If there’s one thing that’s changed in the word of comics, for both readers and critics, it’s the huge market shift towards digital over the last decade. As comics have become more and more mainstream, from superheroes on our cinema screens to award winning graphic novels in book stores, the medium has embraced the potential of digital distribution in a way that took many by surprise.
As an ex-bookseller, comics as physical objects are something I’ve been quite stubbornly defensive of. But as an avid webcomic fan, and someone rapidly running out of space in my house, I was starting to come around to the idea of digital comic reading. I’d tried a Kindle for reading books and it hadn’t quite stuck – yet another piece of tech to lug around – but the iPad seemed pretty attractive, with the added bonus of being able to read full colour comics on a screen that did them justice. And the iPad mini looked particularly tempting.
So I figured, why not give one a whirl?
It's time for an always subjective Best of the Year article, but I thought I'd do things slightly differently this year - mostly because there were so many great comics out in 2013!
There are no doubt some real gems that I've missed, and reading the various Best Of lists presents a great opportunity to stretch my reading muscles. Perhaps I can provide an equal service for some. And so instead of a numbered list, which doesn't really work within an entire medium that spans so many forms and genres, I present my very own awards. Tongue firmly in cheek, but nonetheless, these Comic Book Grrrl Awards are highly prized indeed - and redeemable for one Sailor Jerry's and Coke if you can find me.
You can read my latest interview with the lovely Mike Carey, writer of The Unwritten, Lucifer, X-Men and more, over at the New Statesman. Carey is one of my favourite writers - Lucifer one of my favourite series - and we chat about Vertigo past and future, The Unwritten and upcoming plans, creator rights and women in comics, internet trolls and his Felix Castor novels. And more!
Stay tuned for more upcoming interview with David Lloyd, David Mack, Tim Seeley, David Hine, and the one and only Neal Adams as I count down to the London Super Comic Con next month.
First piece of the New Year to be published, a wee review of the fantastic Gun Machine for The Independent on Sunday.
Gun Machine is out now and I heartily recommend it, even to non-crime fans.
Full review here: IoS book review: Gun Machine, By Warren Ellis
Stay tuned for some upcoming big pieces! (Far too many, pass the caffeine...)
November was an interesting time for me - I attended Thought Bubble for the first time, caught a fair amount of flack for publishing Grant Morrison's thoughts on Alan Moore over at The Beat, and had to take a short break from Twitter due to the aggressive reaction to a piece on the issues of gender bias and privilege within the UK small press comics scene.
The reaction, and to a much smaller extent the personal attacks following on from the The Strange Case of Grant Morrison and Alan Moore, As Told By Grant Morrison was not unexpected. From past experience alone I knew that writing anything that even remotely fell under a pro-Morrison banner would get me in trouble in certain circles. Some don't seem to appreciate he is a normal bloke rather than an anti-establishment demi-punk-god. The flack from the pro-Moore camp was a little more unexpected given that I spend a large percentage of my comics discussion time talking with the biggest Alan Moore fans around, all of whom have proved over the months to be lovely and gracious without feeling the need to fling their poo at me. But all in all, that was pretty much par for the course.
The next part I was hoping to have sink into oblivion. I've been asked for quotes on the matter enough now, and it keeps being rehashed on Twitter, that I'd like to write the following, and then have done with it.
As a writer, I occasionally stray away from my pet topic of comics to touch on gaming, cult television, guinea pigs, and whatever else catches my interest. One such book out this month did exactly that, celebrating as it does, the biggest celebrity to step foot in St Andrews. I speak not of the young royal couple, or the many famous golfers and celebrity fans that pass through every year. I'm talking about the one who OWNS the town: Hamish.
Cats of course are big business at the best of times. A cursory glance at our internet from any passing alien ships, once the porn has been dispensed with, would surely lead them to conclude that cats are at the top of the food chain on planet Earth, with their slave humans providing food, housing, comfort on demand, and posing them with their heads sticking out of slices of bread. Hamish is not that kind of cat. There are no videos of him sitting in cardboard boxes, no chasing laser pen dots down the back of the bed, and most certainly no renditions of "oh don piano". Hamish is a real cat, who turns up his nose at the idea of having one home and only one set of humans. He also has nearly 3,000 facebook friends.
Hamish McHamish of St Andrews: Cool Cat About Town by Susan McMullan launched on the 20th of October, and Hamish has been popping up all over the Scottish press, from STV news, to the various national newspapers. No one however had attempted to interview Hamish himself about all the attention he's been getting, and as his assistant in curating his "Hamish Recommends" book selection at the local Waterstones, I hoped that he would be willing to share a few comments with me...