Best of 2013 – Wim’s own selection

Published On January 8, 2014 | By Wim | Best of the Year 2013, Comics, Continental Correspondent

Well, with all this looking back we’ve had these last few weeks (see here for our extensive guest Best of the Year 2013 series), I thought you’d be interested in knowing what I’ll be dragging along with me well into the new year. ┬áHere goes :

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?

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I’m loving what Dylan Horrocks is doing with his ongoing (web) comic, Sam Zabel And The Magic Pen. Slowly but surely this is growing into a sequel that may well surpass the original Hicksville graphic novel in how it takes the idea that comics are the quintessence of human culture to the max.

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I was gobsmacked by the new graphic novel by Winshluss, In God We Trust, which was published in early December. How a book that looks so much like a boring accountant’s manual, can contain so much filth and sacrilege is just amazing. You thought Erik Larsen did God as a superhero? Think again…

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Finally, and I’ve said it before (see review here on the blog), my book of the year is Doel by Jeroen Janssen. Sketchbooks and non-fiction comics rarely leave the pictures-with-captions mode, which results in a certain distance between the book’s subject matter and the reader. Janssen plunged head-first in the troubled town, and drags the reader along with him. I sincerely hope somebody will take up the gauntlet and translate this book into English, as its subject matter is particular and universal at the same time

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

Books? Books without pictures you mean? Let me think…

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I don’t think I read any novel that was published in 2013, but I did enjoy Nathan Englander’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank – that combination of profound depth and light-hearted humor is a rare thing, leaving you with a sense of having learned something important about the important stuff.

I received Abstract City by Christoph Niemann for my birthday. This brick of a book contains all the graphical columns that Niemann published in the New York Times, and allowed me to delete all the loose images I had scraped of the internet over the years. I’m particularly fond of his depiction of typical aspects of New York by the medium of Lego bricks.

And finally, in a similar vein, the immensely funny Super Graphic by Tim Leong, a collection of infographics about comics. This book contains a whole number of very trivial pie charts and bar diagrams (such as a chart depicting the percentage of Hulk that is covered by his pants), but also quite informative and even tought-provoking images. I was struck by Leong’s analysis of colors used in the depiction of super-heroes versus villains, and how colors are persistent throughout the decades, no matter which publisher. But then, the very detailed account of the win-vs-loss ratio of Spy vs Spy is not half bad either….

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?

I was quite impressed with Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance in The Master, and especially with the way he was able to portray a man this perfidious and amoral as a human being that you might feel sorry for. The film is not the scandalous biopic you might expect it to be, but it is a lot more.

The Counsellor will probably go the way of Basic Instinct, in that it will retain notoriety for all the wrong reasons, but it still was a very good film, portraying the inevitable tragic downfall of yet another Icarus aiming for a drug czar’s sun. I was impressed by how it simply showed the chain of events, without any attempt at explanation. And the cinematography was just divine.

To end with, I cheered at the TV like a kid during The Day Of The Doctor, the anniversary episode to Doctor Who, when it indeed became everything I had hoped it to be. I have great hopes for Capaldi as an older Doctor, even though my son remains a true Matt Smith acolyte. But then, I came later to the party than he.

FPI: How did 2013 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?

I’m not really a creator, but we have just gone into our eighth year with the Flemish comics magazine Stripgids, with only four issues this year, but more pages per issue. I think Toon and his team have managed to create something that is quite unique in terms of sustained quality, and I hope we will be able to do this for a long time.

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FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2014?

I will probably try to keep you up to date with what’s happening in Europe comics-wise, and be a bit more timely and regular with my own blog. I have some other projects lining up as well, but they are still a bit too sketchy for the moment. But you’ll hear about them if and when they hatch.

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

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I would like everyone to get a good look at what Dakota McFadzean is doing. This CCS alumnus has been drawing every day for some years now, and always comes up with strange, thought-provoking, sweet (or sour), unsettling (or confirming) comics strips that are never bland or on the trodden path, and always brilliantly executed. Dakota’s first book, Other Stories And The Horse That You Rode In On came out earlier at Conundrum Press and will no doubt be lauded throughout the new year.

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