Another year, another set of wish fulfilment dreams down the drain. Still, Guardians of the Galaxy was great as were X-Men: Days of Future Past, Godzilla and Captain America: Winter Soldier. Game of Thrones used up most of the fake blood in Hollywood. Arrow, The Flash and Gotham proved there’s life for small screen super-heroics whilst Constantine showed that it didn’t. Powers cannot still catch a break and as for British TV; most of it’s still stuck in a “everything’s grim oop North” look and feel, whilst those who rave about Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror should be made to watch the entire run of The Twilight Zone to see how it should really be done. As for the cornerstone of British Sci-Fi/fantasy… Mmm… we’ll get to that one…
All the selected are graphic novels, whether collected or standalone. There is no point in giving an award to a single issue comic, that’s like going for a three-course meal and eating only the starter.
Best 10 of the Year 2014 (in no order of preference)
Bob Fingerman (Image Comics). Back to New York and the newly divorced Rob. Darker than early Minimum Wage but I can relate even more.
Matt Fraction/Chip Zdarsky (Image Comics). Stop time, rob banks and have lots of sex doing it. Who could complain.
Talbot/Charlesworth (Jonathan Cape). A superb book about the start of the Suffragette Movement. Copious notes and a damning final page.
Foglio (Studio Foglio). A yearly Girl Genius is now beginning to feel like a birthday… and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Tsukudo/Saeki (Viz). Fast, furious and funny. The perfect antidote to MasterChef (plus some really good recipes).
Aaron/Bachalo/Various (Marvel Comics). A welcome return to the days when the X-Men were fun.
Carla Speed McNeil (Dark Horse). Think the worst thing about being a delivery man is a barking yappie? Try multi-dimensional deliveries.
Canales/Guarnido (Dark Horse). Ooohh, that cover. That’s a framed print right there.
Bryan Talbot (Jonathan Cape). Like Girl Genius, becoming a yearly Christmas treat.
Jodorowsky/Ladronn/Moebius (Humanoids). Still full of pompous and turgid mysticism, but the artwork; simply gorgeous.
Winsor McCay (Taschen). Expensive and heavy enough to be a lethal weapon, but gorgeous and full of pure imagination.
Frank King (Dark Horse). A masterclass in using the broadsheet format for story-telling and colour.
Brubaker/Phillips (Image Comics). Hammett, Chandler, film noir and the supernatural meet.
Hugo Pratt (IDW Publishing). A very welcome reprinting of Hugo Pratt’s sea-faring adventurer.
Langworth/Bellamy (Unicorn Press). A touch sanitised compared to what we know today but Bellamy’s artwork shines.
Frank King (Drawn and Quarterly). We all start somewhere and the beginnings to one of the finest comic strips ever proves no different.
Best Art Books
Various (Taschen). Probably the definitive work of good girl art (and another lethal weapon from Taschen).
Frank Cho (Flesk Publications). It’s all in the title, what more do you need to know?
Katsuya Terada (Dark Horse). There is always something earthy and fleshy about Terada’s art. The book shows it to full effect.
Alex Toth (IDW Publishing). Genius… Yes. That says it all.
Best graphic novel for boys
David Petersen (Archaia Studios Press). Size doesn’t matter when it really counts.
Best graphic novel for girls
Pope/Petty/Rubin (First Second). Girls and their fathers. Always complicated, especially when he’s a monster hunter.
Grant Morrison (DC Comics)
Most consistently funny
Jolly R.Blackburn (Kenzer Co.). Who would ever have guessed throwing the dice could be so much fun to read.
The Inaugural Howard Chaykin “I Bought It for the Story (really)” award
Fraction/Chaykin (Image Comics). A fascinating look at the early days of American television (with sex). An Adventure in Time and Space was never like this.
Let’s be honest. Series 8 of Who was the poorest in a long time. Constant plotholes and poor writing (the Moon is an egg? Nature will save the Earth? Wow). Annoying, self-rightous companion with a boyfriend a plank of wood had given acting lessons to (now and then I’d like to see the Doctor grab some recent ones by the scruff of the neck and throw them out the TARDIS). A production team that has forgotten that this is Dr Who, not the companion show. A writing team that comes in with just a high concept pitch and is then told to go away and write a script around that (usually within a day). Plagiarism abounds (so much so that I thought the Mind Robber would be the villain of the season) and making little self-referencing remarks to it doesn’t make it alright (nor is it “a continuation”. I had to unfollow a well-known Who writer for that comment, which was a shame as he’s a nice bloke. In fact I think a lot of the writers have fallen prey to this).
And then… there was
Could someone tell me in what world this
could become a gurning, half-crazed, sub-par Mary Poppins (oh look, another plagiarism… sorry, culture reference ironically used).
This was nothing but sexist pandering of the worse kind and I can just see the day when it was mooted at the BBC: “Can we turn the Doctor into a woman?” “No” “…well, can we do the next best thing? It’ll get all the saddo fanboys reaching for their asthma inhalers and the internet will break.” “Sigh, alright… as long as we get another series of Sherlock“.
Oh and the Cybermen were treated like crap… again.
There were good points. For some strange reason I liked Robot of Sherwood and The Caretaker. Mummy On The Orient Express finally showed Clara (and us) that getting to be as brilliant and know everything as the Doctor takes a lot of observation and ultimately a lot of death. A nice reminder to the viewer that the creature comforts we take for granted are built upon the blood and bones of others. Best of all was Flatline. A solid, strong Who story that should have been longer if only to build upon the sense of menace.
In the end, I’m only a viewer. So my opinion counts for little, but I have a feeling that if I’d been on Gogglebox for Series 8, it would have been nothing but a series of bleeps coming out of my mouth.
Grant Morrison for Pax Americana: In Which We Burn (DC Comics)
Morrison/Quitely (DC Comics). Morrison does Watchmen and betters it (in one issue)
Frank Quitely for Pax Americana: In Which We Burn (DC Comics)
The “Alan Moore Award for Taking Someone Else’s Ideas and Passing Them Off as Your Own”
Steven Moffat and writing team for Dr. Who Series Eight