Best of the year – Barry Renshaw
Today’s Best of the Year choices come from a very well known name on the UK comics circuit, Barry Renshaw. Barry has been damned busy with Engine Comics, a new arrival in the family and latterly working closely with Mike Conroy on a re-launch of Comics International (the first of the revamped issues will be out this winter and there are also some CI Specials to look forward to during 2009; I’ve had a sneak look at the first one, which I can’t give away any details on yet, but suffice to say it had some damned good names present, a good theme and you will want to take a look at it), but he still managed to find some time to share some of his thoughts on 2008’s comics scene with us:
FPI: Could you tell us what your favourite three comics/graphic novels and/or books have been this year and why they stood out for you?
Barry: DMZ is still a must read for me, I tend to save it till the last of my pull list to savour it. JSA, especially the current Kingdom Come run, is outstanding from Geoff Johns, as is his Green Lantern work. I’ve never actually wanted to cheer before while reading a comic, but in a sequence when the JSA and KC Superman are getting pasted by Gog, and the KC Green Lantern arrives to save the day, I almost shouted “yes!” at the top of my voice. Which wouldn’t have been clever, since it was around three in the morning and I would have woken the baby up.
Joint third would probably be Hellboy, Local and The Killer. Duncan Fegredo’s art in Hellboy is inspiring; the man is an unsung master. The Killer from Archaia Studios by Matz and Luc Jacamon is one of the most gorgeous books out there. Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly’s Local was just gorgeous.
FPI: In other art forms was there anything in the world of radio, TV, film or other artistic endeavours that really drew your attention this year?
Barry: I’ll never get tired of telling everyone just how great Battlestar Galactica is. It just beats out Lost and 24 as the greatest show on TV at the moment. The quality of the writing is sublime, the acting inspired, the direction impeccable, the music haunting. Its the most emotionally involving drama on TV, and when it finally finishes in March 2009, although we do have the TV movie and Caprica to follow, it will be a sad, sad day, an end of an era, but hopefully it will inspire a new generation of writers and filmmakers the same way the original Star Trek, Babylon 5, Doctor Who and West Wing did in their own way.
(BSG goes all Last Supper – “this is my body, this is my blood…” Actually, I think Six may have had us as “this is my body”…)
Film wise, of the handful I saw, Dark Knight was a brilliant rollercoaster ride; Cloverfield really enjoyable; Hellboy 2, Iron Man and Incredible Hulk great examples of how to make comic book films. But the two films of the year for me were The Mist, and one I didn’t get round to watching until recently, Children of Men. The Mist for first actually making me squirm during the lynching scene in the store and because the ending was so perfectly, depressingly grim. Children of Men, such a bleak and scarily realistic near future with just a tiny flicker of hope at the end, with no easy answers.
FPI: On the professional front how did you see the comics world in 2008, from your own point of view as a creator putting your work out there (did you feel it was a good year for you?) and what did you think of the way the comics biz was in general this year? The business becoming more diversified, more accessible to new readers and creators or less welcoming?
Barry: Most of what I’ve done this year has been non-comic related, such as storyboards and other illustration work, and the comic related stuff won’t be seen until January or February. Most of my time has been taken up with the Comics International re-launch, but by paying more attention to the news side of things as a result, I think it’s been a really interesting year for the industry. Both Marvel and DC are putting out some great stuff, as are many indies, but I was gutted to hear about the cancellation of the Minx line. There were some gems from that like New York Four by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly. I’m really looking forward to the new Crime line from Vertigo.
FPI: What’s the next project you are working on that we can look forward to?
Barry: Besides the CI re-launch, I’m endeavouring to restart Seven Sentinels, and after that I’m doing storyboards and concept art for a fan film called Judge Minty which is already looking awesome, so I’m gonna try my hardest not to frak it up for them.
(A damned cool looking CGI model for the Lawmaster bike, borrowed from the Judge Minty blog)
I’m also slowly compiling info for the long delayed Rough Guide to Self Publishing, now temporally re-titled the Raw Guide. The idea is to do an index of all UK/Irish indie comics published in the last 50 years. It’s a mammoth task but there’s a lot of great stuff out there that will just disappear with no record it ever existed, so if anyone wants to submit their info to me they can email us for the fact sheet and what to do next.