What Made 2019 So Special (Ryan's 2019 Retrospective)
With 2019 coming to a close, and thanks to a little inspiration from Gen, I thought it was the perfect time to talk about what an unbelievable year this has been. Let's get the personal stuff out of the way first. This year saw so many changes happen in my life, some good and some challenging. But I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.
I lost my job at a restaurant that I had been at for over 6 years and while that hurt financially it was also kind of a gift. I had wanted out of that place for a long time and it lead to me working at my LCS. That's also the good thing about being a comic collector, whenever you need a little extra cash, you can always sell some stuff. haha
This year has also been filled with some really happy moments. My daughter started Kindergarten and watching her learn and grow has always been the greatest gift I've ever got. Plus she loves to read, just like her dad. We also got to go on an amazing trip to Zion, which was one of the best experiences I've ever had. If you've never been, I highly recommend you go at least once in your life. I wanted to go back even before we left.
The craziest thing was that I also turned 7 years sober. HOLY SHIT!! If you would have told me 7 years ago that this is where my life would be, I would have said you were crazy.
OK Let's talk about the site now.
CREATING THE COMIC LOUNGE TEAM
When I started the year out I had been running the site by myself, no other contributors. I had been doing all the reviews, articles and interviews. Working full time and being a dad, I realized that if I wanted the site to grow, I should reach out to fellow comic book fans and see if they wanted to write for the site.. Slowly I started reaching out to people and even had a few people reach out to me. First were Cidnya and Gen, I had followed them on Instagram and loved their unique outlook/opinions on stuff. luckily they both said yes. Then I asked Dylan who had been one of my best friends since High School, and things started taking off. From there Shah, Trevor, Angel, Jes, Sophie, Paolo joined the site. And more recently Austin. Maya, Jennifer, and Cat.
What I got were more than just contributors though, I got an amazing group of friends that have become like a little family. Which only made it in even crazier when some of them came out to LA for LA Comic Con and we met in person. Gen, Shah, and Trevor each came out to LA and it was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. There was no awkwardness, it was like seeing old friends that you just haven't seen in awhile. The coolest part was that they also got to meet my wife and daughter. These people mean so much to me and I could never truly put into words how much they all have enriched my life, simply by just being apart of it.
INTERVIEWING MY HEROES
One of the greatest parts of running this site has been the fact that I've bee able to talk to writers that I've long admired. Three of the biggest ones this year have been Scott Snyder, Joshua Williamson and Kevin Eastman. Snyder has long been one of my favorite writers and being able to chat and talk comics with him was definitely one of the highlights of my year. Then talking to Williamson about all things Flash was a dream come true, we literally geeked out about all of our favorite Flash stories and realized how many favorites we had in common.
One of the craziest ones had to be with Kevin Eastman, one of the co-creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I've been a TMNT fan since I was 3, so getting to talk to him was a lifelong dream. Hearing the excitement he still has after 35 years for the Turtles, mirrors my own love for those characters. He is one of the most humble creators I've ever talked to and hopefully I get a chance to do another one in the future.
While I kind of took a break with interviews towards the last few months of the year. I definitely have some ideas of who I wanna talk to this coming year, so be on the lookout.
MEETING BKV AND KEVIN SMITH
I got meet 2 of my favorite creators on the planet, Brian K. Vaughan and Kevin Smith.
Getting a chance to talk to BKV at his Q&A was awesome. He really is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. Hearing some of the stuff that inspired SAGA was fantastic. Plus getting some words of encouragement was one of the highlights of my year.
You should all know by now how much I love Kevin Smith. I already talked about this in my review of his new film. But it was so fucking cool getting to see him and Jay in person and be able to tell him how much he inspired me to start the site. Hopefully I can get him to sit down for an interview sometime.
THE BEST OF 2019
Ok since I already gave my top picks of 2019 over here. I thought I would talk about some of the other "bests" for this year.
Best Book: BLANKETS by Craig Thompson
Discovering the work of Craig Thompson this year, thanks to my little brother, has really changed the way I look at comics and also what I look for in a comic. His work is moving, funny, and at times can be sad. One thing that you can always count on though, is some of the best damn comics ever made. His memoir, BLANKETS, was a look into a relationship with his first girlfriend. From start to finish, you care about each and everyone one of the "characters". I had never experience a story like this before in a comic, and it had a profound effect on me. So much so, that I've read everything else he's put out. It was such a weird coincidence that I discovered his work this year, since it was also the year he launched his first comic in serial form, GINSNENG ROOTS.
Best Discovery: LOVE & ROCKETS (Locas) by Jaime Hernandez
Another book I should have read sooner, but better late than never. This series has been around for over 30 years and is widely considered one of the best comics in the history of the medium. One volume into this "Locas" story and I was hooked. The tumultuous love story/friendship between Maggie and Hopey is one of the biggest draws of the series, but it's the entire cast of characters that will truly captivate you. This is by far one of the best series I've ever read, my only gripe is that it doesn't come out more frequently.
Best TV Show: THE MANDALORIAN (Disney+)
This is by far one of the best Star Wars related products ever produced. Jon Favreau gave us a spaghetti western/Lone Wolf & Cub story set in the backdrop of the Star Wars universe and completely killed it. From the opening episode we get a "Star Wars Story" unlike anything before. This is probably the most universally loved Star Wars thing since the original trilogy, plus we get "Baby Yoda". One of the more interesting things about the show is that it's not connected to any of the "main" characters of Star Wars. With the first season almost over, I'll be eagerly awaiting the next season.
Best Film: JOKER
Now some of you may disagree with me, but hear me out. This was one some of the best acting I've ever seen. Joaquin Phoenix as "Joker" was both haunting and depressing. As a diehard comic book fan, I separated myself from the fact that this was a Joker film and simply judged it as the character piece it was intended to be. From the score, to the acting, and the psychological mind fuck this movie puts you through as Joaquin's descends into madness was a sight to behold.
Well this year has been an absolute roller coaster and I can't wait to see what 2020 has in store. I am truly humbled for all of the amazing things that have happened this year.
There is SO many new series and continuing series to be excited for. A slew of new movies and shows. Plus a lot of exciting plans for the site going forward. Hope you all will join us on this exciting ride.