December 18th, 2013
Special “Two years late and several thousand Bitcoins short” Edition!
People still do linkblogging, right? I mean not here, not recently, but elsewhere. Feels like a holdover from the “internet as big magazine” approach to broadcasting into the void, and given that I’m too scare to commit myself to any other model that suits me just fine!
EMBARRASSING ENTHUSIASM DEPT: You read it somewhere else first, but we’re in a celebratory mood in Mindless HQ anyway, so fuck it – STRAY BULLETS IS COMING BACK!
It’s too early in the day for me to get totally shameless on this, so you’ll have to go read that interview to find out about the massive collected edition of the first forty issues, the continuation of the old series, and the launch of a new one. Suffice it to say that Stray Bullets is the best, most unsettling crime comic out there, and that we’re glad all those kittens weren’t sacrificed in vain.
If you’ve not red the series before, issues #1-4 are apparently free to download right now, and Zom (or “Ad Mindless as he now likes to be called) wrote a piece about issue#1 that should set the scene just nicely:
A car speeding into the night, a lonely county road, as an establishing shot it’s hardly setting a precedent. But the first panel in SB #1 transcends its over familiarity by actually saying something meaningful about the book and all that follows it. This is a story that will make good on the panel’s familiar metaphorical properties. What we need to keep in mind here is that this road is black, to see anything we’re going to need a torch, and that things probably lurk in those woods. For that matter, things probably lurk in that car – what’s it doing out there in the dark, anyway? The world of Stray Bullets is a dangerous place, and the road travels on until you die.
We should also consider the notion that Lapham doesn’t want to simply transcend cliché, that he’s keen to set-up certain expectations in the reader. So later, when the tires on the car blow out and that familiar scene with the cop and the dead body in the trunk rears it’s head, we shouldn’t be surprised at the lack of novelty on offer. What’s interesting about all these little genre ticks is that, by issue 2, you could be forgiven for forgetting you were reading a crime comic in the first place, and that’s a recurring pattern throughout the series. The effect being that just when you think you know where you are Lapham pulls something entirely unexpected out of the hat, and suddenly definitions like ‘crime fiction’ start to feel inadequate or in serious needs of revision. If I was hunting around for words to describe Stray Bullets #1 I’d eschew genre definitions and settle on adjectives like macabre and gothic.
MISSING PERSONS DEPT: Free Batman/set Batman free.
For serious though: this is the best(/most horrible) Batman comic I’ve read all year, the tactically deployed evil of Batman Incorporated notwithstanding. Twitter account here, if you’re interested.
SCOTTISH INVASION DEPT: A couple of top links from Queen of the North Laura Sneddon, the first a write-up of this year’s Thought Bubble festival in Leeds that focuses on the comics that Laura picked up at the event, and the second a review of Owen Michel Johnson and Indio’s Raygun Roads, the comic Laura kept bashing people over the head to buy at the aforementioned event.
Here’s a little taste of what Laura has to say about the book:
The eye-fucking fluorescent colours and eye-fuckable gorgeously grotesque characters suggest extreme and confrontational punk art to the max, yet the beautifully fine line-work betrays a genius that sets this apart from others, a kindness in the hard crowd. Indio is really off the leash here, the artwork is overflowing with a crazed energy that leaves the reader breathless and crumpled, buzzed and angry all at once.
Panels are stacked evenly, conservatively even, but in contrast to the utter insanity that resides within them, this is perhaps a mercy on us all, enabling the reader to focus fully on the colour of these dreams.
MINDLESS SELF-PROMOTION DEPT: Fancy watching a short animated feature full of strangeness and intrigue, just like what they used to make in your most/least favourite childhood dreams? Here’s Urth Mutha, which was written by our own Bobsy Mindless animated by Sam Steer, with music and sound design by Zach Dagoba.
END OF YEAR DEPT: Are you sick of Best Comics of 2013 lists that don’t reflect your reality? Your reality is the sickness, Bobsy’s list is the cure!
“FINALLY” DEPT: As it ramps up towards a celebratory finale, I find myself realising that I’ve enjoyed Young Avengers without every fully engaging with it. The fault, if there is any, is almost certainly mine, and Hazel Robinson’s writing on the series has been a welcome reminder of what other people have been getting out of the comic all along.
Shame A.S. Byatt wasn’t so into it, but compared to J.K. Rowling, Gillen and McKelvie get off lightly in this passage from Ragnarok: The End of the World: