Best of the Year 2016 – Joe Decie
Day nine of our guest traditional Best of the Year (see here for the other posts in the series so far, previous year’s picks can be found via the Features menu above), and for today I’m delighted to have another of our favourite creators back on the blog, Joe Decie – let’s see what he’s been enjoying this year:
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?
To be honest I’ve not had enough money to buy many comics this year. So I’ve mostly been revisiting stuff from my shelves, borrowing stuff from the library and reading the odd webcomic.
Earlier this year Eleanor Davis shared on twitter a journal of a bike tour she took. Simple and soothing pencil drawings of a journey across the southern states of America. She would update as she went, and the stories she told made me optimistic about America’s future. Koyama press are due to publish the collected journal next year, titled You & A Bike & A Road. I love the way Eleanor draws, and I’m a sucker for a good journal comic, so consider me sold.
I’d been waiting for years for a translation of Pascin by Joann Sfar, having seen the French version serialised in the L’asiociation anthology Lapin. Uncivilised Books finally came to the rescue and brought out a version this year, and it’s really handsome. I’ve no idea if the translation is faithful, but the lettering certainly is. Dan Nadel reviewed the book unfavourably on The Comics Journal saying that the work lacked the nuances of some contemporary North American cartoonists, but I don’t agree, I think his lines and brush work are exquisite and carried the story well.
I’m very much into heavy brush work at the moment (see also: Dali by Baudoin or Peplum by Blutch) Anyway I liked the book, it’s about the artist Pascin, who I didn’t care much for, not my kind of guy, I don’t think we’d have been friends. Regardless, I liked the execution of the story. Oh, another great book about a troubled artist I enjoyed was The Artist by Anna Haifisch from Breakdown Press, it’s funny and on point.
Hey, what about Burt’s Way Home by John Martz? Comics aren’t just for grown up’s anymore. This one is an all-ages comic and would probably be on my son’s Top Three also. It’s a real heart warmer. I’m a big fan of John’s cartooning, he can capture in a few lines something I’d spend pages trying to portray. This book’s about an orphan, a space traveling orphan. My interpretation of the story was very different from that of my boy’s, he read it literally. But I know he’ll return to the story again and again and perhaps gleam some further meaning on later reads.
I read Panther by Brecht Evans. I don’t know how I feel about this book. The paintings are brilliant. It’s really disturbing and I didn’t enjoy reading it, so I won’t include it in this list. But you should check it out regardless, it’s the best book I didn’t enjoy this year.
Cigarette Girl by Masahiko Matsumoto. I read this book wrong. I thought it was one continuous story, where as it’s actually a collection of shorts. Therefore it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. I should read it again, read it as intended. It’s the best book I read wrong this year.
I didn’t buy any Peow Studio books, but they all looked great. They’re the best books I slept on this year.
Have you read Mooncop by Tom Gauld? I really loved the preview given away on Free Comicbooks day. Tom is so good at crafting stories, his characters really seem to exist. Goliath was great eh? I re-read that one recently. It’s the best book I just re-read.
Oh, Cat Rackham by Steve Wolfhard. I don’t own this, but I wish I did. I heard it collects all the Cat Rackham stories of old. I think Steve is a genius. Is Cat Rackham autobiography? it’s the best book I’ve not yet laid eyes on but would recommend sight unseen.
FPI: Can you pick thee books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Summer Island by Tove Jansson. It’s a lovely book about an eccentric granny. I’d like to visit Scandinavia. You like the Moomins right? you’ll love this.
Not Nothing by Ray Johnson. I’m a big fan of Ray Johnson’s wordplay and irreverence. This is an excellent collection of his letters and collages. I guess he was on the fringes of Pop Art.
How The Water Feels To The Fishes by Dave Eggers. These are short stories, I only just read them, fresh in my mind. Is Eggers a real surname, or a made up one?
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?
I sometimes watch TV on a Sunday evening. I’ve really enjoyed The Antiques Roadshow this year. And Countyfile. Some crumpets and a cup of tea. Turn the heating up.
I watched some things on Netflix; Stranger Things had some amazing acting and I do like nostalgia. The Baz Luhrmann hip-hop story was quite fun, but irritated me a bit. It was well researched and all that, but I’d rather watch a real documentary about the time period (see: Style Wars, 80 Blocks from Tiffanies, The Freshest Kids)
I went to the cinema, but mostly to watch kids films with my boy (weekend morning Kid’s Club is very cheap, like three quid a ticket) I did go to see One More Time With Feeling, the documentary about Nick Cave dealing with the tragic death of his son and the making of the album The Skeleton Key. It was incredibly upsetting and I don’t really have the words to express it. Warren Ellis comes across as the best friend you could ask for… “proceed with absolute confidence” that seemed to be the one happy thing I took from the film.
I watched a lot of YouTube. Some good bits of Prince and Bowie were passed around the internet. I’ve always loved that footage of Prince on stage with James Brown and Michael Jackson.
The Lobster, did I see that in 2016? Not sure. Loved it though.
FPI: How did 2016 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
I worked silly hours completing my book Collecting Sticks. I underestimated how long it would take me to finish and casually one night, near my deadline, mentioned to my brother that it usually takes me an hour or two to scan and clean a page. My brother can do maths and asked me how many pages the book had. Oh “150 or so” said I. I think I had a week or two until the deadline. “you need 300 hours to get it done, about 38 days, working eight hours” So I worked day and night to finish on time. My family went on holiday, whilst I stayed at home. I was at home drawing a book about being on a camping holiday with my family, whilst they were away camping, is that irony? I never know what irony is. Anyway, I finished it and am very happy with it.
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2017?
Collecting Sticks, 160 pages, usual Joe Decie comic. It’ll be out in April from Jonathan Cape. Let me read you the blurb from the back: “Collecting Sticks is a graphic novel about a family trip glamping. (It’s like camping, but much more expensive) Loosely based on actual events, but sometimes veering unexpectedly into fantasy, it plays with the challenges nature presents to us city folk: foraging berries, getting stuck up a tree, perilous encounters with stinging wildlife, a competition to build the best fire, and the importance of finding good sticks. Also, it rains. It’s about the human desire to get back to nature. Or to return to childhood and hit things with sticks”
I’ll have other stuff out too, usual short comics on Twitter etc and a new secret project. So secret I haven’t even thought of it yet.
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
(a page from Frontier #9 by Becca Tobin)