Best of 2014 Year End Review: Tom

Weird to think I’ve only been here on Another Castle for not even a year yet and already I’ve written so dang much. Between editorials, reviews, interviews and news stuff, I’ve written more non-academic stuff in the last half-year than I ever have. It’s amazing.

Equally amazing are the good writers and editors I’m surrounded with here. We put out a lot of good stuff here. So as you’ve probably seen already, we’ve done some wrap ups reflecting on the best writings our coworkers have done, as well as our own. So, without further ado, here are my picks (in no particular order):

5 Cartoon Characters That Would Make Great Comic Books


Jean-Pierre Vidrine has always had a simple, direct style of writing that’s informative without being overbearing and this is the best example. Plus his choices here range from “Yeah, that is kinda obvious” to “”Wait, why HASN’T this happened before now?!?” All explained and explored in simple, well-crafted words. Good stuff; now who’s gonna help illustrate my Dynomutt pitch for DC, huh?

5 SPIDER-MAN Graphic Novels You Should Read


This piece has gotten a lot of hits ever since it went up and it’s easy to see why. It’s both timely (it came out to tie in with the release of Amazing Spider-Man 2) and timeless (people are still coming back to this even after the world has basically agreed that ASM 2 was really not very good). Of course, there’s another reason: it’s a great list.

Delving into his own deep affection for Spider-Man, Victor Aragon offers up 5 choice Spidey tales, from the obvious (Kraven’s Last Hunt crops up on any number of good superhero story lists, with good reason) to the less so (despite being part of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s excellent “Colors” trilogy, Spider-Man: Blue isn’t a story a lot of people know). It’s a nice sampler of stories and Victor makes them all sound interesting. Yes, even One More Day.

#GamerGate and How the Industry is in Need of Change

Angry Gamer

I joined Twitter about three months before the whole #Gamergate thing blew up and ensnared the entire Internet. Let’s be clear: the notion that the whole thing was started from any other place other than deep and sustained hatred of women in general and Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn and now Brianna Wu in particular, is nonsense. #Gamergate was never about ethics; it was always about misogyny, period.

BUT. That doesn’t mean that people observing the whole thing didn’t reflect on things. Whether it was Leigh Alexander’s noting of actual ethical concerns in gaming journalism to certain websites refusing to cave in to hate mobs, people did reflect on the issues that this hashtag was claiming to address and came to some good conclusions.

So too did Paige Six, whose lengthy editorial touched on all aspects the whole scandal raised and came up with a bunch of wonderfully cogent solutions and calls to action. While I disagree with her particular framing on some matters, this post has been whirling around in my head since September. And I barely play video games. Very much worth your time.

Shinichiro Watanabe and his Impact in Western Culture

Source: Wikipedia

I’m actually still a little jealous that Mark King pitched a Watanabe article before I did and his writing is so good on this. I love Watanabe to death–Cowboy Bebop was the first anime I ever bought–and Mark lays down wonderfully both a history of the man’s influences and his impact.

It’s not the kind of piece that tends to get written about television creators or anime creators. Mark does some good stuff here. Check it out.

GRAVITY FALLS Season 2, Episode 6 Review: Little Gift Shop Of Horrors


I arrived a bit late to Gravity Falls. My roommate introduced me to the show our sophomore year of college and not only did we work through every episode that had come out to that point, we eagerly waited for and hunted down new ones, and we still talk about it with each other. I fell for this show so hard that when Disney finally released some episodes on DVD that I pre-ordered it and begged people to do the same.

If you had told me then that I’d be officially reviewing the show, I wouldn’t have believed you. Now I have that privilege and it’s great. While I’ve been pretty consistently praising the show since it came back for Season 2, regularly thinking about what the show can be at its best has made me realize that yeah, sometimes there’s stuff that doesn’t work.

I think it was this year’s Halloween special, “Little Gift Shop Of Horrors,” that really showed me that and I think examining it in my review really helped me grow as a critic. With each new episode of this show, I improve as a critic and as a viewer.

SHERLOCK HOLMES & SANDMAN Scholar Leslie S. Klinger Interview


While presenting at Comic-Con this year, I also attended a lot of panels. One of my favorites was on an upcoming documentary film on my favorite writer, Neil Gaiman, made by Respect Films, who’ve done similarly great movies on authors in the past. The panel included the film’s director Patrick Meaney, Gaiman’s own PA Cat Mihos, and Mr. Klinger, introduced as “Neil Gaiman…’s lawyer!” and a special surprise guest. I briefly met Klinger afterwards and not only have since read his new Sherlock Holmes collection (which I still need to review) but also managed to put this interview together. It was fun, although I wish I’d asked more in-depth questions.

The crazy part? Gaiman himself–who can basically make or break people with his enormous online following–retweeted this after Klinger himself did. If you had told me my literary idol would link to something I’d write one day, I wouldn’t have believed you. What a strange world we live in.

A Beginner’s Guide to TRANSFORMERS Cartoons From Worst to Best


This is the big one, folks. With the 30th anniversary of Transformers, one of my favorite anythings in the world, this year as well as the release of a not-great-and-very-problematic-but-still-kinda-good movie, I felt the time was right for this. This was something I’d wanted to write for a long time and I’m happy I got to do it. I spent an entire week on it, even driving to a Taco Bell to use their Wi-Fi when my power went out.

When this went up, I did not expect the huge response it got, as I didn’t think the way I made this list was controversial (my top 3 are kind of the general consensus among TFans, honestly). No, what happened was I tagged Derrick J. Wyatt, the art director of Transformers Animated, in my tweet promoting this; he spread it around and from there, it just blew up. It was a great thrill and, no matter how awful the rest of 2014 was for me personally or the world as a whole, it’s still the year I got paid to write about giant, transforming robots. How cool is that?


So yeah, getting to write about what I love, reviewing TV and books and getting to meet some cool people in only the span of a few months? Not a bad year, overall. Hopefully 2015 will be even better as I work away on my writing and as Another Castle only grows ever bigger.


Tags: , , , , ,

Categories: Lists and Editorials

Author:Tom Speelman

A lifetime of reading comics and watching television has left Tom with an inexhaustible supply of pop culture knowledge from the obvious to the obscure. Rather than keep it all in his brain for use at parties, Tom turned to writing a few years ago to help him share that knowledge with as many people as are remotely interested. Tom writes for several websites including The Mary Sue, Strange Horizons, Loser City and others. For even further rambling, follow him on Twitter @tomtificate.

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One Comment on “Best of 2014 Year End Review: Tom”

  1. 12/23/2014 at 1:04 PM #

    Reblogged this on tomtificate and commented:

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