Best of the Year 2016 – Richmond’s picks
After the guest series earlier this month (see here for all the posts so far), we’re now onto the second of our blog crew’s Best of the Year selection, and today it’s reviewer, editor, writer and Renaissance Man (he loves wearing his doublet and hose), Richmond:
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?
Well, 2000AD, obviously. There have been a few stories this year that I have really not enjoyed, but such is the nature of an anthology. On the other end of the scale is Rennie and Holden’s new take on the Rogue Trooper villain the Traitor General (talk about nominative determinism!) Haunted. It’s a fun and rollicking tale, with a sharp script and some of PJs best art – and a shout out too to Len O’Grady’s exemplary colouring.
The Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook. I think I covered it well enough in my review earlier this year (see here), but for me this is what comics is all about.
Rok of the Reds from BHP Comics. Oh man… this is just wonderful. It feels like proper old school British comics. You know those sports strips of old where the people in the terraces would narrate to the reader what was happening on the pitch? You’ve got that kind of thing going on, but in the middle of it is a plot line about a mysterious alien. The script is by John Wagner and Alan Grant, so you know it’s good. The art is from newcomer Dan Cornwell (more of him later) and he does a sterling job. The whole book is outrageously fun.
FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
The Fireman by Joe Hill. I love a good old post apocalypse story as much as the next nerd and Mr Hill serves us up with a good one here. It’s – as far as I can see – an original twist on the genre, and sparks (pun intended) with playfulness and wit, as well as some nice action and tension to go with the well drawn characters. It shows that sometimes the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Talking of which…
End of Watch by Stephen King. I’ve been enjoying the Bill Hodges books over the past few years, and they have really felt that King had found himself a character – and a cast – who he was really fond of and has been having fun writing. This is the third and possibly the last in the series, and wraps everything up in a very satisfactory way. If this is the end, I’d be okay with that. But I’d be equally okay with revisiting these guys some way down the road.
The third is not a book, but I’m shoehorning it in here nevertheless. Blackstar by David Bowie. Would this be here if he hadn’t died a couple of days after the release? Maybe, maybe not. Even before he dies it was a remarkable piece of work I had spent the weekend dissecting. It was only on the Monday morning and I woke up to the terrible news that the album snapped into focus. Many people have created a piece of art that reveals its meaning over time. But a piece of art that reveals its meaning only after the death of the artist? I can only think of only 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?
Room. What a movie. I almost switched if off during the first twenty minutes as it was too much to bear. Too aw and emotional. I stuck with it and about halfway through, I thought it would end up being like Raging Bull or Apocalypse Now – that is, a movie I am glad I watched, but don’t ever need to see again. But how wrong I was. Yes, this is an emotional wrecking ball of a movie, but in the end, it is one that will watch again and again. Not just the best movie of the year, it’s probably the best of the decade so far.
The Witch. I can’t remember the last time I saw a horror movie with just this much atmosphere. The unsettling air that permeates the entire film is astounding. It’s something that stays with the viewer for ages afterwards. Also – Black Phillip.
Stranger Things. We’re in a world where we’re really spoiled for genre entertainment – to the point that people complain that there’s too much of it to watch. Crazy… As far as I could see, this year there were two kinds of people posting on the interwebs: Those who utterly adored Stranger Things and those who were dead wrong. I loved every single second of it. From the perfect casting of the children – seriously, what’s the chances of getting the casting of every single one of them right? I loved the early eighties setting, I loved the Carpenter style music, and the Carpenter/Spielberg/King feel. In my mind, the sheriff character is Alan Pangborn. Great stuff, and I can’t wait for the next season.
FPI: How did 2016 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
It’s been a strange one. I don’t think I’ve had much published in the past year or two, but I have been working constantly. I have a couple of graphic novelss bubbling under, and a few other bits and pieces. But the main thing right now, apart from Moniack Mhor Writer’s Centre, is another very exciting project I’m working on in the world outside of comics (Yes – there is one!). As usual, all will be revealed when I’m allowed to talk about it.
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
I will abuse my position here to drop in another mention of Dan Cornwell. Dan was plucked for stardom by John Wagner after seeing his work on Dogbreath, one of the 2000AD fanzines I co-edit. I can only see him going on the greater things!