Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Category: lists

Top 10 of the Decade 2010-2019 – Comics

It’s been an awesome decade in many respects, so I wanted to look back and see some of the stuff I’ve really enjoyed the most. As such, here’s a post of my thoughts and lists of some top times I had imbibing some content that gave me inspiration and joy.

May it find you the same, or remind me of that which you already got.

The following is very much in absolutely no order, I just couldn’t :]

Comics:

It’s been a high quality decade for reading comics, and quite the comic reading journey for myself, so here are the highlights – may they provide you with something new to add to your wish list.

In 2010, I was reading a lot of comics for two reasons. I was writing for The Weekly Crisis, and later for CBR, and about to write a book about Daredevil for Sequart, so I was reading with an eye for extrapolating analysis. Around this time, I was also writing a whole mess of scripts that were going nowhere, and I was reading comics with an eye to imbibe, digest, and internalise in a way that would make me a better writer.

It’s a decade later, and I’m still reading comics to better understand them and as such myself and the place I occupy in making them, but just last month I wrote two critical/analytical essays about comics, so I guess not a lot has changed.

I’m thankful to have had a decade where I’ve published my own comics [no, none appear on this list, that’s gauche] and I’m thankful to have been around to see so many amazing comics spring to life. My reading appears to have steered away from cape comics and into the indie, and I’ve no idea where I’ll venture as time rolls on, but I heavily vouch for every comic on this list.

So, in no particular order, and with a write up of whatever thoughts I blasted out when I thought it was pertinent, here…we…go…

HAWKEYE

I didn’t even plan to buy this comic when it launched. I have no specific reason for that decision at the time, I think I was just a little burnt out on Marvel books in general, and I just really don’t dig Clint Barton. At all. I still don’t, but that didn’t stop me loving this run for every single issue as it came out.

The level of craft and sheer awesome in this book still blows me away. If this was about Matt Murdock I’d probably hail it as one of the greatest comics of all time, as it is, about Barton, I rate it as one of the finest entries into the craft from this decade.

DEADLY CLASS

I loved this comic from the very first issue. I dig Rick Remender’s work, and I wanted this comic long before it launched. How exciting to then note how good it was, and continues to be. Though fair play, much of this is on Wes Craig’s shoulders as he brought the thunder with his art layout skills on each page.

A wild and violent ride, this comic is always an emotional truth bomb and that’s what I love the most about it.

KILL OR BE KILLED

I mean, maybe my #1 of this decade. Maybe the comic most personally designed just for my brain. Maybe the comic I’ll remember the most after another decade has gone.

This comic is also everything I want to make myself, so maybe there’s that. It’s 20 issues, a killer size, it’s experimental in some page layouts, but it’s also just crystal clear storytelling. It’s a weird violent crime comic with strange devil shenanigans. It’s beautiful and dark and so so damn good.

CRIMINAL: THE LAST OF THE INNOCENT

CRIMINAL might be the best overall collection of stories and pages from this decade, and I’ll choose THE LAST OF THE INNOCENT as the one present here because it’s just so dark and fantastic. This twist on Archie as if he’s living out a noir story is so much more than the high concept it might present as. This is an emotional journey, a haunting tale, and one that just makes you feel a whole mess of thoughts after the final page kicks you.

Okay, I’ll also add in BAD NIGHT just because I love this storyline, too. It’s the one that’s probably my favourite, even though TLOTI is most likely the one I’d identify as “The Best.”

THE BLACK MONDAY MURDERS

Hoo boy, bleak. This comic is such a dark affair, and it’s so intricately put together. Stunning is another word, but jaw dropping is all I can really offer. The concept of this comic is that money is power, and power can be manifest. The people in this comic are horrible, all of them, and watching them stumble and stab in the dark is quite the tragedy.

ODY-C

I love the reach of this comic. The sheer audacity to take THE ODYSSEY and toss it into space, with a gender-flipped cast, and Christian Ward’s insane artwork. Everything about this comic hits me in the inspirational space where I want comics to do new things and be amazing.

UNCANNY X-FORCE

You might think this is another X-book, but it’s not, no, not at its heart. This is a heartbreaking tale of toxic relationships, and second chances, and mental health. This is a cape book that steps above every combat trope and delivers true character exploration and growth. It’s a comic that got me to care about Deadpool, and Wolverine, and that’s not often a thing that occurs.

Raina Telgemeier – SISTERS

Raina Telgemeier basically took over comics this decade, but I had to pick just one of her masterpieces for my list and I went with my instant reaction – SISTERS. This cross-country road trip about family and a changing future is beautiful, and it uses the comic form well, and it’s the one that’s stuck with me the longest.

But, honestly, go buy every single one of her books, and just enjoy yourself and the future of comics.

PARKER books

Darwyn Cooke did something special with these books. Adapting Richard Stark’s pulp paperbacks into small graphic novels that were gorgeous and still packed their punch. These 4 hardcovers will always be something I want to return to.

4 KIDS WALK INTO A BANK

I often think about this comic. An insanely talented level up from nascent Matthew Rosenberg and a wild intro to Tyler Boss, this comic looks like it oozes style, but really it’s craft. This crime comic about some kids and a bank is such a love letter to the things you can do in comics and I wish more books were this smart, I wish more books aimed this high, and I wish more books played with the form like this one.

Rosenberg and Boss have become instant Must Buy creators and I eagerly await their next collaboration at Image Comics.

SINK

This indie sensation from mates Alex Cormack and John Lees makes me smile with every issue I read. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the content is horrific, but the fact a comic this good is being made by two mates who are blowing up, at ComixTribe, a publisher I love, fills me with hope for the medium and all our places in it.

SINK is a horror comic, and it doesn’t skimp on the horrific, and it’s also a great structural lesson as they make it a series of one-shots, with a two-parter played to maximum effect, and I’m constantly in awe. If you haven’t sampled this comic, you really need to get onto it.

PAPER GIRLS

Enjoyed this from first issue to the last. I trade waited this, and mostly wish I hadn’t. The characters were all so well written I’d have preferred to spend time with them monthly instead of having huge gaps away from them.

GREEN WAKE

I really dug this weird downbeat horror comic from Riley Rossmo and Kurtis J. Wiebe. It was grim and ugly in the most beautiful ways, and I got excited before it was released and got even more excited when it was as good as I wanted it to be. Exactly the kind of comic that felt like it was created specifically for me and my tastes.

Also doesn’t hurt that it formed and built a lifelong friendship between me and Kurtis.

ELEKTRA

This particular Volume, from Mike del Mundo and W. Haden Blackman is a perfect encapsulation of what I want from an Elektra comic, and what I dig about 12 issue maxiseries. Here, Elektra is unpacked and used in a really character driven way, through some insane plot, and by the end of it all she’s been more fully fleshed out.

This book had the very best covers, and is an instant modern Big Two classic from me.

HILDA books

I can’t remember how I got onto these, but I’m so glad I did. I devoured the first 3, and then the Netflix show got announced, and I got excited for that, too. This comic is pure kids’ comic energy! It’s fun and short and well illustrated. This should be a perennial gift to any child in your life whenever you get invited to a friend’s kid’s party.

THE UNDERWATER WELDER

This comic is wild and emotional and like a real piece of literature, if you can believe it, COMICS: BIFF, POW, CHIN STROKE, HRMMMM.

This is like The Twilight Zone in all the right ways and it cemented Jeff Lemire as a writer in my mind I wanted to study and think deeply about and learn how to appreciate.

