Continuing our traditional season of daily guest Best of the Year selections (you can see the other 2015 picks so far here, and you can see choices from previous years via the Features menu above). Today we’re delighted to welcome back a very naughty cartoonist and illustrator who some may consider creates offensive work for mentally ill people. Personally we love it and him – it’s Krent Able:
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?
Krent: Terror Assaulter : O.M.W.O.T (One Man War On Terror) by Benjamin Marra, Fantagraphics 2015. Hands down my favourite comic of the year. It’s a deranged comic strip version of an American 80s action movie with over the top violence and sex, deadpan humour and hilariously wrong art that looks like it was drawn by a talented but deeply sick 15 year old. The closest thing I can compare it to is the bizarre work of the late 1930s comic artist Fletcher Hanks. Very funny, very clever, and a very welcome relief from the usual stuff I see. Just look at that cover.
Tim Ginger by Julian Hanshaw, Top Shelf 2015. A beautifully quiet, low-key graphic novel starring a one-eyed, cricket-loving astronaut who lives in the desert, written and drawn by the monovisioned, cricket-obsessed Julian Hanshaw, who just happens to live in the suspiciously desert-like wilds of Dungeness. Hmm. I really enjoyed the way Hanshaw uses colour to capture that evening mood and emptiness of the desert. Well played, sir.
Rat God by Richard Corben, Dark Horse Comics 2015. Comics legend and one of my favourite artists, Richard Corben, writes and draws a horror tale with a repressed, racist protagonist based on H. P Lovecraft, and a story that weaves in Native American Folklore and some kind of horrible Rat Monsters. There’s not enough Corben in print – apparently because he thinks his classic 70s and 80s stuff isn’t PC enough for modern audiences – so it’s great to have this.
FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Krent: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, Hodder & Stoughton 2013. Let’s start with something that’s going to make me look really intellectual. It’s an excellent sequel to The Shining (though I never read that one), starring a grown-up Danny Torrance coming to terms with his alcoholism, psychic talents, and the spooky events at the Overlook Hotel 30 years earlier. Like most of King’s books, you’re hooked after 20 pages and you can forget about getting much else done for the rest of the week. Scary, with great characters and horrible child-killing vampiric villains who live in RV’s and look like harmless retirees. Slightly rushed ending, but that’s par for the course with King. The way I see it, you’ve got to take the rough with the smooth.
Teatro Grottesco by Thomas Ligotti, Virgin Books 2008. A compilation of Ligotti’s nightmarish, blackly funny and Eraserhead-ish weird tales. Some of these get a bit samey, but this one’s worth it for the incredible short story ‘The Town Manager’, now one of my all-time fave shorts. I’m not going to say much about it, as that would spoil your fun. The very strange ‘The Red Tower’, included in this volume, is also well worth a read. Apparently Ligotti was a big influence on the TV show ‘True Detective’, but I can’t really see it to be honest.
Jolly Lad by John Doran, Strange Attractor Press 2015. Full disclosure – I illustrated this. But it’s still good, I didn’t totally wreck it. When I first started reading this for the job, I was kind of expecting a grim memoir, detailing the author’s struggles with alcoholism and collapsing mental health, but it turned out to be wickedly funny, more along the lines of ‘Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas’ than ‘Leaving Las Vegas’. I’m roughly the same decrepit age as the music-journalist author, and I guess you could say I’m a product of a similar milieu (milieu!), so I could relate to a lot of this. Everything apart from the alcoholism (weak bladder) and the mental health stuff (I’m too bone-headed). A funny, entertaining and touching read that I’d recommend whether I worked on it or not.
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?
Krent: It Follows – my favourite film of the year, even if it’s ultimately a failure. It’s frustrating, as this could have been a horror classic like Nightmare On Elm Street, if they’d only spent as much time on the script as they did on the gorgeous visuals and mood. And worked out a decent third act. Still, this was pretty scary and imaginative, with a cool shape-changing, unstoppable monster and some nice John Carpenter-esque camerawork and soundtrack. Looking forward to seeing what the director does next.
Game Of Thrones. After slagging this little-known TV series off in last year’s list, I started watching it again from Season 3 and it eventually clicked. I think it was the bit where that bloke got his arm chopped off by the nice dad out of that film ‘Submarine’, and the music suddenly turned into incongruous modern punk-folk drinking music that did it. And the bit where that cocky bloke got his head horribly crushed during that duel just sealed the deal. And Peter Dinklage is just brilliant. Top stuff.
Mad Max:Fury Road. This was over-hyped, and not actually the best action movie ever, but still a very good movie, once I got over the utter shock and brain-damaging trauma of seeing a woman in a film. Impressive how George Miller – director of the brilliant ‘Babe’- is nearly 90 years old and is confined to an iron lung, but he still handed all the younger action director’s asses to them on a plate. I liked the super-minimalist, almost avante-garde storytelling – it reminded me of Geoff Darrow’s ‘Shaolin Cowboy’ comic – insane, meticulously rendered action all the way and barely any of that old-fashioned stuff like story and plot to slow things down. My only minor complaints- not enough blood and gore (this could have been a Cert 12), the blink-and-you-missed-it death of the not very interesting main villain, and the fact that neither Tom Hardy or Charlize Theron have the charisma or gravitas of Mel Gibson in the first two movies.
FPI: How did 2015 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
Krent: Yes, 2015 was pretty good. I’m definitely a genius. I illustrated a book (see above), did a lot of stuff for a great French comics magazine called AAARG!, had a comic strip that no one could understand in UK anthology ‘Meanwhile…’, did some illustrations for Vice, drew a sci-fi comic for Dead Canary Comics, and started a monthly comic, ‘The Director’s Cut’, for The Guardian.
(cover art for AARG by Krent Able)
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2016?
Krent: Starvation, rickets. (popular choices once more thanks to Austerity – Editor)
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
Krent: I’ve never actually seen one of his comics or read a full story, but I’ve seen some work by a guy called Joseph P. Kelly on the internet and it looks great, even if I don’t really understand it. It looks like Manga drawn by a fashion designer. Excellent draftsmanship and inking. Bizarre ‘Turkish Phoneshop meets Japanese Food Packaging’ style font choices. Promising.