Best Of The Year 2013 – Nick Abadzis
December means it’s Best Of The Year time at the FPI Blog. But it’s best of the year with a difference. We’ll tell you ours later in the month, but before then we present a month long celebration of all the things enjoyed by a host of guests; writers, artists, comic makers.. we’ve got them all! (follow this link to see all the posts from this year’s BoY so far).
Today it’s the turn of Nick Abadzis, author of one of my favourite pieces of comics work, the brilliant and wonderful Hugo Tate. Not only that, but he’s also responsible for the excellent tale of the first dog in space, Laika, as well. More recently we’ve seen his work in The Phoenix and The Guardian, and next year we’ll have the delight of seeing his art on a SelfMadeHero book, written by the French writer David Camus, The Cigar That Fell In Love With a Pipe.
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?
I have a pile of graphic novels and comics that I need to read. Most of my reading this year has been research for various projects, but of the comics I did get around to reading, these ones really stayed in the mind:
FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
The Wheel of Ice by Stephen Baxter (BBC/Penguin USA)
SF’s greatest writer does the second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe. What else do you need to know?
Kurt Vonnegut – The Last Interview and Other Conversations edited by Tom McCartan (Melville House)
Pretty self-explanatory. There are some people whose wisdom, humour and insight into the human condition and general contribution to civilization should give them special dispensation to live two hundred years with full health benefits – Vonnegut was one we lost and it shouldn’t have happened. Who do I complain to?
The Music of James Bond by John Burlingame (OUP)
I think John Barry had as much to do with the direction of 20th century popular music as The Beatles. I read this well-researched book in tandem with Eddi Fiegel’s reissued bio of Barry, A Sixties Theme, which is as entertaining as it is informative. Both of them pretty much bear that idea out.
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?
Two TV moments, each not longer than a few minutes, really caught my imagination this year. The first that blew me away and made me incredibly happy was the Doctor Who minisode Night of the Doctor that preceded the 50th anniversary special. My friend Glenn Dakin sent me an email, ‘HAVE YOU SEEN THE MINISODE?” because I’ve been boring him for years on the subject of what a fantastic Doctor Paul McGann was and is. McGann, of all the actors to play the part, was the one who never got a fair shake, a chance to prove how bloody wonderful he would be in the role if we’d got to see him in more than one badly-scripted TV movie.
True, he’s done many, many radio plays as the eighth Doctor, but, however wonderful those are, it isn’t quite the same as seeing him on telly again. And, suddenly, he was back. Paul McGann was the Doctor again. He was incandescent – he hasn’t been seen onscreen in the part since 1996 and he just OWNED it like he’d always been there. What charisma, what gravitas. Magnificent.
And then, in Day of the Doctor, we got a few moments of Tom Baker too. Tom Baker, also back for just a few short instants, proves that there are such things as Lords of Time, no matter how linear our perception. He was, is, and will remain my greatest fictional hero. Not just for being the Doctor, but for being Tom Baker, both real human being and construct of his own enormous imagination. He is an (inter)national institution and it was glorious to see him back on the TV programme that gave him to us.
Otherwise, HBO continue to supply the best ongoing stories in the shape of Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones. At the movies, I did greatly enjoy Gravity, too.
FPI: How did 2013 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
I worked on two children’s GNs – the second book of Cora’s Breakfast (for The Phoenix), which I’m hoping to see collected when it’s finished and a new script for First Second. I can’t really talk about that one much yet, but it’s in the vein of Cora, Mr Pleebus and all my previous children’s graphic novels, except this one won’t be drawn by me. I’m extremely excited about the artist I’m working with – I think he is incredible. I always have various other irons in the fire beyond those mentioned, but I’d better just shut up and finish them.
I also completed a collaboration with the French writer David Camus on a graphic novel called The Cigar That Fell In Love With a Pipe. All this and various illustration, editorial and corporate jobs undertaken so as to stay alive… And yet,
I never feel like I get enough done.
(Gorgeous looking Abadzis artwork from The Cigar That Fell In Love With a Pipe)
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2014?
The Cigar That Fell In Love With a Pipe will be out from Self-Made Hero on both sides of the Atlantic in Spring – April in the USA and May for the UK. It is a romantic fantasy that takes in both the golden age of Hollywood and the less glamorous life of a Cuban cigar roller in the early 20th century. There is a blog dedicated to its making, which will continue to be updated as the book nears publication: http://cigarlovespipe.tumblr.com/
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
Gregory Benton. He’s been around for a long while, but he’s resurfaced and this year his B+F won the MoCCA award of excellence and rightly so.
T. Edward Bak also put out the first part of his bio of Georg Wilhelm Steller, Wild Man – Island of Memory. It’s beautiful and I hope to see further chapters soon.
Wallis Eates: she does extraordinary things with memories.
Rachael Ball is back. You don’t know who she is? Shame on you. Google her and read The Inflatable Woman. I am waiting with baited breath to see this masterpiece of the humorously bizarre collected.