Good Evening my Foolish Friends, and welcome to the Annual Jester Awards, when we here at FoolCentral get to give a pat on the back to those comics and comics creators that have brightened our world in the past twelve months.
Now, speaking personally, 2008 has been something of a bad year in pretty much all respects. However, that’s not a reason to be grouchy on my favourite holiday of the year – and some folk have had a blindingly good ’08, so let’s forget about the bad and look back at some of the good bits.
I always get annoyed when awards ceremonies mess about for ages giving awards to people you’ve never heard of for doing things you didn’t even know people did, before finally getting around to the awards that really matter. Well, that’s not a problem with the Jesters – since everything is awarded pretty much at my whim (no ‘phone vote scandals here, in fact no voting of any kind – democracy is not always a good thing in my view…) we can just get right on with it.
Without further ado, let’s get down to the first award: Best anthology. Traditionally this award goes to the UK’s perennial favourite 2000AD. In previous years the only competition (at least from comics that I have access to) has been from the myriad of news-stand kiddie fayre that seem to exist merely as vehicles for giving away cheap plastic toys*.
But this year a competitor has emerged that is head and shoulders above the rest, and although it’s aimed at a different audience than The Galaxy’s Greatest Comic the new kid on the block is actually giving dear old ‘Tooth a bit of a run for its money. the Jester for “Best Anthology” 2008 goes to The DFC for many reasons. The first, and most important is that I like it – but since every Jester winner has to fulfil that criteria it’s hardly worth mentioning.
No, The DFC takes the gong this year because it’s been consistently brilliant, and wonderfully diverse. They started out using the pull of the big name author Phillip Pullman – he of Northern Lights** fame. But from the start it also sported the anarchic mayhem of the Etherington Brothers’ Monkey Nuts, and all manner of other good things.
As the weeks have progressed, so the roster of stories has expanded and deepened – almost every genre has now been examined at least once, and there really has been something for everybody in each and every issue. Alongside Monkey Nuts, Particular favourites of mine have been Emma Vicelli’s Violet and Tony Lee and Dan Boultwood’s Prince of Baghdad, but there really haven’t been many strips I haven’t liked***.
It is a worthy winner, and as they head towards their first anniversary we here at FoolCentral wish them all the best.
The next award is for the “Best Comic Book Movie”. Let’s not pretend it isn’t a straight choice between two – the nominees are obviously Iron Man and The Dark Knight, and I have to be honest it was a really tough choice. Regular readers will know that in the great Marvel vs. DC conflict I’m a DC man to my very core, and as a DC man I have always had a great fondness for The Bat.
I loved Iron Man though. It was very, very close to perfect. It was like a comic book movie stock cube – the very essence of everything that makes a comic book movie concentrated in one place. Downey Junior was a fantastic Tony Stark, the SFX were spectacular and the tone of the whole thing was just the right side of taking it seriously. It was a bright, shiny bundle of armour clad joy.
The Dark Knight, on the other hand, was an entirely different kettle of fish. The key word in the title was Dark, but then that’s how I’ve always liked my Bat, so that was fine by me – this is the vision of Gotham City that I’ve always seen, although it will come as no surprise to those of you who’ve seen it (and surely by now that’s pretty much everyone, isn’t it?) that it was Heath Ledger’s astonishing performance as The Joker that really made this film stand out for me.
Finally there’s a movie version of the clown Prince of Crime that really gets right to the heart of the character. Caesar Romero did a good job of capturing the character’s whimsical side in the old sixties version, but those “Camp Crusader” stories never went anywhere near his insanity and evil. Don’t even get me started on Jack Nicholson’s take on the character back in that first Tim Burton movie – I’m not sure who he was supposed to be, but he was nowhere near The Joker that I know.
Ledger quote simply nailed it, and it’s largely because of his performance that the Jester Award for Best Comic Book based Movie 2008 goes to The Dark Knight. Please, please please, can we have some more like this?
Our final award for this part of the proceedings is the Jester for the Best Self Published Comic*****.
As ever there is some stiff competition for this award. Small and Self Publishers are in my opinion the backbone, heart and soul of the comics industry. They are at the root of everything and they don’t get anything like the recognition they deserve. Honestly, I’m tempted to give this to about a dozen different comics, but in the end, there can be only one.
Beating off strong competition from http://www.factorfictionpress.co.uk/girly>The Girly Comic and http://www.bahala-na.co.uk>Bahala – Na, the Jester Award for Best Self Published Comic goes to http://www.necessarymonsters.com>Necessary Monsters by Sean Azzopardi & Daniel Merlin Goodbrey. This fine comic tells stories of spies and horror in brilliantly stark black and white ink drawings. Dialogue is equally stark and the plotting is taut and edgy.
Frankly I can’t understand why more hasn’t been made of this excellent series, but its time for me to make a bit of a song and dance. Kudos to Sean and Daniel – long may you continue!
And now my Foolish Friends there will be a short intermission. Refreshments of your choice are available****** while you enjoy your New Year festivities. I’ll see you tomorrow, on the other side of the bells , with the first FoolBritannia of 2009, and the final part of this year’s Jesters. Tune in then for the Best Comic, Best Writer and Best Artist awards – in the meantime, have a Happy New Year!
*Do these “Lucky Bag” style comics exist elsewhere in the world, or is it only in the UK that kids have to be bribed to read even comics?
**Now filmed under its American Title The Golden Compass, but I’m not going to call it that here, because frankly, the Alethiometer isn’t a bloody compass, being a magical rather than scientific instrument and showing direction only in the most abstract and metaphorical of senses.
***Of course there have been one or two, but I’m being positive this year****, so I’ll not mention them here.
****Which is why there won’t be an award in the “What were they thinking?!” category this year.
*****Just to remind you, I know there is some discussion surrounding when a comic counts as being small press or self published. For our purposes let’s all just accept that a comic is eligible for this category because I say so and leave it at that. Cool?
******In your kitchen, if you go and make them…