Best of the year 2015 – Andrew Girdwood
Wrapping up our traditional series of daily guest Best of the Year posts, today we are joined by a regular commentator and great supporter of comics (and indeed all thing geekdom), and a regular on this annual series, Geek Native‘s Andrew Girdwood; let’s see what’s been tickling Andrew’s fancy over the last twelve months:
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?
Andrew:I think 2015 has been an interesting year for comic books; some of the titles I had high hopes for didn’t live up to expectations whereas I encountered many pleasant surprises. While I’m still really enjoying superhero TV and movies I found myself reading less superhero comic books.
The first of the three titles I’ll call out is Istin and Duarte’s Elves from Delcourt-Soleil. This is a two-part fantasy adventure and is gorgeously illustrated. It deals with the rising tensions between a human kingdom and a city of elves while high magicks broil in the background.
I also rather liked Gordon Rennie and PJ Holden’s the Department of Monsterology from Renegade Arts Entertainment. The title gave me Hellboy riffs but that’s no bad thing. There’s a team of interesting people, perhaps not superheroes but certainly powered beyond the normal, doing a blend Indiana Jones meets Cthulhu mythos investigations.
Lastly, my curveball choice is Derek Chua’s Roleplayers from Irrational Comics. There’s a group of dorky kids playing “Damsels in Dungeons” which is essentially a Dungeons & Dragons rip-off (we’d probably call it an OSR game today) and all playing ridiculously buxom male fantasies of female characters. That’s when a girl turns up at the gaming club and wants to play too. The plot isn’t hard hitting at all. It feels almost like a good behaviour recruitment ad for youngsters to join in with the hobby.
FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Andrew:I still divide my reading time between paper and electronic. The Kindle app is great but on short flights when you’re buckled in and not yet allowed to use devices you can’t beat a book.
I think Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds is worth your time. It won’t take very much of it at all as it’s almost a novella rather than a novel but it does a lot of great sci-fi in those few pages.
Another interesting choice is Dark Star by Oliver Langmead. I think this may be one of the first books from the publisher and it stood out by being written in verse. Don’t let that put you off; it’s actually a very easy read and a brave sci-fi set in a world with very little visible light.
Lastly, I’m going with The Boy Who Wept Blood from Den Patrick. This is the sequel to The Boy with the Porcelain Blade and is just as good but with less flashbacks, or feels that way, which is good. We’ve an Italian renaissance style fantasy court except with mutants.
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?
Andrew:I don’t want to use two of my three slots so I’m going to bundle Daredevil & Jessica Jones together. Both amazing shows. Worth trying Netflix for. Daredevil is a crime thriller with elements of superhero in the background. Jessica Jones is a psychological thriller with elements of superhero in the background. Wonderfully told.
I will use another Netflix exclusive as my second choice and go with Hemlock Grove. Okay, I’ve lost steam a little on the third season, just out now, but the first two are a contemporary supernatural thrillers with some good twists, fantastic characters and powerful storytelling. This is not made for the Twilight fanbase.
Lastly, I’ll pick Doctor Who. I know the format hasn’t worked for everyone this year but I really liked the emphasis on two-parters and cliffhangers. I think this is the best of New Who and Classic Who. Peter Capaldi is superb. Let’s just not mention the sonic sunglasses.
FPI: How did 2015 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
Andrew:I did less than I hoped but more than I feared. That sounds familiar; I wonder if I say the same thing every year?
I’ve double downed on my belief that we’re all publishers today. Whether we’re writers, artists or just publishing Fitbit stats to Facebook ; we’re publishing. The creation of content is one challenge – that’s the part I suck at the most – and the next step is the ability to monetise that.
In the blogging world that means being able to publish and earn without exceeding hosting costs. It means being able to work with other creators for fair rates and rates of pay without destroying the chances of making a profit. It also means coping with the rise of ad blockers.
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2016?
Andrew:I hope to offer more of the same. I’d love to try and do a deal with an artist, one that works for both sides, and publish a comic strip on Geek Native and explore a franchise model as a way to pay for it all. Ambitious but worth daydreaming about.
Andrew: Edinburgh’s Justin Lee Anderson is one to watch. He’s a smart man and Carpet Diem is absolutely great (It would be in my top three books except I knew I’d have the chance to wave the Anderson flag here). In the book one man’s living room carpet turns out to be the deciding factor in a bet between God and Satan.
Thanks to all who took part this year – you can check out all of the guest Best of the Year posts here, and the blog crew will be picking their own choices later in the month as usual. Hopefully between us all we’ve flagged up some interesting reading to check out!