December 7th, 2015
LIFE TURDS have prevented me from finishing my long promised post on Julia Scheele‘s comics, so here’s a quick ramble about the dick-slap aesthetics of Nemesis the Warlock and Marshal Law that I stole from my own twitter account…
Matt Maxwell once asked me if I had any thoughts on NEMESIS THE WARLOCK. I do, and they’re all blurred by time & distance but here we go!
In Alec – how to be an artist, Eddie Campbell described Mills & O’Neilll’s NEMESIS as “the wicked satire of a rejected Catholic upbringing”. I wouldn’t presume to be able to improve on that description, but it does point towards what’s so good about *O’Neill’s* NEMESIS.
Don’t get me wrong, plenty of good artists have drawn NEMESIS (including Bryan Talbot, for fuck’s sake!) but O’Neill made it look *naughty*. This is what separates his baroque atrocities from similar dystopias (Warhammer 40K, etc): the heavy metal fanfare never obscures the man.
November 15th, 2015
Living legend David Wynne has commissioned me to write 500 words on this topic. Last night in the pub he teased me with the idea that I was going to be tasked to write 500 words on Frank Miller: Feminist Icon.
Having worked out my pitch for that one in the shower this morning (it’s actually really easy to read his work as an extended deconstruction of chauvinist tropes… so long as you just DON’T LOOK AT THE WOMEN IN HIS COMICS and only pay attention to the men – not an approach that’s conducive to feminist values, hence why this reading of Frank Miller is unlikely to catch on anytime soon) I now find myself face with a far more daunting task.
Five hundred words on “Hard Men with Big Truncheons: The Sexual Politics of Mega-City One”. I mean seriously: what can you say about this subject? What can’t you say?
February 19th, 2015
August 20th, 2012
Before we get going with this, a quick question — I’ve been thinking of releasing this series of posts, when finished (some time next year), as a book. Would anyone actually buy and read such a thing, or is it a bad idea?
I’m asking now, because here is where we head into a totally different realm of Doctor Who. I’ve done sixteen of these posts so far, and there are thirty-three after this. But fourteen of the sixteen previous ones have been about TV shows, with only two (Dr Who And The Daleks and Doctor Who And The Cave Monsters) dealing with non-TV stories. Of the thirty-four stories from 1979 to 2012 I’m dealing with, only fourteen of those essays will be talking about stuff that was actually on TV in those years. Four of them won’t even be about Doctor Who.
Because much of the 23,717 words I’ve done in this series so far has been setup. It’s only now, as we get to the close of the 1970s, that I can really start talking about what I want to talk to. From now on, these essays will be getting much longer, and much less in the “this happened, then this happened” vein. I have things to say. You have been warned…
April 27th, 2012
Quick look at how the trapeze strung out between these two strips is, on balance, making 2000AD the easy-best regularly published, mainstream, Anglophone, you know what I mean, don’t split hairs, comic on the racks today.
April 22nd, 2012
Being: the third in a series of posts about John Smith and Edmund Bagwell’s top British horror comic Cradlegrave.
I know one thing – they’re out there and I’m in here. Or rather, we are. Burrowed into precariously rented homes, needing increasingly mutilated services, awaiting mail that brings nothing but threats and bad news, painfully aware that social participation is as demanding of contacts, salesmanship and resources as much as livable employment, vaguely bewildered at a city that announces NOT FOR YOU from every corner: This is the Condition of the Working Class in Bizarro Town. Occasionally supermarkets, burger bars and pasty chains beckon for our devalued labour; if we can demonstrate the ‘right attitude’ (note: I can’t). Failing that, providers of job-seeking ‘services’ extract their own value promising to train us in the ‘right attitude’ and mandatory salesmanship. Otherwise we can shut the fuck up, get off the streets, and watch TV shows informing us that we’re scum. Or, as far as one’s amour propre can allow, talk to faceless strangers on machines that mine and collect details of every careless utterance. This is how neoliberalism ends: Not with a bang, but whimpering, numbing Dystopian cliche. A design against life.
(Pere Lebrun, A Hungry Gorge)
April 16th, 2012
Being: the second in a series of posts about John Smith and Edmund Bagwell’s top British horror comic Cradlegrave.