THOR

Jason Aaron’s epic multi-year run, with many artists, has been a truly monumental achievement. I’ve kept up in trades, and haven’t finished it all yet, but just from what I know he’s managed so far, this is an evergreen example of a superhero comic/story done right.

MONSTRO MECHANICA

This Da Vinci centred comic featuring a killer female partner in Isabel, and a really cool robot, is just the right balance of history, and action, and character work I love. Chris Evenhuis’ art is perfect, and Paul Allor knows exactly how to plot and pace things to bring out the best on the page.

LOCKE & KEY

Not only a genuinely scary horror comic, also a masterclass of form. Between Gabriel Rodriguez’ steam cleaned art to Joe Hill’s beautiful characterisation, this comic is the kind of thing you can recommend to anyone new to comics and who digs a bit of genre malarkey.

SCALPED

Crime comic on the Indian Reservation. So well done, so much heart, so much breaking of that heart, near about perfection, and a fine example of what Vertigo Comics always did right.

CLUE

This superb take on the old property from Nelson Daniel and Paul Allor was exactly what I wanted and never realised. It’s so well structured, deliciously carving out space for every character, and the whole conclusion has stuck with me ever since.

CASANOVA

I just love this comic. It’s 100% my jam. Uberweird spy-fu stuff, constantly trying to utilise the comic form and page, and make readers think.

THE CAPE

Holy hell this miniseries hit me like if someone dropped a bear on me. Read the comic and you’ll understand the concept. Based on a short story by Joe Hill, Jason Ciaramella took it further, and made better, and I’ll forever want to push this into the hands of others.

TIGER LAWYER

I still think about Ryan Ferrier’s anthropomorphic crime comic he made with Matt McCray, Vic Malhotra, and Adam Metcalfe. It’s all I ever wanted, and pushed me to making my own Deer Editor. In a perfect world, both comics went for very long runs, crossed over, and spawned more anthropomorphic working class heroes.

THE SECRET HISTORY OF D.B. COOPER

An alternative history comic from Brian Churilla that’s still pinging around in my head years later. It’s fun, and gorgeous, and completely and totally insane. Everything certain good comics should be.

SOUTHERN BASTARDS

Come for the American Football backdrop, stay for the crime and nasties, and fill your guts with the Southern BBQ recipes.

STUMPTOWN

This one billed itself as The Rockford Files, but now, and a woman, and a comic. It is, indeed, all of those things, and it is those things perfectly.

THE VISION

Taking a C-List character from the bench and putting them into a funky genre choice – suburban horror, of a kind – and dialing it up to 11. The result was an astounding success.

CEMETERY BEACH

An 8 issue chase/action comic. It really shouldn’t work, but every issue pulled me in further.

HEATHEN

Really stunning self-described Lesbian Viking comic, and it’s so well illustrated, and paced, and it has me thoroughly intrigued and engaged.

SAGA

Some see this as the #1 thing, some see it as the cliche choice that’s okay but not amazing, and some hate it. YMMV, but personally, overall, I think this comic is an absolute bruiser. It hits, and it hits you harder than nearly anything else out there. When BKV comes gunning for my tear ducts, he comes with buckets. After all of the highest highs, I will follow this comic anywhere until it wraps its run.

BLACK MIRROR

Scott Snyder has done some great work with Batman, but my heart always comes back to his debut. This story in Detective Comics, with Jock and Francesco Francavilla, was very much a detective story, with some huge fantastical elements, and it hit that right tone of street level and nasty which I usually dig a little more. Dick Grayson as Batman was superb, and the storyline with Jim Gordon was so well executed. This was a promising debut from someone who just kept smashing it out at DC for the next decade.

Top 10 of the Decade 2010-2019 – TV

It’s been an awesome decade in many respects, so I wanted to look back and see some of the stuff I’ve really enjoyed the most. As such, here’s a post of my thoughts and lists of some top times I had imbibing some content that gave me inspiration and joy.

May it find you the same, or remind me of that which you already got.

TV:

At first thought, I’d not have labelled this decade anything special in the realm of TV, but maybe that’s just because I had 2 kids and wasn’t glued to my glowing screen, and maybe also having kids makes you forget things on the surface level, because when I look down this list I see some belters that absolutely stand out as some of my favourite television of all time.


ATLANTA

This show went from strength to strength and that’s largely on the rising star of Donald Glover’s brain – both in front of and behind the camera. HIs presence is amazing, but his scripts on this show are phenomenal. The first season has the invisible car joke, an absolute fav, but the second season brought some thunder with episodes centred around social media and racism that completely blew my mind.

HANNIBAL

How nice of people to gather their collective abilities and resources to make 3 seasons of a show that were just purely aimed at me. Especially when you consider I heard about this show and instantly thought, “Oof, we do not need more Hannibal Lecter things in this world.” And then I avoided it, or just forgot it existed. Imagine my surprise, late late one night when I’m up with a baby who won’t sleep and I stumble across this and my life is forever changed. I was glued for all 3 seasons after watching this one episode and I’ll forever be thankful something like this even got the chance to exist. It’s horrific and heartfelt and I cannot wait to rewatch it in another decade.

THE LEFTOVERS

I wanted to watch this because of Damon Lindelof. But I couldn’t find a way to watch it legally for free anywhere, so I bought the book, and devoured it, and really loved it, so I finally bought all 3 DVD sets with some present money. Then I smashed those 3 seasons and was left feeling like I’d witnessed something truly amazing, and personal, and spectacular. The concept intrigues, but the delivery, exploration, and extrapolation went places I never could have hoped for, and this whole affair got me right in the Emotion Place.

The fact it adapts the novel in S1 so well, but then goes further for 2 more years is so interesting. The themes Lindelof wants to explore constantly get my attention, whether he succeeds or not. He always seems to be reaching. And that scene of Theroux on the bed, with the plastic wrap, is something I thought was such a perfect character moment done in such a bold way.

THE GOOD PLACE

Another show I didn’t know about, and was happy to avoid on Netflix, until my wife popped the first ep on and then called me into the room 5 minutes into it. From that moment on, I fell in love [yes, with the show, but with my wife a little more, too]. The balls on this show, the ideas and scope, and the tip top cast from leads to background made this one of my favourite experiences of this decade.

BREAKING BAD

Utter genius masterpiece on every level. Once the wheels got turning, every piece of this noir clockwork was finely tuned. Watching Walter White break bad, while Jesse Pinkman proved himself unbreakable was a morbid delight.

FARGO

Every season plays so different, new cast, new tone, and yet each one is a masterpiece in its own design. The ability to do that is wild, and I love every single season so much for that warped Coen Brothers sensibility that feels informs but not beholden.

TERRIERS

Just one season. The world wasn’t ready for this pure bliss and genius. Slacker beach PI shows, may we be blessed with more in the future.

JUSTIFIED

Really loved this show, it’s a fun time to watch, and Timothy Olyphant is a great lead, all around an Elmore Leonard inspired story/approach. I dig it on every level I have, and then I never finished it because the guy who plays the boss cop [sheriff? whatever] came out super-hard on twitter as a troll/bigot and it just made me sad and I couldn’t return. A shame this show gets that mental shade from me just because of one bad actor, but here we are.

THE AMERICANS

I’ve still only seen one season, but that’s mostly because it isn’t on Netflix and I’m lazy and cheap and don’t have the DVDs. I should find somebody with the DVDs.

Anyway, this show is awesome, I love the tone and scripts and characters, and I look forward to the day I come around and finish it.

