All posts in Best of 2015

Five favourite comics of the year

This year I read a lot of comics – so many, in fact, that my New Year’s resolution is to come up with some kind of tracking system. Because… erm, I like to track things? Blame the collector gene lurking somewhere inside me. I’m never happier when I have a nice ordered to-do list and a lovely big colour-coded spreadsheet.

Anyway, I’ve read a lot of comics! So what I can do is pick out my five favourites of this year.

Coffin Hill
Caitlin Kittredge, Inaki Miranda
Vertigo

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I’m going to say it: Coffin Hill is my favourite Vertigo series. Across twenty issues, Caitlin Kittredge wrote a dark, dark tale of modern day witchcraft in New England. The characters are complex, engaging, and full of secrets, and the story is mysterious and creepy and… did I say dark? Because it’s dark.

Anything written by Tom King

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Seriously, Tom King is living the dream – specifically, my dream. I first met him at WorldCon Chicago in 2012 – he’d just had a superhero novel (A Once Crowded Sky), published, and my superhero novel (Seven Wonders) was just out too. We swapped books and kept in touch.

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Three years later, we bumped into each other in a hospitality suite overlooking the main exhibit hall of San Diego Comic Con. We were both utterly exhausted, but managed a congratulatory fist bump. We’d both come a long way.

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Of course, Tom has come much further than me in comics. He’s writing for DC, Marvel and Vertigo. His DC books are terrific. His current Marvel book – The Vision – is bizarre and kinda scary and quite brilliant. His new Vertigo series The Sheriff of Babylon calls on his experiences as a CIA operative to tell a brutal, sad story.

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The Omega Men is possibly the strangest and most intriguing DC title currently published.

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So yeah, Tom is doing well, and I’ll happily read every single book that has his name somewhere on it, and I’m not jealous in the slightest. Oh no.

*cough*

Justice League
Geoff Johns, Jason Fabook
DC Comics

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DC Comics had a bit of a re-jig recently with the whole DC You pseudo-relaunch, where they basically let creators do what they want. The results were, actually, pretty great. My favourite of the new-style books is Geoff Johns’s Justice League. Now, I’m a fan of Geoff’s anyway, and I think Justice League might be one of his best books. Nobody quite understands DC superheroics like Geoff, and this book is pure, distilled, costumed superhero action, weaving hardcore DC continuity and fresh storytelling into something new and exciting. I also think it’s the best looking superhero book around – the art by Jason Fabook is also breathtakingly good, and there are pages and pages I just want to rip out and pin to my office wall.

Archie vs Predator
Alex di Campi, Fernando Ruiz
Dark Horse Comics

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Archie has undergone a revival recently, with the main comic relaunched, and their superhero imprint reimagined. Archie is also known for some crazy crossovers (Archie Meets the Punisher, Archie Meets Kiss), and the latest, Archie vs. Predator is… well, it’s insane. It’s also very, very funny.

The Fade Out
Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips
Image Comics

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The latest series from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips – sadly ending, I believe, with issue 12 in January 2016 – is, I think, my favourite of their ever-growing library. The Fade Out is a tale of 1950s Hollywood glamour and murder (you can probably start to guess why I love this series so much), and is a noir that is so characteristic of this writer/artist partnership.

And now to craft the ultimate comic reading tracking sheet..

Favourite music of 2015

This year was another good one for music — actually, it was exceedingly great, as it marked the return of my favourite band (that’s not The Cure) after a 9-year hiatus.

Here then are my five favourite (new) albums of 2015.

Sleater-Kinney
No Cities to Love

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When Sleater-Kinney went on hiatus in August 2006, I was pretty cut-up. I’d seen them three times back in New Zealand (2002 on the back of One Beat, then twice in 2006 on the tour for The Woods), and that wasn’t enough. Excellent albums from Carrie Brownstein’s Wild Flag and The Corin Tucker Band helped fill the nearly decade-long gap, but… that wasn’t enough either.

And then Sleater-Kinney roared back to life, having amazingly kept their reunion a secret for nearly two years. Then I saw them live in Manchester in the first half of 2015, and they blew the roof off the venue.

It’s good to have them back!

Speedy Ortiz
Foil Deer

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I have to thank SomaFM, Alex Segura and NPR Music for this one. Speedy Ortiz’s third album Foil Deer has been on heavy repeat for me this year. Best bit about discovering a band a bit late? There were two previous albums I could enjoy immediately.

Raising the Skate is quite possibly my favourite song of the year.

Courtney Barnett
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Another NPR Music discovery. I’m sensing a theme here.

Veruca Salt
Ghost Notes

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Okay, so this is a slightly weird one. Although Veruca Salt have existed in one form or another since 1993, Ghost Notes is the first album by the original line-up since 1997’s Eight Arms to Hold You. And Ghost Notes doesn’t disappoint – it sounds just like Veruca Salt circa 1997. This is old-school American indie rock.

On the other hand… it sounds just like Veruca Salt circa 1997. Which, as I’ve just said, it great. But also a little weird. At times it does feel like a nostalgic trip eighteen years back in time, and my hope is that the next album shows a little progression. Sleater-Kinney came back after nine years with an album that felt like a modern continuation, after all.

Wolf Alice
My Love is Cool

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This is a super-late entry, given I only discovered the band on Christmas Eve thanks to Soma FM and someone else’s best-of list. But less than a week of high-rotation listening has put this into my top five albums of the year. I might just have to go see them live in 2016. Their back catalogue is also well worth seeking out, especially the Moaning Lisa Smile EP.