If you’re going to talk about Cradlegrave, you’ve pretty much got to face up to this image at some point:
Stripped of context it’s just a doll, just a tired horror-movie prop, a signifier of terror rather than something actually terrifying. In context however, this dull prop seems far more potent:
The sense of surprise, that feeling of “what the fuck is that face doing in the middle of this conversation?”, is enough to give the image some fresh charge here. The last panel of the sequence hints at the answer, but for the duration of the two panels before it you could be forgiven for thinking you were in another, more Lynchian kind of horror story.
Still, even the most bewildering emanations in Cradlegrave trace back to fleshy, non-Lynchian sources, so it’s just as well that there’s more to the this sequence than lifeless eyes and startling incongruity.
March 24th, 2012
NOT the best comic got this week – that was the Dahmer one, shit man – but five pages of McCarthy = min five extra pp worth reading, so ten in total twenty-three and a half pee a page, stiff but SOLD!
BUT the second best comic of the week, and it was more like fifteen cash-worthy pages as it turned out, maybe a smidge above that even. Well worth the getting.
Resurrecting this sometime feature then, like the apparently endless reincarnaions of one’s interest in “)))ad itself, to ask the timeless question – Any Cop?
March 21st, 2012
Being: the first in a series of posts about John Smith and Edmund Bagwell’s top British horror comic Cradlegrave.
ONE – If you didn’t look past this cover-cum-announcement for Cradlegrave, you might think that it was telling a very specific sort of story, the sort of story you might describe as being either “tabloid shit” or “a bit Jamie Delano” depending on where you felt like throwing your cruelty.
When I first discussed Cradlegrave back in December, regular commenter Thrills noted that he was “looking forward to reading Cradlegrave” now that he’d got past his concerns that it would “be like that Denise Mina Hellblazer where ‘hoodies’ are ‘demons’.”
Ah, so it’s the worst of both worlds – tabloid shit that smells like Jamie Delano. Fuck.
TWO – Despite the fact that the “Fear they Neighbour” text is missing, the cover of the collected edition still works hard to make the same impression:
There’s something less real about these four hooded figures in this second, reformatted cover – the overly harsh, pixelated light that gleams on of their shoulders is even more unnatural when set against an all-black background, a background that now extends into the empty spaces where four young faces should be.
These are absent phantoms, not flesh and blood monsters, and while I wouldn’t want to pretend that they’re being deliberately undermined here, I still find it hard to imagine anyone taking them seriously.
The only fear in this image is the fear you bring with you, be it fear of “savage” yoofs or of right wing rhetoric…
February 6th, 2012
Flashback to 2011 and the world is ending. Again. The signs are easy to interpret now, when they require any interpreting at all: a news anchor blathers away on TV, building up so much expectation that the large hadron collider, suffering from a fit of performance anxiety, unravels and takes reality with it; meanwhile, under the sea in a parallel Earth, an archaic supervillain announces that he has “hung a deadly necklace of deadly meta-bombs around the world like precious pearls“; on the internet, or rather in a dated parody of cyberspace that resembles nothing so much as X-Box live for “edgy” business folk, a rapidly mutating program tries to take over everything.
Responses to this are equally typical: standing in a futile crowd beside a fatbalding awkwardman, a disinterested woman holds up a sign informing everyone that “THE END is NIGH!“; a bloodied hero crawls forward, trying to save the world again, knowing that all he has to do is push a button, but that even this might be to much for him now; elsewhere, tough men decide to make tough decisions with predictable results.
I’m talking about Batman Incorporated and Indigo Prime here, because they were the two garish fantasies that played best for my (semi-informed, heavily solipsistic) sense of panic throughout 2011, that end of season finale of a year.
After all, if you feel like everything’s falling apart, sometimes it helps to be able dress these feelings up in twisted words and garish costumes instead of focusing on the garbled socio-economic truth.
Spacetime becomes jelly.
The walls of reality buckle and fold.
Higher Dimensions intrude into the supersymmetry.
Dark Matter condenses as worlds collide.
Mmmmm, yeah, that’s the stuff.