the absolute stand-out of all the new big two comics I picked up has to be the new Daredevil – which so nearly made it onto the ten.

Yet again, 2011 was an incredibly strong year for Britain, with the work laying foundations for the new Brit scene in 2009 and 2010 really paying off. Companies such as Nobrow, SelfMadeHero, Blank Slate, Knockabout, Fanfare/Ponent Mon, Cinebook continued to produce a strong, diverse line of great books whilst the UK’s thriving self-publishing scene grows ever stronger and professional every year I do this.

Okay, enough. Here you go…. my ten best of 2011…….

The Absence #3 (& collection) by Martin Stiff (self published)

Frustratingly, Stiff only managed one issue of his breathtakingly good comic this year. But I forgive him, as it was simply wonderful. And the collection of issues 1-3 gave me chance to delight in the brilliance of it all over again. I said with issue 3’s review that this was “absolutely making it onto the best of 2011 list” and I’m true to my word.

“Issue 3 takes everything that was brilliant in issues 1 & 2 and just keeps on going. The whole thing starts wonderfully and, through the pages, builds and builds on what has gone before, ramping up the tension and mystery all the way through until we get to the ending – which, as the lead character Marwood promised is truly “something extra-ordinary”.”

The Bossby John Aggs and Patrice Aggs (DFC Library)

A brilliant, perfect all-ages thriller from the DFC.

“It’s a bit Blyton Secret Seven, a bit Three Investigators, and it’s got the thrills of a Bourne film (albeit with a lot less violence). This is a brilliant, brilliant intelligent thriller of a comic.”

Cindy & Biscuit – Dan White (self published)

Reviewed back in May, but even then, I had it marked down for this list.

“Three stories, three absolute little crackers. Brilliance, beautiful, sweet, wonderful, yet slightly tragic.”

“….each and every time of the multiple readings so far – it fills my heart with simple joy and then breaks it apart. It’s a lovely little comic, a wonderful new discovery and something I’ll cherish. I think you should as well.”

Don Quixote by Rob Davis (SelfMadeHero)

A magnificent adaptation of the visionary romantic quest, as Davis went all out to deliver perfection in the writing and especially his gorgeous full-colour artwork. And it allowed me to lead a review with a Nik Kershaw lyric.

“Don Quixote and Sancho Panza – the original double act – Morecombe & Wise, Abbott & Costello, Laurel & Hardy, just 300+ years prior. Yet just as funny, maybe moreso. Not in the slapstick, but in the clever, ridiculous wit that pervades Cervantes’ original, and is ever-present in Davis’ cultured remake. But again, don’t let the “cultured” bit fool you – Don Quixote is a comedy, pure and simple, and Davis’ adaptation brings all that out.”

Feynman by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick (First Second)

Genius. Brilliance. Feynman. That was the title of the review of this one. And it applies to both the man and the graphic novel.

“I love it. But I knew I would. I have Feynman’s books on my shelf, Feynman biographys alongside those. All a Feynman graphic novel biography had to do to make it great in my eyes was to simple tell Feynman’s story, capturing all the genius, the invention, the spirit of the man.

It most definitely does.”

Hitsville UK #1 by John Riordan and Dan Cox (self published)

A surprise when I read it, but no surprise to see it make the best of the year. Starts slow, but within just a few pages it grabs, delights, and never lets go.

“Page 8 is the bit of the tune where the drums kick in and the world goes away and all that matters is the experience, and everything suddenly goes a bit wonderfully magical, transfixing and amazing you all the way through to the end.

And yes, that’s just what Hitsville UK made me feel.”

Long John Silver by Xavier Dorison and Mathieu Lauffray (Cinebook)

This would have made it onto the best of 2010, except Volume 1 came at the end of the year and I didn’t review it until the start of 2011. Since then Volumes 2 & 3 have been released, and they all feature brilliance in writing and art. Part potboiler adventure, part mystery, part psychological character piece. My only problem – the long wait for the concluding Volume 4.

In fact, I almost had to put this in here….

