Mindless Bollockry

June 15th, 2009

This is what last Friday afternoon looked like if you are a Mindless One (macrophageous Gary Lactus and the doughty, doughy Tymbus excepted, for some reason.) It was one of those doldrummy days, and this is how we killed the time: Email Style! I’ve caught a few of the bigger tyops, changed names, put a few links in, cut  mean or downright slanderous comments, and excised one-and-a-half shitloads of Ron Smith jokes for reasons of taste and such, and the following cascade of slurry is what remains.


The Beast Must Die: Well, I had a very pleasant evening with KG last night – we got about half an interview sorted, which I’m going to pick through and write up once he sends me the mpeg. I think we’ll meet up next week for part 2 as there’s plenty of ground to cover. Very personable chap, likes to talk a lot. Should be good stuff I think. It’s very interesting talking to someone who’s just starting out in the biz.

The rest of the evening was spent in the company of some industry pros (it’s a semi-regular meet up a la Cartoon County). Met David Hine, Frazer Irving and best of all Simon Furman. He’s agreed to do an interview, so bring on the Transformers/Death’s Head/Dragon’s Claws love!


Zom: You are a fucking hero! And what a great group of contacts for you as an individual!

Can’t guarantee that I’m going to get Batman & Robin review written today as I’m feeling shite. Throat aches so much my ears are hurting and my body is one big ache. Difficult to find the motivation to do anything other than watch telly and sleep.


Was reading Ice Haven last night. Clowes does a fantastic job of lampooning the weirdly entitled criticism so common to the comic book reading community, whilst at the same time allowing his characters to construct arguments that are at the very worst specious and at best bang on the money.

The Beast Must Die: Also spent some time talking to a very funny aspiring artist who looks and sounds like he’s been around the block a few hundred times. He was well into 2000AD and gave me some inspired fantasy movie casting choices.

Dredd: Clancy Brown

Johnny Alpha – McNulty from the Wire.

Fucking yes!


Bobsy: That sounds like a top night out- is there not a trade of Dragons Claws now? We should definitely make a big fuss of that – it’s weird even that Marvel US hasn’t raked it over, they’re so keen to eat their own tails in all other respects.

Zom – best add ‘and send emails’ to that list of things you’re just about ill enough to do, my pigflu-full friend.

Zom: Come round here and drink my saliva. I dare you.

Thinking about that TCJ link, I think it highlights a strength, actually. The range of stuff we’ve produced this last week. I’m so pleased with everything everyone’s done. It’s been my favourite mindless week possibly ever.

TBMD: Indeed. It’s also reminded me how much I love Batman.

Definitely the best hero.


Amy Poodle: That’s what’s so good about Clowes, you never know if it’s him talking or his characters.

Speaking of good dialogue, I’ve just watched The Royal Tenenbaums for the first time in forever, and I was struck by how good it was. Not just funny, but subtle, gentle and loaded with motivation, personality and genuine humanity. I think I might have to take back what I said about him Wes Anderson being all surface. I love his obsession with home and family too. The set’s the *home* in Rushmore, isn’t it? Really great.


Bobsy: I’ve been reading a bit of Clowes again too recently (look ma!)… I think when the characters sound like real people, it is them talking, and when they say things that sound like digs at people who read comics, it is clowes talking.  For someone spoken of so highly, and for someone who is so good at making comics (that is, very very), I think it’s a real shame that his work is about comics so much. It’s very Oedipal really – yes well done, it’s very clever and it’s not an Xmen comic…  but so, what is it exactly?

I have not read any of this Wes Anderson’s comics.

Ho ho.

I like his movies for the jokes, but there’s something about the way the Elder Male Character works that I just don’t get. At the same time as being critical of EMC’s emotional limits, the films also pour all their devotion and expectation into him, as if he was meant to be somehow better-than-human. Dad isn’t to blame for your problems for ever, at some point you have to accept that your emotions are your own, or else you’re going to be just like him, and without the nice narrative arc of a movie (life is not a move) that might bring things to an eventual resolution (and even then only after wasted years of heartache). I dunno what I mean by this – it’s just I know whining when I hear it, and Anderson’s movies have a lot of that in them. The films seem to be emotionally dependent on the bad dynamic that they describe, which is somehow inevitably false, or contingent, or something else that I can’t put my finger on but am not keen on….



I’ve not seen the one on the train. The hilarious accents in the trailer were enough to put me off.

Bots’wana Beast: Oh what

the Furmanator??!!

The train one is – I think it’s terrible, and probably quite patronising to Indians, whilst doing it. I really liked all the other ones, so well miffed.

Zom: True about the Indians, can’t agree that it’s terrible though.

Contingent is definitely the word, but the set of contigencies he fiddles around with do, in my opinion, resonate with many of us, even if they perhaps suffer from over-specific detailing. Most of us aren’t in love with our sisters, for example.


Bobsy: Oh and re: the blog. yes, over a hundred squillion hits a day for five days on the trot, isn’t it? gots to be a record. well done us.

Zom: Well, well done you lot. You’ve done the work!

TBMD: It’s got some great bits, but is basically a rehash of his usual tics and tropes. Nice soundtrack as ever.

Bob – have you read David Boring by Clowes? It is excellent excellence.


Bobsy: Yeah I have read that one – I think of the major Clowes works Ice Haven is the only one I’ve not got round to yet – I remember some of it being excellent, the balance between silly and scary when they convince themselves that the world is ended and hide on the island, just becasuse they all want to hide frm things, for example – but I think that DB is what I was talking about – the superhero comic as parent, and parent as superhero. I daresay I need to reread it to see what subtleties he digs out of the metaphor, but what made you mention that one?

[chops - is there a post in this? I just mean a straight copy paste, w. editing for typos, email addresses, name-naming etc., of the past dozen emails or so? call it Mindless Wittering or something, stick it up on Sunday? is that a good idea? If we think so I'll do the edit on Sat night, I should have some free time then...]

TBMD: I just thought DB was a good subtle work – didn’t seem to have too much kvetching about comics as I recall, but iI read it a while ago. I just remember enjoying its Bergmanesque vibe and strange atmosphere. Too hungover to formulate decent thinks unforch(!)


Zom: I’m happy with that but I should add that I intend to write something substantial about David Boring at some point, as it’s one of me faves.

I know what you mean about Clowes focussing too much on comics, and that it can work against suspension of disbelief, but Clowes’ thematic and topical range is pretty broad, and he is a wonderful idiosyncratic storyteller

TBMD: You always say that Zom, but if it’s not gonna happen soon then…I say do it Bob. More content, more content!

Zom:It wasn’t an objection, just a pertinent observation

Bobsy: I think we’ll decide whether it was pertinent or not*. I’m sure whatever you write abut DB eventually will go a lot further than any of the half-thoughts we’re kicking around here, don’t worry so.

I think this won’t look too out of place as a post on its own – it gives a peek behind the curtain, shows what and how we think about the blog and that. It’s nice cuddly bloggy stuff, and not as opaque as a Twitter feed.

*:) :) :) :) kissy lolly huggles get well soon omg !!! etc

TBMD: Yeah – some lazy Sunday afternoon shizzle for the blog. S’a good idea, especially cos we’re usually pretty content free at the weekends (barring Fraz-pants’ strip)


Bobsy: Did you all see this I hope


If I had more hair that would be my weekend

Bots’wana Beast: Ron Smith cleared:


I read this simultaneously:

Adam Warren, though. He is clever and a fucking good artist, trapped between two comic markets, those of the Orient and Occident.

Zom: Owls are fucked http://j.photos.cx/TEH-749.gif

You can thank my sister for that

Good shit I must have Swine Flu, I feel totally, cancel-visiting-the-family-who-haven’t-seen-us-for-ages, worried about going anywhere near my son awful. I know, soft Southern shite, but that being the case there’ll be no Batrob this evening


Bots’wana Beast: I had a look at the Target 2006 tpb at work today to try and discern if it was the handiwork of a paedo and, frankly, my conclusion (adding in the judgment of the court somewhat) was: no, it’s not, and actually, quite liked his Transformers, good ish.

Make of that what you will.


TBMD: I think you mean Robin Smith no?

And then it was hometime.

35 Responses to “Mindless Bollockry”

  1. Sean Witzke Says:

    You guys gotta make this a regular thing.

  2. Zom Says:

    Was it entertaining?

  3. Gary Lactus Says:

    Well I certainly enjoyed it but I know you all. All the links were good; elevated the piece to more than just a chat. Definitely worth doing again. Perhaps I’ll be able to join in.

  4. Gary Lactus Says:

    Fat Venom was amazing!

  5. links « supervillain Says:

    [...] – The Mindless Ones end one of their best weeks so far with a roundtable. [...]

  6. Zom Says:

    Have you watched that Owl thing all the way through? It’s fuckin’ ‘orrible

  7. Papers Says:

    I love that Jerry Cornelius cover.

  8. plok Says:

    DEFINITELY a regular feature…BBeast said at one point that the MO hallway-chatter was good stuff, here’s the proof!

  9. Chewbacca Says:

    I think you mean Robin Smith no?

    I like it.

  10. Eman Anistow Says:

    you suck.

  11. Eman Anistow Says:

    i think you know what i’m talking about.

    maybe with lots more editing, a ton of revision and some restructuring, this entry could justify the energy required to keep it online.

    but, basically, at the end of the day, when all’s said and done,
    you suck.

