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If you've been a PanelBeats reader for any length of time, you'll be aware that for one reason and another, we haven't had an incredibly busy year in terms of writing about comics. But we've still been reading them, and so with the end of the year upon us, it seems a good time to check in and let you know what we've enjoyed in 2015, in case you've missed any of it yourself. Look, it's an end-of-year post: you know how these things work.
Rather than doing a ranked countdown based on any kind of consensus, we've instead individually written about which books stood out for us this year. As ever, our tastes and consumption habits can vary hugely (although there is some crossover); and of course, we're aware that we don't necessarily cover the full spectrum of everything that was published across the industry in 2015. Nevertheless, if we've mentioned it below, then as far as this site's concerned, it was a highlight of our year - and is well worth checking out if you haven't already.
In 1985, Swedish synth-pop band A-ha had a huge hit with their debut single "Take on Me". It reached #2 in the UK (kept off the top by Jennifer Rush's "The Power of Love", a song that is staggeringly inferior to its two mid-80s namesakes) and #1 in the US. This success was due in no small part (although not entirely - it is
a fantastic record) to its music video, directed by future Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
helmer Steve Barron. In case you've somehow never seen it, it portrays a young woman reading a comic in a cafe, who finds herself drawn into its pages by the handsome lead character (A-ha's singer Morten Harket, converted to pencil form by rotoscoped animation), before helping him escape from its confines.
It's filled with incredibly striking imagery - and although the soft pencil lines look like no actual comic ever published (I've often wondered if the woman was actually meant to be the artist herself, looking at a rough draft of her own work), it's sort of surprising that in the thirty years since it was made, there hasn't been a single comic that's gone "Hey, this is an iconic pop culture image that plays with our form, we should try and make use of it somehow!"
Ahead of the publication of Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl in August, I'm taking an unnecessarily personal look back at the two previous volumes of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's breakout work. In part one, I covered the first volume,
Rue Britannia. In this concluding chapter, unsurprisingly, I look at volume two:
The Singles Club.
"I believe that the best way to show how music affects the world is to take evidence directly from life to show how music has changed me and people around me. Not that it's a particularly truthful form of biography. There's a key line in the second issue: 'Sometimes the truth just gets in the way of what really happens.' That's absolutely key. The phrase I'm using is Automythology."
- Kieron Gillen
At least, that's what they tell us. But I think they mean it this time. They'd better.
You will be hearing from us a lot about this subject this year. Sorry.
So, then, to The Wicked + The Divine
. Unquestionably one of the major success stories of comics in 2014... and something that, if we're honest, it's difficult for us to talk about in any kind of objective or rational way, because it's by our mates.
We didn't include Saga
in our end-of-year list for 2013. It wasn't that the comic hadn't been any good, more that it didn't quite jump out as staggeringly new and brilliant in the way that it had done in 2012 (plus, we were busy being wowed by another Brian K. Vaughan book - The Private Eye
- and in the interests of variety, didn't want to include two by him in the list). But that's a hard policy to keep going for 2014, a year in which the series once again reminded us of just why it's one of the most consistently excellent things being published anywhere in comics.
In a world where Ed Brubaker makes writing noir-tinged period pieces look effortless, what can we say about The Fade Out - a murder mystery set in Hollywood's golden age - except that "it's more of what you'd expect from this team, and that's why we love it"?
Although Warren Ellis has significantly slowed his creator-owned output over the last few years, he's still producing interesting work. After 2011's SVK and the conclusion of the Freakangels webcomic in 2012, Ellis' most interesting work in 2013 was Scatterlands, a 50-instalment webcomic drawn by Jason Howard. That last one is, in many ways, the precursor to 2014's big thing: a new ongoing series from Image called Trees.
Hello. It may not have escaped your notice (or it might have completely escaped your notice) that things have been a bit quiet around here lately. We've had a few work and personal related commitments that have meant that we've fallen a bit behind in keeping up with posts. Sorry for the inconvenience, if it is indeed an inconvenience at all.
Regular service should be resuming shortly, and we also have some exciting plans on the podcast side of things to hopefully tell you about soon, but in the meantime, I thought I'd catch up with what's been going on in comics in the time that we haven't been posting. So here's a list of every comic I've bought (either on Comixology or in print) since our last new post, and a quick comment on what I thought of each them. I make no apology for the lack of intense scrutiny or in-depth analysis contained within, but at least in terms of sheer volume of comics it's decent value for money... right?