These are my shows, as always, know that I missed whatever masterpiece you’re thinking of because it’s not aimed at toddlers and I just didn’t have the time last decade. Cool.

Top 10 of the Decade 2010-2019 – Flicks

It’s been an awesome decade in many respects, so I wanted to look back and see some of the stuff I’ve really enjoyed the most. As such, here’s a post of my thoughts and lists of some top times I had imbibing some content that gave me inspiration and joy.

May it find you the same, or remind me of that which you already got.

Films

Presented in a form that matches my brain tonight, at least, here are the flicks from the past decade that really really stuck with me. These are my favourites!

INSIDE OUT

My absolute #1 flick of the decade. Guaranteed to make me cry, a heartstopper of emotional truths for the entire family, and funny as hell on the side. I’ll be watching this one until the day I die because it’s so truly exceptional. The big story, a girl and her emotions, is a great idea, but it’s handled with such deft care and precision. The fact the film is hilarious and also breath-takingly sad shows that it can do what it pushes.

It also has the mind-kicking of the kid’s brain being run by happiness, but the father’s brain being run by anger, and the mother’s brain being run by sadness. And it doesn’t push those points, they’re just there.

INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE

Well, okay, unless this is my #1 flick. I mean, it’s a spectacular feat of storytelling, inspiration, and ingenuity. Taking the broader range of Spider-characters and telling the origin story of Miles Morales, alongside Spider-Gwen, with an amazing soundtrack, and wild cartoon style, leaning heavily into the comics in all the right ways. I get the feeling I’ll watch this flick another 50 times over the next decade as I’ve already watched it half a dozen times just this year.

The key to this one is the script: see how so much gets called back in all the right ways.

THE WINTER SOLDIER

I’m always amazed that Captain America isn’t a character I tend towards loving in the comics but Chris Evans made me absolutely dive into the character in the big screen. So take that actor/character, put them in a more intrigue/espionage story, add some Robert Redford, and I am absolutely all in on this flick. The action is great, the tone and visuals are superb, it’s easily my favourite live action superhero flick and I think it’ll be difficult to top because of how well it matches so many of my personal likes.

Protip: watch it in greyscale, it’s a hell of an old school trip. That elevator scene just gets better.

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS

It took me years to eventually check this out, and I have no specific reason why, but boy am I glad I did. This is the Coen Brothers content that resonates with me, it’s quirky, it’s heartfelt, it’s “small,” and it’s got Oscar Isaac absolutely crushing it. This shot up my ranks to be one of my favourite Coen flicks of all time because it’s all heart, emotion above plot, and plot pushing emotion before it does any kind of logic. I often think I saw Barton Fink too young to truly get it, but this came at exactly the right time in my life to stick right in my brain.

BLACK SWAN

It’s a dance horror flick, and not the only one on this list. Darren Aronofsky retells the classic ballet Swan Lake and makes it creepy and sexy and brutal and I absolutely fell in love with this flick. 100%, this was a special piece of art that makes me want to create better stories myself on a visual and a visceral level. It’s a piece that uses colour and music and tone to make you fall in and feel, and that’s so hard to do at this level, and I want to learn how.

HELL OR HIGH WATER

I also missed this one at first and can’t remember what made me watch it, but I caught it on my flight to Seattle for ECCC and I swear I talked about this flick all damn weekend with all sorts of creators. The script is airtight, the performances are pitch perfect, and the whole flick just reminds you how damn sad male toxicity is, and how it doesn’t stop and will consume you eventually if that’s what you commit to. It also inspires me in that the plot itself isn’t too intricate, but the way the characters honestly and openly navigate it all is what makes this sing.

LOOPER

This is a weird inclusion, because I recognise it isn’t perfect, but it’s something I just personally dig so so much. The decision to put JGL into the Bruce Willis face is jarring and isn’t something I love, but I love the commitment to trying it out. The concept and the script and the performances are all wins for me.

INCEPTION

Another one where I won’t say this is Pure Cinema™ but I will say it’s something I dig so much because it sits right at the intersection of things I always enjoy wholeheartedly on a variety of levels. The cast is quality, the concept is hugely my jam, and I dug the layers of the script [whether they always made sense or not]. It’s fun AND leaves you thinking and spinning, what else can you ask for?

KNIVES OUT

Only saw this the other week, and yet still, I know this belongs on the list. It’s just so damn well constructed and executed. I know counteless mystery writers no doubt fill shelves with business this good every year, and it’s nothing new, but it felt so fresh on the screen. It’s not a franchise flick, it’s a genre you don’t see all that often, and it’s so damn enjoyable the whole way through. There are dozens of classic little moments that are going to stick with me a long long time, and that’s often what I love most about cinema. I saw this with my wife and then went to lunch and we spent most of it just talking about this flick.

This is another script I’d love to map out and deconstruct. The way things are revealed, and obscured, and hinted at, the balance is near on perfect.

CAPTAIN MARVEL

I absolutely fell in love with Captain Marvel on every level. The flick, the tone, the character, and the actress. Yet another notch in the Crazy Enjoyable Marvel Movie column, I don’t think it’s perfect, or a piece of high art, but it is something important. Hot on the heels of Wonder Woman, it showed a huge appetite for female-led cape movies because you could see the eighth quippy smirking white guy with abs in another costume, or you could see this, and people overwhelmingly showed they wanted to see this. And not because it’s legacy, Captain Marvel was once a dude no one knew about, and now it’s Carol Danvers, who realistically no one knew about, so you’d think she’d perform less than a founding Avenger [Ant-Man, let’s say], but she didn’t.

Brie Larson was key to this as she stone cold nailed this role, able to carry the action and the desert dry humour, and I will happily watch her lead the MCU into the next decade.

THE HATEFUL EIGHT

By the time this came out, I was well burnt out on Tarantino. Django Unchained did little for me, and while I can see Inglorious Basterds is quality, it just wasn’t my jam. Hence why I didn’t catch this until stuck on a plane years after its release, and even then it took an entire trans-Atlantic flight to get through this while pausing constantly to walk my kids around, but by the end I knew this one was going to stick with me. Maybe it’s Kurt Russell. Let’s be honest, it probably is. But it’s also the script, something a little more back to basics in his approach, characters in a locked box conversing, and Tarantino made every character shine in their own sick way.

THE IDES OF MARCH

Gosling, Clooney, old school politics. I knew this one was for me from the shot with the title card. Just a good political thriller to stand up there with some of the best, and this script is really engaging. The kind of thing that’s just words and faces and it doesn’t need theatrics and helicopters and pyrotechnics, it just needs quality acting.

SUSPIRIA

This was some nasty business. Saw this with my two brothers, all three of us veterans of video nasties, and we all walked away quietly contemplative. It’s not just the gore, but it’s the overall tone. This is some dark business, and I never thought I’d want to see Argento updated, but this worked on so many levels, from camera angles, to colour, to pacing.

Plus, that score on vinyl.

THE NICE GUYS

If this had come out earlier in my life, I would have seen it 20 times. Cracking script, great buddy leads, the plot is great but it’s the airtight structure that gets to me. The kind of movie that should come with a six pack to enjoy it all the more.

SPOTLIGHT

Right in my wheelhouse of great journalist stories, this is exceptionally well made, but also treats the plot and subject matter with the tone it deserves. Everyone fired on this, it felt like the kind of thing to stand up there with Zodiac and JFK.

SNOWPIERCER

Brutal stuff, a great adaptation. Chris Evans reminds us he has range, and the grime oozes off the screen. It’s not always an “enjoyable” flick, but the themes will cut close to home, and you’ll wake the next day still thinking about it, and, yes, you absolutely should hunt down the original comics, utterly grand stuff.

