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 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…