July 2nd, 2015
The five people who are eagerly awaiting my book on Grant Morrison and Chris Weston’s pestilent fantasy The Filth will note that the book has still not been released yet.
That I have failed to finish this project in time for the release of the hardcover edition of The Filth will surprise no one who has retained interest in the project for this long. The fact that said hardcover contains just the bare minimum of fresh material – a script for issue #6, some sketches that make the book even more difficult to read on the bus, the reheated contents of the charmingly crap Crack Comicks website – will also fail surprise anyone with a basic understanding of both comics and capitalism.
Good little enemy of the entertainment complex that I am, I paid to consume The Filth for the third time anyway. The hardback edition simulates the glossy colouring of the single issues rather than the battered bog roll of the trade paperback. It offers the reader a sense of solidity, of lasting luxury, that the previous editions lacked.
The Filth is a disgusting, slippery mess of a book. As Terrance Moreua said in the comments to one of my preview posts:
The visual grammar of The Filth is all over the place. The discontinuity being part of the point, of course. There are times when it seems to be Morrison’s script callouts (the tv cameras) and times when it seems to be Weston (background texture effects, etc) and times where it’s really fucking hard to tell (the goddamn photoshop transform tool effect to signify getting squeezed into the crack, or getting your personality fucked with in psychedelisex)…
Essentially, I find The Filth to be textually rich, garishly colored, expressively acted, disgustingly rendered and more. But comparatively poorly composed. I think there are too many components fighting for interplay. And while that’s part of the larger point, I think a little less noise and little more signal would have heightened the contrast between the two much better.
July 1st, 2015
June 23rd, 2015
Angela Grimcock grabbed David’s shotgun from out of the umbrella stand, adjusted her reading spectacles. and looked in the mirror. Running a calloused hand through her blue rinsed hair she checked one last time that she had a hankie tucked up her sleeve. She fished a warm Werthers original from her pocket, unwrapped it and popped it into her mouth. Then she unlocked the door to 43 Arkensword Avenue and stepped into the maelstrom.
Mr Grainger came first, lurching through her Begonias, his face contorted with rage. His skin was mottled purple and red, and his black, swollen tongue poked out of his distended jaw. From a tear in his argyle sweater a new eye swivelled and blinked furiously. He was holding the remains of Miracle, his once beloved Daschund in one lumpen fist, and the small dog’s head lolled and buffeted against his trouser leg. With a strangled scream he launched towards Angela; she raised the shotgun towards her neighbour and pulled the trigger. Mr Grainger caught the blast fully in the chest and he was backflipped smartly over the Begonias, and into the water feature. David’s tasteful Japanese water sculpture bubbled crimson as Mr Grainger, one-time head of the Rotary club and organiser of the Salvation Army jumble sale expired with a keening wheeze, like a whoopy cushion.
Out of the corner of her eye Angela spotted the Bishop boy sliding his way around into her yard. She’d never liked him ever since she caught him urinating on her herb garden as a 5 year old. Now, as his twisted body flipped and swivelled on new joints and three mouths snapped like castanets, she finally took her revenge. The first shot took his arm off at the shoulder and spun him like a top; the second caught him above the back of the neck and his his head disintegrated. Pieces of him dashed against the garden fence and his spasming body collapsed like a deflating bouncy castle on a warm summer afternoon.
“It’s going to be a long Saturday” said Angela, with a grimace. “And I don’t even have a blessed drop of milk in the house. Black tea – it really is the end!”
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<ITEM> Podcasts bruv, they’re a game of two halves bruv in’t they bruv? Into the hallowed grounds of the Reviewniverse we go, with The Beast doing a run down of screen-printed hipster fest ELCAF, and discussing Adam Cadwell’s Blood Blokes, Charles Forsman’s Hobo Mom, John Cei Douglas’ Show Me The Map of Your Heart, Rachael Smith’s I Am Fire and Darren Cullen’s Below.
<ITEM> …then it’s Gary’s turn as he talks up Dr Fate, Prez, Ms Marvel, Black Canary, Astro City and The Fiction.