WONDER WOMAN

Still remember walking out and my wife declaring, “Well, that was better than The Avengers.” I think time’s going to stand with her on that one. Gal Godot joins the few of this earth who will now forevermore embody the superhero they brought to the screen. Even with a janky third act, this flick is so enjoyable elsewhere that it gets a pass.

BLADE RUNNER 2049

Matches the original in so many ways: music, tone, moments. Maybe not overall as good, but certainly a worthy addition and something I’m excited to revisit. And, yes, everyone says it, but it’s true, the colours are insane eye candy.

ZOOTOPIA

The best crime flick masquerading as a kids’ cartoon…ever? Another script where I want to map it out and study it, for its brilliance, for its simplicity, for its smart joy. Animals and wonderful character arcs and real world commentary: yes, please.

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

Yeah, not the top of my list. Not even close. But this flick is so good I understand why people declare it #1 – it’s a masterpiece, but it’s down here because it’s not something that completely resonated all the way through me. I mean, the bass did, but there’s something about this flick that has made me hesitant to revisit it. I will, because it’s stupidly great, but it’s not like the things above it.

10 CLOVERFIELD LANE

Oh, man, did this flick ever surprise me. I mean, I haven’t even seen Cloverfield yet, but this was so damn tight I had to give it a go, and I’m very very glad I did. I was completely caught on the edge of my seat, never really knowing, and I’ll forever love the script for that. Tension + characters + wild premise + John Goodman + that final scene = all my love.

That’s the list, hope you dig it – either by agreeing, or wanting to chase some down. If I missed something you dug, know that I probably just didn’t see it, or that I hated it and we should battle, as per the Rules of the Internet. Be seeing you.

The RKL List of #1 Issues

I was recently asked to pick my Top 10 Comics Issues with a #1 on them. It proved a difficult and very interesting task. It told me a lot about myself. [NOTE: between the time I initially wrote this and this publication date, I changed one element, s one comic came in, and one went out. Such is the fickle nature of lists.]

You can read a complete rundown of the overall vote/list I contributed to over at Shelfdust!

I had to really stew on this and consider a lot, so here is some of my thought process, followed by my Top 10, with a little commentary!

Daredevil/Matt Murdock is my favourite character, but I couldn’t find a #1 I cared about to go into this list. I own his first appearance, it’s signed by Stan Lee, it’s awesome, but it’s not exactly an amazing comic. It’s also nowhere near the first Daredevil I ever read, nor the reason I fell in love with him. But I couldn’t pick either Frank Miller runs on the main title because neither start with a #1. Kevin Smith and Joe Quesada relaunched well, but it wasn’t in my top 10. If the Lark/Brubaker issue was a #1 it would have been HIGH on this list, but it’s not.

Then I thought about old comics I loved, and while my childhood was spent in Spider-Man territory, and on to Venom, with some X-books amidst it all, it was rarely a #1 that led me there, Venom was in the Spidey titles, and whatever numbers they were up to, and Venom: Lethal Protector might have gotten a #1, but that’s not gonna make the list [though I would be interested to reread that mini, I still have all the issues here in my office]. Same with the X-books, they were floating in whatever numbers they were at – though did AGE OF APOCALYPSE have a #1 issue? Was it an Alpha? Does that count? Either way, close, but most likely just off the list.

I will say, BARTMAN #1 nearly made the list based on how many times I read and reread that issue [and mini] in my youth, but it just got squeezed off. As did THE WALKING DEAD #1, because it might have been instrumental in getting me back into comics as a young professional – shout out to my brother for buying me that trade for my birthday – it was the first trade and the end it landed on that made me a huge fan, not just the first issue.

So, without further ado, here’s my actual list, each served with a little reason why. Enjoy.

10. VAULT OF HORROR #1

This one was a reprint. It collects a variety of stories from other issues. But this was one of the very first comics bought for me, and it started a long-standing tradition of loving everything EC had once put out.

The stories themselves aren’t the absolute pinnacle of what EC could offer, but this issue is one I’ll remember forever because I remember where I was when it was bought, I still remember its cover, I remember reading it over and over throughout the years, and I know it was the first building block of my own comic collection and the place where I forged my own path as a lifelong comic reader.

10. VAULT OF HORROR #1

This one was a reprint. It collects a variety of stories from other issues. But this was one of the very first comics bought for me, and it started a long-standing tradition of loving everything EC had once put out.

The stories themselves aren’t the absolute pinnacle of what EC could offer, but this issue is one I’ll remember forever because I remember where I was when it was bought, I still remember its cover, I remember reading it over and over throughout the years, and I know it was the first building block of my own comic collection and the place where I forged my own path as a lifelong comic reader.

9. LOCKE & KEY #1

The effective hooks of a first issue are many: deliver characters we can connect with, make the premise simple and enticing, have knock out art, have 1-2 moments that grab our collars and shake, do it all with economical use of pages/scenes with no fat. Yep, it’s gotta be all thriller, no filler.

Gabriel Rodriguez & Joe Hill effortlessly bring us into this world they build through really strong character interactions and a hook that’ll catch you for days. It almost seems simple how well they did it, but don’t be fooled, this is arcane alchemy. And it was so good I bought the #1 issue again when IDW offered it with a full script in it. Absolute brain fuel.

8. THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST #1

This is the book that brought me all in on Danny Rand. I previously dug him for the loose Daredevil connection, and the killer yellow threads, but this run from David Aja and Ed Brubaker/Matt Fraction locked me in for life, and the foundation is all laid here in this issue.

Danny Rand is a kung fu master, and there are few better equipped to show that than David Aja. The early double page splash of Iron Fist fly kicking some HYDRA goons in the rain is just stunning [and mirrors the same trick Brubaker pulled over in Daredevil with Michael Lark, and both times they are just as effective].

The whole mythos then gets a little tweak with the introduction of Orson Randall, and the stakes go up, and the tone is set. It’s part superhero story, part gritty 70s action flick, and all billionaire kung fu.

7. CASANOVA #1

I’ve come back to this issue a whole bunch of times, usually when I’m writing my own #1 issue. Maybe it’s because I love Matt Fraction’s writing, maybe it’s because Gabriel Ba builds a whole world in one go, or maybe it’s because this issue covers so much ground and uses so many comic skills that I find it inspiration fuel every time.

I do appreciate the cyclical nature of this issue, and the fourth wall breaking captions, and by the end I know Casanova Quinn, and his job, and his problem. And I know I will read this comic for the rest of my life, no matter what schedule it comes out on.

6. THE IRREDEEMABLE ANT-MAN #1

This is a book no one was asking for. Phil Hester and Robert Kirkman go about building a new super, which is hard enough yakka, but then they make him not very super, and very barely heroic. In fact, he’s a scumbag and by the end of this first issue you want to keep reading because you really want to see Eric O’Grady’s house of cards fall down around him.

And yet I still kind of love him, and have enjoyed reading him elsewhere, but that’s due to the way his character grows over time. In this debut, he’s absolute pond froth. But you just can’t look away at this seedy underside of what goes on behind the Marvel superheroics.

5. SLEEPER #1

Okay, now the list hits the real tour de forces. Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips here start something truly special, and I think it’s their second collaboration, and it’s one of the first comics I bought when getting back into comics and it was the one that completely solidified my fall back into things.