  12. Eman Anistow Says:

    the distance between the spaces where i write this and those that you read it from are great, so i mayhaps should make with the qualifying.
    the resemblance of a personal insult recently delivered here was in no way meant to be to be taken in more seriousness or with more earnest intent than was the post to which it was appended.
    hopefully this is a redundant qualification but i hate to think any of you would have some part of your day ruined by my flippant quasi-heckling.


  13. bobsy Says:

    Sorry my little cheesy Wotsit, most of us have been out of the country or very busy moving house, so I’m afraid your comments have gone unnoticed for a good few days now.

    Sad to hear you didn’t like the post, but it’s good for us to hear from readers whether this kind of thing would be worth doing on a more frequent/ongoing basis. Perhaps not. Thanks for the feedback anyway.

  14. Zom Says:

    I don’t get the complaint.

  15. plok Says:

    I thought you fellows knew each other and it was a sort of an in-joke.

    I’d like to vote twice for making this an ongoing semi-regular feature, if I may.

  16. Eman Anistow Says:

    sorry zorn, no biggy, i just think this sort of thing is what forums where made for.
    chit chat.
    you’re all capable of writing interesting and *well considered* material but this one brings your “batting average” down a bit.
    maybe i’ve been spoiled by good blog writing, here and elsewhere. articles that i feel like recommending to others, having conversations about, re-reading and referring to.
    a bit like a good magazine, maybe.
    your thrown-off email chatter just isn’t as entertaining or enlightening as your more “deliberate” writing.

    and, while i’m here, (@poodle) never knowing whether it’s the author or the author’s fictional character who’s speaking is not what’s so good about dan clowes.
    it’s just a side effect of not knowing much about what he thinks. and why should you? does he write polemics?
    i rather think not, sir.

  17. Eman Anistow Says:

    having said all that, this “sort of thing” would probably be a good read (for someone with other options) if those taking part were writing their emails forewarned of the intent to “publish.”
    so, more like newsnight review, less like sitting at the pub on your own and listening to the conversation on the next table over.
    now, which one of you wants to be germaine greer?

  18. Botswana Beast Says:

    That’s fair, Eman – it’s just the alternatives at that point were: this or nothing. We’re – I know I am and I’m fairly sure most of the other chaps are – a little overconcerned with our batting #.000′s as it is, and we thought plopping some relatively easy content up might be an idea, it can’t all be totally golden, etc.

    Your concerns are registered, but it’s worth maybe considering that you can have this, occasionally, and it’s not a replacement for more, eh, focussed work, it’s a replacement for fuck all. Which I think it’s rather better than.

  19. bobsy Says:

    I think there is a significant side to Clowes work which is enormously polemical. Pussey for instance is for the most a sustained attack on certain foibles of the ‘mainstream’ comics industry, particularly its nineties excesses, which while being predictably witty, incisive (so long as the reader is comicsy enough to get the jokes), superlatives ahoy etc., is a bit of a soft target for someone who is said to be at the vanguard of proper-comics-proper-literature. Especially now, when the author is so marginalised and underground that he sometimes has to wait entire years before the ICA runs another exhibition of his or his chums’ work. (Apologies, I think I have used that ICA ‘joke’ on this website before. As I have recently been told – I suck.)

    This tendency is far from absent from Clowes’ later work either – The Death Ray is, in part at least, shouting ‘Spider Man is for Babies’ from its exquisitely rendered rooftops. It seems unnecessary to keep shelling the trenches so long after armistice day. As I said in the post (which we always hoped would be more of a springboard for this kind of forumesque chatter than any sort of closed-shop discussion), I think David Boring has the same preoccupation too, although a re-read is definitely overdue, placing the responsibility for David and by extension the medium’s apparent lack of affect at the feet of the absent (superhero-comics-as-)parent(-of-the-form).

  20. Zom Says:

    As far as I can remember Death Ray has more to say about the state of America post 911 than it does about Spiderman. I mean, it does appear to be having a dig at Spiderman too, but only in a surface reading sort of way. Skimmed some of David Boring the other night and I have to say that I didn’t come across anything that sold your reading to me, or at least sold it in such a way as to consider it central to understanding the text, although again I’d have to do a proper re-read to be sure of my position.

    My worry here is that while I can agree that Clowes has in the past demonstrated a willingness to lampoon and attack those aspects of the funnybook world that he finds problematic and distasteful, I think you’re at risk of overstating the extent to which he engages in that kind of activity and creating or overstating the importance of readings that obscure what’s genuinely interesting and exciting about works like DR and DB.

  21. bobsy Says:

    I take your point, but I kind of think

    Spiderman > For Babies
    Superheroes > Serial Killers (With great power comes great calamity)
    Maturing psyche/biology > Interaction with unconscious personality/dangerous toxins
    911-911-911 > Imperial powers are Bad (and easily stung)

    Are all pretty safe and essentially analogous readings, given roughly equal emphasis in the text, with the nineyleven the most surface-visible.

