What Is Best In Life – 2009 Style

by ryankl


It’s the end of the year and I got a lotta problems with you people, and now you’re gonna hear about them. Yes, I’m celebrating Festivus, as usual, and the feat of strength is to find a top entrant for each arbitrary aspect of the year I feel like grieving about. Well, what are we waiting for?

Top Book of 2009

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – Michael Chabon

This book is insanely well written and has taken the mantle of what I think is the greatest book ever written, and most certainly my favourite book of all time. It’s about, for those who didn’t read my review, two young Jewish lads in the early days of New York just after Superman is created. They set out to mark their own stamp on the comic industry and we follow this journey for a few decades. They have success, both professionally and personally, but they also experience failure in both realms. We get racism, assassination attempts, sexual discovery, borrowed children, Antarctic World War escapades, and someone leaping off the Empire State Building. But most importantly, maybe, we get a new comic character, The Escapist. When Chabon writes about The Escapist he changes his prose to feel pulpy and old school and he does a great job. We get the origins of his characters so well put that I would actually pay hard money for a novel just set in that world with that voice.

This book is fantastic, as enjoyment, as literature, as proof that man can still evolve. Enjoy.

Top Comic Book of 2009

Incognito – Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips & Val Staples

This one was surprisingly easy, even though there were some great reads this year. Incognito is an old school pulp story with superpowered people, a history going back hundreds of years, back stabbing twins, hard boiled dames, and some fantastic art. Brubaker pits a story that could have come out of the first half of the last century, it’s a throw back to all sorts of paperback goodness, but it also mixes in some sensibilities of the new school with abundant blood, sex, and human depravity. We follow bad guy, Zack Overkill, as he is now in witness relocation, and presumably changed his last name. He’s on drugs that dampen his abilities, but when he starts to mess around recreationally with some drugs he finds that he can operate off the radar but he knows if he does anything wrong the Feds will link the locality to him. So, instead, he does a few good things. He just wants to feel above the common pleb crowd again, and he finds that he loves it. Once he starts working again he gains the attention of his old crew, led by criminal mastermind still running the shop from serious jail, Black Death. The crew come to get Zack and mayhem ensues. It’s a well paced story that has perfect art and colours to match. This was the sort of comic that brought out the childish fanboy in me because it was always a pleasure to read and look at. I know I’ll be rereading it again very soon. I also know that I rate it slightly above Criminal and cannot wait for the next Incognito mini that will be coming after this Criminal series, so if they go one for one til the end of time I will be the happiest man alive. Also, the back up essays from Jess Nevins were spectacular as they focussed on a different pulp character each month.

This book doesn’t reinvent a genre but it does reinvigorate it and does so almost pitch perfectly.

Top Movie of 2009

500 Days Of Summer

I just reviewed this movie, and it fortuitously came in at the last minute to save me from a year where I simply didn’t see enough good movies. So many awesome titles whizzed by me without getting a view, and that made me sad, but I didn’t miss 500 Days. I caught it on a plane on the way to my honeymoon and it blew me away. I’ve mentioned all of this, but I’ll be brief; Tom Hanson falls in love with Summer but she never really returns the favour, so over 500 days we watch their relationship and how it evolves and changes both people. It’s got laughs, it’s got tearily true moments, and it’s got my favourite dance routine from 2009 as well. The actors are great, but it’s the heart of the movie that will capture anyone who has ever been in love or desperately wanted to pretend they were.

This movie is a deconstruction of love after the fact, and it gets it right in every instance.

Top Album of 2009

Sarah Blasko – As Day Follows Night

I love Sarah Blasko, that’s been apparent before. She’s there with me many mornings as I write and I thank her so much for that. Her sound is simple and breezy, yet each song is actually so complex and fascinating. She’s perfect for writing, especially my latest melancholy-ish novel because she sounds like heartbreak and heartmending should sound like. She’s an ethereal dream and I find all her albums live in that perfect zone where every song is awesome. She’s not the girl I sing along to at the top of my lungs, I could never get near her sound, but one that I sway pleasantly with constantly. If you haven’t heard her yet then do yourself a favour and check out some clips on YouTube, she’ll be around.

Sarah Blasko sounds like my imagination at work, or at least she sets that wheel in motion down the long and dark hill.