This is a phenomenal debut: it gives us a character we can’t look away from, it surrounded them with other people who are interesting and will help/hinder him along the way, and it slowly unpacks why we should care for our character through the main complication of the text.

A spy comic by way of some superpowers, this is hard hitting action and a slew of characters you’ll follow to the grave and beyond. I’ve read this entire series more than once and it only gets better.

4. ELEKTRA #1

I love Elektra. Frank Miller introduced her, he told the best story with her, and he buried her. That really could have been her entire catalogue in story, but I’m glad it’s not because Mike del Mundo and W. Haden Blackmen did something special with her in this maxiseries, and it all starts in this character focused debut.

Elektra has history, so it’s unpacked here in gorgeous detail, and this builds context, which they then quickly move away from. This isn’t yet another story of Elektra circling her boyfriend Matt Murdock. This is her story they want to tell, and she will be the centre of it, so she thinks about the past right before moving forward and taking a bounty hunter style job to find someone. It’s all fairly simple in summary, but the way it’s told is so exceptionally fluid, and it’s juxtaposed against Bloody Lips, a new villain invested here who is truly fascinating.

And then we get the final splash of Elektra descending into Monster Island.

Yes, Elektra, our leading lady/ninja/bounty hunter jumps out of a plane and descends towards Monster Island in her wingsuit. Comics! When they’re this good, they’re better than anything else out there.

3. UNCANNY X-FORCE #1

I’ve not been an X-mark since the cartoon when I was in primary school, so I initially slept on this book. I don’t really follow Wolverine or Deadpool, I knew little of Fantomex, Archangel didn’t feel like anything that had been interesting in a while, and I dig Psylocke but not enough to buy into this comic. But then I started hearing things, so I dug back and got the first issue and didn’t stop pulling it monthly until the run ended.

This issue not only makes me care about an X-team, but it invested me in characters I had little connection with, and made me have to come back to see how it would all unfold over time. The wild adventure style storyline is certainly something a little different, and Jerome Opena elevates it beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. There are funny moments, but also some gore, and the cast selection shows itself to be genius for what is being set up. This run is an absolute titanic force of how good it can get when someone plays with the toys, and it all began in this debut issue I roundly ignored until I realised I had it wrong, and I’m so glad I realised my error.

2. KILL OR BE KILLED #1

Okay, maybe my favourite comic from the past decade, and something so incredibly my specific jam, and the pinnacle of what I’ve enjoyed about what happens when Sean Phillips and Ed Brubaker collaborate.

This debut issue is a masterclass.

Brubaker carries us through this all with a resonating first person caption voice that’s captivating. We see Dylan try to kill himself, and then we rewind to build context, and then we shift again to showcase other pertinent information. It’s all dripped out at a delicious pace, but one that constantly gives us something else to add to the pile to astound us.

Phillips uses gutters to isolate characters, and guide the eye, and make us feel the emotional scope of this character and the world around him he feels so constantly attacked by. I’d love to map out how this issue gives up information, and how it does it. Putting something like this together, giving us so many character interactions alongside our leading man’s state of mind and motivation moving forward is a masterclass in how to give an audience everything they need without them ever seeing it coming or having a moment to feel bored.

Every comic writer should read this issue to see why we should never rest on our laurels. We can always do better.

1. Y: THE LAST MAN #1

This is the cliche choice, the one people are told to read, to seek out, to study. And there’s reason for that.

Yes, this issue is that good. You might not dig the story [I guess, I don’t know how, but that’s cool], but there’s little denying this issue does everything it should and does it with the most simplistic style. If you step back, this issue looks so easy, and doesn’t do much, but it really just pushes information into your brain through conversation and dialogue and that’s not easy to do without making anyone feel like a James Remar Exposition Machine.

Every character for the series gets time here, they all get moments that shine, and by the end of this issue you know them all and have cast your lot in with the right or the wrong ones. The hook in this issue isn’t that all the men on Earth die, that’s just doing what it says on the tin, the masterful magic here is in how much you love the characters and need to know what will become of them all.

In a world where most comics end their #1 issue by revealing the hook that’s already been in all of the solicit/prepress material, this comic goes another route. Knowing that Yorick wanted to propose to his girlfriend at the worst moment and got interrupted is the key to this series. Brian K Vaughan never sells this book as a post-apocalyptic tale of every man on Earth dying, bar one. He sells it as the story of the last boy on Earth becoming the last man on Earth. A great reminder than your story isn’t your hook, your hook is there to make people give your story their eyes. Then your job is to make them care.

Reread this issue, see how BKV does it, especially with the world’s finest work from Pia Guerra, and marvel at how he does it. One tip: he has 40 pages, so he’s got that working for him. Good luck to you!

What Is Best In Life? – 2019 Edition 

The final year of the decade, and we’ve gone out with some high quality parts, so it’s nice to sit back and reflect on all the good things, and only the good things, just for one moment.

Comic

Every year, I manage to read a lot of good comics, and this year was no exception. I’m always thankful to find new things, and see amazing things continue to be phenomenal, and to see mates making excellent stuff, as such, here are some comics you should scope out.

November by Elsa Charettier and Matt Fraction is a brilliant OGN with a killer structure and some absolutely brutal pages of character and design. Crone from Justin Greenwood and Dennis Culver only just started but it’s already one of my absolute favourites of the year as it depicts a Red Sonja type adventurer who has grown old and now sees the world and herself very differently. John Lees continues to impress with Mountainhead with Ryan Lee and Sink with Alex Cormack, both showing skill, craft, and care. 

But my comic of the year, yet again, is a Sean Phillips and Ed Brubaker jam: CRIMINAL

Absolutely stunning, beautifully put together, intricately woven, and just damn fine crime comics. An absolute MVP on the market.

Novel

I don’t give myself enough time to read novels, but this year I finally sampled Fletch by Bregory MacDonald and did enjoy it, despite the eponymous hero being a fairly decent asshole. Killing Gravity by Corey J. White absolutely won me over and I need to catch up with him to get my hands on the next 2 in the trilogy. But my favourite reading experience of the year was: CANARY

Duane Swierczynski always makes his books feel like arrows flying directly at you, and you can either duck, dodge, or take the hit. This one is very much in that school of his shelf.

TV

There are a lot of good shows out there, but I’m trying to spend my time on the truly great stuff. This year I really enjoyed The Kominsky method as it does something a little different with the sitcom format and allows Michael Douglas to seemingly both stroke his ego while completely deflating it. The return of Veronica Mars was really fun because it truly did posit the concept of what this character would be like travelling into adulthood. Life is hard for her, and that’s about right. How interesting then that my favourite show features the same lead actress: THE GOOD PLACE

It doesn’t seem right that this show can continue to be this good. It’s funny as hell, and deep enough to keep you thinking, and structurally sound like a glass snowflake. Every character continues to shine, the plot goes insane, and the heart of it all never leaves view.

Movie

It’s always exciting to find new things in film. Captain Marvel continued the trend Wonder Woman began last year of strong superhero films featuring women in the lead, and this flick really amplified the presence. This flick was funny and full of awesome and Brie Larson can easily carry the MCU for another decade, if she so wishes to. However, my heart belongs to something that’s not a franchise flick because this year I was completely bowled over by: KNIVES OUT

A murder mystery, in the style of old mansion novels, and Rian Johnson nails it all. The tone, the style, the characters, everything. I’m still thinking about the structure of this beast as the audience is given information at different times, and sometimes we don’t even know it yet, and there is so much to learn from this one.

