Cerebus: Church & State Vol II

December 17th, 2014

(continued)
like reading a newspaper, and it feels like getting reports from a real other world, one which has its own history, politics, and theology.

In later storylines, this distinction between Estarcion and the real world is broken down, to the point that one book is almost entirely given over to a discussion of the Bible, and Sim seems to believe, at least somewhat, that he was writing the prehistory of our own world — but so did Tolkien, and while Sim’s fictional world is nowhere near as fully thought-out as Tolkien’s, it was, for a while, possible to believe that it was, if only in Sim’s mind.
Trigger warning: this piece discusses rape.

Batman On Screen: Batman (1943)

December 13th, 2014

I hear you’re a racist now, Batman…

Another week, another Filthy pre-view. Last Friday I spent a bit of time thinking out loud about the different approaches I might take with the cover for the print edition of this book.  This week I mostly find myself thinking that I’m going to need to tweak this piece a little to account for the current debate about these (stupid) anti-porn laws.

I don’t have enough time to re-write the relevant parts of this post today, but rest assured that it’s on my mind and that it will be on the page come April.

filth-horns.gif

I should note at this stage, possibly far too late, that I do not write any of this in a state of horrified tabloid panic.  With regards to real world pornography, I am attempting to stay cognisant of Andrea Dworkin’s description of porn as “technologized prostitution” and I have written about pornography in the context of Michael Bay movies in an attempting to take onboard Dworkin’s comment that “The dirty little secret of the left-wing pornography industry is not sex but commerce”.  I do not propose here to make moral judgements about those who star in adult movies any more than I wish to tell any sex worker what their life and profession is all about – those who labour in both fields can give  undoubtedly give a better account of the varied and complex circumstances in and around their work than I could hope to.  Instead, I wish to focus on the conditions in which hardcore movies are created, and the effects of their reception.

I find myself entranced by an unfinished series of essays written  by UK politics blogger Tom Gann in which he proposed a left wing critique of pornography that re-framed the legal debate not in terms of the (laudable) liberal defence of whatever activities grown adults chose to take part in, but in terms of the means of production: 

Max Hardcore boasts of his innovations, “Positions like pile driver, where I would gape the girls asses wide open, and provide a clear view for the camera… I also created the technique of cumming in a girl’s ass, having her squeeze it out into a glass, and then chuck the load down…  A little later, I started pissing down their throats several times during a scene, often causing them to vomit uncontrollably while still reaming their throats.” It seems unclear whether the current legislation would necessarily cover any of this…

Against capitalism’s inversion, the point cannot made enough, all these things are being done to a real woman. Capital’s inversions and bashful concealments of production underpin the argument that the thing (the pornographic image, speech) must be protected even, or rather especially, against the existence destroyed to produce it…

These conditions did not exist as part of the production of The Filth, so their importance here is as a point of reference.  Tex Porneau does not exist as an unfathomable phantom that Morrison and Weston have dredged from the void.  His actions are an extrapolation of the processes by which entertainment is produced for our consumption, and the style in which it is processed for delivery.  If the ridiculousness of Porneau’s schemes strikes us as being over the top, perhaps we should reflect on the way that Michael Bay’s movies use real world violence and technology as a starting point for their own otherworldly fantasies.  

Read the rest of this entry »

Frank Quitely, Grant Morrison and Nathan Fairbairn – Multiversity: Pax Americana #1

It’s here that our story begins:  in pieces.  Many, many authors have shot at this target and missed, preferring not to recognize that in truth this is what we really know, and what we really believe, about the forces that create and shape our lives — preferring not to see that what science and philosophy describe is the branch from which our lives’ dramas depend, and not just convenient intellectual set-dressing for them.

We should remember that murder mysteries are always just local expressions, of a grander philosophical struggle — someone is killing capes, and who’s next?  Well, after the scientists the answer is, we are:  as the stunning profusion of interlinked symbols that fills Pax Americana’s pages ceaselessly intimates to us the unavoidability of that final, bitter realization of entropy.  War, and death, and chaos…

…Or, what is perhaps worse:  not chaos, at all, but order.

An implacable order, that we can’t resist.  A pattern we’re trapped in, that we can’t see.

Read the rest of this entry »

SILENCE! #125

December 9th, 2014

THAT CAT’S SOMETHING I CAN’T EXPLAIN

,
Rorschach’s Journal. October 12ff, 1985:

Dog carcass in alley this mornin’, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I ‘ave seen it’s true Nanny Goat Race. The streets are extended gutters and the bloody gutters are full of blood and wen the drains finally scab over, right, all the vermin will drown. The bloomin’ accumulated filff of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the bloomin’ ‘oores and politicians will ‘ave a look up and shout “Chas’n'Dave us! Honest guv!”…

…and I’ll ‘ave a look dahn, and whispa “nah mate.”

They ‘ad a choice, right, all of them. They could ‘ave followed in the footsteps of right good men like me favver, or President Truman. Decent men, ‘oo believed in a day’s work for a day’s pay. Instead the followed the droppings of lechers and Communists and didn’t realize that the bloody trail led over a precipice until it were too late. Cor blimey guv! Don’t tell me they didn’t ‘ave a choice.

Now the ‘oole world stands on the bloody brink, starin’ dahn into bloody hell fire, all them liberals and intellectuals and smooff-talkers… and all of a sudden, no bloke can fink of anyfink ter say.

Okee-day, let’s get started, we can’t just sit around all day! We’ve got a podcast to run, people! It won’t run itself. Unless…it did??? A sentient podcast! Crivens! doesn’t bare thinking about really. Luckily this podcast isn’t sentient, it’s the home of Gary Lactus & The Beast Must Die, and it;s SILENCE!

<ITEM> Sponsorshamallamadingdong! Dave’s Comics & Gosh get the usual shouts, and there’s a bizarre anecdote concerning the demise of Gary’s comedy night ‘Mouth Leak‘, which is worth the entrance fee alone. Plus Christmas markets, movie marathons and more.

<ITEM> A square kick i the pants, and the pair are launched into The Reviewniverse. Jolly good. They cover Crossed 100 by Alan Moore, with a discussion of his recent interview on Scroobius Pip’s Podcast. But that’s not all, there’s Edge of Spiderverse: Sp//dr, Edge of Spiderverse: I walked With A Spider, Secret Six, Grayson, Wolf Moon, Gotham Academy, Uber, Angela and Alex Potts’ Quiet Disaster.

<ITEM> Gary recommends a trio of Swedish minicomics. Ooooh!

<ITEM> Some more podcast recommendations and a bit of the ol’ self promotion, plus a threat to the dear listeners? It’s all here in the newly christened Appendmin

Now where was i? Let me clear my throat…”Dog carcass in alley…”

Click to download SILENCE!#125

Contact us:

silencepodcast@gmail.com
@silencepod
@frasergeesin
@thebeastmustdie
@bobsymindless

This edition of SILENCE! is proudly sponsored by the greatest comics shop on the planet, DAVE’S COMICS of Brighton.

 

 

Batman piloting a plane

Batman…

As was noted in the comments to the previous entry in this series, the analysis of sex provided in that section of  The Function of The Filth wasn’t particularly attentive to the mechanics of The Filth as a comic.

I’m working to take some of those criticisms on-board while redrafting this chapter for print, and I’m confident that the finished result will go baws deep on the question of quite how narcissistic Greg’s fantasy sex scene is, and how little he and Boy/Miami/Nil enjoy it.  As I explained at the time, the second preview was the weakest standalone section because it was most obviously written with the hope of getting elsewhere – this doesn’t excuse the weaknesses of the section as it stands, but it does put the weight of expectation on this preview!

This is where it becomes obvious where the first chapter of The Function of The Filth is going, so hopefully this chapter will strike you as having a somewhat… meatier taste and consistency to it.  If not, please send your complaints to the usual address!

filth-frequency.gif
 

When we see Greg in his home, he tends to be either looking at porn (“Hear Caroline scream as Mike shoves his eleven inch dick… in her dad”), watching the news (“Thousands dead… mourning continues”), or pining after his cat (“You look after yourself and eat your special dinner up”).  In fact, in one scene in the first issue he combines these three activities into one page’s worth of fun, taking care of his needs on the couch before clearing up his cat’s shit, all to the soundtrack of distant tragedy.  This combination hints at the unkempt, exhausted, low level squalor in which Greg exists, but it also serves to carefully unite the crude, screaming brutality of modern news stories with that of hardcore pornography rather neatly.

This is crucially important to The Filth, because while – as we have seen – traditionally commercialised violence and sexual fantasy are surrealised and made unstable by Morrison and Weston throughout The Filth, their combination in the form of  hardcore pornography receives a different treatment altogether.  The theme of sexual brutalisation is present from that first image onwards, even in its Weston-diluted form, but it becomes increasingly inescapable for all the artist’s self-censorship.  The fleshy peak of this aspect of the series pokes up through the binding in the two-part storyline that fills the fifth and six issues of the comic, ‘pornomancer’ and ‘the world of anders klimakks’.  If The Filth is a desperate fantasy, then this is the point where the dream takes on a life of its own; if it’s all ‘real’, then this is where we get a glimpse of the bigger, grubbier picture.

Read the rest of this entry »

There comes a point in every Mindless gathering where the correct amount of alcohol has finally been consumed for the conversation to turn to Final Crisis, with a special focus on the hastily squandered horror of the fifth issue.  Thankfully, we’ve started to bring friends along to help identify the reason for this boozy recurrence:

Yes, that’s right – the crushing banality of the morning aftermath is rank rotten enough to haunt its own bacchanalian origins, and when it does so it wears Darkseid’s face.  Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The spirit of this wretched, queasy moment inevitably seeps into the comics I buy at Thought Bubble when I try to read them on the train home.  This petty, remorse-tinged meanness tried to curdle my appreciation of the Decadence comics I brought home with me last year, but it struggled to find shelter in their sparsely populated mindscapes. The darkness found a more suitable hiding place in Spandex, Martin Eden’s LGBT-friendly, Brighton based superhero strip.

Like his previous serial adventure The O-Men, Spandex mixes everyday drama and garish unreality with ease. Brother Bobsy mentioned Paul Grist as an obvious reference point when he discussed the collected Spandex on SILENCE! and there’s definitely something to that: like Jack Staff or Mud Man, Spandex is humorous without ever seeming parodic, and it manages to generate a sense of low-budget romance from its seaside drama.  The debt to the X-Men is also undeniable, both in Eden’s commitment to chronicling the adventures of a group of emotionally combustible super-friends, and in his clean, brightly coloured artwork:

I’ve done a pretty decent job of burying my teenage X-Men fandom underneath piles of Eddie Campbell comics…

SILENCE! #124

December 2nd, 2014

 SO DRUNK IN THE AUGUST SUN, AND YOU’RE THE KIND OF GIRL I LIKE

 

 

But didn’t we? I mean *really* when you think about it, didn’t we? We really did didn’t we? Yes we did. We really did. Did it, I mean. Really. Didn’t we? Didn’t we do it? We did, yes we did. We really really did. Didn’t we?

No.

Ahh. Well then. Should we head to the drawing room and see what Gary Lactus & The Beast Must Die are up to? Why look! They’re recording a SILENCE! let’s go sit at their feet.

<ITEM> Oo-er, titter ye not, Missus, titter ye not, NO! Don’t you wave your sponsorship at ME!

<ITEM> The Beast takes us on a trip down memory lane to the heady days of the 1980s with Escape Magazine, featuring Alan’s Big American Adventure, Phil Elliott, Eddie Campbell and more.

<ITEM> It’s a one-step, two-step, tickle you under the…Reviewniverse. The boys trudge through the 4-colour wastelands with Ody-C, Madman 3-D special, Prophet Strikefile, Superior Iron Man, Superior Foes of Spiderman, Usagi Yojimbo, Zero, John Smith and more.

<ITEM> A final bit of chat about Guardians of The Galaxy and Thor 2 and then you’re free to do what you want with the rest of your life.

But we did though.

Didn’t we?

Click to download SILENCE!#124

 

Contact us:

silencepodcast@gmail.com
@silencepod
@frasergeesin
@thebeastmustdie
@bobsymindless

This edition of SILENCE! is proudly sponsored by the greatest comics shop on the planet, DAVE’S COMICS of Brighton.

 

 

In last week’s instalment of THE FUNCTION OF THE FILTH, we skipped straight to the “violence” part of the equation.  This time round, we’re dealing with sex, because sex is always important in this sort of story.

This sort of story?  Well, try not to stop me if you’ve heard this one before!

There’s this guy who wakes up from his mundane life to discover he’s really a disturbingly important human being – maybe the most disturbingly important human being – rather than just another boring arsehole with bad hair. Inevitably, he’s a little incredulous about the whole thing to begin with, but as one world crumbles away he soon starts to find himself more at home in his new reality – and it’s almost always his new reality, whatever complications may arise further down the line. 

This detail tends to narrow down the rest of the possibilities of the story so that at least one attractive woman will usually be involved – the idea of “normal” being what it is, can you think of a better way to ensure that the transition from the “real” world to another, more overdetermined world goes well?  Cosmic purpose on its own isn’t enough: if the switch over is to be successful then the deal must be sealed with flesh.  For this price, plus teleological extras, our hero finds it within himself to be all that he can be.

This story is called The Matrix, or maybe Star Wars, or maybe even Wanted. For all their differences, these stories are all equally at home in the pages of comics and on cinema screens, in visual media where they can best present the  dreams of their audience back to them as a dressing up kit, a series of moves or tools or attitudes that can be easily copped and used to remake the world. These stories represent the transformation of dreams into merchandising, and as such their tropes are as easy to critique as they are hard to resist .

But did I say we would be talking about sex instead of violence this time?  Yeah… let’s do that!

Read the rest of this entry »