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    Kele Okereke’s Bookshelf

Bookshelf

Bloc Party's Kele Okereke shows us his amazing graphic novel collection

Posted by Maisie Skidmore,

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.

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    Babak Ganjei: Hilarious Consequences

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. 

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    The Uncanny X-Men #2: Firestorm

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. 

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    Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples: Saga

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.

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    Rotimi Fani-Kayode and Alex Hirst: Photographs

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.

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    Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples: Saga

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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Posted by Maisie Skidmore

Assistant Editor Maisie joined It’s Nice That fresh out of university in the summer of 2013 and has stayed with us ever since. She has a particular interest in art, fashion and photography and is a regular on our Studio Audience podcast. She also oversees our London listings guide This At There.

Most Recent: Bookshelf View Archive

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    Having founded London-based design studio Build in 2001, creative director Michael C. Place has amassed his fair share of books in his time, with a healthy combination of design knowledge to be found tucked between the spines on the studios (admirably well-organised) shelf. We’ve been championing Build’s work on the site for some time now, so what better way to get an insight into the inspirations behind their snazzy work than by hearing from the creative director himself about his favourite reading material? Between Letraset catalogues, reflections on legend Wim Crouwel and Michael’s mate Blam (who has excellent taste in books) we were not disappointed.

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    “In February 2013, 18 weeks pregnant, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer.” That’s the opening statement on the website of graphic novelist Matilda Tristram, who channeled this painful chapter of her life into a bestselling comic entitled Probably Nothing. We interviewed Matilda a while back on the site and were so intrigued by her story, we had to know more. In this revealing, insightful Bookshelf, Matilda shows us the fantastic books that have inspired her to be one of the most important and engaging graphic novelists working today. Here she is…

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    Yay! Hato Press! We love them. A lot. Neighbours of ours, Hato have spent the last five years collaborating with some of the coolest young creatives and oldest institutions to create impeccably beautiful printed matter and design solutions. A number of the publications these guys have produced are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever had the pleasure of holding/smelling, and it seems that every single thing they do or work on is covered in a glimmering magic dust that is exclusive to only them. Before you go and wet your pants over their multi-disciplinary work on their very nice websites (here and here) check out the books that have inspired them over the years below. Enjoy!

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    Satirical artist and very funny woman Miriam Elia is something of a pro when it comes to books; last year she self-published We Go to the Gallery, a satirical reinterpretation of a 1960s Ladybird book which seeks to help parents explain sex, death and contemporary art to their young ones, complete with a handy glossary of new words to learn. She’s since co-curated an exhibition about Pastiche, Parody and Piracy at London’s Cob Gallery, while other past works include I Fell in Love With a Conceptual Artist… and It Was TOTALLY MEANINGLESS about her relationship with Martin Creed. Hilarious? Yes. Yes it is. Miriam’s Bookshelf includes lovingly weathered books about typography, photography, flesh-eating plants and Butlins holiday camps, giving a neat insight into her brain.

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    John Tebbs is an English gardener who, frustrated by the fact that “many of his working days are held hostage to the weather” founded The Garden Edit in the winter of 2013. His idea was to spend his downtime as productively as possible, creating an online store of beautiful objects which he sourced and sold himself. The resulting curated collection reflects John’s faultless aesthetic, selling “minimal, well-designed products from craftspeople, artists, publishing houses and family-run businesses” alongside a Journal which features short articles by some of his favourite figures about their own horticultural escapades, from rooftop gardens to illustrations of plants.

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    Want to know a surprising secret about self-proclaimed “book obsessive” and Dazed & Confused editor Isabella Burley? She can’t stand big coffee-table-sized fashion books. “I’ve always taken my references from art, pop culture, photography and sex zines rather than fashion,” she told us. “That’s really come to shape the way I approach our fashion content within Dazed.”

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    With 25 years experience in magazine design, not to mention eight years of covering the extensive subject under the title magCulture, it’s a wonder we haven’t already metaphorically burst into Jeremy Leslie’s house and insisted he share his five favourite examples of printed matter right then and there. Instead, we caught him in the build up to The Modern Magazine 2014, the conference which takes place annually in the midst of London Design Festival to shine a torch on the current state of editorial creativity, as well as new directions for the industry.

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    Danielle Pender is the brain at the helm of Riposte magazine, one of the most exciting new publications created to champion the women doing exciting work in the creative industries today, as well as working at KK Outlet, the London outpost of communications agency KesselsKramer, so can you blame us for wanting to have a poke about her bookshelf? Her selection gives a generous insight into the process behind putting together a magazine, from the issue of National Geographic which led her and Riposte’s creative director Shaz Madani to consider a text-based front cover for the magazine (“I’m really happy we had the balls to go with it”) and the all-time hero she dreams of interviewing, with a few other gems thrown in for good measure. She technically stretched her five books to seven, but we let her off because they’re all so damn interesting.

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    I always had a hunch that Bruno Bayley was the kind of guy with a great bookshelf – you can just tell that he’s a hoarder of the weird, the kind of person who would rather stumble upon someone’s diary in a forest than, say, a suitcase full of cash. London-based Bruno is the European managing editor of Vice, which allows him to take his curiosity for the dark corners of the world and pump them out to those who want to know but perhaps can’t be bothered to look. His articles are some of the best on Vice at the moment, so go and check them out after you’ve read his deeply interesting, peculiar top five books. Excuse us while we go and subscribe to the Fortean Times

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    London-based photographer Catherine Losing is exactly our cup of tea; working with the crème de la crème of collaborators from set designers to food stylists, she takes photographs which are colourful, dynamic, bold and immediately recognisable. Unsurprisingly then, her bookshelf is among the very best-stocked of them all, complete with Martin Creed, Barbara Hepworth and Toilet Paper magazine, and most importantly they’re all seriously well-thumbed and chockablock with Post-its.

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    When you ask a couple of creatives who work in a former kindergarten in east Berlin (as we learned in an interview many moons ago) to show you their book collection, you hope to see some pretty cool and quirky publications. Doris and Daniel of Golden Cosmos have not let us down.

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    Design and animation are maybe a bit overlooked when it comes to selecting people whose bookshelves we’d like to share with you. With that in mind this week’s collection comes from the very lovely folks at interactive design and animation studio Animade. They recently incorporated Hover Studio into their midst too, making them collectively one of our favourite groups of creative brains in a five mile radius. Their bookshelf has a serious digital and animation lean, so budding animators and interactive designers, gather round to find out the tomes that’ll yield the secrets of your trade.

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    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.