    I’m interested that you don’t think the absence of DB’s father is the key to understanding the character’s motivation, or lack of it (not the same thing perhaps as the ‘message’ of DB-the-book) (must learn to do italics), or that his existential crisis type problems can’t/shouldn’t be metaphored-up and applied to a commentary on the state of the medium. These things appear evident, and plenty interesting, to me when reading much of Clowes’ work.

    I think the ‘serious artist’ gloss that Clowes’ comics are so often seen through obscures the fact that they are heavily-layered, and respond well to analysis that dares to assume something playful and, yes, perhaps a bit petty in the work. In fact, I find the more serious the reading, the shakier the books get (LAVGCII is a great comedy). The political commentary aspects of The Death Ray are pretty flat and straightforward, it’s in the headfucky tobacco-as-American-rite-of-passage elements and twisted superheroics where it really comes alive.

    What do you make of Pussey? Do you think the mid-life-crisis/man-of-his-times comedy-narrative is stronger or more central than the comic industry polemic aspect I described? Because I’d have to say the former strikes me as singularly unremarkable, compared to the force and fire of the anti-Stan aspects, which though dead-horsetastic (when read today) are funny, insightful, and full of piss and vim.

    Got to go and dig some of these books out.

  22. Zom Says:

    Re Pussy, I seem to remember both of those elements being in evidence but as I’m working from memory I can’t say which one struck me as more forceful or valuable/worthwhile.

    I think the reason why I like DB so much is down to the surreal, impressionistic nature of the work. I suspect (although again working from memory here) that it doesn’t make life easy for those intent on unravelling the text and laying it out in nice, easy to understand, tidy bundles of meaning. I mean, I don’t think any text works like that, but some are more amenable to that kind of reduction

  23. Eman Anistow Says:

    My worry here is that while I can agree that Clowes has in the past demonstrated a willingness to lampoon and attack those aspects of the funnybook world that he finds problematic and distasteful, I think you’re at risk of overstating the extent to which he engages in that kind of activity and creating or overstating the importance of readings that obscure what’s genuinely interesting and exciting about works like DR and DB.

    and, re:
    …it doesn’t make life easy for those intent on unravelling the text and laying it out in nice, easy to understand, tidy bundles of meaning.”

    DB actually plays with the idea of codes and buried meaning a fair bit, doesn’t it? (ah, now i see what LAVGCII is – , it’s similar, non?)
    David’s always trying to rearrange fragments like a tarot reader.
    by that i mean the interpretation of the scraps of comics and the paper from Wanda’s box change each time.
    near the start he says he lives in the moment, not looking at things with a sense of history. or something like that.
    reactive, always on the run, with that yellow streak from his dad.

    and what’s with “333″?
    i suspect a visual pun.

    have you read “Lolita”? (it’s refererenced)
    i’ve only seen the film (Peter Sellars one) and i could just about connect the idea of highly specialised desires being a weakness, precarious, a target for manipulation.
    i bet more better parallels could be drawn though.

    pff, i never learnt no deconstruction on the farm,
    but i do like funny books with big butts in em!
    and that’s really what’s so good about Daniel Clowes.

  24. Eman Anistow Says:

    shit. italics should be off straight after “…tidy bundles of meaning.”

  25. Eman Anistow Says:


  26. Botswana Beast Says:

    Fixed, and don’t ever say we never done anything for you, WiaN.

  27. Eman Anistow Says:

    you so kind.
    my squint has gone now.

  28. Eman Anistow Says:

    i know it’s late and no-one’s going to read this, but…

    i just recently read the prologue to Pussey, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Pussey and it sort of clarified something for me.
    in it, Clowes acerbically lampoons Raw, Artsy Spiegelman, and Gary Groth.

    Dan Clowes is, among other things, but quite significantly, a satirist.
    (he is vast, he contains multitudes)
    satirists are, ideally, not allowed to display favoritism.
    ie: satire is different from propaganda.

    one of the beings that accompanies this satirist is a transcriber of dreams (and strange folk-tales).
    i wouldn’t go so far as to label Clowes a surrealist, but he is certainly akin to someone like Lynch in his willingness to persue, engage with and be guided by inexplicable sources of “material.”

    what i’m hoping to imply with all (or some) of this is:
    Bobsy should not fret or frown, Mr Clowes probably does not think that he is a fool for liking superheroes.
    i suspect he even has a big ol’ soft spot for them, himself.

    somewhere, deep within the Escher-esque convolutions
    of that preciously beating organ we call…

    Heisenberg’s Greenhouse.

    long may it pulsate.

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