Dicebox: review

February 13th, 2012

Full disclosure: I was asked to review this book by the author’s husband, Kip Manley, a lovely man, author of City of Roses, which is a smashing book I’d recommend to fans of Jonathan Carroll or that mid-1990s Vertigo vintage, so take that as you will. I’m sort of flailing with my critical armoire (contents: glibness, cruelty) and my comics readership, which includes basically no webcomics (which Dicebox originated as), bar Achewood, and certainly very little like this.

read on for an ambulatory reading, spoilers: the subtitle is certainly an accurate summation

Botswana Beast: [post-factum editorial note: these were written intermittently on a GoogleDoc, in sections post- the release of Marvel's 2011 event Fear Itself, I think after issues 4, 6 and 7  were released unto the buying public.]

Right, son, I’mo get my fit-to-print pants on:

Where to start, oh, man; I guess you bought Fear Itself, I was surprised you did because you are a grown-up who buys [LOL interjection] grown-up comics, and you bought it because of how I described it to you at Kapow!? (How much punctuations should I put there? Feels like I should put more) Which was – I dunno – it was in April, so I guess just after the first issue? And I described it as “Final Crisis set in the Marvel Universe” which is… it’s not inaccurate, but, basically the lesson is never, ever listen to me.

Because it’s been – and I know some folk don’t think it inarguable that Final Crisis was a good comic, let alone a great one (I think “you are probably wrong” to these people, not necessarily on a permanent basis, just on that matter) – but it’s been a disaster, really, and at this point I kind of wish I’d sold you, or more importantly, myself, on “Age of Apocalypse set in the DC Universe” aka Flashpoint which has been… I don’t know, not good exactly? Momentous? They both have nice art, that is all I’m going to say on art. That is the Art Statement. Mainstream comics are not about art, they’re about commerce. The artists on Fear Itself and Flashpoint really did a good job – but it was the Marvel eds and Johns that built these.

It’s been so bad – whilst also offering glimmers of something that could have been really good, Marvel is my district, really, it always has been in comics, but it’s been so bad that I can feel my Zombie embers burn out as it progresses; I’ve fiended Marvel for a decade, which, whatever, bloggers don’t tend to do (“I’m not you, blogger. I’m not you.”) possibly because they are largely at some level involved in an industry which the company can and has run jackbooted over as it please. And I’m not: you’ll get purely sideline sniping here. So, yeah, I looked at September’s offerings from them and, assuming Mark Waid performs the first-time feat of maintaining my interest in a comic he’s writing past three issues, the art on these is really nice, I’ll get Daredevil, I’ll probably fork out £3.25 for DPMAX2, I’ll definitely get the Elektra:Assassin trade at some indeterminate point and that’s it. (It is necessary to discuss Marvel comics in transactional terms, always). Now, there may be other aspects at play here, I may have taken Alan Moore and his former friend Steve Bissette’s rejoinders to heart, it may be that I am envious of Matt Fraction*, it may be that, given I have a second imminent baby, probably [EDIT: yes] arrived by the time this sees printernet, I’ve decided to rationalise cutting back in all these ways, who knows what my Crowleyan Will hath wrought? But anyway, Fear Itself is coincident with my final days as a Marvel “fan”, it transpires. It’s complicated, I guess; but anyway, anyone who sez: Kirboycotters are all people who weren’t reading Marvel anyway – no, I am yr counterexample. But, you know, do what you like.

By do what you like I mean CLICK HERE to read the rest of this epic in the making!

That’s what I wanted to call Andrew Hickey’s new Seven Soldiers reader, The Miser’s Coat, but he’d only gawn an’ bleedin’ had another idea for the title of his own work first, so. An Incomprehensible Condition should be available from finer internet shops by the time you read this; and he’s only gawn an’ bleedin’ joined the Mindless Ones for his pop-culture critic hat, we’re over the bloody moon to have him, so this interview serves a twofold purpose: to promote and discuss the book and to welcome him to our plated bosom.

Read the rest of this entry »

Chris Burnham. Interviewed. By us. Screaming. Nuff said.

  1. But enough about you, Chris. Were you familiar with our site already, or did you google your name?
  2. Heh. I think I got a Google Alert about it, though I may have been directed here by Cameron Stewart. Either way, I’d been to the site before for your MorrisoNotations. I seriously love this Grant Morrison stuff. The other night I was the second or third person in the world to read Batman Incorporated #7. Pretty awesome to still be able to geek out over something that you’ve been slaving over.

  3. How is that, the googling?
  4. My girlfriend set me up with some Google Alerts so I’m no longer distracted by googling myself every half hour when a new issue comes out. Sadly, Twitter has filled that void. That shit is as bad as Bejeweled Blitz. If you told me that all this addictive distraction stuff was an evil Chinese conspiracy to destroy the productivity of the Weak-Willed West I would totally believe you. Internet’s been pretty nice to me, actually. Not nearly as much “poor man’s Quitely” as I was expecting.

