Best of the Year 2016 – Robin Etherington
Day seven of our annual tradition of guest Best of the Year posts (see here for the 2016 series so far), and I’m delighted to welcome back one of our fave creators of comic works, especially for younger readers, Robin Etherington – let’s see what Robin’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?
Brussli: Way of the Dragon Boy. Humanoids have been delivering gold for a long time and the trend continues. This fairytale adventure from the pen of Jean-Louis Fonteneau, sets a small beak-faced boy against the world. It’s great fun and beautifully illustrated by Etienne Jung.
The Fantastic Voyage of Lady Rozenbilt. Another Humanoids offering. I’ve previously included the District 14 books in my Best Of lists, and this is a fantastic companion volume to the main series. It’s an entirely separate adventure that features some familiar faces. Adult themes throughout.
The Toucan Brothers. This is a children’s picture book but a corker and Tor Freeman makes full use of the comic panel format so I’m including it in this section! I could have picked the Digby Dog books too but I’ll stick with this delightful tale of two generous and kind-hearted plumbers, who happen to be toucans, is an absolute favourite in our household.
FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Kolymsky Heights – Lionel Davidson. This is something special. A thriller from a different age. Purchased on a whim (literally) no book has surprised me more of late. As a tale of bravery, ingenuity and audacity in the face of impossible odds, there is little competition on the shelves. Special stuff.
Perfidia – James Ellroy. What’s that? A new L.A. quartet from James Elroy??? Sign me up! The prolific author is back with aplomb, drudging up another dark chapter from America’s past, and dazzling it with his brilliant light. Pearl Harbour is the fuse that ignites a torrid tale of violence, repression, opportunity and revenge in LA, where everyone is guilty of something. A big read.
Night School – Lee Child. If you know the Jack Reacher series, then you know what to expect. This is a slightly different story, sending us back to the 90s, with Reacher in the employ of the army, tasked with finding an anonymous American in Berlin. The pacing of this book is quite masterful. Child knows how to get you to turn the pages, and let’s be honest – that’s every writer’s mission.
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?
Hardcore Henry. Most definitely NOT for the faint of heart. As an example of what you can make through willpower alone, Ilya Naishuller’s bruising first person POV actioner is something to see. But while the stunts are breathtaking and the velocity of the film unstoppable, it’s Ilya’s fine art of balancing black humour with the voluminous violence that makes this a stand out from 2017. Needed to be seen on the biggest screen possible. Which we did.
Zootopia/Zootropolis. I prefer the US name, but whatever the moniker, the film is the same wonderful beast. Disney have brought about their own renaissance, and this gem, which bypassed a lot of viewers, continues their winning run. Surprisingly adult considering most of the studio’s fair, this is one to enjoy as an adult guilt-free. And it is funny. F-u-n-n-y.
Fargo, Series Two. Everything that made series 1 such a compelling and faithful companion piece to the Coen’s superb film, is present and correct and arguably improved. The story throws us back in time, focusing on a historical event alluded to in the previous run. The cast are superb, the cinematography beautiful, and the script is an exercise in excellence. Just watch it. You don’t even need to see series one.
FPI: How did 2016 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
Pretty amazing actually. After three years away from the convention scene we returned last October and hit the road pretty hard. What has blown us away is the warmth with which are work, both old and new, has been received by new readers. We make funny comics. We tell screwball tales about misfits and madmen and we do it because it makes us laugh. We make comics for the children we were and the adults we’ve become. It’s truly humbling to know that other people also get a kick out of this stuff!
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2017?
We’ve been building up steam and this year is going to be a monster! First up will be the second volume in our Long Gone Don graphic novel series, entitled The Terror-Cotta Army. Then Bazookas for Beginners will drop. This is the final book in my Freaky & Fearless illustrated novel trilogy.
Monkey Nuts fans will be delighted to learn that the boys are coming BACK! We’ll be publishing a double bill of adventure with a new definitive edition of book 1 (The Diamond Egg of Wonders) and the previously unfinished and only partially published book 2 (title TBC)! That’s a lot of nuts, folks.
Lorenzo also has a brand new full colour art book on the way that is going to melt minds. If you thought his monster 600-page sketchbooks were special, then this is the gold standard.
Amidst all that madness, the fifth Long Gone Don book (The Trouble with Crows) will be serialised in The Phoenix weekly story, alongside Lorenzo’s ongoing Von Doogan puzzle adventure series, which is cruising into its 8th series.
We’re always on the road and in 2017 you’ll be able to catch us at a wealth of conventions and festivals all around the country. We’ve always got special show-only treats on offer.
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
Already mentioned her and I’ll mention her again. Tor Freeman. Her latest project, Welcome to Oddleigh (pictured below), WAS a comic and I sincerely hope this is the start of a trend! COME OVER TO OUR WORLD, TOR!