Podcast

Every commute, every time I mow the lawn, I’m listening to someone talk info into my brain. I’ve enjoyed learning more about D&D through their official podcast, Dragon Talk, and it helps the two hosts are great fun. I’ve continued to expand my teaching brain with the Google Teacher Tribe, and my comics brain with Off Panel and Word Balloon, but this year my ears belonged to: SMASH BOOM BEST

This podcast about two people debating two topics through separate rounds got my brain firing with all kinds of rad ideas and desires for the classroom.

And that’s been the best of my 2019, let’s keep the run going into 2020 and the next decade to come.

What is Best in Life? 2018 Edition

Nothing like an end of year round up. A time to reflect, a time to take stock, and a time to project.
Overall, 2018 has felt like a year of building pressure. Whether we get a glorious wave into 2019, I don’t know, and whether I have the balance to ride that wave and not get crushed I also do not know. But I’ve done my best to stay positive and keep wheels behind the scenes moving, so while I didn’t publish a lot this year, I did prep 4 pitches, and put the scripts for one project to bed, and wrote a tonne on another one, and have lined up a few one-shots with artists I’m excited to bring it all together with.

If everything I worked on in 2018 came out in 2019, it would be a stellar year. So we shall see.

And while I said I didn’t get much out in 2018, what did come out was stuff I’m crazy proud of. The BEAUTIFUL CANVAS tpb landed in Feb, collecting last year’s acclaimed mini-series, and the month before it we started the year strong with ETERNAL, and I’ve been saying if you only publish one new thing all year, but that thing is ETERNAL, then it’s been a good year. Eric Zawadzki and Dee Cunniffe deserve all the praise this year.

Now, onto some things we can list!

MY TOP COMIC OF 2018

I really dug some good good stuff this year. Image tops the list with so much quality: GIDEON FALLS was something I got caught up on recently, and that book is very fine, as is CEMETERY BEACH, for totally different reasons. SHANGHAI RED was my jam in the same way SINK at ComixTribe is. PAPER GIRLS and SAGA and DEADLY CLASS continue to be masterpieces, and I really enjoyed MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES, but the top book really has to go to something that’s one of my very favourites from my very favourite creative team:

KILL OR BE KILLED

Just a stellar end to a wicked story where both Sean Phillips and Ed Brubaker were on superbly fine form.

MY TOP NOVEL OF 2018

Man, THE OUTSIDER from Stephen King could have run away with this, if I’d only stopped before the final hundred pages. It’s not *bad*, but it is not as blistering as the first half of the book. That first half is pound-for-pound King at his dark criminal best.

I also really dug PLATO WYNGARD AND THE ARMOUR OF THE GODS, the second novel from my two brothers, Marc and James Lindsay, but that feels a bit nepotistic, and would make them far too happy.

I took a few weeks to smash through HANGMAN, where Jack Heath writes such a ballistic crime novel that you can’t help but be impressed with the layers of familiarity he builds into his characters alongside the wild intricate puzzles and violent moments.

But there can only be one, so, I’ll lay this one at the feet of:

WE RIDE THE STORM

This fantasy epic from Devin Madson was something I bought because she showed the opening line on her table, and it’s a banger:

I honestly hadn’t read a fantasy book since my David Eddings days in high school, but I was keen to try this out. It’s Book One of a bigger story, so the opening hundred pages is a lot of table dressing, but by the final hundred pages it’s just fistfuls of food being slammed into your mouth faster than you can chew. And I mean that in a good way. The action and character drama continue to rise, and I was hooked on all three plot threads as they wind ever closer.

There were also two particular chapters where I finished them and thought…damn, that’s some good reading.

If you get the chance, track this down, it’s bloody, glorious, and bloody glorious.

MY TOP TV SHOW OF 2018

THE GOOD PLACE came so so close to running away with this one. The third season has been just as good as the rest, and in a way that’s different from S2, which went about it different from S1. The show is a titanic force, and I’m a better writer for having watched it, but something else from this year jumped ahead of it through sheer force of will. And it wasn’t DAREDEVIL S3, or GLOW S2, or THE KOMINSKY METHOD S1 which came out of nowhere to absolutely thrill me, nor was it my marathon catch up of three seasons of THE LEFTOVERS, which I’m discounting because it’s an older show. No, the top gong is kinda easily held onto by this one which should be absolutely obvious when you really think about it:

ATLANTA S2

This show good, this show real good. Some of these episodes, mostly in the middle in and around the Teddy Perkins ep are just A+ analyses of the modern world as told through gonzo noir small screen cinema. So so perfect.

MY TOP MOVIE OF THE YEAR

It’s one thing to announce a tie, and it’s another to give that tie to two polar opposite things. Both of these flicks did what they needed to do nigh perfectly, and they left me in very different places, and I can barely separate them. One will be endlessly rewatchable, one will be a hard watch again, though I will. One is high pop bubble gum joy, one is brutal art house insanity. Both, though, are long. I can’t separate it, so I’m letting the chips fall where they may – the top flick[s] of 2018 are:

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR and SUSPIRIA

Watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe come to this big break moment at the end of Infinity War was something to behold, a truly special feat. The movie is top notch event comic action fun. It’s *BIG* and it’s wild and it’s a smile injected into your lips. It’s not high art, and it shouldn’t be. It’s not a great character study, and it shouldn’t be because there are about 500 principal hero cast at play – though it is a study of Thanos, which is both as bold as it is brilliant, and it’s for that reason it crossed the line at the top.

However, across the aisle, SUSPIRIA does everything different, and is most likely the more true superior flick. It is high art, it’s weird, it’s a character study, or more of a location study, a look at witch hierarchy in dance schools. It’s unsettling, and everything holds huge gravity – which is funny when you consider the death count in Suspiria must be about 0.0000001% of the other cape-inclined movie. I feel like Suspiria is more likely to sit atop Best Of lists when we look back in 20 years, but Infinity War will be more remembered, and more wildly remembered, and will sit on its own Best Of lists, too, for its own reasons.

MY TOP PODCAST OF 2018

I’ve gone deep into WOW IN THE WORLD and STORY PIRATES with the kids on all commutes, and they’ve fed my brain in wonderfully small ways. SERIAL returned and was interesting, but lacked that central narrative engine that makes it a binge-worthy podcast. I also found it crazy depressing, to the point where it almost felt like it was inducing anxiety in me after listening for an ep, and maybe that’s a huge point: if listening to it all give me the shivers, imagine living it 😐

I’ve caught up on a tonne of the GOOGLE TEACHER TRIBE PODCAST just to keep my dayjob game tight, and it’s worked a treat, making me feel energised about all kinds of things for work, especially going into 2019.

But, I think this year goes again to OFF PANEL, the comic interview podcast where the creators are well picked and always get down to real talk. I still love this podcast, and still get a constant stream of quality inspiration and joy from it.

MY TOP MUSIC OF 2018

There was new Sarah Blasko this year, I got DEPTH OF FIELD and it’s a great writing record, but it lacks the punchy catchiness of her other albums, so I think sneaking in at the top might be the SUSPIRIA soundtrack.

And I think that’s a wrap. 2018 had some good stuff, and it also felt like mental quicksand. But walking into 2019 will feel like walking free, so I better make the most of it.

Here’s to building a better stronger list of live in yet another year.

What Is Best In Life? – 2017 Edition

I love a good year end list. And this list is very much about me, and my year, and what works for me. If you dig what I usually dig, then seek these things out.

Oh, and this just means things *I* did/imbibed in 2017, not necessarily things *from* 2017 because I’m crazy behind on things all the time.

