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TWO THOUSAND AND NINE: Was and Wasn't

I've never really had much luck with doing end of the year posts, mostly because I tend to forget what I've consumed/read/watched over the year (my Mom's taken to writing down everything she reads, which is something I'll have to do for 2010), but this year felt especially rich, so ... end of the year post, hurrah!

What Was Awesome in 2009:
1. URASAWAAAAAAAAAA!

Well, duh. My shelves are rapidly being taken over by his two continuing series, Pluto and 20th Century Boys. While I consume comics at an obscene rate, most of my reading material comes from the library, as I can't afford to purchase everything that I think looks interesting. I don't have a lot of money, and I've never had a comic budget before this year, but I made one in order to get my sticky paws on every volume of those two books, because they are amazing. I'm not a critic, so I won't sit here and discuss the intricacies of the storytelling at work, but to me there is nothing more satisfying than genre storytelling that is nailed every time. I think it's harder. I think that while sometimes artsy or challenging or autobiographical comics get a lot more press in what's left of the mainstream media, to me it is always more compelling when a cartoonist manages to magic a well done genre story out of thin air. The fact that Urasawa seems to be continuing to improve and define his art style (so much has changed since Monster) reminds me that good artists will always push themselves to do better.

2. Viz Signature Okay, so they released Pluto and 20th Century Boys so they're aces in my book, but I've noticed pretty much all the books that I read this year that really intrigued me came from that line. Children of the Sea was amazing, the best use of space on a comic page I've ever seen, and Solanin was deeply touching, even if it did star a bunch of 20something losers who I'd probably want to punch in real life. I bought Ooku the other day and while I had some issues with the artwork (the characters look far too similar), the writing was charmingly sly. I love that this imprint seems devoted to bringing quirkier fare over from Japan. Can't wait to see what they do in 2010.

3) Working On Comics Full-time
I did a crazy thing: I told the studio I'd worked at for the past couple years that I wouldn't be available for the next little while, and hunkered down to draw comics full-time, living off of money my publisher First Second was paying me to draw Brain Camp, and later Friends With Boys. It was kind of scary, but I figured if I was ever going to try and take a year to draw comics, this was the year. It turned out to be the right decision as the animation industry in Halifax nosedived, and at this point, most of my friends are either out of work, or moved away to jobs in other provinces. I don't know what the future will hold, if I'll have to go back to animation to pay rent (probably in another province), but for the moment, I'm doing okay and determined not to worry. As I've mentioned before, it's now 10 years since I started drawing comics (back in 1999 with Demonology 101), so it felt pretty cool I'd get the chance to take this 10th year to devote to comics.

4) 30 Rock
I have a reoccurring dream in which I'm best friends with Tina Fey. I've watched each 30 Rock episode about 30 times. I want to go to there.

5) Resident Evil 5 & Star Trek.
"SPOOOOOOOOOOOOOCK!"
"CHRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIISSSSSSS!"
They were fun.

Things That Weren't So Awesome in 2009:
1) I slashed my movie budget to buy Urasawa's comics, and I think I made the right move. I went from being a devoted movie nerd (movies every week! sometimes twice!) to seeing a total of seven movies all year, in a quest to not see a single bad one. Still saw a couple bad ones, tho. The strange thing? I didn't miss going to the movies. This does not bode well for Hollywood getting more of my money. I also didn't buy a single DVD. It makes me sad because I really loved movies once upon a time, but ... well, I don't know what to make of this development.

2) Anyone want my brand new copy of Stitches that I bought due to hype and kind of hated? Urg. I paid money for this thing! Money I could have spent on Urasawa's comics!

3) The animation industry tanking and most of my friends moving away to greener pastures. Anyone want to hang out in 2010?

4) No North American comics hit me the way the Viz Signature ones did. Closest was Swallow Me Whole, which was excellent, but it's a disturbing trend. I don't want to just read manga. What's up with that, colleagues? Which one of you's going to knock my socks off on 2010?