November 19th, 2012
You might remember writer and comics’ next top model Ales Kot from such comics as 2012′s Wild Children, a piece of psychedelic abstractprop that was conceived as a mental frag grenade by Kot and then lobbed straight at the eyes of readers by artist Riley Rossmo.
Morgan Jeske and Sloane Leong are two amazing comic book artists whose work I hope you are familiar with by now, because what else is The Internet for if not THAT? Morgan’s drawing the hell out of this book, and if you don’t believe me when I say that Sloane’s colours really make his paradoxically relaxed but energetic linework pop just take a look at this brief fragment and try to argue otherwise:
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Ed Brisson is a writer and letterer whose work I’m sad to say that I’m not overly familiar with, but hey – you come here for the illusion of supreme intelligence and stay for the tragic reality of barely human competence, right? Right.
Anyway, this lot have been working away on a pulp sci-fi comic called CHANGE, and brothers and sisters let me tell you, CHANGE is coming soon! In fact, the first issue will be out on 12/12/12, which gives you plenty of time to read it before they reset the Matrix or whatever it was the Mayan’s were talking about when they made their 2012 calendar – I prefer the Girls Aloud Calendar myself, but whatever.
Having read the first issue of CHANGE, I can confirm that it’s a stylish, ambitious comic that makes perfect sense as part of of Image’s attempt to occupy the thin sliver of territory in which interesting things can happen in “mainstream” comics. If it’s not quite as lush and open as Multiple Warheads, as dense as Prophet or as relentless in its devouring of pop culture imagery as The Bulletproof Coffin, then that’s probably because it feels like it’s trying to be a little bit like all of those things at once.
Imagine a sci-fi adventure comic set in LA, in which the RZA and lady Charlie Kaufman (Car Thief) find themselves getting entangled the tendrils of a glitzy Lovecraftian mega-plot. Now stop imagining it, because the CHANGE crew have got there first and you don’t want to biter, do you?
We’ll be running another interview with Morgan and Ales in December, and in that piece we’ll try to convey something of what and how the book’s all about. To get you all warmed up for that session, I asked the boys at Mindless HQ to reinvoke the ghost of Smash Hits past, then sent it to interview Ales Kot and Morgan Jeske in the hope of finding out what’s going on in the deepest recesses of their souls.
What follows is a transcript of what happens when two extremely nice and talented young men find themselves staring into the black mirror of a glitter ball gone bad.
Smash Hits: 1. How well mannered are you?
Ales Kot: A homeless veteran has been awarded an amazing portion of lamb neck with creamy oats from Downtown LA’s Gorbals the other night, 50% courtesy of me. The only time I slapped a girl was when I was seriously attacked. I’m usually very mild-mannered, but I can become explosive when treated unfairly. I always get up and let older people, mothers or their small children sit down on a bus. I open doors for ladies. I consider cunt a beautiful word. When I see that a person needs help, I help.
Morgan Jeske: I’m very well mannered actually. The only time I’ll step out of line is when someone is passive aggressive towards me or my friends. Other than that, if you’re cool we’re cool.
2. Do you ever check your hair when passing a shop window?
Morgan:Yes. But, the deeper I get into me thirties the less I care.
Ales: I cut it all short, but I still do. I like mirrors as long as they understand that they’re mirrors. It’s nice to see yourself, you know? Not just in the physical sense. Staring at yourself in a shop window at 3 AM as you walk towards a possible bus, but maybe not, so you don’t worry about time anymore. You’re staring at yourself, your face is dark, your eyes don’t exist, you’re staring at the void.
3. Are you misunderstood?
Morgan: Often. Or maybe they’re right and I’m delusional? I try and be very direct and speak clearly, making cogent points though.
4. When was the last time you fell over?
Morgan: Last Christmas. Ice patch on cement stairs. Red wine.
Ales: This is a tough one. Not entirely sure. I remember a “this is speed, don’t worry” ketamine incident back when I was eighteen or nineteen. I fell over and rolled off a hill for good…thirty seconds, maybe? I think I was trying to laugh, but all that came out were these Elephant Man-like cries of a hopelessly confused person.
5. Do you ever cheat at Monopoly?
Ales: Not anymore. I used to, back when i was five and winning felt important.
Morgan: I’ve never actually played a game of Monopoly in my life. Even though it’s only a board game, it all feels too adult for my taste.
6. Who do you think are the most over-rated band around?
Morgan: Hmm, probably whatever band I’m in love with at any given time.
