As we move into the third week of our traditional guest series of Best of the Year posts, and the Big Day bears down (can it really be Christmas in just a few days?? Where has the year gone?) we welcome a chap who is a writer, commentator, performer and also now the UK liason for the highly respected Les Humanoids publishers, who are making us very happy with translated editions of a lot of top European comics work – it is, of course, Tim Pilcher. Let’s see what Tim has been enjoying in 2014:
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: Scene & Heard: Illustrated Snapshots of Modern Life by David Ziggy Greene (£10) – Greene’s vox pop strips from Private Eye are gathered in one fascinating volume. His work here shines a a vital light on the every day opinions of the British population, as he interviews them about topics ranging from immigration and the Olympics to austerity and fracking. This is comics reportage at its best and is recommended to anyone who enjoys Joe Sacco’s work. While there’s less of a straight narrative, the strips remain a beautifully drawn insight into the average man and woman on the street. Politicians would do well to pay heed to the views expressed within.
Here by Richard McGuire (Hamish Hamilton, £25) – I remember the fantastic little strip that appeared way back in RAW in 1989, which had a resounding affect on me for years, and so I was overjoyed when I discovered that McGuire had turned it into a full length “graphic novel”. Basically, it’s just the same single view of a piece of Earth viewed through different time periods from 145 million years in the past, to 200 years in the future. We see everything from the land flooding, dinosaurs, Native Americans, to a house begin built, to generations living in it, all intertwining simultaneously, creating endless non-linear narratives that require endless re-readings to fully appreciate. It’s work like this that pushes the boundaries of the medium and hopefully makes creators examine what can be done with the form. This is the closest thing you’ll get to travelling in the TARDIS.
Some Comics by Stephen Collins (Jonathan Cape, £12.99) – I still haven’t got round to reading The Gigantic Beard That was Evil, but I’ve always been a fan of Collins’ strips in The Observer and Guardian and this collection is a joy. Like Tom Gauld’s work, Collins’ absurdist humour always makes me smile and his technical draughtsmanship and comic timing is perfect throughout. My only criticism is that the strips are reproduced too small and I struggled to read some of them. Time to get some glasses!
FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Tim: Tragically, I’ve have very little time to read any prose books this year! So I’m going to cheat and recommend Jamie Delano’s brilliant debut novel, Book Thirteen, that came out last year (under the “nom de plume” of A Williams James). It’s a very low-key book with superb characterisations, sharp, sardonic dialogue, endless twists and turns and has a deep human resonance. Highly recommended to fans of his Hellblazer stuff who are looking for something with a bit more substance than the Constantine TV series.
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: My son and I enjoyed Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s a bit hit and miss, but overall, good mindless fun!
I got really into Peaky Blinders after my late Dad’s recommendation. Great writing, fast-paced plot, and brilliant acting from Cillian Murphy (Scarecrow) and Tom Hardy (Bane). Not to mention Sam Neill’s impressive Belfast accent (I didn’t know he was born in Northern Ireland until very recently)!
Film-wise, I would’ve picked Guardians of the Galaxy, but everyone’s going to put that, so I’ll go with Wes Anderson’s hilarious The Grand Budapest Hotel – I think it’s the best film he’s done to date, and Ralph Fiennes is brilliant in it. Reminded me a lot of the best Cohen Bros. comedies.
FPI: How did 2014 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
Tim: This year has been frantic for me! Barely had a chance to catch my breath with Pilcher’s Marijuana Miscellany released in August; finally getting the paperback of my Kickstarter book, the Vertigo memoir, Comic Book Babylon, out; and the twenty three Humanoids graphic novels we released!
Personal highlights for me were talking at the British Library on the censorship panel with Charles Brownstein of the CBLDF; spending a lovely evening with Alejandro Jodorowsky; and having my one-man show of Comic Book Babylon shortlisted for best literary event in the Brighton Fringe Festival Awards.
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2015?
Tim: A lot more Humanoids titles, including trade editions of Barbarella by Jean-Claude Forrest and adapted by Kelly Sue DeConnick, and the stunning Final Incal by Jodorowsky and Ladronn, and Metabarons Genesis: Castaka by Jorodowsky and Das Pastros, plus spectacular art in Legend of the Scarlet Blades and The Swords of Glass.
(spectacular fantasy art in Swords of Glass by Corgiat and Zuccheri, to be published by Humanoids in 2015)
Plus, I’m co-editing with Paul Colicutt, (author of The Murder Mile) a sequel to Brighton: The Graphic Novel, set in 1900-1920 called Brighton’s Graphic War, published by Queenspark books. The first anthology was the bestselling book in their 40-year history, so we’re hoping for similar success! This time we’re working with young adults aged 15-24.
There’s the possibility of another book about comics coming out from me as well. I’ll also be at a lot of shows and festivals, and Humanoids will have a presence at the London Super Comic Con in March.
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
Tim: Look out for Jay Gunn’s Surface Tension (Titan Comics). I saw previews at Thought Bubble, and his work is truly spectacular. Plus, Millennium (Humanoids) by Richard D. Nolane and Francois Miville-Deschenes is one of the most original graphic novels I’ve read in a long time, and beautifully drawn as well. That’s out in February 2015.