Each December we have a tradition on the FP blog where as well as the blog crew picking out their favourites we run a daily series all month long from friends in the comics and SF&F worlds, writers, artists, editors, reviewers picking out their Best of the Year selections so we get a much more diverse range of good recommendations for you (see here for the guest BoY 2013 posts so far). And yes, we realise it is now January! But we had a bumper crop of responses to our invites to take part so we’ve got a few more to get through yet! But as this means even more fine recommendations and another chance to highlight some top works and creators I reckon we’re all pretty happy with that!
Today we welcome one of the founders of my favourite webcomics collective Act-I-Vate! and the man who created a superb adaptation of one of the most influential American novels of the 20th century (and one of my favourite books of all time) Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, as well as illustrating the powerful Army of God (you can read a guest Commentary Tim and David Axe did on the blog about that book here) – Tim Hamilton:
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?
Tim: On the web I read a black and white comic called “Borb” by Jason Little. Jason is in the art studio next to mine so I got to see it from the start and even suggest horrible things to happen to the main character, Borb. This appeared on Activate.com in the form of a daily comic strip made up of, for the most part, 4 panels each day. Later he printed up some mini comics which told the entire sad tale of Borb along with some full color pages he added. I’m so glad Jason created Borb. It is pure Jason Little. I’m not sure where his creative juices emanate from but he just does his thing. It’s disturbing and hilarious and then while laughing you realize again how disturbing it is. And then you cry. And then you laugh one more time.
The Buz Sawyer reprints from Fanagraphics are a weird kind of joy. The art is top notch. It’s some of the best comic art …ever. Yes the stories are dated and there is some blatant racism typical for the era and in addition to that, it’s pretty sexist. The reader is treated to a couple scenes of Buz putting a woman over his knee to give her a spanking. To the modern reader, the action of the comic is slow paced and stilted much of the time, but then there are some surprising plot developments, conflicts and even the death of a long time regular character that can retain one’s interest. Mostly it’s a historical document that I’m glad someone collected and preserved. The world won’t end if no one ever saw this stuff again, but as I already said, the arts great and I enjoy giving it a read when I have time.
Then we have “Copra” by Michel Fiffe! His almost feverish, take no prisoners comic that HE wanted to read and see printed. So he did it himself. Wrote it, drew it, coloured it and lettered it. It is all him, non-stop action and wit. He says it’s inspired by the old “Suicide Squad” comic I myself never did read, but I get the idea. Fun comics about morally questionable super people fighting for their lives. You can never go home again and enjoy that X-men comic with the same thrill you had when you were 11, but this is as close as you can get!
Can I sneak in a mention for “The Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin! I just did. Thumbs up to them.
FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Tim: Margaret Atwood’s “The Blind Assassin” sucked me in… eventually. I know more than one person who had a hard time getting into it, but I stuck with it as I’d read other books by her and knew I would be rewarded. It’s not a new book but I was just getting around to it. It’s a sci-fi story within a real story, mixed with a mystery and some Canadian history to boot. I like history and stories within stories that are sci-fi.
I admit to being caught up in reading the “Game of Thrones” books back before seeing the show and am now into the 5th book. Martin can write a story with real characters that evolve and change over the course of the five books that have been released so far. So much so in the book that I have sympathy for characters I once hated. And yes, I love the books much more than the show. Even though the show added all those extra sex scenes to tastefully balance all the talking and plotting we other wise have to yawn our way though.
At an antique shop in Brooklyn I found a children’s book by Tomi Ungerer called “One, Two Where’s my Shoe?” You really have to see it to understand. It is just page after page of objects with shoes hidden in the drawings. That is all. I love this book and you will never take it from me.
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?
Tim: Movies. I saw none of the big movies this past summer. Man of Steel? Just didn’t care. Lone Ranger with Depp as Tonto? Why not just make a new Stepin Fetchit movie staring Ashton Kutcher? Star Trek, Giant Robots fighting giant monsters? No no no.
Am I a grumpy old man? Perhaps, but the local theater (in Brooklyn where I live) showed a restored “Lawrence of Arabia” on a new large format screen this past summer. It was more engrossing and well made than anything I had seen in a long time. At the end of the summer I did see “The end of the World” and enjoyed seeing Simon Pegg and the rest of the gang get together one last time to complete their trilogy.
Of course then there was Gravity! The first thrilling, nerve wracking movie experience I’d had since “Children of Man.” I didn’t even have a moment to lean over to my wife and tell her what was going to happen next as I do during most movies. A sci fi movie with a 49 year old female main character without a romantic sub plot! I’m told Hollywood hates that.
FPI: How did 2013 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
Tim: Another year of change which I have always strived for. I never want my mind to get old, but as I said above, I’ve lost my lust for Giant robots smashing giant monsters so perhaps calcification has in fact set in. If I drew with a stick this year, perhaps I can draw with a broken comb next year. I have been pushing children’s book to publishers for years and this year I wrote and illustrated two that will come out in 2013-2014. Yes, This is a fantastic position to get myself into, but I’ve been working hard on this shift in my career for some time. And while I’m in this arena I hope to push more of my creative nuggets in this direction. I love doing comics. I can’t stop myself from creating them, but as long as I can tell stories, I’m happy to do it in the realm of Children’s books.
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2014?
Tim: As I said, the children’s books I finished will be out, and I’m now pitching more books. Fingers crossed I can sell more material.
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
Tim: Michel Fiffe. After Copra, he will be doing something else of course. What is it? I know a bit of it but I can’t tell.