<ITEM> That’s it. Drop some money in the collection on the way out.
June 18th, 2015
June 15th, 2015
THERE’S A MAN WITH A MULLET GOING MAD WITH A MALLET IN MILLETS
And then the robot walked up to the man and he said get out of town because you are a criminal but the man who was an evil genius cowboy said i’m not getting out of town in fact i will rob the bank and then he got his gang ane they did a raid on the bank and stole all of the robot money. All the robots cried and said oh who will help us but then spacehorse flew down and said i am spacehorse i am the heroic horse from space and i have super powers and can fly and the robots said the evil genius cowboy stole our money so spacehorse said i will help you and so he flew off. Later the evil genius cowboy and his gang were laughing and shooting guns in the air and counting all the robot money but then spacehorse flew down from the sky and he used his eye lazers and cut the evil genius cowboys gang in half and the evil genius cowboy tied to run away but spacehorse melted his hat and then flew up and then down really fast and landed on his head with his hooves which are made of space metal and the evil genius cowboys head popped like a balloon. Spacehorse flew the money back to town and all the robots threw spacehorse a party and they all drank and ate and fell asleep. While they were all sleeping spacehorse stole all their robot money and flew off and also did an atomic horse poo on the robot town and blew it up. Then spacehorse and the teen riders all had another party.
<ITEM> Welcome gentlefolk to the internet’s first, last and only comics podcast…SILENCE! with your decrepid hosts Gary Lactus & The Beast Must Die. No-one make any sudden moves and it should all be okay.
<ITEM> Come one, come all to the hallowed fields of ADMIN, with a healthy dose of Sponsorsize (featuring GOSH! and Dave’s Comics), a bit more Geesin Bros love and a surprising lack of deviations and whimsical meandering. There must be something in the air.
<ITEM> What’s that peeping out through the clouds? Why it’s only the flipping Reviewniverse, and wearing it’s special trousers as well! Hello big fella! A bumper crop of comics as well, and a shocking level of syncronisation from the boys reading patterns. Anyone would think they were beginning to get their shiz together after 146 episodes. In the sights this week All Star Section 8, Midnighter, Constantine, Omega Men, Batman, Bizarro, Injection, Crossed 100, Saga, Blubber, It will All Hurt, Nameless, Captain Avengers and the Mighty Americas, the f*cking Carol Corps?!, 21st Century Tank Girl and more.
June 9th, 2015
HE LIES ON HIS SIDE IS HE TRYING TO HIDE? IN FACT IT’S THE EARTH THAT HE’S KNOWN SINCE BIRTH
“Cor blimey stroike a loight guvnor, wos all this about then, cor blimey ain’t I yer bloody great sod! I tell ye what me ol choina, this eer’s a roight rum bloody lark an no mistake ain’t it? It’s been rainin apples and soddin pears all day an I’m soaked to the effin bone I am guvnor, stroike a light guv an I even seen me fancy dolly bird all day noither…”
CUT! Why the f*ck did you hire an American actor to do this blurb? For f*cks sake this is a total write off. F*ckin amateurs…
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<ITEM> MY EYES! MY EYES! Blinded by the insidious glare of the Reviewniverse…and within that awful black light is Zero, Non-Player, Secret of Monkey Island, Another World, Airboy, The Golden Age, Secret Wars, Amazing Spiderman, Kaijumax, Chilling World of Sabrina, God Hates Astronauts, Pope Hats and the Geesin Brothers.
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June 8th, 2015
Beast Wagon #1, by Owen Michael Johnson, John Pearson, Colin Bell, and Gavin James-Weir (Changeling Studios, 2015)
I have no idea what this comic is. I cannot it read it. It renders reading impossible. What is that smell? No, that’s too kind a word for it. Stench is too florid, too learned. This comic doesn’t smell, it hums. Is it glue? My mind tells me that it must be, glue or something like it, some aspect of the binding.
