Best Of The Year 2013: Owen Michael Johnson
Every December the FPI blog invites the great and the good from the wider community of comics to contribute what they consider to be their best of the year (see here for the guest BoY 2013 posts so far).
Today we have Owen Michael Johnson, writer and editor, responsible for coordinating Who On Earth Is Thaddeus Mist? for Accent UK (see here at the FPI Blog for his director’s commentary). More recently he released, with artist Indio, the psychedelic pop madness that was Raygun Roads & The Infinity Loop Death-Trap of Ullysses Pomp. (Owen talked about it here and there’s a full review here). Suffice to say, it’s bloody good, a visual treat, a conundrum, a pop song spun forwards and backwards, the essence of psychedelic craziness spun out onto the comic page.
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?
ZERO – by Ales Kot & Various – I was excited for this since it was announced last year. A fascinating experiment both laser-precise and improvisational (thanks to the rotating roster of artists with scripts tailored to their strengths). An intoxicating examination of systems and violence.
Axolotl – Jack Fallows – A late entry (picked up at Thought Bubble) that slapped me in the face. Brilliantly executed. Soul-crushingly candid and heaped with self-loathing. It’s a brave book. When I finished it I brashly exclaimed Fallows as the new Robert Crumb. I was only partly joking.
Dangerine issue 2 by James Lawrence – finest amalgam of Green Lantern mythos, nerd fusion, and the hand-drawn pixel since Bryan Lee O’Malley. Plus his fight scene layouts! Oh god, they were something else. The most fun I’ve had reading a superhero comic in a couple of years.
Honourable mention Battling Boy – by Paul Pope – Seemingly effortless blend of Euro-comics, Jack Kirby, Joseph Campbell and Kaiju movies. The only misstep was to suffocate the flawless expressive art by cramming it into a digest format.
Relocating to London during the summer annihilated any prospective novel reading I had planned. Ashamed to have read so little but there were gems here and there.
Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life Of Alan Moore – Lance Parkin – An admirably balanced biography. Wide-ranging and level-headed, and keen to avoid the temptation to neither demonise nor deify its subject.
A Heart So White – Javier Marias – A recommendation from (inker) Guillermo Ortego in my first few weeks in London, thus encapsulating the last 6 months. Memory, opportunity, and time, shuffled and examined.
The Once and Future King – T.H. White – King Arthur, the early years. I’m currently reading this for the first time. Merlyn is sublime: experiencing time back-wards; constantly wearing clothes that would not be fashionable for centuries; predicting Wart’s decisions. A vast and imaginative adventure story.
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?
Django Unchained – Quentin Tarantino – I love every frame of this movie. Excruciating and thrilling. The dialogue, as always, is perfect. Waltz and DiCaprio were on fire.
The Lone Ranger – Gore Verbinski – I think I’m alone in championing this wonderful surprise prematurely butchered by critics and lazy marketing. Full of bravado and bonkers as a bag of frogs. Johnny Depp’s best since Dead Man.
Before Midnight – Richard Linklater – Having remained ignorant to the entire ‘Before’ trilogy, I took a punt on a recommendation from (Pop Culture Hound podcaster) Chris Thompson and went to see all three in one evening at the Prince Charles Cinema Leicester Square. It was a profoundly intense and intimate experience, and one of my favourites in a theatre.
FPI: How did 2013 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
Very happy. The reception Raygun Roads received quite surprised me. It gave me a great deal of confidence in myself and the UK comics community. Meeting so many talented folk this year has been a blessing. I feel part of a wonderful movement.
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2014?
I’m releasing a comic with Dogooder Comics (responsible for the all-ages hit of 2013 Dungeon Fun). It got side-lined in all the chaos that was promoting and releasing Raygun Roads. The new thing’s taking a lot of time because I’m super-critical of my own art.
I’m also working on a new mini-series with Mark Penman which looks utterly gorgeous, because Mark is drawing it. And I have a few other projects on the boil in the background.
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
Writer P M Buchan. His Starburst strips impressed me, his Blackout anthologies appalled me, and his work in progress sickened me with jealousy. It will blow everyone away. Bucky’s propelling himself forward with uncompromising vision and a rock-solid work ethic.
(Art from PM Buchan’ and Martin Simmonds’ All Roads Lead To Hell)