Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Category: tv

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.

NOIRVEMBER 026 ~ Breaking Bad

The idea of ‘breaking bad’ is to really embrace and fuel your own noir narrative. You are choosing to do the wrong thing, you are delusional, and it’s just always going to travel in one direction.

I mean, no one expected Walter White to come out of this rich, in remission, and happy, did they?

breaking bad

I like the ambition of this show to take someone so milquetoast and make them a noir lead because it really comes down to the core of the fact that all people have the propensity to be the bad guy – some hidden, some just restrained – and we can all end up in situations where this is what we see as our best, and sometimes even only, choice.

It’s very reminiscent of the Joker’s concept in THE KILLING JOKE [a brutal Batman novella by Brian Bolland and Alan Moore – that despite being a classic has not actually aged well at all with its rape and nastiness] and in it the grinning villain believes anyone is just one bad day away from cracking. From breaking bad. And so he sets out to do this to the best man he knows, Jim Gordon [incidentally, a character Bryan Cranston would voice in the BATMAN: YEAR ONE cartoon adaptation].

Walter White’s villain is cancer. And an indescribably average life. From this dull warm ember, Walter rises like a dark phoenix to become something horribly monstrous. because any villain is just a confluence of unfortunate events and a handful of poorly judged choices. And they so rarely set out to become a villain. The good villains, the really flawed things, set out on their downward path with good intentions.

Watching Walter slowly push himself further and further was always the clickbait for your eyes. Every season, every week, he pushed his own boundaries. And more galling, he found reason to push his own boundaries. But the man we know at the start, sullen, moustached, walking wallpaper, slowly steps into the darkness. He attacks. Then he kills. Then he slaughters. It’s a study in the progression of noir, what pushes you into it, and what pulls you into it from the other side.

As Walter grows in drug making stature, the legend of his prowess spreads but so does the fear of him. He transmogrifies into a genuine drug lord and soon there is nothing he won’t do. There is no scene of human horror he won’t orchestrate to serve himself.

And that’s exactly what he’s doing.

Initially, the whole reason to break bad is to provide for his family – a pregnant wife and disabled son. But after a while, you know he’s done enough and yet he’s always finding reason to do more. It’s fascinating, but it’s sad. And it’s so very real. Especially when, at the end of the whole mess, Walter admits to his wife, Skyler, that he stuck at it because he was good at it.

He was pushed into it by perceived necessity but then he was pulled into it by the sense of self-esteem he took from it. The wallpaper was finally seen, and appreciated, and he could not go back to being so dull. All of it was sidelined because of his fear that he had prolonged his life and the reality was he had prolonged the life he had lived previously. A life barely worth living. A noir paradox.

And so Walter marches into the final spiral curve, ready for what is to come, and in his final moments, as he dies, he smiles. He smiles because it’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees. To try and steal another Batman line and then horribly paraphrase/adapt it [this from the brilliant Nolan adaptation THE DARK KNIGHT], it’s better to die feeling like a hero than to live long enough to have everyone make you feel like the villain.

Because Walter knows he’s the villain, that’s fact, but he doesn’t have to feel like it. He doesn’t need to see it reflected at him where from the inside he still held some pride for what he did and how he did it. He still feels most of those steps down were the right ones to make, or at least the best ones. They gave him some months of good times instead of years marking time.

Then the beautiful thing about the show becomes Jesse Pinkman, in a career making role from Aaron Paul that is going to be insanely difficult to top because he is so supremely good in it. Pinkman is a junkie, a fool, but almost a savant at making drugs which means he’s malleable for Walter’s needs. Both chemically and socially.

Pinkman just shouldn’t care, he shouldn’t be noir because he’s already fallen, he’s already living his unhappily ever after. He gets high, he gets paranoid, he gets mouth favours from unsavoury ladies in the night and none of it comes anywhere close to fulfilling him. He should be the opposite kind of wallpaper to Walter, he’s the dirty, greasy stuff you don’t lean on, the gross surface you know can only be torn down, it’s the only way.

And yet Pinkman refuses to be stripped and tossed aside. He refuses to lie down. At first, he’s a pushover, Walter has it over him, and through this he’s bullied into some stupid places and decisions. But they’re nothing worse than the way he was already living so it doesn’t matter, right?

Wrong. Because while we watched, and fawned over, Walter’s transformation through the spiral, we neglected to fully realise that we were witnessing the opposite of noir: redemption.

