Welcome once more to the FPI Best of Year series, where today we welcome artist and illustrator JAKe, whose work we’ve covered here on the blog for several years now, including the graphic novel Hellraisers with Robert Sellers looking at the splendidly excessive lives of these four gents…
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?
The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis, SelfMadeHero
SelfMadeHero have put out some cracking books this year, and I really enjoyed ‘Seconds’ by Bryan Lee O’ Malley, but I’ve been looking forward to Mr. Davis’ book for a long time. I’d already seen some of the pages on Rob’s iPad, and maybe a bit like when you see a trailer that contains too much information, it blunted my initial reaction. However, the book is a stunningly original exercise in world building, and has an internal logic which holds together, despite the initial leap of faith he asks of the reader, but on first read it felt like there was lot of walking and talking. Saying that, there’s not many cartoonist that can draw characters walking as effortlessly as Rob Davis, so… A couple of days later I read the whole thing again. It bugged me, and made me think, and beckoned me back in for a second read straight away.
Moonhead And The Music Machine by Andrew Rae, NoBrow
Another title I’d been looking forward to. Like myself, Andrew is primarily a commercial illustrator, but has always had what I call ‘comics chops’; the abilty to tell graphic stories effectively and with no little charm. Andrew takes the template of coming of age American high school drama and filters it through a uniquely British mindset, and explores the nature, and insecurities of being creative. It’s original, inventive, dryly funny and kicks off with a wonderfully told, practically wordless opening sequence. Like The Motherless Oven, this deserves to find an audience outside the usual comics faithful, and it appeals to all ages. I’d recommend both books to anyone wanting to try graphic novels for the first time.
The Collector by Sergio Toppi, Archaia
I picked this up at Thought Bubble. I’d admired Toppi’s work in the past, but I’ve got to be honest, the cover design is the worst thing about this book, because inside is glorious, a riot of beautiful monochrome draughtsmanship, and incredible panel layouts and montages that often slice and fragment time. Man… could Toppi draw. In one sequence The Collector rides wounded on horseback, across a blazing, accrid landscape. The sun is depicted with black and white lines alone but you can practically feel the heat beating down on you as you read. The cast of Tibetans, Mongolians, Native Americans, et al are truthfully observed and you get the feeling that Toppi travelled to the four corners of the globe, and impossibly, back in time to find his muse.
Glimpses of Toppi’s DNA echo throughout comics that came later; in the work of artists like Simonson, Sienkiwicz, Miller, Mignola, but I’m curious… did Mick McMahon ever see this? Both artists sculpt order from chaotic lines, both have the most perfect black/white balance
Yes, it was started in the 80’s but this is hands down my favourite book of the year.
FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Altman, Katheryn Reed Altman, Abrams
A big overview of iconoclastic director Robert Altman’s career, packed with photos, ephemera with a freewheeling scrapbook feel that suits it’s subject.
One Three One, Julian Cope, Faber
I’ve always enjoyed Julian Cope’s writing, especially Japrocksampler, but this, The ArchDrude’s debut novel is a joyously deranged ‘Time Shifting Gnostic Hooligan Road Novel’ which defies description but pulses with a manic energy. A one off.
Star Wars Storyboards: Original Trilogy, J.W Rinzler, Abrams Books
I really enjoyed this book, which goes digging in Lucasfilm’s archives for lots of previously unseen material. It’s probably obvious from some my work that I’m a lifelong Star Wars fan, but as an artist I still love the way Joe Johnston’s loose, economical pen and marker work conveys so much, so simply. What’s amazing about this book is just how many of the iconic moments that ended up on the big screen, were fully realised at the drawing board. A total treat if your an Original Trilogy fan.
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?
The Grand Budapest Hotel
I’m a fan of Wes Anderson’s films, especially from an art direction perspective, but due to Ralph Fiennes having a ball with his role, I think this is the funniest film he’s made.
Guardians Of The Galaxy
Any film that crams Ziggy Stardust’s ‘Moonage Daydream‘ AND The Five Stair Steps ‘Ooh Child‘ onto the soundtrack is going to get me onboard. But I also laughed out loud, and yet again Marvel took risks with a smart, fun movie. We saw it with a nine year old and I don’t know who enjoyed it more. Dancing Baby Groot rocking to the Jackson 5 still makes me smile as I type this.
I also enjoyed 20,000 Days On Earth:
It’s about creativity and the process that goes into making things, and has some sequences that are wonderfully edited. It’s not a documentary as such, more a sort or forced reality, which I’d describe as a sort of The Only Way Is Essex For Observer Readers. You can have that for the quote on the back of the DVD.
FPI: How did 2014 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
JAKe: No, not in comics terms. I did commercial work, record sleeves, a lot of lectures, and talks and signings for my previous books, got to spend some time in China, where I filled a lot of sketchbooks. Life kind of got in the way.
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2015?
JAKe: I’ve got a couple of books plotted, and took some time out to write this year, so now I need to knuckle down and draw one!
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
JAKe: Andrew Barron. He makes interesting silent comics called OM that remind of something from 70’s Metal Hurlant.