Sunday, December 29, 2013

Geeky Nerfherder 2nd Anniversary & My 2013 Favourites

It's now two years since I started this blog! And big thanks to everyone that visits here and I hope that you enjoy my posts of pop culture geekery.

I'm also on almost all the major social media sites too, although mostly Twitter and Instagram. So if you’re not already following me, but want to keep up with blog posts and other ramblings, here are the links to my profiles on each of these sites:

on Twitter (@GeekyNerfherder)

And so it's that time of year, where everybody lists all their favourites of the past year, and I'm no different. I have a big love of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, so I'm always going to be biased towards those genres and I'd say it's been another good year for SF&F output too. I've enjoyed the movies I've seen at the cinema this year, including some classic movies re-released on the big screen like 'The Princess Bride' and the 'Indiana Jones' Trilogy, plus once again, there has been a lot of awesome art inspired by pop culture, and I've even managed to bag a few awesome prints this year too!

This year I've 'discovered' the pulps and developed a new found love for the Golden Age of Science Fiction & Fantasy from the 1930's to the 1950's, as well as the movies, books, comics etc that have been inspired by the stories of the likes of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Otis A Kline, Leigh Brackett, Robert E Howard, Kenneth Robeson and more, but most of all, I've been enjoying the awesome illustrated art from that era, which I've been serialising on the blog every Monday (and lots more to come too).

But back to the present day, and here is a list of some of my favourite things from 2013.


I've tried to go to the flicks more often this past year and once again enjoyed the films I've seen this year, and there are some standout favourites.

My favourite films of the year were 'Oblivion', 'Pacific Rim' but out in front, it's 'Gravity' (click the links for my reviews). As I say in my review, Joseph Kosinski's 'Oblivion' was a beautifully shot movie, with a haunting score from M83 / Anthony Gonzalez and felt like a homage to my favourite genre, taking it's recognisable themes from the world of sci-fi, so you might say that I was always going to like it, and I did. More Sci-Fi like this please Hollywood!

And 'Pacific Rim', what can you say about a movie that is primarily the classic monster(s) terrorise the world kind of movie? Well, this is what your big summer popcorn blockbusters should be all about, just a big dumb fun rollercoaster of a movie. As with his other movies (Cronos, The Devil's Backbone, Pan's Labyrinth), this is a loveletter to director Guillermo del Toro's favourite genres - in this case, the Kaiju / monster and Mecha movies of Japan. It may appear to just be a simple monsters vs mecha movie, but it was crafted by someone with a huge passion for the genre, and I think it shows!

But far and away the best cinema experience for me this year, has to be 'Gravity'. As with my other two favourites, this was not a sequel or a remake (see Hollywood, it is still possible to do a decent movie that isn't a reimagining or reboot of a previous movie!). The plot is basic stuff - when disaster strikes, the survivor has to find their self belief and to find a way home, and it might not be 100% scientifically accurate, but what liberties they do take with authenticity drive the story forward (so get over it, internet!). Throughout the 90 minutes (again, take note Hollywood!) you're with Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) all the way as she experiences the anxiety, the disorientation, the despair, the vulnerability, the danger, the hopelessness, the desperation, then the belief, hope, and relief! I was exhausted by the end! But I can honestly say that I can't remember a film where I've been as gripped as I was throughout this movie, I even felt the same when just watching the trailer! And that is why 'Gravity' tops my films for 2013.


Carrying on where 2012 left off, my re-born love for comic books continues to grow. 'Saga' and 'Fables' are still the main titles I look forward to reading every month, but there are some new titles that have caught my attention and have remained high on my buy-pile this year, with one of those being my favourite title. But you won't find any of the costumed superhero comics from Marvel or DC on my lists. You can blame me reading and having my mind blown by the likes of 'The Sandman', 'John Constantine: Hellblazer', 'Swamp Thing' and 'Preacher' years ago for shaping my comic tastes. I would say I'm more of an Image or Dynamite Comics fan these days, and my favourite titles reflect that. The new monthly ongoing titles I've enjoyed this year are 'Lazarus', 'Pretty Deadly', 'Hinterkind' and my new favourite, 'Red Sonja'.