Jesse Pinkman slowly starts making more moral choices despite the fact the world is giving him every opportunity to also break bad. Or break worse. He is put in danger, he still takes drugs, the new love of his life dies, he is beaten, and the hits just keep on coming. His life is made so terribly unmanageable once he falls in league with Walter and yet he never yields. Perhaps seeing one fall makes him want to rise up. Perhaps he knows where Walter’s journey ends and he doesn’t want to join him.

Finally, he is held hostage, brutalised, and forced into slavery. But even this doesn’t break him. By the end, he has become mentally strong. He has become unbreakable. His body might be making meth in the worst conditions for what might feel eternity but his mind is free, he imagines he’s crafting a fine wooden relic, something to be proud of. He has the mental strategies to survive.

In the final moments, after all that has transpired, so much bad, you’d not forgive him taking this out on Walter, you’d understand him lashing out and making the wrong choice for what might feel like the right reasons. But he doesn’t. He is not going to slide down.

Jesse Pinkman ends the show free, and he uses his freedom to drive off into the distance, his future preserved, his soul purified. Beyond us or society or anyone else, to himself he is redeemed and that sense of true worth is all that really matters. That we know we are right, no excuses, is the litmus test of the soul.

BREAKING BAD is that rare study of noir that perfectly showcases, in excruciating and slow detail, how the spiral works, and also how to escape the pit and ride valiant into the light.

NOIRVEMBER 020 ~ Hannibal

From the outset, you know you are watching two broken guys circle each other through the chum of life until they eat each other. And in doing so eat themselves. Which they’ll do slowly so they can continue to spiral down and down until they drill into the bedrock of the human spirit.

hannibal

But Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter aren’t the only things plotting their own demise, there’s another man. And each week he laboriously carved out his name on a tombstone until it read BRYAN FULLER.

The above might be slight dramatic hyperbole, but there’s no doubt Fuller – who created the TV version of events – gave zero fucks when it came to anyone else’s thoughts or vision on this show. The fact it got cancelled after three seasons is heartbreaking but the opposite fact that it lasted such a goodly timeframe is insane. We are left with a perfect storm of longform storytelling, character dissection [sometimes literally], and a unique vision that could never last but would always burn brighter than it would exponentially.

And I’ll admit, I didn’t care about this show when it was announced, nor when it launched. Really, who the hell wanted or needed more Hannibal Lecter in their life? I’d read the books – right up until HANNIBAL when Thomas Harris somehow forgot how to write human people or dialogue – and I’d seen the movies. The RED DRAGON novel was adapted twice for the big screen so to hear it would get the small screen treatment filled me with nothing but rock solid meh.

But then I watched the first episode anyway. My daughter was born, and seemingly allergic to sleep, so I’d pace the house with her on my chest and eventually I stumbled across the show in some late night programming. I was like a slab of meat in a freezer – I was hooked and chilled. From here on, I looked forward to my daughter acting the midnight loon. I was all in on this show I never knew could touch me like this. The tone of the show, the style of the narrative, the class of the experience won me over.

Hell, with the way I was watching it, the whole performance was even improved. I was bleary-eyed, disoriented, a little emotional, and pretty unsure what was awake reality or dream fugue just due to the lack of sleep so all of that made the viewing hold more impact because it was tenderising my subconscious and staying with me for days in stomach churning and unsettling ways.

So it was with little shock to know that with something this good, it was destined to fail.

By the end of the first season, you got that uneasy feeling this couldn’t last. The show was horrific, grotesque, erudite. It was the sort of thing that would grossly turn away many while so desperately appealing to the few that they’d see it as a tome to study. But deep inside you knew this was televised suicide. There was no way ABC would ever commit to more of this sort of thing. Antlers busting out of people, blood spilling like Cronenberg was at the hose, human totem poles, and the goddamn girl who couldn’t see faces. It wasn’t just eerie, it was graphically intense on an iconic level – and it’s the ones you remember that soon you’ll never forget.

Hannibal was often shown as The Stag, a ghastly all black creature with long antlers. This figure haunts the show’s more visceral moments and it stands as a fine representation of the noir streak within Graham/Lecter as they can’t stop their descents. It’s heady stuff when you dig in, and there’s really no other way the show allows you to watch it.