“There’s a quote on the back of this from me that’s so true….. “practically nailed on to the best of 2011 list already“. And Volume 3 merely reinforces that verdict. This is everything I was hoping it would be, a  perfect continuation of the saga.”

Nelson by a veritable who’s who in UK comics, co-edited by Rob Davis and Woodrow Phoenix (Blank Slate Books)

A single story anthology, building a life in an unusual fashion, 54 artists creating one life; heartfelt, moving, and real.

“Nelson succeeds not because it brilliantly serves up lashings of nostalgia for the last 40 years, not because it creates rounded, interesting, and recognisable characters, not because the lives these characters lead in the 44 years of the story are absolutely involving, passionate, rewarding, emotional, poignant and heartfelt. No, it succeeds because it feels completely, absolutely, utterly REAL.”

Summit Of The Gods Volume 2 by Yumemakura Baku and Jirô Taniguchi (Fanfare / Ponent Mon)

As with The Absence, I nearly didn’t put it on here, simply because it was in last year’s list. But then just thinking about it I could remember the thrill of reading it, and I knew it had to be here.

“Within just a few pages, Summit Volume 2 delivered everything that had made Volume 1 a best of year book and simply eclipsed it. Epic simply isn’t descriptive enough for the feeling you get turning each page, in the grip of an excitement, transported to the utter wilderness of the mountains, sharing in the experiences of these climbers.

The first 112 pages are possibly the finest, most thrilling work of comics I may have seen, dealing with climber Jouji Habu attempting a solo winter climb of the Grandes Jorasses of the Mont Blanc range. It is simply incredible work.”

Tuk Tuk #1 by Will Kirkby

Kirkby’s “Only Fools And Horses in a fantasy setting” description, coupled with some truly sumptuous and fun artwork had me before I even got hold of this one. But once read, I was utterly convinced.

“Tuk Tuk Issue 1 is quite simply brilliant, where the rush and the fun of a great concept, beautifully produced page after beautifully produced page more than made up for it’s few shortcomings. The gags are genuinely funny, it’s clever, it’s cool, it’s very, very good.”

Okay, that’s the ten. And oh, heavens that was tough. Getting it to a top 20 was alright, but narrowing that down to a top 10 was like pulling teeth.

There you go, 2011 over and done with. A great year. Here’s to an even better 2012.

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About The Author

Richard Bruton

– Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he’s written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard’s day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children’s graphic novel library in the country.

7 Responses to Best Of Year – Richard’s Propaganda List 2011

  1. Norman says:

    OK Richard, it’s your heavy responsibility to get this right, as most of what I purchased last year was on your say so. I bought all three separate issues of The Absence and loved the weird stuff going on. Can’t wait for the next issue – keep us informed. And Nelson (was the hyphen deliberate in the cover?) was breathtaking. The art was so varied and proved how rich and diverse our talented people are and the story hung together beautifully – not least for an anthology. I think this year I’ll have to dip my toe into the Cinebooks waters again as I love the alternate style of writing in these
    Thanks again for all your hard work

  2. Richard says:

    Oh, bless you. That’s really nice of you to say so.

    I promise to increase the frequency of pestering Martin Stiff about the next issue.
    As for the hyphen…. I always reckoned yes, deliberate, subtly pointing out both sides of the twins.

  3. Martin Stiff says:

    Thanks so much, Richard – that’s really kind. And yes, the next issue is nearly there. It’s a mammoth 56 pages long which is one reason why it’s taking an age to finish!

  4. Reuben says:

    “As for the hyphen…. I always reckoned yes, deliberate, subtly pointing out both sides of the twins.”
    That never occurred to me. Just adds to the brilliance of the whole package.

  5. Reuben says:

    Don’t think anyone else has mentioned this in their things to look forward to in 2012, but the return of HARKER this year would be nice. I think it’s supposed to happen just hope it does.

    • Richard says:

      Yes, that would be nice. Last I heard, it was a case of waiting for movement on a possible publishing deal to reprint Harker in colour, and then carry on with new stories.
      I do have a big “Coming in 2012” article that I really must get around to finishing off.

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