This year felt a little light in the movies and music categories, so I think I can cram it all into one post. If any of my favorites from last past years are still going (like comics series), I tend not to list them again in the current year. So, if you’re curious about my favorite things from past years, you can look at 2014 here, 2013 here, and 2012 here.
Island edited by Brandon Graham & Emma Rios
Island is everything I love about comics in one nice package. It features stories by my favorite creators working today, like Farel Dalrymple, Simon Roy, Matt Sheean & Malachi Ward. So that sucks me in… then it also introduces me to new creators I may not have been familiar with. All at a great price point, and packed with over 60 pages of comics. I love this book. It’s the kind of thing I aspire to make and be a part of.
The Legacy Luther Strode by Justin Jordan & Tradd Moore
Tradd Moore has always had a fun and unique art style. The first 2 Luther Strode series were action-packed and gory. However, the stuff Tradd is doing on Legacy of Luther Strode is next level comics. I’m not sure anyone working today is able to craft compelling action scenes in comics quite like him. He takes into account the characterizations, body shapes, line quality, scale, panelling, and page layout to elevate every scene to something that pushes the medium forward. It’s a treat to see this happening. The issues are far-between but worth the wait.
Mirenda by Grim Wilkins
Also pushing boundaries in comics is Grim Wilkins. Mirenda is a wordless comic, but is still able to chronicle an epic journey full of drama and character. He uses word balloons as panels, creating not only spacial depth on each page, but also narrative depth. On top of that, Grim’s use of ink is breathtaking. He has very clean and slick pen lines, but also incorporates masterful ink washes in key moments. Oh and the colors are rad too. This comic is gooooood.
Burn Your Demons by Isabella Rotman
It’s no secret that I love Isabella’s comics. She’s been on the scene for a few years now, cranking out a mix of educational sex-positive comics and personal experimental minis. This book is a wonderful example of her personal work. She is able to pull in the reader with limited and poetic use of language, and then keep them there with lush and detailed environments. She also plays with the circular panel format in this mini, which ads to the unique-ness of it as a book object. This is top-notch mini-comics.
Southern Bastards by Jason Aaron & Jason Latour
I was a late comer to Southern Bastards, jumping on at issue #7. I have had mixed feelings about some of Jason Aaron’s stuff (Scalped) but enjoyed his run on Punisher Max. The Jason Latour art is what hooked me. Everything feels grizzled, lived in, and real. His use of limited color palettes and ziptone patterns brings texture contrast to every scene. It’s a treat every month.
Rumble by John Arcudi & James Harren
Few things are as exciting as reading a James Harren action scene. And Rumble is full of them. Harren skews a bit more to the cartooned style in Rumble, but it works beautifully. The story is fun enough to hold my interest, though I’m really there for the slicing and dicing.
8house Kiem by Brandon Graham & Xurxo G. Penalta
Penalta pours so much detail into these pages. It’s a dense and fun read, much like a Geof Darrow book. The story meanders a bit, but that’s kinda the M.O. for the 8house books (which honestly, is something I like about them). I’m looking forward to seeing more from this Graham & Xurxo collaboration. Is there more??
The Surface by Ales Kot & Langdon Foss
I think Ales Kot is always trying something different. This makes it hard to really say I’m a fan of everything he does. But I’m definitely a fan of his manner of working and love his ability to collaborate with different artistic styles. Langdon is a superb artist. He layers in loads of detail, without losing character emotions or forgetting the importance of page layout. The art on The Surface is like a wonderful mix of Moebius, Darrow, and Seth Fisher. I dig it!
8house Yorris by Helen Maier & Phil Barlow
Mad Max Fury Road
Is there much else to say? This film is universally praised and rightfully so. From conception to final effects passes, it’s quite a ride. I’m most impressed by the attention to small world-building details and it’s ability to maintain the tension of a chase scene for 2+ hours. I loved this film.
Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films
A documentary about the films of my childhood. All those trashy, violent, fantasical, silly, amazing films that ignited my imagination are addressed within. The story of Cannon films includes a lot of insane anecdotes about the producer brothers in charge, but at the end of the day the passion comes through.
The western is doing well this year. I had been hearing praise for S. Craig Zahler’s writing for the last year or two, and was very excited for Bone Tomahawk. Not only is the film rife with great actors, it features compelling dialogue and sets a somber mood throughout. The final confrontation is brutal and harrowing, leaving a huge scar on the viewer. I’m definitely interesting in seeing more from Zahler.
I was worried this film would be vapid and flashy. I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be a unique exploration of some old sci-fi concepts. The film finds a good balance between expository scenes, character moments, humor, and dread. I recommend it to any fellow sci-fi fans.
Gorgeous costumes. Incredible set designs. Stunning color palette. Del Toro is a stylist supreme, and it shows in Crimson Peak. This isn’t a particularly scary film, but more of a love story, which I think is the big hurdle some had with it. I would recommend you come for the visuals, then stay for the twisting victorian drama.
Turbo Kid, Fast & Furious 7, The Revenant, Foxcatcher
Wish I’d Seen:
It Follows, Sicario
Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens
Somehow, Sufjan breaks your heart while simultaneously bringing hope and wonder. Carrie & Lowell is a meditation on loss and how we cope as humans. Filled with delicate melodies and jarring lyrics, this record is unique in it’s vision and performance.
Lost Themes by John Carpenter
John Carpenter is a personal favorite of mine. As a director, he’s created many of my favorite films. Those films feature some of the best music scores of their era. Needless to say, a whole album of new ‘fake’ movie scores by John was a dream come true. Synth-y minimal tracks fill this perfect ‘inking music’ album.
Luminiferous by High on Fire
So that’s all for 2015! I’m looking forward to a lot of awesomeness in 2016:
- More Island!
- Space-Mullet collection by Daniel Warren Johnson
- Another DWJ secret project at Image
- Prophet Collection
- John Wick 2
- Hail, Caesar!
- The Neon Demon
- John Carpenter’s Lost Themes II
- Run the Jewels 3??
- New Pallbearer album
- New Slomatics album
- New Deftones
- Uncharted 4
- Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst