My Faves of 2017

Here are some of my favorite things from the past year. As with all my previous year-end lists: (1) these are my personal favorite things, not “the best,” and (2) they’re things I enjoyed in 2017, not necessarily things that were new in 2017.

The Junji Ito episode of Manben [Japanese TV show, fansubbed – link]

Fansubs of seasons three and four of the Japanese TV manga documentary Manben have been slow in coming, but thankfully this season four episode which follows horror master Junji Ito jumped the gun and showed up in 2017. In addition to seeing Ito work on the as of yet untranslated story Layers of Fear, we also get to witness his elaborate and giant cat tree.


The Hergé Exposition at the Musées de la civilisation, Québec City [museum exhibit]

I’ve written a big post about this show, but in a nutshell: this was an amazing exhibition and getting to see it (especially given that I’m guessing this will be its only North American stop) was absolutely one of the highlights of my 2017.


Wacom MobileStudio Pro [drawing tablet/computer – link

I received one of these in 2017 on “extended loan” from a friend and was of course delighted to get to try out such a high-end piece of gear. I didn’t really get a chance to put it to the test, though, until year’s-end when we were doing holiday travelling and I took it along for work purposes. It can get hot with heavy use and the battery’s nothing to write home about, but the screen/stylus combo is amazing–far better than my studio Yiynovia–and having a machine with a full OS that runs “real” Clip Studio is a must-have for me. 


Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez [All-ages GN – link]

This all-ages GN from Nobrow is gobsmackingly gorgeous and has a great story as well: definitely kid-focused but not cloying–and even a little bit dark and scary in places. I loved it and so did my nine year-old daughter. 


The MNT [Patreon-based monthly comics newsletter – link]

The MNT is a new magazine of comics reviews/criticism that’s using Patreon as a publishing platform. The minimum pledge is a dollar a month and for that modest amount you get a really well put-together magazine featuring a ton of great writers. They cover a wide range of topics, including: mainstream Marvel/DC stuff, indie releases and indie cartoonists, industry/sales news, personal essays, even obituaries of prominent comics figures.  


Tristan & Yseult by Agnès Maupré and Singeon [French language GN – link]

I wrote an extensive review of this book just recently, so you can read more about it there if you’re interested. But, in short, this is a wonderful adaptation of the traditional tale of Tristan and Isolde, beautifully-drawn, and featuring some of the most interesting comics coloring I’ve seen of late. 


Pope Hats #5 by Ethan Rilly [comic book – link]

The fifth issue of Ethan Rilly’s (AKA Hartley Lin) Pope Hats wraps up the series’s one continuing story–the Frances/law firm bit–and wraps it up in a pretty satisfying way. Just as much a selling point, though, is Lin’s amazing artwork. Pretty much nobody in the indie crowd these days has the sheer drawing prowess–and in particular the brush inking chops–that this guy does. There’s a collection of the Frances storyline coming out in 2018, but I recommend getting the individual issues as there’s a ton of great non-Frances stuff in the earlier issues. 


Under the Hood [comics podcast – link]

Under the Hood is a new “minutiae podcast” about Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen. The hosts, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou and Kieran Shiach, are going through Watchmen and discussing one page per episode. There are few comics that have been as thoroughly planned and thought-through as Watchmen has and that could bear this kind of small-scale analysis. I’ve read Watchmen half a dozen times and there’re still things brought up in this podcast that I’ve not noticed before. 


Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets [film – link]

Yeah, I know: everyone hated this movie. Maybe I’m just too much of a fan of the source material to evaluate it objectively, but I really enjoyed it. Yeah, the lead guy is kind of jerky and it’s over-long, but it’s also visually absolutely amazing. Just from a design standpoint it’s got more interesting stuff going on in the first ten minutes than any of those Marvel movies do in their entire run-times. Despite its flaws, Valerian is a rare big-budget genre movie that very obviously was made not via some corporate mandate, but because someone was actually passionate about making it–and you can tell. 


Providence by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows – [comic book series – link]

Alan Moore and  Jacen Burrows’s Providence wrapped up this past year. Why this wasn’t a bigger deal is a mystery to me. In addition to likely being Moore’s comics industry swan song, Providence seems to me to be a good candidate for status as Moore’s late-era masterpiece.  Do yourself a favor and go read Craig Fischer’s excellent essay over at TCJ on the ending of Providence


Critical Chips 2 [magazine of comics criticism – link]

If anything, this second volume of Critical Chips is even better than the first volume, which I had on my 2016 faves list. I’m only about half-way through it, but I’d put it on my list solely for things like  Douglas Wolk’s essay on romance comics set at Woodstock and J.A. Micheline’s writing on Ghost in the Shell


David Mazzucchelli originals [photoset – link]

I’m not sure why this Flickr set of Mazzucchelli originals from a 2009 exhibition suddenly surfaced and started making the rounds in ’17, but I’m sure glad it did. I could stare at this stuff for hours. And it’s all high-res! Do yourself a favor and use Flickr’s handy “download the entire set” feature to get yourself a copy of this absolutely amazing stuff. 

Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White by Michael Tisserand [prose biography – link]

Comics has long-needed a thorough biography of one of its most important figures, George Herriman, and now we’ve finally got one. Michael Tisserand’s biography of the Krazy Kat artist is well-researched but never gets bogged down in minutiae–and, most important, it’s a blast to read. Now, when are we gonna get a Gooseberry Sprig collection?  

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