“INDIVISIBLE//INDIVIDUAL: the comics of 2014”
Por Matt Séneca
Publicado originalmente en mattseneca dot tumblr dot com el 29 de diciembre de 2014.
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I read a bunch of comics this year, some of them were pretty good! These ones are the best, you know what it is.
“Copra #14”, by Michel Fiffe
The best ongoing series in comics gets its best issue yet by playing against type and leavening the heavy-metal superheroics with a quieter approach, both in story and design. This one rambles so aimlessly that you don’t notice the dynamite it’s sticking in your mouth until the fuse blows—awesome.
“Heavenly Threshold Companion” AND “Song of Mercury #1”, by Jonny Negron
Like one of the pretty gems he draws, Jonny continues to sparkle the more different angles he shows you. Threshold is widescreen, psychedelic imagery that can stand against any album cover you wanna show me; Mercury is a riff on the classic “depressed dude doing nothing” genre that doubles as the scariest drug comic of the decade.
“Hellberta Trinity”, by Michael Comeau
Hopefully not the final issue of Comeau’s note-perfect noise rock Wolverine bootleg series… but if it is, what a way to send us off. Some of the best-written jokes of the year in any medium, an action climax that takes masochism to superpowered heights, and drawing that walks the line between grit and pomp like a tightrope acrobat (great printing too). Earns its seat next to the Chris Claremont X-Men comics that inspired it, which is to say an all-time top 5 superhero book.
“Terror Assaulter: O.M.W.O.T.”, by Benjamin Marra
Even though I know he definitely will, likely sooner than later, I can’t imagine how Marra could produce a finer piece of work than this. Risographed in a perfect faux-CMYK palette that brings it into perfect alignment with the decades-old trash heap it takes its inspiration from, this is the purest expression of Marra’s very individual genius we’ve yet seen: the funniest, weirdest, sexiest, action-est, best work yet from a master.
“Decadence 10”, edited by Stathis Tsemberlidis & Lando
The biggest and best issue of the most consistent anthology going. The theme of Decadence is the unsustainability of late capitalism, and this issue mines that meaty subject for more gold than any other’s unearthed, from the post-collapse Lego dudes of the opening story through standout work by Stathis and Leon Sadler to the issue’s centerpiece, a graphic novella by Lando that easily wins the crown for all-time best Decadence story. Dunja Jankovic closes things out with the most interesting abstract comic I’ve read since abstract comics became a thing.
“Generous Bosom #1”, by Conor Stechschulte
A fantastic piece of writing, accompanied by drawing that fails to find an obstacle it can’t surmount with style—hell yeah. Hitchcock would be proud of the way Stechschulte incrementally unfolds his suspense yarn, and Crepax would probably give him a dap for the year’s best sex scene too. If you wanna do a serialized genre comic in 2015, here’s the bar you have to clear. Had me riveted from the Kobo Abe quote that opens the book on in. Cannot wait for issue 2.
“Epoxy #5”, by John Pham
As long as he keeps making these things, Pham has the “year’s best single-issue comic” trophy on his mantle for keeps. Once again the USA’s most underrated and under-supported cartoonist shows that in comics the best stuff happens where nobody’s paying attention, with a hilariously heartbreaking work of pure, fresh virtuosity. The depth with which Pham has imagined each pocket of his fictional universe is stunning; the mastery of comics and bookmaking with which he brings them all to life is staggering. Comics needs John Pham around. It speaks poorly of us indeed that this guy doesn’t have a publishing deal right now.
“Mould Map 3”, edited by Hugh Frost & Leon Sadler
Flossy as fuuuuuck. It’s hard to know where to begin with a book this beautiful. The best anthology in the past ten years gives 1000 thread-count production to one of the most impressive contributor lists in comics history, and the steak still beats the sizzle. These are stories of the future, provided for the present’s use, but the clearest item in the forecast is how crazy comics are going to get in the next decade or so if things end up breaking right. Contains career-best work from heavy hitters like CF, Sadler, and Julien Ceccaldi; but just as importantly, this was the only place to see Sammy Harkham, Yuichi Yokoyama, James Jarvis, and more doing comics this year. Mould Map 3 was undoubtedly a necessary publication, and that it saw print is one in the W column for comics—but just about everyone involved excelled themselves, which is obviously an even better thing. The future is now.
And this year’s big winnah (drumroll)…
“Here”, by Richard McGuire
I wrote about this one already and pretty much laid it all on the line there, so let me just say that it isn’t every year, or even every five or ten, that we get lucky enough to see a landmark moment like the release of this book. I felt blessed to be paying enough attention to the comics medium this year that I could experience it right when it happened. This is one for your top shelf, the one with Nemo and Krazy Kat and Jimbo and Rorschach on it. There have been comics as good as Here before, but nothing better—because it simply doesn’t get any better than this.
Oh yeah, and then there’s…
REPRINT OF THE YEAR: Arsene Schrauwen, by Olivier Schrauwen
The best comic of the past couple years gets the permanent edition it deserves. It’s rare that comics are this funny or this heartbreaking or this exciting or this experimentally audacious or this purely fun to read, but Schrauwen manages it all with such ease and gusto that it’s hard to find an angle from which he doesn’t look like the best cartoonist working right now.
TRANSLATION OF THE YEAR: Flowering Harbour, by Seiichi Hayashi
The other Hayashi books we’ve gotten in English have overflowed to bursting with the treasures of a bounteous visual imagination and the skewering prongs of a deft social critic. Flowering Harbour strips 99 percent of that away, leaving a man, a woman, and a story so devastatingly beautiful and sad that by then end there’s simply nothing to say. A masterpiece I’m thrilled to have been able to read.