12.15.2009

My 13 Favorite Things of 2009 (Part 1 of 17)

Wasteland (Oni Press): If you take a quick glance at that picture, you might think that it’s just a simple shot of writer Antony Johnston and artist Christopher Mitten happily debuting a new book at San Diego, but that casual assessment would be undervaluing things. I like to call these guys the “The World-Builders.” They are one of the best creative teams ever at creating an entire fictional universe that extends beyond mere engaging characters and intriguing plot threads. It’s the fractured remnants of civilization a full century after a mythic environmental disaster (we think). It’s the evolution of their speech patterns; it’s their clothing, their customs, their warring, their religion, their sex, and their politics. It’s a complete, well-conceived, carefully constructed, painstakingly executed, living, and breathing creation. They’ve developed an entire world for us to get lost in, an interactive mystery to slowly investigate and discover. Wasteland has been strong from the very first issue, but this year saw two highs amid an already lofty string of accomplishments. Namely, the fully painted double sized issue #25, and the oversized hardcover Apocalyptic Edition you see them holding. The quarter century issue offers a great flashback story and is beautiful to take in visually, but we also see regular series artist Christopher Mitten stretch himself to attain a level of Old Mastery that escapes the disposable pop culture confines of Sequential Art and enters the realm of Fine Art. The Apocalyptic Edition collects the first 13 issues, all of the color covers by Ben Templesmith, and the “Walking the Dust” prose pieces by character Ankya Ofsteen. (And Antony, if you’re reading – I’m desperately hoping that one of the pending interlude issues will feature her story. Please?) Holding this brick of fiction in your hands you realize at long last that the scale and gravitas of the object delighting your senses finally tangibly reflects the scale of the immense writing talent that spawned it. Yup, big ideas belong in big books. Thank the heavens that a publisher like Oni Press exists to grant the freedom in the industry necessary for a book like this to exist and find an appreciative audience.

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