It’s not the staples though, staples could never smell like this. It’s the glue. That’s what my brain tells me, but there’s another reaction, a deeper one. Probably just a different function of the brain. Definitely that. And yet it also feels like it’s a function of the body. I know, I know, all parts of the same system, but it’s like hearing a lion scream at you in the zoo: you know there are physical and social constraints preventing the brute from eviscerating you but part of you is still howling to run!
It’s only a comic, just a mess of words and pictures on the page, just paper and ink. Ink doesn’t smell like this, does it? Probably not even if you use it wrong. No, I can’t read it, I want to get rid of it, I need to get it out of my house, need to wash the smell of it off me.
I think this comic is planning to kill me.
June 5th, 2015
A few thoughts on Dan Clowes’ Ghost World, as previously presented as part of this extended discussion of what that comic is and how we should read it:
I’m going to side step this fascinating discussion of formalism/post-structuralism/intentionality because otherwise I’ll either get so bogged down in it that I don’t find time to talk about Ghost World or I’ll say something stupid about being a “post-structuralist intentionalist” or spam the world with idiotic diagrams I’ve just thrown together on Paint or whatever…
Let’s talk about a grubbier aspect of what we’re talking about when we talk about Ghost World, namely the packaging, how it’s been sold and re-sold, whether it’s got a picture of Thora Birch on the cover (I don’t think any such edition exists, but maybe I’m wrong). The stuff you’re not supposed to judge it by, basically, despite the fact that this but into all that good “literary” stuff about intention, reception, and interpretation in a tangible way.
After all, the sort of intentions and expectations you read a comic with will be different if you read it as one strip amongst many in Clowes’ Eightball than they are if you read it as a graphic novel, or as the source material for a movie that left you slightly unsatisfied but curious enough to read more.
It wouldn’t be entirely accurate to say that all of the critiques of the comic that were raised during the London Graphic Novel Network’s examination of the series relate to its failure as an extended narrative, but that does seem to be a recurring theme, and I think that’s pretty fair. There are notes of epiphanic ambiguity that seem to be aspiring towards the status of the literary short story, just as there were in various other Clowes strips from that era, but these are too rote and underdeveloped to hold much appeal in themselves.
June 4th, 2015
June 4th, 2015
Fight Club 2 #1, by Cameron Stewart and Chuck Palahniuk (Dark Horse, 2015)
Dear Mister Attack,
You will be unsurprised to hear that WOLF EMOTIONS was giving the new Fight Club comic the hard sell in the shop the other day. Apparently Cameron Stewart is coming in for a signing, in theory he’s only going to sign copies of Fight Club 2 but I’m sure we could get him to stretch to some Batman underpants if we ask nicely.
Probably best to take them off and wash them before we make the request, mind.
Anyway, the comic itself is pretty much as you’d expect given who’s involved. If the book worked like a generational confession that was just novelistic enough to cast doubt on its own world view, and if the movie existed in a more open sort of conflict with itself due to the fact that it couldn’t help but try to sell you Brad Pitts by the box-load, then this represents the final triumph of Fight Club as product.
It’s a sequel so that might seem like a statement of the obvious, but just like Buzzfeed and Vice are made more evil by the fact that they publish some genuinely worthwhile stuff, the fact that this is an actual comic – worse, that it threatens to turn into a genuine collaboration – just makes it worse and more obvious. I could feel Eddie Campbell getting eggy over my shoulder while I read it, the pair of us getting increasingly fucked off with the surface level tricks, the scattered pills and petals that obscure faces and dialogue throughout.
You could even argue that the comic acknowledges its readership, gives them a twisted identification figure in the form of Marla, so horny for the destructive thrills of the source material – because this does not feel so much like a continuation as it does part of an extended universe, like Kieron Gillen writing what Darth Vader did on his holidays – that she doesn’t give a shit what feeding that monster brings, GamerGate: The Musical, Before Fight Club, the immolation of her own flesh and blood, whatever.
It’s still all very cleverly done, of course, but even that calls back to one of the movie’s more resonant exchanges: