On the January 2015 “Quad Shot” Podcast, (which you can listen to HERE) during the “Funny Books” segment, I felt rather embarrassed that I couldn’t recall some of my favorite reads (comic and otherwise) from 2014. I’ve read a lot of books in the last year or so, but under the pressure of the moment, and the influence of some alcohol, and the stare of Lady, James’s faithful bitch, I just couldn’t seem to recall some of the finer reads.
Eventually, I spouted out that I loved AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE — which, indeed, is a fun book worth following along with — but truth be told there were a lot of other great reads from last year that I feel I should share with you.
BLACKSAD – No, the fact that a cat is the lead character is NOT the only reason I enjoyed this book, though that certainly didn’t hurt. What I liked most about this (these) book(s) is the art — very precise, detailed, colored in great precision. The world within, populated by anthropomorphic animals of all species, is seedy and criminal, but vibrant in ways that reflect the best vistas in America. The first story, Somewhere Within the Shadows, is a pure noir, in which our lead detective, Blacksad, investigates the murder of an actress he once knew, and in the process uncovers some shady dealings that go all the way to the top of the business heap. The stories are about 40 pages each, but each with crisp dialogue, 3-dimensional characters, and you can almost smell the smoke coming out of the pages. I highly recommend, specifically if you dig crime stories with a slightly askew point of view.
ASTRO CITY — A book that has been shelved, re-started, shelved, re-started…this city is back in the limelight as a new monthly series by original creator/writer Kurt Busiek and artist Brent Anderson. Though the new volumes stillc apture the magic of a city coping with the presence of superheroes-and-villains, there’s a freshness that’s only slightly missing in the new stories, a piece of originality and overall greatness that is better highlighted in previous volumes “Life in the Big City” and “Local Heroes”. But I’m a sucker for nostalgie, frankly, so even though the newer stories leave something to be desired in overall intrigue, the very presence of the city, and the “classic”, familiar inhabitants means I’m right at home within the pages.
SAGA — Brian K. Vaughan’s original space opera-war-love story, with the amazing and superior art by Fiona Staples, is mind-blowing in originality, but also pleasing in its very simplicity of storytelling. While the inter-weaving of character and plot can be daunting to the fresh eye, there’s a basic pleasure inherent to the reading of pages with limited panels and efficient use of space. Comic lovers and newbies should unite in the eye candy that is SAGA.
GONE GIRL — Yes, a novel, and yes, the basis for a movie. But the novel is great, the switching POV’s keeping you guessing, and for a fast, pulpy read it was more than delightful — the writer (Gillian Flynn) is talented! Great book, great movie, and great example of narrative execution with twists that don’t come out of nowhere but still surprise.