Top Website of 2009

The Weekly Crisis

A fanboy comic website, but one with heart. 4 fellas update The Weekly Crisis a few times each week. They’re not journalists like on CBR but that’s what I love about it. It’s like a written podcast where you get people’s opinions, you get unbiased articles (except for personal like as a bias), and you get different perspectives on things. They review comics, and preview them, but only what they plan on buying, which opens great dialogue. They get up on Soapboxes and rant, when the time calls for it, and in the fanboy realm it’s always rant o’clock. They think up new ideas, like the recent fantastic article about back up story possibilities for Marvel that Matt wrote. It’s a fantastic site and all 4 guys have a different voice so you kind of know what they will most likely like, or not. I like the personal aspect, and when you comment they comment back , and the other posters are all regulars and nice people. It’s a site to hang out, not just catch the news, and it was a very cool find for me this year.

If CBR was a comic convention then The Weekly Crisis is a local pub filled with people who want to talk comics, and who doesn’t want that? Let’s all raise a beer…cheers.

Top Podcast of 2009

Fanboy Radio

It’s a radio show about comics coming straight out of Texas. The hosts are massive nerds, and they get actual stars to come on and answer questions and just talk smack in general. I like their vibe and it’s easy for me to listen to, I like everyone on there and I appreciate their highly enthusiastic and knowledgeable approach to comics, and nerd related media. They’re funny, they’re real, and they’re kind of like fanboys made good. This podcast is very easy to listen to as I exercise, and that’s always good news. I always make sure I’m up to date on this show, so that’s how I know I’m committed, instead of having all of those blue dots next to the entries.

Fanboy Radio, the podcast for comic lovers, and thos who love a good chat.

Top Art of 2009

Sean Phillips’ Australian Noir Essay Pictures

I don’t know if m any know about it but not that long ago I had an essay published as part of the back matter in an issue of Criminal, The Sinners Part 2. My essay was titles Australian Noir and dealt with crime in Aussie flicks. It was accepted by Ed Brubaker and put straight into his next issue. What a man! To be published, Sean Phillips had to draw a title page image, so he did up Guy Pearce in The Proposition, and in the article put Mark Brandon ‘Chopper’ Read in his most iconic pose. Both pics are great pieces of art, but the reason they have received enough buzz to create this new honour for the end of year round up is because I have the art sitting framed on my walls. Yeah, you heard me. I emailed Sean, because we were going back and forth, and asked if I could buy one piece, or even both. He emailed back and told me that I would have to wait until the end of the series run, but strangely enough the email actually come from my address. I asked my soon to be wife at the time about it and she said she had been anxious to hear his reply and gone into my email account (yeah, we’re pretty open and she knows all my passwords) and she read the email but something went wrong and she deleted it but there was still one there as forwarded by me. I know, the logic doesn’t fit, but with this girl I threw logic out the window ages ago. So I let it go, and didn’t realise that behind my back she had been emailing Sean and working on her buying both pieces for me. She wanted to keep it a secret, and had even altered his email to me (hence the need to forward and delete) to make it look like he was saying he couldn’t sell them yet. The pieces arrived and the wife framed them and gave them to me the day before our wedding as my present. I was gobsmacked and in love, with both of them (my wife and the art). I have Pearce in the living room, and Uncle Chop Chop in the office. I also have a short note from Sean wishing us both a happy wedding day, what a champion he is. So these two are easily my art works of the year that was.

Sean Phillips drew pictures for my words. ‘Nuff said.

And that, my friends, was the year that was. Oh, one more thing.

Top Wife of 2009


My wife is quite lovely, and at least two and a half points higher than me on the international scale. It’s fun to date up, every guy should try it, and now I get it for life, so that’ll be fun. She is a wicked chef in the kitchen, desserts being her specialty, she is a world record sleeper, once clocking up 19 hours in a day of sack time, very impressive, and she’s one funny bird. We laugh, a lot, and that’s always nice. But most importantly, she makes me want to be a better person, and she inspires me to write so often. She suggested I put one idea into novel form, when I had been toying with comic format, and now I have that first novel finished and shopping around. She is a complete inspiration on this latest novel, and she doesn’t mind that I get up at 5am each day and whittle away in my office with nerdy podcasts going. But my stand out love of my wife is the moment where I make her warm weet-bix for breakfast in bed and I take them in to her every morning, after having woken her maybe half an hour earlier so that she can then enjoy the ‘snooze button moment’ of getting back to sleep and knowing there’s more time to snooze and that food will arrive shortly. I love her smile, and could think of no better way than to work the rest of my life to continually see it.

She is the girl that I love, and always will.

I hope your 2009 has been just as merry.