This was high literature nightmare fuel on a standard station and it could not stand.

After that brilliant debut season, I was certain the team at HANNIBAL HQ could not and would not keep up this breakneck twist. If they wanted to live, they’d evolve and adapt.

Instead, Fuller came back more determined to deliver his vision of events. He wasn’t going to touch much of the Harris novel for the second season either. He was going to spearhead a campaign of horror and brutality unlike most shows would ever dare to envision, but he wouldn’t do it in a slasher manner to appeal to the gore crowd, instead he’d couch it all in delicious scenery and delicate interplay, so we would never forget this was a character study. A goddamn character study, right to the end. It’s a ballsy move and one that also failed them in the end, as was perhaps their design.

William Graham says this a lot as he inspects crime scenes through the eyes of the killer. “This is my design.” It’s a phrase that soon brings a hollow gut whenever you hear it because you know you are about to see the kind of act that lays waste to brains and innocence. And the phrase works for the ethos of the show, also. Everything, every piece of fabric worn, every intricate death tableau, every camera angle, every choice to harder knock the wind from your torso was all by the design of Fuller and his team. And they would not ever yield.

There’s something perfect about the opening sequence of Season 2 where we are dropped in media res to observe Hannibal Lecter and FBI’s Jack Crawford fighting to the death in the future and then we spend the season building up to that moment. Because a sense of impending dread and death is exactly what the show needs looming over it. You have to feel the tension, in your jaw, across your shoulders, as you wait each week to uncover more of the jigsaw that builds to two of the lead characters attempting to destroy each other.

Season 2 is one long and large noir spiral because both characters want this resolution. They need the conflict to come, no matter the personal cost physically and mentally. It appears that each gets the upper hand at times, but realistically they are both sinking. Each relying more on the other in a toxic symbiotic relationship that finally comes to a head in the third and final season. A season I didn’t expect to exist and I’m not certain how Fuller made it happen. But damned if I’m not over the moon that he did.

In Season 3, HANNIBAL doubles down on what it is. Dr Lecter goes to Europe, Will Graham all but openly pines for him. There is no jumping on point, no easy access. Even if you’ve watched every episode, you still need to pay attention. Fuller knows the show is going to die and he doesn’t care. In fact, I am certain if the show took off and got 6 seasons, it would have become rubbish. Though let’s all be real and acknowledge that Fuller never would have let that happen, he would have kept pushing the boundaries until they had to take him off the air. As it was, the baby in the pig in S3 is a moment where I paused and thanked the many lords above that I hadn’t tricked my wife into watching this show with me because I’d now be divorced.

By the final sequence, you are watching two people descend and you realise this has all been about them doing it together. Neither wants to fall alone because they plan to embrace, literally, into the very final plummet. As they hack and tear at Francis Dolarhyde, the Great Red Dragon, and his blood spills and his life flickers out, this is a noir crash of violence as a sex scene. Hell, it’s more personal and passionate than much of the fornication you see in media these days. This is the noir crescendo as orgasm, complete with post-cuddle, and then the curtain fades. In short, it’s brilliant and is so wonderfully satisfying that Fuller and co were able to wrap the show up with such a thematic and beautiful send off. Graham and Lecter choose their end and it’s satisfying for us as well as them. It’s a release of the tension of trying to be anything but their worst.

As rich as the tapestry of the story is, you’d need a separate book to do it true justice, so instead let’s celebrate the fact Bryan Fuller wanted to ensure the process of making the show itself was a noir tale. And every creative decision was a definitive stake in the ground that this was their design.

Late in the game, Hannibal says: “Have you ever seen blood in the moonlight, Will? It appears quite black.”

And that’s exactly what the lifeblood of the show was and for three glorious years we all stood in the moonlight and felt the energy consume us as it pulled us all down, down.

CURRICULUM ADDENDUM

You can access every single tv script for all 3 seasons of the show at http://livingdeadguy.com/shows/hannibal/ – and it is well worth your time to investigate, imbibe, and enjoy.

Daredevil Reading — BOOKS

I can’t just tell you to read all of Daredevil [though you should] because that’s not helpful in the slightest.

And I won’t just tell you to read my favourites, because I’ve probably done that before, and it’s not helpful.

We are gathered here today because the Netflix Daredevil series is about to start. As such, I wanted to drop a few recommendations in regards to what will go well with the show [or what I think the show will be]. Without fear, let’s move forward:

FullSizeRenderTHE MAN WITHOUT FEAR – Frank Miller takes more than the issue Stan Lee and BIll Everett gave themselves to tell the origin of Matt Murdock and how he became Daredevil. With art from John Romita Jr, this book is pretty fantastic. In fact, Romita Jr is by far and away the star, and it’s worth reading along for the kinetic energy and iconic moments along. Because you’ll notice it’s one of the few books Miller made in a row not cited as a classic of the form. And it’s not as good as YEAR ONE or DKR but it is very cool [the more I think about it, the more the style and energy grows on me and I find myself forgiving the really fractured narrative structure that does not help things] and it seems like it’ll be hugely in line with the show.

FATHER – Joe Quesada’s slightly revisionist run at the character. After he’d reinvigorated sales with Kevin Smith in the relaunch [a fun tale but not something I’d recommend Daredevil_Father_Vol_1_5to go with the show], Quesada did this more personal mini dealing with Murdock and his father. There’s a lot of heart in this book, and a lot of shadows. Murdock is portrayed as this bruiser of a bloke – Quesada think that the son of a boxer might inherit that mesomorphic frame once he started working out. The visual, while not cannon, is very damn amazing and imposing. I think the tone of this book would inform the show well.

Lark and Brubaker’s run – putting this run before Maleev/Bendis because I just love it that much. Prison, old superheroes done modern but still goofy [which is how I’d see them on the show for sure – a mix of insane but still weird and wonderful and yet grounded enough to work]. This is noir, this is crime, this is what I really truly want the show to be. And this run has a lot of Kingpin, sans Elektra, and I think that’ll help inform the show. Just trust me and dive right in. Continuity, whatever, Daredevil is a blind dude, who fights, Page One, go.daredevil-116

Yes, the Maleev/Bendis run – okay, probably do this one first. It’s high crime [think THE WIRE before Lark/Brubaker get all Hammett up in Hell’s Kitchen], it’s gorgeous, and it’s one hell of a long story, again with lots of Kingpin. Lark/Brubaker also told one story, but broken into a trilogy of sorts. Besides some detours, this run is one epic mammoth crime tale. Which is pretty damn cool. I won’t be surprised if the show is as dark as this, as grounded, and as iconic.

Give some Stan the Man issues some love – just because. It’s the foundation and while the book has veered far, sometimes it’s interesting to note where it all started. You can probably jump around, not everything was awesome. Read the first Namor issue, get deep into that Mike Murdock insanity [I hope the show gives us a hint of how unhinged Matt Murdock is], there’s goodness to be found in random places.

As for Frank Miller, you can try his original run, but I’m not sure it’ll be good as lead up to the show. I don’t know, I keep flip flopping about it. In the end, I’d need to see the show to see if this’ll help. The show has Stick, which is in this run, and Kingpin is the big bad [as in the show] but the Kingpin arc heavily features Elektra, as well as some other weird stuff that I don’t think will get a run on the show. So I’m voting to wait on this one. It’ll be great for reading after this season, I think, but for now, let’s leave it off the table – or, know it’s amazing but won’t necessarily be the intro to the show you might want/need. I feel they might save Elektra  for Season 2 [feeling that = me hoping it real hard]. The tone will all be there but I don’t think content wise it’s for this season, to be honest, and I think it’ll work great post-S1 [pure speculation] so take this paragraph with a grain of salt.

dd-quesada-772aaAs for the elephant in the room, BORN AGAIN, I just don’t see that story hitting this season at all. It’s a masterpiece [until the final reel, Nuke sucks, come at me, brocetera] but I don’t see this influencing the small screen nearly as much as peeps like Lark and Bendis, et al.

But don’t let me stop you reading any Daredevil. You want to get into the San Fran days with Black Widow, roll on, soldier. You’ve heard gigantic words used on the Samnee/Waid run, shine on, brother. Wanna get down with the insanity of the Gerber run, aw yeah, do that. I would tell you to hold off on the Chichester run because I think Marvel would be crackers not to mine his use of Typhoid Mary for a later season [with obvious grabs from Romita Jr/Nocenti who created that character], but I guess only time will tell.

The above runs, though huge, will get you set up for the Daredevil show. I think. You can also hit my link farm to get the more didactic news on our man Murdock. Then just get ready for what’s sure to be blind good times.

