Best of the Year 2015 – Gareth Brookes
For today’s guest Best of the Year selection we welcome back an old friend to the blog, that innovative chap Gareth Brookes, a man who after studying with Tibetan monks can now perform the mysterious ancient ritual which allows him to tickle some grant funding from the Art Council. Let’s see what Gareth picked out as some of his favourites from 2015 (you can read all of the guest Best of the Year posts so far here, previous years selections can be found under the Features menu above):
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?
Gareth: Becoming Unbecoming by Una, Myriad Editions. A brilliantly controlled and compelling book that fearlessly uproots the causes of male violence. It joins the dots between the personal and political with breathtaking ease and manages to rewrite the rules of visual storytelling in the process. A profoundly important book that everyone, particularly men should read immediately.
I Love This Part by Tillie Walden, Avery Hill. It seems a shame to even describe this, I’d say that if you are a human being, and you’ve been young, then this is for you. A strange and quiet little love song of a book, it leaves an ache in the heart that echoes for days.
Generous Bosom 2 – Conor Stechshulte, Breakdown Press. Part 1 was top of my list last year, and part 2 is if anything, even better, taking the story to strange and deeply unsettling places. As with the first part the writing is impeccable and proves that work at the avant-garde art comics end of the spectrum can be as compelling and accessible as anything in the mainstream.
There have been a heck of a lot of great books this year, if you’ll indulge me in a couple of honourable mentions – The Over the Line anthology about poetry comics by Chrissy Williams & Tom Humberstone is amazing, everything I’ve read by Disa Wallander this year has been fantastic and Swear Jar by Abe Christie is something I’ve been waiting for ages for and it didn’t disappoint.
FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Gareth:This year my concentration span seems to have capsized. I could give you a long list of books I haven’t finished. Of the few I’ve completed Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks and How Green was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn are the standout choices.
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?
Gareth:I’m always behind on the latest TV, the thing I’ve most enjoyed this year are the reruns of Bullseye on Challenge.
I’m just as bad with films, the best things I’ve seen this year are The Swimmer from 1968 staring Burt Lancaster, which is a lurid, enchanted and painful journey into the purgatory of a mans past, the other film that stands out is On The Beach from 1959 staring Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck which is just about the darkest and most disturbing film I’ve ever seen, and upset me for weeks.
FPI: How did 2015 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
Gareth: Apart from having the honour of being the cover artist for Keara Stewart’s excellent A Bit of Undigested Potato anthology I haven’t put much out this year. I’ve been busy getting a new, and as yet untitled, graphic novel on the go, securing Arts Council Funding and getting a new contract signed with Myriad. At the time of writing I’m about half way through, but so much needs redrawing, the end is barely in sight.
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2016?
Gareth: I’m going to be very quiet next year, the new book will hopefully be out in early 2017, so I’ll be focused on getting it done. Depending on how I’m progressing I’d like to have a go at producing a new 60-odd page comic, I have an idea that’s been fermenting for a while that feels about ready to go. I also have a 4 – pager in the new issue of Tiny Pencil, which will be out very soon.
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
Gareth: Steve Tillotson, famous for the Banal Pig comics that featured my very first tentative creatings way back in the MySpace-logging-onto days of the mid noughties, will make a triumphant return late next year with a graphic novel length comic.