The Siskoid Awards 2008

When I called them the "First Annual Siskoid Awards" last year, I kinda set myself up for doing them again, didn't I?

So here they are, rewarding excellence in stuff I've seen, heard or read this year (regardless of its original inception date). As usual, only new material will be up for consideration (or else I'd just read Hamlet once a year and be done with it). No money or prizes will actually be awarded.

[Insert "funny" or "inspirational" year-in-review montage here]

Best Book of 2008 - The runners up are...
5. Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon
4. The Lemon Table by Julian Barnes
3. The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland
2. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
...and the Siskoid goes to:
The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel - "This 'history' of libraries and book collections is actually more of a meditation on the concept of libraries, both public and personal. What does our choice of books say about us? What does the way we classify those books? How do they live in our minds? Attention is even given to imaginary libraries, electronic media and the act of book burning. The library as everything. There isn't a page in this book that doesn't contain a fascinating fact, a lucid observation or a well-chosen quote." That's me back in May. The book was responsible for my ongoing re-shelving project and my constantly calling the Doctor Who episode "Silence in the Library" by the wrong title.

Best Comic of 2008 - The runners up are...
5. Tiny Titans by Baltazar
4. Teen Titans Year One by Wolfram and Kerschl
3. Jack of Fables by Willingham and Sturges
2. OMAC Omnibus by Jack Kirby
...and the Siskoid goes to:
The Incredible Change-Bots by Jeffrey Brown - "From the roll call of featured robots to the very end, every page has something to recommend it. Sometimes, it's a joke, and sometimes a bit of nostalgia, or often just the charming artwork. Brown's naive style is surprisingly up to the challenge of drawing vehicular transformations, and who'd have thought coloring a book with markers would actually be appealing? My favorite Incredible Change-Bot? Balls." Says it all. I'm hoping to see more of Brown's stuff in this style. (And let me just say I can't BELIEVE there are two Titans books on my list either.)

Best Film of 2008 - The runners up are...
5. Iron Man by Jon Favreau
4. Junebug by Phil Morrison
3. Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid by Sam Peckinpah
2. There Will Be Blood by Paul Thomas Anderson
...and the Siskoid goes to:
The Dark Knight by Christopher Nolan - Damn it, I hate to do the obvious, but no film generated more commentary on the Internets than did TDK, and each time you read one, you'd uncover something new. My main contribution was The Dark Knight: A Morality Play, which is more complete than anything I'd say here now.

Best TV Series of 2008 - The runners up are...
5. Doctor Who Series 4
4. Torchwood Series 2
3. The UNIT Seasons 2-3
2. Spaced Series 1-2
...and the Siskoid goes to:
The Wire Seasons 1-5 - I watched a lot of very good television this year, so some omissions really do break my heart, but there's no doubt in my mind that The Wire belongs at the very top. I might have only given the award to the very best seasons (1, 3 and 4), but "all the pieces [do] matter", so the whole thing gets my best possible recommendation.

Best TV Episode of 2008 - Limited to one per Season of any series. The runners up are...
5. Spaced Series 1 - Epiphanies
4. Veronica Mars Season 1 - Pilot
3. Extras - The Extra Special Series Finale
2. The Wire Season 5 - -30-
...and the Siskoid goes to:
The UNIT Season 3 - Pandemonium - Nothing excited me more this year than The Unit going all Jason Bourne on my ass following Season 2's apocalyptic finale. With the Unit dismantled and disavowed, Jonas and his team go rogue and have to fend for themselves as well as clean up their reputation by uncovering a massive CIA plot. Purists might feel like the show went from realism to superheroic, but I think they keep that balance. Though Season 3 was aborted because of the writer's strike, it's still the best.

Best CD of 2008 - The runners up are...
5. Cliché Hot de Radio Radio
4. Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid soundtrack by Bob Dylan
3. Veronica Mars Unofficial Soundtrack (cheating here a bit, but there are a LOT of tunes on that list that I've fallen in love with)
2. Doctor Who Original Television Soundtrack Series 3 by Murray Gold
...and the Siskoid goes to:
'64-'95 by Lemon Jelly - I discovered this DJ duo thanks to Spaced Series 2, which used one of their tracks on its very last moment, and from there got interested in all their music. My favorite overall, right now, is '64-'95, each track sampling a song published somewhere during those three decades. It ends with William Shatner's Go, and if that doesn't sell you...

