SFX ’s comics fanatic Stacey Whittle names her favourites reads from the past 12 months
Yes it’s January and so yet another “best of” list. I can’t be alone in actually really liking and appreciating “best of” lists, though, as so many people make them. I love being reminded of things I liked and which might have slipped my mind. I like seeing what other people have read and comparing their thoughts and opinions with my own, and occasionally shouting at the computer screen proclaiming their extreme wrongness. It’s all part of the internet fun! So here are my top picks of the books I’ve read (not which were necessarily published) this year:
Seeds by Ross Mackintosh
Published by ComX
Ross Mackintosh’s father was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 and this autobiographical comic takes us with him on a journey towards his eventual death. This is one of the most moving comics I have ever read. It is beautifully told; the craftsmanship in the storytelling and the panel beats are perfect and the art is lovely. It is almost shocking to find this is a debut graphic novel, so expertly does Mackintosh handle the storytelling.
There are so many fabulous things about this story. If you have ever lost anyone yourself, you will see something in this story which will make you feel less alone. But mostly, you will fall in love with Zaz, Mackintosh’s father. You will think about him, his personality and his strength, and you will never forget him. I can’t think of a bigger or better testament, and although this is undeniably a sad story I promise that you will not regret reading it. This is my book of the year.
The Lovecraft Anthology
edited by Dan Lockwood
Published by Selfmadehero
I have to be honest and admit that I haven’t read any Lovecraft. I’m familiar with some of the stories from adaptations but have always been rather intimidated by the prose. This anthology is a perfect starting point and I absolutely loved it. This is a full colour anthology with each short story being told by a different creative team. I read this quite hefty tome in one sitting, because I couldn’t put it down. The atmosphere and tension built up more like the pacing in a novel than an anthology. All the different art and colouring styles really ramped up the odd and somewhat scary tension. It is a beautiful book with lovely production values (gorgeous paper not that shiny stuff I hate… what? This is important !).
The three highlight stories for me – which sum up the book brilliantly – are “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” by Leah Moore, John Reppion and Leigh Gallagher, “The Dunwich Horror” by Rob Davis and INJ Culbard and “The Colour Out Of Space” by David Hine and Mark Stafford. There is a volume two in the works at the moment, and I for one can’t wait to get my sweaty little mitts on it!
Unbelievable: The Man Who
Ate Daffodils by Simon Wyatt
Published by Markosia
Ben Ellis has been listening to his grandfather’s tales of dragons, heroes and magic all of his young life. When a terrifying beast attacks and mysterious deaths occur he starts to wonder, what if the stories are true?
There is something about this book, about the beautiful, glorious, black and white artwork, that reminds me of reading when I was young. It reminds me of Misty comic and Tim And The Hidden People . It reminds me of adventure and magic and a time when I believed in them utterly. I am completely, almost embarrassingly in love with Simon Wyatt’s artwork. It is perfect, and the combination of the art and storytelling is seamless. This is a book that I read and almost cried at the realisation that I couldn’t read the next one yet and that doesn’t happen very often these days!
Luchadoras by Peggy Adams
Published by Blank Slate Books
In the last ten years over 4,000 women have been murdered in Cuidad Juarez, Mexico, with many women still missing. This novel is set in this place and follows the ordinary life of Alma, a woman trying to escape her violent fiancé.
This slim volume is not an easy read; it’s not meant to be. It is stark, uncompromising and brutal. It’s on this list because it’s important, because I didn’t know about this situation and this book brought it to my attention. In a very clever way, it tells me why I should care and it made me care and without preaching or moralising – just by showing.
London Calling by Stephen
Walsh and Keith Page
Published by Timebomb Comics
Charlotte Corday is a member of the French Secret Service during the war and is sent on a top secret mission to find vampires hiding out at Highgate cemetery in London and stop them. Or is she? This book is a riot of fun, with amazing, wildly imaginative and breathtaking art. Though it’s flawed and sometimes confusing, it is interesting, intriguing, mysterious and,. above all, highly amusing.
Keith Page’s artwork is so gorgeous and evokes a sense of the war period beautifully. The story is part comedy genius and part baffling mystery and though all the ends are not neatly tied by the finish you really don’t give a monkeys, you’re just thankful for the ride!