'Lazarus', by Image Comics, follows Forever Carlyle, a Lazarus - a bio-engineered protector of her family's interests, in a dystopian near-future, where wealth is power and a handful of Families rule. This creator-owned title from Greg Rucka (w) and Michael Lark (a) grabbed me straight from the first issue with it's mix of well written action and deception and gorgeous art. The trade that collects the first story arc 'Family' is out now and definitely worth checking out.

'Pretty Deadly', from the creative team of Kelly Sue DeConnick (w) and Emma Rios (a), is an ongoing title from Image Comics "that marries the magical realism of Sandman with the western brutality of Preacher," which just so happens to be two of my all time favourite titles, so it's no wonder I like this. It's a tale told through a skeleton of a rabbit and a butterfly, about Death's daughter that rides the wind on a horse made of smoke and her face bears the skull
marks of her father and of the Old West that is steeped in violence, magic and the macabre. Only 3 issues in, and with the debut issue selling out quickly, this is worth sticking with.

'Hinterkind', from Vertigo Comics, is a fantasy adventure set in a post-apocalyptic world,
where 'The Blight' has all but wiped out the Humanity, and the Hinterkind, a race of fantastical creatures, have returned! This series by Ian Edginton (w) and Francesco Trifogli (a) is only three issues old, but I enjoy these type of comics. Something a bit different to the usual comics but definitely worth picking up.

But my favourite title of the year is the Gail Simone (w) and Walter Geovani (a) 'Red Sonja' reboot from Dynamite Comics. I'd been getting back into this title with the previous spinoff titles and tail end of the previous series, and I've enjoyed every issue (six so far) of the first story arc. The main cover art from Jenny Frison is pretty dang good as well, and I can't recommend 'Red Sonja' enough!

Art / Illustration:

It's been another very good year for pop culture art, and it can only get better, especially going by the awesome art I'm seeing from artists showcasing their art at gallery shows from the likes of Hero Complex Gallery, Gallery1988, Spoke Art, Bottleneck Gallery, Acidfree Gallery, Print Club London and more and on websites like Deviant Art and CG Hub, plus blogs like Blurppy, CromeYellow, XombieDirge, OMG Posters as well as this fine blog too of course. Way too much awesome art out there that I won't even attempt to make a judgment on what my favourite print is or who my favourite artist is either!

But I have got my hands on a few limited edition prints this year: 'Man Of Steel' by Martin Ansin, 'Star Trek: Origins' by Paul Shipper, 'Wish Upon A Triforce' by JP Valderrama, 'We're Doomed' and 'Is This A Kissing Book?' by Joshua Budich, 'The Burglar' by Mark Lone and 'Stargate' by Kilian Eng amongst others.

As well as developing a love for the illustrated cover art of the vintage pulp magazines and paperbacks, I'm also really getting into the Sci-Fi and Fantasy contemporary and concept art and added a few volumes of the legendary Spectrum books to my ever expanding library of art books, as well as concept artbooks of my favourite movies and video games. I've even managed to get my hands on some out of print Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo and Michael Whelan artbooks too!


I'm not a massive gamer to be honest, but I do still like to escape and lose myself in a good game now and then. With 2013 the year of the beginning of Next Generation console gaming, I've not upgraded yet. I just didn't fancy any of the Next-Gen games that were out on launch, so I've stuck with my trusty PS3. However, the lineup of games in 2014 is looking good, so I'll be keeping an eye on things and maybe looking at getting a PS4 in the Spring, as the list of games that will be appearing on that platform is more my thing (Uncharted 4, Dragon Age III, Watch_Dogs, Final Fantasy XV etc) than those on the Xbox One. Each to their own and all that.

But I've enjoyed the new games I have played this year - the 'Tomb Raider' reboot, 'Ni No Kuni', 'Bioshock Infinite' and 'The Last Of Us', which makes it difficult if I was to just choose one, but if I had to, 'Bioshock Infinite' just nudges it for me, by a whisker.

I've not played any of the previous Bioshock games before, so I can't and won't compare with those, and I'm not a lover of First-Person POV games in general, especially shooters (Call Of Duty, Battlefield etc), but there was something about this game that made me want to give it a go and when I did, it grabbed hold of me and made me want to see it through to the end. And I'm glad I did. With the story of alternate realities, the AI NPC of Elizabeth and THAT ending, it kind of stuck with me after I finished playing, and not many games do that. It might not be many people's cup of tea, from what I've read on Twitter and the blogs it's a bit of a Marmite game - you either love it or you hate it, but I love it and for me, it's my game of 2013.


Since I first read the 'John Carter' books by Edgar Rice Burroughs last year, in anticipation of the film that came out last year, I have been mostly reading some of the classic stories of the Golden Age of pulp science fiction and fantasy from authors like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Otis A Kline, Leigh Brackett and Robert E Howard. I've read quite a lot of the swashbuckling, and mostly interplanetary, adventures of their heroes, and they have got me hooked. They have even inspired me enough to make me want to have a go at writing my own pulp SF&F style novel too. So I started the world building and mapping out the chapters last year for NaNoWriMo. Although I didn't make the 50,000 word target then, things invariably got in the way, I did make a start and I'm still tinkering away at it and is a little continuing project of mine to work on.

But pulp Sci-Fi and Fantasy books aside, there are new works of SF&F to enjoy and the two new books that I've enjoyed this year are Neil Gaiman's 'The Ocean At The End Of The Lane' and 'The Locket Thief' by Dan Patrick. Both couldn't different. One is a haunting look back at a mysterious and somewhat horrifying childhood memory, whilst the other is very similar to the old swashbuckling adventures of those pulp stories.

I'm a huge Neil Gaiman fan, and when it was announced that his new book, 'The Ocean At The End Of The Lane' was coming out, to say that I was excited about it, was an understatement. You can read my review here, suffice to say I wasn't disappointed! And 'Ocean' has just been announced as the winner of the public vote in the UK National Book Awards as well as Audiobook of the year too and therefore is now recognised as the UK's favourite book for 2013. I heartily agree!

With Dan Patrick's 'The Locket Thief', he kindly sent me a Kindle copy to read and review, you can read that review here. I was a bit skeptical at first, but as soon as I started to read the story, I was hooked and by the end I was very keen to see the further adventures of the book's protagonist Lara DeLarose and those aboard the 'Robin Hood' in a world of airships and pirates. Very much worth a read.


It's been another good year for soundtracks too. Not just for movies but for video games too. But there is one outstanding favourite for me this year, 'Oblivion' by M83 / Anthony Gonzalez.

Despite it being from a Science Fiction film, it's a very emotive soundtrack, even when listened to on it's own, and I have been listening to it quite a bit this year. Yes, it is very similar also, I think, to the Daft Punk score for 'Tron: Legacy' (which just so happens to be another film directed by Joseph Kosinski), but it fits the film like a glove and helps bring out the emotion of the film in its set pieces. 'StarWaves' and 'I'm Sending You Away' are two of my favourite tracks from this soundtrack.

Honourable mentions go to:
'OZ: The Great And Powerful' Soundtrack by Danny Elfman
'Gravity' Soundtrack by Steven Price
'An Ideal Of Hope' from the 'Man Of Steel' Soundtrack by Hans Zimmer
'Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag' Soundtrack by Brian Tyler
'Bioshock Infinite' Soundtrack

So there you have it, my favourites for 2013. Thanks once again to everyone who drops by the blog, and follows me on the various social networks, making the Geeky Nerfherder a lot of fun to do! Here's to 2014 and more of the same!

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