Chatting NYCC Daredevil TV News at The Spire

Steve Morris at The Spire was kind enough to hit me up with some cool Qs and thoughts about the NYCC Daredevil TV announcements and pics.

A DEATH DEFYING DAREDEVIL DISCUSS WITH RYAN K LINDSAY

See what I think of the look of Matt Murdock, why I think Mike Murdock needs to be in the show, why Nuke never should be, and why I’m excited for this Netflix/Marvel jam.

And I truly am excited, I feel like the tone of this show is going to hit us hornheads and scarlet swashbucklers right in our DDs, if you know what I’m saying.

I mean, look at this Quesada art, it’s on point.

dd-quesada-772aa

I look forward to seeing a grounded, urban, witty, violent, fantastic Matt Murdock on my small screen as soon as I possibly can.

Baywatch Nights Musings – S01Ep01 Pursuit

If you dig crime fiction then you kind of have to watch this show. I am not kidding.

Staggers me that BAYWATCH NIGHTS is nearly 20 years old, first ep is 1995, and I’m just getting to it now. I thoroughly enjoyed this first episode, though don’t let that confuse you into thinking I’m saying it’s great, or even really good, but it is distractingly enjoyable.

BAYWATCH NIGHTS is clearly the Hoff’s play at diversifying his presence and trying something new. Spinning out of his mega-success on BAYWATCH, which is really just lifeguards on the beach going above and beyond into solving crimes and saving lives, the Hoff puts his iconic character of Mitch into an actual PI agency and has him solving crimes for reals.

If you are confused as to how this might come about just watch the opening minute of the show where Mitch breaks the fourth wall and tells us how his friend bought an ailing PI agency and how he can’t stop himself from helping everyone, including a friend in need. So, we get Mitch PI. Oh, and the Hoff tells us this while wearing a beach jacket with no shirt underneath so the hirsute chest segue from beach to darkness will make complete sense. Complete sense.

From there, we get an introductory episode that puts the Hoff in the middle of a model and her stalker paparazzo sleaze of a problem. Or so you’d think it all is. Where BAYWATCH NIGHTS succeeds is that it truly wants to be a crime show. The Hoff narrates like a grizzled penny dreadful lead, the night is neon soaked as he spends off hours nursing drinks in a local blues bar, there are foot chases and fist fights and salacious photos. Everything about this show is ripped from crime fiction standard tropes.

The most fascinating element is the fact the Hoff becomes the perfect crime lead because he is fallible. He gets punched, he makes poor decisions, he kisses the dame when he shouldn’t, and by the end of the episode you see he’s actually handled this case poorly. He isn’t the superheroic lifesaver decimating problems in slow motion anymore, he is human and he is new at this and he is making mistakes. There is a DNA thread of Sam Spade in this new Hoff incarnation – the genes have just been washed out a little so the quality is diluted.

It should also be noted that the PI agency is made up of the Hoff, his friend who is African-American, and some other lady (I’d know names and specifics but I was writing while this was on) and this means the diversity of the core cast is pretty good considering this is twenty years ago. Most core casts today don’t stretch this far. Though it should also be noted that the other two PIs barely get on screen as the Hoff is too busy chewing up the scenery like its sovereign German land.

For a terrible knock off sequel tv show, BAYWATCH NIGHTS brings a new spin on an old character, it borrows the right things from the right places, it’s amusing in a way you can still write with it on in the background, and it’s bookended by an opening theme and a separate closing theme both written and performed by the Hoff himself.

BAYWATCH NIGHTS is the crime fiction show you need to catch up on to truly round out your gumshoe knowledge of the world. Trust me. And enjoy.

What Is Best In Life? – 2013 Style

It’s always educational to reflect on the year you just imbibed. I have to admit, having a new baby (and it making two for the house) and scoring some larger writing gigs meant my pop culture intake was down a lot this year. I kept abreast of the best comics around but everything else suffered. Nonetheless, here’s some stuff I dug in 2013.

Top Comic – FATALE

I read the first 3 issues of this and then completely fell off. The singles I bought kept stacking up. The more I hadn’t read the more insurmountable it felt to catch back up, but I kept buying the floppies and I know I’d get there one day. And holy cats am I glad I did.