    The best interview you’ll ever read with Chris Burnham continues over the jump

First batchat. Then annotations

BEHOLD THE BATMINGE!!!!!

The Beast Must Die: by the way, this issue…?

Best comic of 2011?

Fuck off. I don’t even want to debate the motherfucker.

Read the rest of this entry »

parched mindlessness

April 23rd, 2011

Yeah, so basically, do you spot the clever allusion to the best tumblr ever? But also, hey, today’s subject is indebted to that site’s. Think about it. Anyway, welcome to the Frank ‘Vincent Deighan’ Quitely aggregator, I’d run fuckyeahfrankquitely, but there’s not so much work you know? This is me farming content. Live. Here. Mindlessones. Dot-com.

Ain’t seen this before tho probably b:

 ddelektra
There follows a second example of Mr. Q covering Frank Miller if that sort of thing excites, which obviously

Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!

Here is where you can purchase the above tome, in various formats

Illogical Volume: I hate trying to write a synopsis of anything (because: BORING!), so here’s the back cover blurb:

What do Batman, Doctor Who, quantum physics, Oscar Wilde, liberalism, the second law of thermodynamics, Harry Potter fanfic, postmodernism, and Superman have in common?
If your answer to that was “Nothing” then… well, you’re probably right. But in this book Andrew Hickey will try to convince you otherwise. In doing so he’ll take you through:

How to escape from a black hole and when you might not want to
The scientist who thinks he’s proved the existence of heaven and what that has to do with Batman
What to do if you discover you’re a comic-book character
Whether killing your own grandfather is really a bad idea
And how to escape from The Life Trap!

An examination of the comics of Grant Morrison, Alan Moore and Jack Kirby, Doctor Who spin-off media, and how we tell stories to each other, Sci-Ence! Justice Leak! tells you to look around you and say:

“This is an imaginary universe… Aren’t they all?”

Botswana Beast: Andrew is our – not fake, real internet – friend, full disc etc. etc., he was actually the first person I interviewed in… well any capacity really, it was a real pleasure to me, I really like doing interviews, I guess I should do more. This isn’t really a review, call the TSA!

So, but I’ll get the complaints out of the way quickly – I don’t like the typseset and it particularly buggers the citation from Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?at the end with linebreaks, it’s a bit like reading poetry in speech balloons (so sorry, Etrigan the Demon) that bit and – I don’t know – linebreaks are bit fussy throughout, could’ve used some hyphens on the multisyllables, I imagine this is basically all a problem of publishing through Lulu. Secondly, it fails to entirely transcend the original format – but certainly does work better in collation, no question, in particular the ‘Are You Living in a Comicbook?’ chapter and it’s following – because some concepts, like Dave Sim, are improperly introduced, some of the mathematical concepts – Copenhagen, Many-Worlds – are discussed at length earlier and only given fuller grounding in the 3rd last chapter or so. The Harry Potter fanfic chapter could probably have been wholly excised, although it is interesting in terms of ‘canon’ and so forth. I do think to address the complaint about better-smoothing the book into a, you know, a book would have been a lot of work for little gain; an overhaul, essentially, and I’m not unsympathetic being deeply lazy, which Andrew is clearly not, the author I read here is a constant clear rejoinder to me with his ceaseless interest and desire to work at his fascinations, a rejoinder to my cynicism and Anti-Life force essentially.

Other than that, though, it really is pretty much an untrammelled  joy – I pretty much cannot face non-fiction without wanting to go into coma (seriously, a vast land of fetid prose, I’m sure all you NF readers can set me straight, look forward to that) and this was entirely digestible, pointed and exciting to read. Given it’s written, essentially, on hypertime, paracontinuities and the destruction of canon/Objectivist lore and I am, I’d have to say probably only the second or third most enthused person in the world at these concepts, it does feel rather made for me. So I read it in a night, which I think is an indicative of either how thrilled I am to see these concepts mined or – maybe, I’m not gonna tell you this is objective because read the last sentence - maybe it’s actually really chippily and digestibly written, maybe it has a whole bunch of interesting shit written about excitingly. Or both! I don’t know, you should read it if you like the above-mentioned stuff?

Illogical Volume: Double disclosure, not only is Andrew an internet friend, he was also daft enough to ask me to proofread this book and provide “helpful” suggestions.  He even swapped a couple of chapters around at my suggestion — THE FOOL!

Even as someone who had an “inside” view of the creation of this book, I still found the format a little frustrating at first. I think this is related to Botswana Beast’s complaint about the way that scientific concepts are introduced early but not fully explained until near the end. Obviously, since I didn’t suggest changing the order of these parts, these issues bothered me less than they bothered Mr Beast.  Indeed, as I pressed on, I found this to be part of the charm of Sci-Ence! Justice Leak! – it’s  a fractal story about fractal stories, and I’ve always been a big fan of art that expresses its themes in style as well as in content.

