Best of the Year 2013 – Andrew Girdwood
Today we have the third in our traditional guest series of Best of the Year posts which we do each year, running some of the favourite comics, books, TV and movies from a different guest every single day through December (see here to check out the other BoY 2013 posts so far). Today’s guest is a good friend of the blog, writer, reviewer and major commentor on and supporter of geek culture through Geek Native and other sites, Andrew Girdwood:
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?
Andrew: Samurai Jack from IDW, Butterfly Gate from Improper Books and Kingdom from Rebellion.
I enjoyed Jim Zub’s Samurai Jack because, at last, we get to have Samurai Jack back. The style reminds me exactly of the old cartoon series and Andy Suriano has done a fantastic job with the illustration. I’m not sure whether the comic book is accurate to the original or just accurate to my nostalgia but it doesn’t matter. It feels right. The catch? At this point we’re only one book in. Let’s see how the series develops.
Another first episode and new series that caught my attention this year is Benjamin Read and Chris Wildgoose’s Butterfly Gate. This is a comic book without any text. In pictures alone we follow a brother and sister from a pleasant time chasing a butterfly and into a dangerous future fantasy world.
Lastly, Dan Abnett and Richard Elson’s Kingdom. This isn’t new and I’m late to the party but with a novel spinoff in the works the title landed in front of me and immediately impressed. The story of Gene the Hackman is simple and effective. I can’t claim it’s a “don’t make me think” adventure yarn with all the focus on the action because, slyly, despite all the melee there’s plot twists in there that tease you before the reveal.
FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Andrew: The Six-Gun Tarot by R.S. Belcher, Drifting by Dave Cook and Matthew Drury and Deadbeat by Guy Adams.
Picking favourite books is always a challenge as it depends hugely on my mood. I finished reading The Six-Gun Tarot a little while ago and I’m still thinking about it. It was described to me as steampunk wild west but it isn’t; this is the weird west. I’d suggest it’s more like a dose of Cthulhu thrown in with some Deadlands. Why pick it? This is a book that demands a sequel.
Drifting by Dave Cook and Matthew Drury was a new twist on a sci-fi classic; the helpful Android. In this case we’re talking about a rather humble Android who has survived the end of the world already, a cosmic apocalypse, and isn’t too pleased to hear it might be happening again.
I wasn’t very well when I read Guy Adam’s Deadbeat. That’s a perfect time to read this comedy-of-sorts adventure that begins with a suspicious bit of coffin transport and then continues to pick up pace in the most unlikely of ways with an assortment of hugely fun characters.
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?
Andrew: Patema Inverted, Now You See Me and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Patema Inverted is an anime movie that thrilled and scared me witless. It’s wonderfully drawn, cleverly written, has great characters and will play merry havoc with your vertigo. Don’t have vertigo? You might have after watching Patema Inverted. That shouldn’t put you off watching it though.
In essence, Now You See Me is a movie about magic loving geeks being motivated enough to take on the world. I enjoyed trying to figure out the magic while pre-empting the plot. Give me any mystery movie or show and my brain starts to try and “solve” it. Now You See Me is not only a good enough movie to play cinema prices but it’s smart enough to keep the brain happy too.
After some wrestling I’ll give my third spot to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. In truth I feel that geek TV; whether that’s supernatural, superhero or sci-fi has had a great year. It’s as if the new generation of TV audiences have come into geek tastes at about the same time the online geek audience can determine the fate of movies and shows via their micro Twitter reviews. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. represents this. Okay, the first few episodes haven’t had the budget or the impact of the Avengers movie but they’ve been good enough and they’re getting better.
FPI: How did 2013 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
Andrew: I’d like to do more. I’ve yet another blog sitting in a state of unfinished chaos that whispers to me every night that there’s plenty to write for it. This year has been about publishing for me. We’re all becoming publishers. Creators are publishers. Fans are publishers. Family are publishers. What’s happening to the publishers? They’re becoming more like agents and agencies; helping the new generation of creator-publishers make money from their works. It’s about influence and reach.
Am I happy? Happy enough – but not satisfied as there’s much more exploration to be done in this space.
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2014?
Andrew: I’ll hopefully launch that new blog. On Geek Native I want to ramp up the content quality and volume again; that’s a desire every year.
Community is a big ambition (and a long time challenge) for Geek Native. Disqus, the comment platform, has not made it easier by scrapping the “latest comment” widget but I still very much aspire for fans to be able to discuss news and ideas on the site.
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
Andrew: I think Orion Books and Gollancz will step things up a gear next year. They’ve got authors like Graham Joyce already but I’d look out to those new names coming through.
Mike Garley’s Dead Roots comic anthology Kickstarter was a big success. I think I said last year to look out for Garley in 2013 so I’m going to claim a win there and put his name back on the list for 2014.
I’d watch Corey Brotherson. He’s deeply involved in projects like Clockwork Watch and Magic of Myths. I don’t know if there are plans to extend either in 2014 but I do get a sense of momentum and transmedia projects feel like a sensible bet for the near feature.
On that note and finally, I wouldn’t be surprised if beActive rattles an interesting transmedia/cross-media project up in the months to come. Collider’s had some battles over who has the rights to the name but this is a series that already has YouTube and comic books going for it with a movie already cut for DVD and possible cinema release.