Just as well I had the target of getting to #1 on Friday – the second anniversary of this blog and my thirty-sixth birthday - otherwise I would never have got there.
This means we are both – in blog years and real years – officially grumpy old bastards, so there is bound to be more bitching and moaning about the woeful state of modern comics.
And yeah, that’s right. I spent a significant portion of my birthday writing about how much I love Judge Dredd, and it was awesome. But ever since I got the JD role-playing game for a birthday, spending the big day with old Stoney Face is always a pleasure.
But really, while I am looking forward to turning into a real old coot, I have no right to complain about the current state of comics. While there are still dozens and dozens of shitty comics being produced every month, there is also plenty of brilliant stuff, and it felt nice to highlight ten of them from last year on this blog.
The nature of top ten lists means there is always going to be something that gets missed out, and there have easily been another dozen comics I could’ve put in there, ones that weren’t the first things to come to mind when I started thinking about my favourite comics, but could easily have placed on the list.
There was the solid quality of Vertigo books like Scalped, Sweet Tooth, the Unknown Soldier and Jack of Fables, various Brendan McCarthy comics for various publishers, the last couple of Walking Dead books, Rasl, Joe the Barbarian and the latest Strange Tales series – they could all happily have gone into a personal top ten.
One comic I definitely regretted forgetting when I made up the list was the little 14-page introduction that Dylan Horrocks did for the latest edition of Hicksville. His collaboration with Emily Perkins was also a lovely little mini-comic conversation about writing, art, stories and monsters, but the new introduction to his most beloved book is just a perfect piece of comics.
I’ve heard Horrocks talk about his love affair with comics – including the moment it went sour for him – but this short story covers it all with a touching sense of melancholic hope. It’s worth buying the new edition just for that.
After writing incessantly about my favourite comics for a week, I spent the last few days playing video games. I only buy one game a year, otherwise I lose days and days that turn into weeks and week to the game because I get horribly addicted. Usually it’s a Grand Theft Auto or Resident Evil or Command & Conquer, but one is enough. I still play Red Alert 2 more than I should, and it’s ten years old. I have to take it easy.
This year the choice was obvious when I saw a bunch of games on sale at a local store: it was impossible to resist the allure of Batman: Arkham Asylum for $20, and it proved to be the best twenty bucks I’ve spent in a while.
Any game that rewards furious bashing of buttons with some impressively powerful Fists of Justice has got something going for it, and I’ve been glued to the laptop screen for the past few days. I might have to take it a bit easy, I’m already a third of a way through the game. After two days. If it’s going to last till next year, I don’t want to blow my load now.
Mind you, I did have some incredibly frustrating experiences with the installation process that meant I had to go away and read some Hitman comics in the sun to calm down, because they didn’t break down.
It’s one of the reasons I sometimes feel trampled by the digital comics revolution and left to die in the dust – the appeal of instant delivery and easy storage is outweighed by the perfect nature of a physical comic book, and the way it works so well for all my needs.
A comic doesn’t need batteries, or a power source of any kind. They don’t need additional software to work. You can toss one off the roof of the tallest building in the world and it will still work at ground level (although, if it’s a collected edition, you may be dealing with a broken spine). Comics don’t suffer system failures, individual issues don’t suddenly crash for no apparent reason, and they can be paused at any given point, and picked up again.
So I got to feel all smug and shit for a while, until the installation finally completed, and then I spent hours and hours beating up bad guys in stunning digital detail. Comics? What comics?