Continuing into this final week of our traditional festive daily guest Best of the Year posts (see here for the preceding entries in this year’s series) and today we welcome Graham “Sgt Mike Battle” Pearce:
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?
Graham: There have been some superb creator-owned books this year, both mainstream and small press so it’s a struggle to find my favourite three.
America’s Got Powers by Jonathan Ross and Bryan Hitch is phenomenal. It’s set in an alternate San Francisco when a generation of kids have grown up with superpowers and each week they fight it out in a stadium on prime-time TV. Hitch’s artwork is always great and Ross has already become a really good writer, but I was surprised about how emotionally involved I got in the story. The last few pages of #1 are some of the most exciting and tense pages I’ve ever read in a comic before! The next few issues should be out in the early 2013 and I cannot wait to see where the story goes!
MarineMan by Ian Churchill- Admittedly the trade paperback came out in 2011, but I didn’t read it until this year so I’m going to include it anyway. I remember seeing ads for this book a few years ago and they didn’t excite me that much but I bought the trade paperback based on the recommendation of my own readers and was totally blown away. It’s the story of a Marine biologist who… I won’t say any more because I don’t want to deny anyone the pleasure of reading it for themselves because there seems to be a big twist in almost every issue. I can safely say that Ian Churchill has produced one of the best looking books I’ve ever read. It’s a real passion project for Ian and it shows on every page. The artwork is wonderful and makes use of Photoshop effects to enhance the story. Highly recommended!
The Speech Balloon Man by Tony Hitchman – This is a 4-page strip printed on a folded sheet of A3 that I got at Thought Bubble and it’s an incredible piece of work. I bump into Tony at most conventions and he always gives me his latest freebie but The Speech Balloon Man was one of the simplest and cleverest strips I’ve ever read. It’s the story of Cavemen developing language when they are given Speech Balloons and it’s the sort of thing that can only be done in comics.
FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Graham: I seem to spend most of my free time writing/drawing so don’t read much these days. The last good book I read was War Plc: The Rise of the New Corporate Mercenary by Stephen Armstrong. It’s a fascinating book that was recommended by Jim Cameron, who does the colouring for Sgt Mike Battle, and it looks at how the role of the mercenary has changed over the years, from the ragtag guns for hire in the 1950s to the modern day billion dollar industry of private armies and security contractors.
I like listen to audio books when I’m driving or drawing/inking and I, Patridge: We Need to Talk About Alan by Alan Patridge is one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard or ‘read’. The audio books is over 7 hours of Steve Coogan reading Alan Partridge’s self-absorbed autobiography and is so funny that it should have a safety warning advising people not to listen whilst driving or operating heavy machinery. I cried with laughter so much that it hurt!
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?
Graham: 2012 was the year that I discovered Community and I wish I’d got into it much sooner. I’ve heard other people rave about it for a few years but resisted until a close friend told me to watch it. It’s one of the funniest and cleverest shows around. It’s quite surprising how often it can make you laugh and then get teary-eyed in the same seen. It’s the most original show in years and it’s a tragedy that it’s largely unheard of in the UK.
You’ve Been Trumped is a shocking documentary by Anthony Baxter which shows Donald Trump destroying a beautiful, environmentally-protected part of Aberdeenshire to build a multi-million dollar golf course. The film shows first-hand how Trump tries to bully the locals with intimidation, legal threats, and cutting off their water and electricity supply. I have never been so incensed by a film and I encourage everyone to see it, if only to see what a thoroughly awful and despicable man Trump is!
In terms of movies, 2012 had some big films like The Avengers (wonderful pop-corn fun), The Dark Knight Rises (over-hyped and a bit disappointing) and Prometheus (which I liked a lot more than other people) but my favourite film was Skyfall. I’ve always been a huge Bond fan (I did a James Bond spoof called Roger Knightly in Sgt. Mike Battle #12-14) and the latest instalment was Daniel Craig’s best film and possibly the best in the series. Sam Mendes did a wonderful job directing and the result was the best looking and most exciting film in 50 years of the franchise. Yes, it’s full of plot holes and the Aston Martin makes no sense, but I loved every minute of it!
FPI: How did 2012 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
Graham: 2012 was a very good for me. I managed to publish 2x issues of Sgt Mike Battle. #17 featured Star-Spangled Wars which I think is the best piece of satire I’ve ever done and #18 was the first chapter of Last Admin Hero 2 (which confusingly came as variant titled Last Admin Hero 2 #1), the sequel to my office-based action story Last Admin Hero (reviewed by Richard here on the blog).
But 2012 will always be the year I met Stan Lee at the London Super Comic Con. I say ‘met’ but should say ‘stood next to Stan for 2 seconds to pose for a photo’ but the end result was priceless! Nuff said!
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2013?
Graham: Last Admin Hero 2 is probably going to take up the next 3-4 issues so I’m going to be working on that for at least the next year. After that I’ll probably take a break from Sgt Mike Battle and will do an all- ages comic book. I’ve got a few different ideas to develop and am very excited by them. I’ve also got a fun little art project that I want to work on. It’s a very simple idea and the early experiments have turned out really well but I can’t say any more just yet.
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
Graham: John Royle – He’s spent that last few years doing Spider-Man/Marvel strips for Panini UK and is currently doing the artwork for IDW’s Danger Girl/GI Joe series, which I love! I am totally in awe of his work! Usually when J Scott Campbell does a cover for a book the interior artwork isn’t anywhere near as good, but Royle’s art for Danger Girl/GI Joe was the first time I thought the interior art was better than Campbell’s. Royle’s art has that perfect blend of clean lines, solid figures, cheeky character designs and dramatic storytelling! I wish I could draw half as good as him!