Okay, roll the thing!

Read the rest of this entry »

Top 100 Flicks List

Man, this took me far too long to put together.

I’d take a few minutes each night to consider what my top 100 flicks of all time were, and the list filled up, I ran past 100 quickly and easily, but then I had to cull. And then I’d remember one I’d forgotten and things would shuffle. And then I could never align the order.

This list, right here and now, is correct at time of publication but can and will change instantly as soon as I hit Publish, and it should. Trying to line up where OFFICE SPACE fits on a list somewhere alongside APOCALYPSE NOW brings up all kinds of sweats. But the flick is definitely on my list, no question, so it becomes placing it in the ‘right’ spot. bah, like art, this list wasn’t finished, it was abandoned.

For all of this, I blame John Lees – the Scottish gent put up his 100 list and my brain wouldn’t let it go [go see his here – LINK]

This list is an insight into my brain. It’s a wholistic picture of things that inform me, that make me smile, and that I dig. This isn’t trying to state what’s ‘best,’ nor what should be here. This is me across ~200 hours of cinema. I hope you dig, and maybe find something new to tuck into.

100 AMERICAN HISTORY X
99 28 DAYS LATER

98 TRADING PLACES
97 PSYCHO
96 THE RUNNING MAN
95 THE SHINING
94 MOON
93 BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY
92 COMING TO AMERICA
91 THE ‘BURBS
90 SE7EN
89 OFFICE SPACE
88 A CLOCKWORK ORANGE
87 ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
86 WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
85 PREDATOR
84 DIE HARD
83 COOL HAND LUKE
82 DAY OF THE DEAD
81 BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID
80 THEY LIVE
79 FIRST BLOOD
78 ZODIAC
77 ZOOTOPIA
76 THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
75 THE SOCIAL NETWORK
74 THE CONVERSATION
73 THE INCREDIBLES
72 IRON MAN
71 ARMY OF DARKNESS

70 BOOGIE NIGHTS
69 DONNIE DARKO
68 THE EVIL DEAD
67 LOOPER
66 IN BRUGES
65 BONNIE + CLYDE
64 AMELIE
63 CITIZEN KANE
62 THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
61 OUT OF SIGHT
60 FLETCH
59 CASABLANCA
58 BLACK SWAN
57 ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN
56 THE PAPER
55 THE FLY
54 THE BROOD
53 ALIENS
52 SHAUN OF THE DEAD
51 APOCALYPSE NOW
50 STAND BY ME
49 LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL
48 GOODFELLAS
47 VIDEODROME
46 TRUE ROMANCE
45 12 ANGRY MEN
44 THE TOWN
43 FIGHT CLUB
42 THE IDES OF MARCH
41 BRAVEHEART
40 THE FRENCH CONNECTION
39 STAR WARS IV – A NEW HOPE
38 RESERVOIR DOGS
37 THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY
36 THE DARK KNIGHT
35 GOOD WILL HUNTING
34 THE PRESTIGE
33 ENTER THE DRAGON
32 ALIEN
31 INCEPTION
30 ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK
29 STAR WARS V – THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
28 HALLOWEEN
27 KISS KISS BANG BANG
26 REAR WINDOW
25 JFK
24 THE GODFATHER
23 CHASING AMY
22 RAGING BULL
21 THE BIG LEBOWSKI
20 RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
19 THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
18 BODY HEAT
17 [500] DAYS OF SUMMER
16 MEMENTO
15 INSIDE OUT
14 THE PROPOSITION
13 M*A*S*H
12 TAXI DRIVER
11 THERE WILL BE BLOOD
10 CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
9 VERTIGO
8 CHINATOWN
7 THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
6 AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON
5 JAWS
4 BLADE RUNNER
3 PAN’S LABYRINTH
2 MILLER’S CROSSING
1 THE THING

What is Best in Life? – 2015 Edition

2015, I believed.

BEST COMIC

DEADLY CLASS by Wes Craig and Rick Remender

Just loved every single panel in this crazy messed up book. It’s a wild idea, wrapped up by a wide array of intriguing characters, in a $10 intro trade, with some of the most nuanced and superb comic making I’ve seen in a while. Just an utter joy to behold – well, in a sense of how it is made…most of the actual narrative is as bleak as leftover coffee the next morning.

BEST TV

HANNIBAL

Just the best in show for everything, really. This year was S3 and it closed out the show and did it so masterfully that I’m still in awe. This is one of the few things I just keep bringing up to people and gushing to them about. It’s a show I want to share because it represents so many things about storytelling I love, and I wish I could do.

I’d love more seasons but I also love how tight and wonderfully this is all stitched up. This year, everything else paled in comparison.

BEST MOVIE

INSIDE OUT

And I mean hands down, best flick of the year. I crazy loved the idea but the execution was better. With a simple narrative throughline, they then explore emotions in such a deliberate and delightful way that my 5yo man dug it but I was floored by it. I cried twice in the damn flick and then when I got home and tried to explain it to the wife I started tearing up again. She thought I must’ve had a stroke. So good, and who knew we needed HERMAN’S HEAD the kid adaptation so bad?

BEST MUSIC

NEW BLASKOOOO!

Yes, a new Sarah Blasko album dropped and she’s still amazing. ETERNAL RETURN has fuelled some words in the last few months.

BEST PODCAST

COMIXLAUNCH

Every time I listen to this podcast about using Kickstarter for making comics it inspires me to make some more comics. I just get the fire in the gut again. You need to have that fire, and stoke it, and shift it, and kick it, if you’re going to survive this stupid ride we repeat again and again making comics.

The ComixLaunch podcast is just gasoline all up in my bonfire of life. I was also on an ep, dig it, it’s all about kickstarting DEER EDITOR and doing a digital only campaign from Australia [LINK]

BEST BOOK

ELEKTROGRAD: RUSTED BLOOD by Warren Ellis

This ebook was like two bucks or something stupid and it was a tight, short, very interesting read. And I’m finding it hard to hang on to novels because they are taking me crazy amounts of time to get through so short novella stuff is just right and this book was aces [LINK]

Are there other best things from this year I should be considering? No app jumped out at me this year, and no way could I single out all the cool art I’ve been able to scope in my travels with collaborators, so I think this is it.

2015 was a building block year, and it built in me patience. Hopefully I can use it to calmly slaughter 2016.

#fourcomics – Prominent Childhood Comics

The #fourcomics hashtag burst into life – thanks Jim Zub – and it’s the sort of thing I love seeing, and love doing. So, I chose 4 comics I can remember that were prominent in my childhood. I’d love to do plenty of other #fourcomics pieces but time only permits one, and nostalgia is king.

Now, doing this was hard – I cannot remember a time when there weren’t comics around. There is no remembering the very first comic I ever read because by the time memory was forming, everything around the house already felt old hat. But there are comics that meant a lot to me as a kid for various reasons, so let’s get into them.

G.I. JOE #60

1694941-gi_joe__1982_marvel__60

One of my earliest memories in life was being dinked on my eldest brother’s handlebars [sounds dirty – totes isn’t] into town and he had this part time job and he’d saved some of the money and he was taking me to the toy store [because back then you didn’t have mega-retailers selling everything, you had to go to dedicated and ludicrously overpriced toy stores] and he was going to buy me one G.I. Joe action figure. I was pretty stoked. G.I. Joe was totally my jam. I cannot remember which one I bought. But I remember thinking my brother was the bee’s knees and having the time of my life. I also remember my mother being in town with me another time and saying she’d buy me one and I think I chose Muskrat. My childhood was pretty ace and filled with amazing family.