And hey, even when Andrew doesn’t get back round to a topic, I liked getting to do a little bit of extra dot joining myself – a good sign that I enjoyed the book, that!  So, for example: the realisation of the way the seemingly disconnected essay on the Melmoth chapter of Cerebus was actually an essential part of the ultrastructure was probably when I decided that this was A Proper Book, whatever the fuck that means. Melmoth is a tangle of interconnected fictions concerning the life and death of Oscar Wilde, and by writing about it early on Andrew underlines the complex relationship between the real and theoretical that runs through his book.

This aspect of Sci-Ence! Justice Leak! reminds me of old argument between Marc Singer and Jim Roeg, about various forms of multiplicity. Half a decade on, I agree with Singer when he highlights the danger of taking the “gestural multiplicity” of, say, DC comic books as any sort of basis for an actual “politics of multiplicity”, and this is a relevant concern here.  Thankfully Andrew is more convincing in his arguments than Jim Roeg was, and he works hard to blur the boundaries between the gestural and the real in almost every chapter.

I know I’ve laid the praise on pretty thick so far, but I do have some issues with the book.  Like Botswana Beast  says, the citations are often a bit sloppy, with odd blocks of white space sitting between text and images. More troublingly, given that Liberal philosophy is essential to the story Andrew’s telling, I hit a bit of a speedbump when I read the chapter on Liberalism and Cybernetics. When Andrew writes about the Liberal Democrat party…

…we support things like greater democratic representation and accountability, mutualism, devolution of power to local levels, civil liberties, and so on.

…I find myself wincing a little.  Not out of any knee-jerk hatred or dislike for the Lib Dems (I know there are a lot of good people in the party, and I probably loathe them less than either Labour or the fucking Tories), but because I can’t help but see these same words put to other uses by the Liberal Democrats’ current coalition partners, the aforementioned Tory bastards.

A perfect example of the dangers of conflating the real and the abstract, you might think, butin the end.  I think it’s more nuanced than that. Indeed, Andrew is very clear that he doesn’t think that these beliefs need to lead to some sort of free-market paradise, and it’s likely that I’m bringing a lot of my own issues to the book here.  Still, Sci-Ence! Justice Leak! is Andrew’s story, not mine, and by collecting all of these blog posts here, Andrew provides them with a sense of cohesion, of old fashioned authority even. Which is kind of ironic, given the book’s focus on pluralism, but it works in the book’s favour in the end. Sci-Ence! Justice Leak! makes a passionate, committed case for a worldview based on liberalism and multiplicity.  And really,  given the hateful rhetoric that dominates so much of current public life, what could be more energising than that right now?

There’s a lot of Doctor Who in there though, so… it’s still a very niche book, but if it’s your niche then I suspect you might just love it.

Illogical Volume introview

December 5th, 2010

This is his face

illogicalvolume

Terrifying… but also sexy

Since Illogical Volume a/k/a his govt. name, David Allison, joined the Mindless Ones the comics interent has never been the same again (although, thinking on it, wouldn’t it be odd for things to be the same, the exact same again? I don’t know what date I’d go back to, but I’d defo be younger, maybe some time 1998, or 2002, or 2004?) Anyway, ya boy has been droppin’ bombs from such a height as to make said comicsinternet look like Dresden, c.mid-February 1945, and we would have got round to doing this when he’d his own blog Vibrational Match, and you want it. Yeah, you want it, you sluts.

Here it fucking is, then. Eh? EHHH?!?!

Pree-zentin’ what will probably be the most comprehensive interview you read with Patrick Meaney, the director of

…this week, anyway.

 

Nobody sees the show, not till my heart says so/That special something, that you are hunting = under the cut

Criminology

June 11th, 2010

bm_700a-2-copy

 

It’s probably an unbelievably bad idea to take DC marketing dept. at their word, but anyway. They have a difficult job, I guess.

Und so! Vorwaerts! The initial idea for this was a liveblog, but that would have involved promotion and shit, I am quite the most fundamentally lazy – physically, critically, intellectually – person I know, and also been a pretty fucking tortuous read, dying to turn the page, but having to bash out a satisfactory update before I could do so. So that didn’t happen; what we will have is the 7 pages in a polka-dotted reporter’s pad (I thought that shit was red, I was gonna give you a photo and shit, call this the Red Casebook but nah; I obviously did not buy this pad), my CASENOTES interspersed with some proper blogination. You can of course choose to believe these casenotes are an after-the-fact “ret-con”, as much a fait accompli as most Grant Morrison superhero scripts, even although Mindless Ones is the very definition of elegant verité and bold realism, and that’ll be a mystery too. Do what you like, I won’t stop you.

But one day, tomorrow, peoples will be reading Batman #700 on their infoSlates, their powerTablets, and it’ll be my polka-on-grey casebook anno’s there first; that’s my dream, and it is definitely good to have dreams. FUTURECOMICSSS.

We begin; welcome to MindlessOnes.com for all your Grant Morrison Batman needs. Choose MindlessOnes.com