FATALE is the sort of comic that does what it does exactly as it should so if you want a crime horror comic then this is quite simply perfect for you. For my wheelhouse, this comic is king. I spent a sick day off work reading like 14 of these issues in a row and it was insane how good this book is. I’ve long been a fan of SLEEPER/CRIMINAL/INCOGNITO and this book ably joins the gang as a perennial favourite. Philips is just at the top of his game now where he’s stacking these panels densely and with intense purpose. The writing from Brubaker is airtight with every word feeling like it slipped from an aging paperback. The pacing and plot are great but there’s a tonne of little lines and moments that will stop you and inspire you. I wanted to go write for days straight after reading these issues.

I’ll also say, yeah, I dig this book more than SAGA. And I dig SAGA a lot but this book is just that touch more perfect, and more perfect for me.

Honourable Mentions

HAWKEYE – the top cape book right now (sans capes). This book does so many things right and it’s a process treasure trove.

THE MASSIVE – I love the singularity of this book, it’s like nothing else. The characters all pop, the art teams are so damn fine, and I’m liking the whole painting this story provides.

SEX CRIMINALS – I did not see this coming at all. This romance comic (and that’s what it is) is so damn real and beautiful. This should be the only Valentine’s Day present anyone ever needs again.

LOCKE & KEY – it finally ended and I’m so damn sad.

EAST OF WEST – another entry I was dubious about and yet caught up on the first trade’s worth of floppies and my oh my this book is tight. Hickman delivers a slew of simply amazing lines and Dragotta’s always been great.

ULTRANOVA – my favourite indie one-shot this year, Peterson and Ferrier drop a cerebral sci fi tale that stuck with me all damn year. Buy it on the cheap right here and thank me later!

HIGH CRIMES – the best Monkeybrain book by far this year, Moustafa and Sebela craft this beautiful and intricate character study amidst high altitude crime shenanigans. Also, possibly the best covers of the year.

FIVE GHOSTS – Man, this pulp massacre is just fun to read and so pretty to look at.

DAREDEVIL – Samnee and Waid brought me right back into the fold this year. Some great stories and always gorgeous.

THE WAKE – this is basically an action movie with solid characterisation and I’m digging these mermaids.

SAGA – it is a very good book, don’t you know?

STRANGE NATION – I know I write a column in it, but that doesn’t stop this book thoroughly entertaining me with every issue.

D4VE – only one issue dropped but it was so good. Ramon and Ferrier are doing a book like nothing else, and the sort of thing that should insta-open any door in the industry.

BLACK SCIENCE – I finished reading this and could see the problems with it and yet didn’t care because it was so much fun. I like fun comics.

Special Shout Out

FEAR AGENT LIBRARY EDITION VOL 1 – I finally read this beast and it was beyond brilliant. The art at that size is like nothing else. Remender feels really pure and raw in these pages. It’s pulp sci fi. There is every reason for me to love this book. I don’t even mind that Vol 2 keeps getting delayed. if it’s going to come out this good, I’m happy to wait.

Top Book – Fiction – JOYLAND

This tight pulp thriller from Stephen King through Hard Case Crime was better than I had expected. King is back on a high for me after the very very good 11.22.63 so I hoped for this and he really delivered. The overall plot isn’t too insanely intricate, and parts of the resolution do less than wow, but the craft with which King plans and executes his chapters is like a study of razor precision. There are many great lines in this book and that’s something I really appreciate now – someone who beyond plot knows how to use their words.

This also has me hoping for DOCTOR SLEEP to be good. I’m a fifth of the way in, and I’m enjoying it, and I’m such a fan of THE SHINING that it has to prove itself as good enough to exist so here’s hoping for the coming weeks/months.

Top Book – Non-Fic – MARVEL COMICS: THE UNTOLD STORY

This was a stellar read. I’m kind of the ideal audience as I love comics but also love the behind the scenes malarkey just as much but I cannot state enough how interesting some of the history of Marvel Comics really is. As someone who kind of knew some of this, and knows all the people and characters, this was a perfect read. Sean Howe did a very good job assembling this.

Top Movie – PACIFIC RIM

I’ll have to admit, I think these are the only two flicks I saw at the cinema this year. Admitting this makes me so sad. And while iron Man 3 might prove out to be the better film, I give this to PACIFIC RIM because it was just so enjoyable to watch. I haven’t felt that happy and in awe for a while so it made for a very rad night out. And sometimes I just want a flick to entertain me on the purest level. It’s like PREDATOR, brilliant because it entertains. This flick, the same thing. Though this screenplay was a touch more off in places (really off in some) but I could overlook the cheese and obvious set ups and logic holes just so I could get on with enjoying the show.

Honourable Mentions

IRON MAN 3 – a Shane Black cape flick that plays out exactly how you’d imagine such a flick to play out.

Top TV – BREAKING BAD S5 Part 2

Really, how could there be anything else? This show is the great American novel written in front of us over 6 years. This show had the best writing of any and the character arcs were beyond anything else ever attempted and the writing offered it up but every single actor nailed it. The show ended on a perfect noir note. There will be little else this good in our future.

Honourable Mentions

HANNIBAL – this show is my selection to take up BREAKING BAD’s throne. Deft writing, creative cinematography, superb acting, and an end note that if they can stick it right in S2 will show the world this series is a true contender. And I wasn’t even going to watch this show because who the hell needed more Lecter in our lives? I humbly rescinded my first opinion and now cannot wait until February.

THE WALKING DEAD – I continue to enjoy this show.

Special Shout Outs

TERRIERS – whoo, boy, this show was built for me. I really hope it gets kickstarted one day VERONICA MARS style because that would be immense. I also wish it was a comic, and I could write it.

THE WIRE S4 – I finally watched this. It seems THE WIRE is taking me years to watch. But when I pop a season on, I shotgun the hell out of it. And this one was about teaching so it hit me very hard.

Top Music – ENTER THE DRAGON OST

I discovered Spotify and my life has changed. Man, they have everything on there. So I’ve fiendishly been making playlists for projects but I also set up a list titled OST madness and it’s got a tonne of soundtracks on there, and first up is the ENTER THE DRAGON OST. It’s just great, for starters, but I also wrote a kung fu one-shot you’ll be seeing this year and the dna of this music is infused to its pulpy core.

Top Podcast – LET’S TALK COMICS

This is a late entry but it’s kind of the perfect podcast for me. It’s not shilling, it’s just career talk, process chat, open words. Great creators come on and discuss how and where they started and then every step along the way to breaking in and staying in. It’s fascinating stuff. It’s like the best parts of Word Balloon, which I still love.

Honourable Mentions

NERDIST – with the right guest, this show is amazing.

NERDIST WRITER’S ROOM – I find I don’t even know half the names but it’s all writing process (mostly tv but it all rings true). They also now have a comics themed segment of eps on the pod, and it’s pretty good.

WORD BALLOON – always good, Siuntres knows how to do his job.

VODKA O’CLOCK – this gives smaller creators the chance to chat (myself included) and I like that view from the underground, plus Amber is a top host and superb person.

POP CULTURE HOUND – another great interview show, and they get a wide variety of good guests.

COMICS EXPERIENCE MAKE COMICS – this started on the iFanboy podcast and is now it’s own thing. Good, short, clear, snippets of process talk focusing on one section of the game at a time.

THE Q+A – film chat pod where Jeff Goldsmith asks all the right questions.

FATMAN ON BATMAN – when they have the right guest, and Smith doesn’t get in the way, this can go some really interesting places.

Top iApp – WUNDERLIST

A late discovery but something that’s clearing up my head. It’s just making lists and you have the ability to tick off what you’ve done and it moves down but you can still see it all. You can also add due dates, this helps me not freak out too much. It’s also free, which means the world to me because I am cheap.

Honourable Mentions

ComiXology – gotta love the sales.

Zite – an intriguing media reading aggregating/personalising app that’s bringing me new content to read (when I ever have the time).

Coffitivity – this sounds like such a stupid app, but I kind of love it 😐

Dropbox – perfect for viewing the pretty art people send me on the fly.

Top Kid – My Second One

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She is gorgeous, adorable, cute, insane, and constantly learning little things (tonight she played peek-a-book with her towel and my heart grew three sizes). The perfect person to round out our little family.

So, that’s been my 2013. I hope yours was just as rad 😀

My Ten Favourite TV Shows List

10. Offspring

9. GI Joe/X-Men/The Smurfs/Masters of the Universe

8. Arrested Development

7. Justified

6. The Wire

5. Rescue Me

4. The Twilight Zone/The Outer Limits/Tales From The Crypt

3. Seinfeld

2. Breaking Bad

1. LOST

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