Anyway, so onto the comics, so my earliest memory of the Joe comics was with the family on some sort of road trip – could have been around the corner, or interstate, to me all instances of road travel in our speeding automobile were akin to sorcery. So there we are in some road side stop – it felt long, like a split level, and near some stairs was a spinner rack. Now me and the middle brother are looking over all the mostly Marvel titles and I think Mum said we could get one, so we got a G.I. Joe comic. Now I wanna say it was this one but unlike the rest of the world my memory isn’t great. I don’t remember those covers and numbers and stuff others do [NOTE: I always assume they’re lying to sound cool] but I know we got that Joe book and it begat a cavalcade of Joe books in our world.

Quick side note – how bad ass is this cover – it’s totally just how we’d play with those toys, and I love that the art just makes everyone and every vehicle look like the toys. Also, neither of these guys is firing anywhere near the other, seriously, look at those trajectories. Whatevs…

I can remember reading all about Zoltan, or Zartan, or were they both twins [can’t I just research my own damn thinkpiece – NO! TimE!], and they were dragging people down halls to be brainwashed. I remember all the ninja shenanigans and realising that Snake Eyes was cool but I thought Shadow Storm was just a touch cooler – or maybe I had to think that because my middle brother – who read all these books with me and played all the action figure games with me – always got to be the ‘coolest’ characters, so he was default Snake Eyes and Han Solo and I was always left with the squares or the 2iC’s of cool. I remember reading all those crazy storylines and just loving them.

G.I. Joe comics were a staple of my childhood, and a bunch of artifacts I remember clearly and dearly. I also think they shaped me immensely.

Oh, and a side-story – I can remember playing with the figures with my middle bro – we had them laid out on our massive pool table, Cobra V Joe, epic battle. And a Cobra spy, or maybe the Commander hisself, infiltrated the Joe camp, and my bro was holding the Commander. So he takes a Joe hostage to give himself time to villain-splain to the Joes. While that’s happening, I take a Joe and start sneaking around one of the vehicles hoping to pop a cap and end this ridiculous posturing straight up. My bro makes the Commander tell me/the Joe to quit it. I keep moving. They tell us to quit it for real. I don’t. Cobra Commander whacks this hostage Joe right in the head and everyone freezes. Commander tells the Joes he is serious and not to be trifled with, and then makes his exit. My bro puts the CC away and looks at me and says that Joe is dead now because of me and that we can’t just take it back or resurrect him, he’s out, for realsies. I remember this as being a huge lesson to me in the importance of keeping your villains real, and that dead is dead, there are no easy ways out.

Props to my bro for making a fun game with toys a masterclass in mortality and war.

What If…the X-Men Had Stayed in Asgard? #12

wif012

I cannot be certain I ever actually read this issue but I know I spent a whole mess of time looking at the cover. It intrigued me in ways I could not explain. The pink background the fact I knew enough to know this story wasn’t ‘real,’ the giant frog wielding a hammer. This cover is just always something that speaks to me, and I think it’s forever telling me that comics need to be eye-catchingly rad. And I am down with this lesson.

It is also the truth behind What If…? books being the raddest.

Vault of Horror #1 [a reprint]

vault 1

I was in a newsagent with my eldest brother when I saw this. I instantly knew I needed to have it. I was about 12, I considered myself a horror aficionado, and this ‘new’ horror comic had to come home with me. So my bro ponied up the cash and bought it for me [again, rad fam, right?]. I read this issue cover to cover an insane amount of times. And some of the stories aren’t even that great but I loved everything about this book from the hosts, to the tone, to the art, to the fact it led me down the spiralling rabbit hole of tracking down as many EC comics as I could find.

As luck would have it, I was right at the start of the reprint era of all the EC books and I spent the next few years gobbling up as many as I could [Tales from the CRypt, Haunt of Fear, Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, Crime SuspenStories, ALL OF THEM!]. And many I did get. I got them in newsagents, I got them in back issue bins in out of town comic shops, I got them by looking hard and long. I got so many, and I treasure them to this day.

Though I remember getting a mammoth oversized issue of Tales from the Crypt – it was like WEDNESDAY COMICS large, but with a harder cover – and I loved it so. Now…I have no idea where that issue is. Still bums me out. The closest I came to making up for this was buying the JACK DAVIS EC STORIES ARTIST’S EDITION a while back. Book is a bruiser and sits behind me in my office making me smile daily.

Spider-Man: Carnage

carnage

This is one of the first comics I bought with my own hard-earned Empire Credits. It was at Minotaur Comics [then the largest comic shop in the Southern Hemisphere and regular train-ride-away comic haunt for me and the bros] and I had recently been sucked into the Spidey vortex of Venom and Maximum Carnage. I insanely loved both [I still have nearly all the issues of MC and so so many issues of those Venom minis they kept pumping out – I doubt I could ever find the heart to part with them] and Carnage was a character I just thought was super interesting. So I snapped up this weird little trade collection – of which there weren’t many at the time – and I read these issues a lot. Looking back, it’s just OTT 90s gorno in spandex but at the time it marked this transition from the Uncle Scrooge stuff I had been reading. It showed I was ‘maturing’ into an ‘adult’ reader, ha, wink.

Anyway, I still love Carnage [come at me, brah] and this book has not been cracked open in a long time but I know when I do, I’m going to love it with all my nostalgia feels.

——-

So, those are my #fourcomics – they certainly aren’t perfect but they speak miles to me as a young person, and me as a progressive reader, and me as a comics reader and where my foundations lay.

In writing this, I can’t help but wonder which comics I should/would/could have included. Presented because I care [and am certain you do, too] here’s some alternate suggestions.

Uncle Scrooge – I’d have no idea the number, but these comics [and I wanna say some Goofy ones] got me through Year 2 in a big way when I was dealing with my father’s death, had moved towns, and came down with this harsh asthma that was probably more psychosomatic than real but it dropped the ass out of my year either way – but these comics were there to keep me focused.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #4 – before we’d even seen the show, this comic came into my life because my middle bro moonwalked into a plate glass door. Relax, he was fine, just a few stitches – but he was in hospital and I remember overhearing the call that he was in hospital, and my Mum raced off to see him [said moonwalking took place at a mate’s place] and as she left I just burst into tears. I thought he was gonna die – I obvs didn’t get the idea of a cut leg – but I was calmed when I found out we were gonna deliver some reading material to him the next day. Mum randomly picked out some comics and #4 here got us tracking down more, and then the show dropped, and we never looked back. I dug the show just fine but these comics were gold dust, and only just behind the Joe books for us.

Mad Magazine – again, I’d have no idea the issue # but my middle bro and I inherited the eldest bro’s collection when he went off to join the Army. So we got sucked in, and then one summer we spent countless hours riding from town to town looking in all newsagents for any different Mad mags we didn’t yet have. They were glorious and inform so much of my stupid humour now.

Bartman #1 – I read this issue, and the subsequent 3 that make up the mini, soooo many times. I really wanna read them again to see if they hold up is some sort of way because man was Young Ryan hard into these guys.

And I wanna do more, SuperPro #1 [which I speed reread this week and it is not good], and Daredevil #201 [I think it is, him with the broken arm], and some of the covers to the X-Men Classic issues, but I’m realising with the comics loitering in my childhood peripheral I could rage rage against the night forever.

I will close by saying, I hope you peeps have #fourcomics that shaped your youth in a rad way, and I hope you’ve shared them with the world.

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