When we received a copy of illustrated sine Steak Night through the door a couple of weeks ago (check it out in Things here) we were pleasantly surprised to find that Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke is not only a musician, but a keen writer too. Intrigued, we hunted him down and grilled him about his Bookshelf, which turns out to be an incredibly well-stocked selection of graphic novels and comic books, with a little photography thrown in too. He’s multi-talented and he’s got great taste! Here’s Kele telling us about his choices.
Babak Ganjei: Hilarious Consequences
Musician and cartoonist Babak Ganjei is a very funny man. Best known for his self-deprecating autobiographical comic Hilarious Consequences, the musings of a broke, balding hypochondriac father. His monochrome sketchy style is somewhat reminiscent of American cartoonist Jeffrey Brown. I read Hilarious Consequences in 2010 while on tour and it brought a tear to my eye. There was bittersweet pathos, wit, and most importantly humour in his writing and it was a real pleasure to work with him recently on our Steak Night collaboration.
The Uncanny X-Men #2: Firestorm
This was the first comic I ever read in my teens and it started a fire in me that is still burning! Every week I make the pilgrimage to Forbidden Planet to stock up on the latest titles. Two years ago when I was walking though the West Village I saw the cover staring back at me from a street vendors stall, I knew I had to buy it. As much as the X-Men/queer subtext was not lost on me, it was really the bold stencil work that firstly caught my attention. There have been many notable artists working through the X-Men franchise, Salvador Larroca and the manga-styled Joe Madureira are two of personal favourites, but I still believe Jim Lee’s detailing is the most iconic and impressive.
Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples: Saga
A friend recommended this comic to me a year ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. Saga is the Hugo award-winning epic space opera/fantasy comic book series written by Brian K. Vaughn and illustrated by Fiona Staples. Described in solicitations as “Star Wars meets Game of Thrones,” it’s really Staple’s glorious pencil work that defines the series. Her use of delicate lines to frame characters with large, bold figures and her mixture of the familiar and the foreign together in her character designs create a visually cohesive universe. Her backgrounds are elaborate, yet never distracting or too busy and they never take focus off the main characters. Everything looks like it belongs in her universe.
Rotimi Fani-Kayode and Alex Hirst: Photographs
This is the only photography-based art in my collection, but I feel strongly that this work embodies a spirit that has inspired me over the years. I caught Kayode’s exhibition in Shoreditch and it completely floored me. Kayode was a fiercely unapologetic queer Nigerian-born photographer, who moved to England at the age of 12 to escape the Biafran War. In his work he explored the tensions created by sexuality, race and culture through stylised portraits and compositions. The frank images in this book of photographs detail Yoruba traditions as well as the erotic signifiers of the black male body.
Alan Moore and David Lloyd: V for Vendetta
Quite simply one greatest graphic novels ever written, from the artwork, to the story, to the panelling. It all comes together for a sublime violent fantasy set in a dystopian future United Kingdom imagined from the 1980s to the late 1990s. The masked anarchist V’s Guy Fawkes mask has now become synonymous with the idea of protest against tyranny.
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