Ales: I can’t get into The XX’s new album. I liked the first one a lot, but the second one just sounds kind of the same, but boring. Maybe I need to give it another listen or two, but…oh, yes. This piece of shit band called Mumford and Sons. Can’t stand them.
7. What was your biggest hair disaster?
Ales: Everything between the ages of 14 and 16. I was trying to make the girls like me so hard. It was a small city in Czech Republic. I even briefly used the weird jelly-like shit you put on your hair. And then I realized everything worked much better when I just did my best to be myself.
Morgan: I used to sculpt bars into the side of my head in Elementary School…with a fade as well I think. It’s hard to recall. I’ve blocked so much out.
8. Cows moo, sheep baa, pigs oink, what do goldfish do?
Ales: GOLDFISH? SUCK SUCK SUCK SUCK
9. When was the last time someone tried to punch you?
Ales: In a bar fight – three years ago. Broke my nose pretty well with one of the punches. Accidental hits when you break up other people’s fights don’t count, getting punched while fucking doesn’t count.
Morgan: Can’t recall specifically. Probably on the playground because fighting is baby-town frolics.
10. Where would you like to live when you’re older?
Morgan: On the highways, the white-line nightmare, looking for the juice, the precious juice. Of course. If things turn out ok, I find the idea of living in a cabin by a lake more and more appealing.
Ales: Fiji, Reykjavik, India, Prague, Berlin, Brazil, Peru, NYC. But always have a place in Los Angeles.
11. The answer is ‘no way, no way’…what’s the question?
Morgan: Will you marry me?
Ales: Money over love?
12. Are you terrified at the thought of going down the dumper?
Ales: Nope. But I’m sometimes terrified of going away before I decide it’s my time – the realization that there are still things I want to do, people I want to kiss.
Morgan: Do you mean dying? Not really, as long as it’s sudden. I’m generally prepared for everything to go sideways though. Having low expectations helps with that. Sunshine!
13. Are you ever mistaken for another famous person?
Morgan: Not to my knowledge.
Ales: Yeah. Vincent Kartheiser, the actor who plays Pete Campbell on Mad Men – all the time as long as I had hair. But I worked out a lot recently and shaved my head, and then I’m in a club in Las Vegas on Halloween night and I’m wearing a very furry open jacket with nothing underneath it, black pants and military boots. Things are strange and someone says “Oh I get it, you’re Tricky in The Fifth Element” and I smile because hey, Tricky is hot and you’re obviously on mushrooms, dear person, but I don’t care right now.
14. Do you have a special pair of ‘pulling’ pants?
Ales: Yes. All of them.
Morgan: Pulling pants? Are those pants that make you successful? As in, a lucky pair or trousers?
15. What last made you really angry?
Ales: Prop 35 and Measure B passing in California. I hope they overturn them immediately. Also the fact that hurricane Sandy displaced over 700,000 people in the US alone.
Morgan: The 2012 Presidential Election coverage on North American news cycles. But then if I’m totally honest, it was when my neighbours were stomping around last night at 2am. That made me viscerally angry like a broken electoral system couldn’t. See also: reading comments anywhere on the comics internet.
16. Are you a lover or a fighter?
Morgan: Lover… but:
Ales: Both. I love boxing and fighting in general, as long as it’s clean, ethically speaking. As a matter of fact, I hope to restart my training soon. And love…shit, what’s nicer than that?
17. When was the last time you caught the bus?
Ales: 3:21 AM last night, from Downtown LA to my friend’s loft.
Morgan: Hmm, I walk everywhere.
18. Do you believe in life after death?
Morgan: No. I wish I did. It’s a nice thought, but I don’t have it in me to hope for something like that.
Ales: I don’t really do the whole “believe” thing. One of the first great books I ever read was ‘Mort’ by Terry Pratchett when I was about eight, and I think that fucked me in the head a bit – in the best possible way. I hope that whatever we want happens, simple as that. Not that my hope stops me from reading about various other possibilities, of course.
19. What’s your favourite drink?
Morgan: Coffee, first thing in the morning.
Ales: It’s a toss-up between water, green tea, Pu-erh tea, chocolate almond milk, good red wine and a well-made old fashioned.
20. Have you ever had a dream about someone famous?
Morgan: Michael Caine…but he was a pancake.
Ales: Yeah. Last time – about a month ago. Stoya thought my name was Adam and Robert Kirkman was in a jacuzzi fully clothed and very jolly. We were having beers.
I haven’t made that up.