And now for the category you've been waiting for:

Stupidest Move in the Geekaverse 2008 - The runners up are...
5. Batman's artists (DC Comics) - For some insane reason, DC has their maverick writer/cash cow, Grant Morrison, on their best-selling superhero (the same year his biggest ever movie comes out) doing a majorly hyped story arc, but they can't be bothered to give him a good artist. And I don't mean that Tony Daniel is not a good artist, I mean that he's a TERRIBLE one. Most of the time, you can't tell what's happening or who it's happening to, truly impairing the story Morrison is trying to tell. And when we get relief from Daniel, it's the likes of Ryan Benjamin who is ever worse. Over on JLA, Ed Benes takes all the attention from the Caped Crusader in favor of Black Canary's crotch. I mean, aren't these supposed to be DC's flagship books? Does no one decent want to draw them? Thank God for Trinity.
4. Heroes: Villains (largely placed at the feet of Jeff Loeb) - We blamed last year on the writers' strike, but turns out it was human error all along. Suffering from its loss of momentum, Heroes went from surprise hit to terrible failure this year as characters acted out of whatever motivation the plot required of them, twists and turns happened to be the same twists and turns offered in the first two seasons, logic and continuity went out the window and to make matters worse, Jeff Loeb inserted a number of unhealthy Rulk references into the scripts. Result: Loeb and another producer out on their asses... but is the damage irreversible?
3. Secret Invasion/Final Crisis (tie; DC and Marvel Comics) - I really can't choose between Marvel's slow-paced, mistitled, ultimately irrelevant, internally inconsistent event based on DC's 20-year-old Millenium where nothing at all happens in the main book at all except pointing at what other series you should be buying, and DC's opaque, chronically late event with its apparently limitless number of tie-ins and totally contradictory lead-in mini-series. I think Secret Invasion was the lamer of the two, but it's looking like Final Crisis will be another case of Editorial shafting Morrison.
2. Frank Miller, Superstar - The Goddamn Batman may or may not be to your tastes, but I think it makes a paltry ambassador for the character. And yet, the Dark Knight/300 connection will probably have snared a few souls from the non-comics set. And now, we have The Spirit, touted as the worst comic book adaptation since League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (hey, this is also the guy who wrote Robocop 2, don't act all surprised). Here's hoping his shining star has finally crashed to earth.
...and the Siskoid goes to:
My gamer buddy Fred stopped by the cops while wearing his Ash costume to a midnight showing of Army of Darkness - Yes, I have to go local once again for my top pick, but when you consider Fred was captured chainsaw-handed at 4 P.M. standing in line ALONE at the movie house, it blows everything else out of the water. All the details HERE.

What would have been YOUR picks? Tomorrow: The Technical Awards as given in a ceremony prior to this one!


Christian Zamora said...

I so agree on having Frank Miller on that list. I thought I was the only one not blown away by his role in the movieverse. He can do some terrific comic books, but movies? Certainly not.

ChrisV82 said...

Most of the time, you can't tell what's happening or who it's happening to, truly impairing the story Morrison is trying to tell.

That's a bad thing? Morrison's story in Batman is the dumbest thing he's concocted since his run on New X-Men.

I know you think Morrison is the greatest thing to happen to comics since the printing press, but his work on Batman is garbage.

Siskoid said...

While I'm a Morrison fan generally, I don't like everything he's done. As for Batman, what I'm saying here is that it might actually be good, but there's no way to tell. The League of Heroes stuff was top notch, but he had an excellent artist to work with. Even the stuff with Kubert, while more straightforward, had some fun superheroics.

R.I.P. might actually have worked with a better artist. An artist with a confusing style just isn't helping a story that's already an overlong fever dream. It reads like it was supposed to be "pure comics" (like his own All-Star Superman or Kirby's Fourth World), a kind of love letter to the character's history. But Daniel doesn't understand basic comic book grammar, which sends the whole thing into a tailspin.

I quite agree that RIP could be a experimental failure, but it didn't stand a chance. It's like Roger Corman directing Hamlet, it doesn't matter how good the writing is, it's gonna look shoddy.

Jack Norris said...

Speaking of Lemon Jelly, what did you think of Lost Horizons? That was the first thing of theirs that I bought (after hearing "Nice Weather For Ducks" in the record store) and played it repeatedly for weeks. I bought the others (ky and the one you mention here), but just didn't find myself getting into them like I did with Lost Horizons.

Siskoid said...

I got all three together and listen to all of them in regular rotation. In the interest of not loading the nominees with Lemon Jelly, I chose one and went with it. Might just as well have been KY or Lost Horizons. I think they're all pretty great.

Lost Horizons is beautifully lyrical, I dunno, more serenely musical. I went with '64-'95 perhaps because it had recognizable snatches in it and the Shat connection.

Jayunderscorezero said...

Oh, I'll always have a soft-spot for LXG. We've stopped saying "worst comic book adaptation since Batman & Robin" then?

Siskoid said...

Frank Miller's little gift to Alan Moore!


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