September 13th, 2013
If a white wealthy talented American male can make it out there, so can damn well anyone!
Readers of good conscience peek at their Paul Pope comics through tense and cringing fingers.
Because yes, you’ll be pleased to know, it’s important to note, but when it comes to fighty, flighty, punchy-jumpy, there is still no one who springs into mind (maybe Rafael Grampa but let’s not even) who can do that great comicsy Pope trick, that thing, the rugged and robust capture of action-motion he can do, that stack of photos falling through the panel skin while you look, but still solid and full of weight, thing.
It is a shiveringly good signature move that makes your fan man go into a full hard, and it is still there in this Haggard West comic. (West as in The West, Haggard as in haggard – the title is a double entendre, minus one, see below)
But you have to read it through your fingers. Anyone with a more than passing moody pout out of a car window on the desert (or is it a city?) highway familiarity with his work is always going to read his comics tense, knowing at any given second the author is going to interrupt this uniquely rendered and quite marvelously flowing scrap to embark on an exploration of the somewhat laughable but also cruel, sadistic, economically and historically illiterate and sadly popular political philosophy (guffaw) of libertarianism, made famous and fashionable in the US several decades ago by accelerationist Soviet deep agent Ayn Rand.
You might have read Haggard West and thought to yourself, ‘Hey, there were no characters in this comic called Yahek or Mon Vises, so he left the politics for babies out of it this time!’ If so, a) you don’t exist b) you can’t be that dim c) what comic were you reading again?
Haggard West is dead!
Who can save the city? Who can save the superhero now?
We’ve been here before, in an not-identical but broadly analogous form, after the crash of 1929. How do we reinvigorate the tired and emotional economies of Anglo-American capital? Legalise booze, sure, bring that revenue back into the mainstream – that’s a no brainer.
What apparently is a bit more of a brainer is promoting an idea of virtuous militarised aryan youth to inject the necessary vim and vigour back into the enfeebled action men of the shiny city. No one would be daft enough to make an icon-fetish out of muscular fighting Nordic virtue and try to frame it as the mythopoesis of a viable political subjectivity, would they? Not again?
BLOODY HELL COMICS WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU LATELY?
There could be super dark black irony at work here of course, forming an effective and bold historical critique, drawing a neat parallel with the current moment…
…but it’s not very likely really, is it? END
The suspicion – forlorn hope – that there might be a sardonic commentary at work is prompted by the Battling Boy preview pages. Our plucky young lad – with superpowers, the son of a god remember – is sort of given a solo challenge, a stand on your own two feet neanderthal rite of passage thing, face this by your own mettle tested or fall, all that shite. But the god of adventures has packed a trunk full of priceless godly adventuring shit for you – you don’t even have to pack it yourself!
On reflection, it is unfortunately impossible to imagine even in the fullest depths of drugged reverie a libertarian with that kind of self awareness, or a sense of humour. This from the class of thoroughbred free market idealogues whose inherited wealth conveniently never remembers the Marshal Plan…
Battling Boy is out soon! Preview pics below…