RECEIVING TRANSMISSION – “A LITTLE MORE POWER OVER THAT MEMORY…”
Sorry, what’s that? You were waiting for the second part of my Tygers and Lambs series? Well hey, thanks for checking in mum, glad you still read the site - that post should go up over the weekend! 
The rest of you are probably looking for more SILENCE! or more League of Extraordinary Gentlemen annocommentations or something , and who can blame you, but you’ll have to wait a while for all of that because right now we’re doing Dirty Thoughts From Other People’s Comments Section!
Okay, so over on The Comics Journal’s website, Sean Rogers wrote a review of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s Flex Mentallo that posited the aforementioned comic as a prime example of the “strenuous vapidity” of Morrison’s writing. I think it’s safe enough to say that most of Team Mindless  are pretty into Flex Mentallo – the manifesto like “Candyfloss horizons” posts that graced the site during its early days are definitely written in the key of Flex Mentallo, with its “candy-striped skies”  – and I wrote about the book again when the freshly recoloured “deluxe” edition was released in April of this year. As such, bearing in mind that FEELINGS ABOUT COMICS ARE THE ONLY TRUE FEELINGS , I decided to have a go at taking Sean’s review apart.
Sean seems to think that Flex Mentallo is a guide to better living through superheroes, whereas I think it’s more like a Dennis Potter drama in two-dimensions , a strange story in which a grown man cracks and finds himself trying to make sense out of everything with reference to a lifetime’s worth of ruddy superhero comics.
My comment is up on The Comics Journal site if you want to check it out and see what you think.
June 10th, 2012
Guest post by Hollistic Tendancies
“I need you all to make me have not said that. I need you to have make me unsaid it.”
Ah, here in episode 2 of Veep, we The Thick of It fans are in familiar territory: this could have come from the episode where the press conference had to be about nothing.
And yet, this is again very definitely America.
May 25th, 2012
My first thought upon hearing that Armando Iannucci was making a Thick of It-esque show for America was YES! Awesome! Because I love The Thick of It and, even though I’m from there and thus know what it’s like, I love America.
My second thought, of course, was how are they going to fit in all the swearing? There aren’t going to be any “we’ve negotiated for 100 ‘fuck’s per episode” type rules on that side of the pond. Even if it is HBO. The BBC has people on the Today programme say “cock-up” like it’s official government terminology. I don’t think America can compete with that.
Of course this is not the only thing different about America. Here’s how the Veep travels:
Police cars and police motorcycles, sirens blaring, lights flashing, a row of big black bulletproof versions of the strangely bulbous American SUVs that everybody drives. We’re clearly not in the Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship any more!
February 2nd, 2012
Yesterday, DC finally got around to breaking the news that was already broken: Yes they were going to publish Watchmen prequels, and yes, they had managed to find a group of creators dumb enough to work on them! Huzzah!
Now obviously The Comics Internet has already had a pretty good go at covering this topic. Hell, we covered this announcement in one of our Christmas podcasts before it even happened!
Still, even assuming you’ve already read Newsarama’s I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S NOT SATIRE take and David Brothers’ elegant evisceration of the same, we figure you’ve still probably got room in that multiversal brain of yours for a very Mindless take on these announcements.
If so, rest easy True Believers. Here’s how it begins…
Bobsy: Someone said on the radio this morning that it’s the 50th anniversary of the smiley face. not sure how that fits with the ‘facts’ here, but it made me grimly reflect that if anything could turn that smile upside down then the Watchmen 2 announcement yesterday was surely it. The people in the shop were going crazy about the news, never been in there amid such animated chatter on a single topic before. Everyone basically positive too, saying they were going to buy it, looking forward to reading the characters again.
I can’t believe that we’re seriously supposed to think that the Kubert brothers are an adequate shadow of Gibbons, or that Azzarello, Cooke or (jesus christ) Len Wein are going to be able to produce anything that favourably compares with the original. I don’t even like Watchmen that much, but to go back to it seems to justify everything that Alan Moore has been saying for years about creative and cultural exhaustion.
I realise it’s a bit Canutian of me to wish for a different world, but the expansion into the Watchmen property strikes me as being a victory for capitalism’s oozing tentacles only, hence a defeat for the rest of us.
December 8th, 2011
In the great play, the play of the world, the one I always return to, all emotional souls occupy the stage, whereas all creative people sit in the orchestra. The first are called mad (alienated); the second ones, who depict their follies, are called sages (philosophers). The eye of the sage is the one which lays bare the follies of various figures on the stage. — Denis Diderot
October 19th, 2011
But like, fifty-two cards when I’m, I’m through dealin
Now fifty-two bars come out, now you feel ‘em
Now, fifty-two cars roll out, remove ceiling
In case fifty-two broads come out, now you chillin…
No chrome on the wheels, I’m a grown-up for real
October 2011. Babies are filmed playing with iPads. The technology has existed for their entire lives; not only are they expert with the swipe, pinch and tap, fluent in a language of digits – a truly digital language – but paper technology proves a disappointment. Take away the tablet and give the kid a magazine, and it pokes for a while at the still, unmoving images before giving up.
September 2011. I have an iPad. I am staying in a hotel, in Birmingham. Next door is a store called Nostalgia and Comics. I swipe glossy issues from the racks, as smoothly as an online move to a digital shopping basket. They slip in your hand, shiny. Each of them is labelled #1. The new 52. I present them at the counter. I can afford comics these days – the problem is finding any I actually want to read.
I’m about to pay when I catch a scent of something. A scent of cellars. Attics. Boxes. Brittle paper. It rises from the back issues like a call home. Suddenly you’re back in the 1970s. The pages are packed with tiny adverts, like a Victorian newspaper promoting wonder remedies and crackpot novelties: X Ray Glasses, Hypnotic Whirling Coin, All Metal JET Submarine. Electric Shocker and GENERATOR. Beat Up Big Bullies. Ugly Blackheads Out in Seconds: Be Good Looking. Each superhero story is interrupted (continued on 3rd page following) for a commercial break, offering the equipment and accessories you’d need to cross over into the fiction: we can all be heroes, or mad scientists.
I take one comic from the boxes, then another. They slide easily against each other, too: less floppy and shiny than the new titles, but they’re all encased in plastic bags. They start to form a new pile. I find the first Action Comics I ever read, and another that I cut up to stick in a 1970s scrapbook. Here it is again, intact. Silver Age covers address me directly, like propaganda posters: ‘WHEN Will the Government Stop Harassing Our Heroes? WHO is the Surprise Super-Villain Hawkeye Battles Alone?’ A grey-haired Superman protests ‘I’m 100,000 Years Old… When Will I Die?’ Batman and the Outsiders, leaning over a pile of Christmas presents, ask ‘Where Are The Children?’ Two kids stare at a Superman poster: ‘Gee, I Wonder Whatever Happened To Him?’
I take my piles to the counter. They slide together like a shuffled deck. Worlds and times collide and merge. Flashpoint #5 of 5 from October 2011, alongside World’s Finest: Superman and the Flash, from December 1970. That red-suited figure, still running in 2011 as he did forty-one years before; still the eternal scarlet blur.
August 16th, 2011
So, it kind of started like this between he and me, yr ever-lovin’ Botswana Beast, the O-rriginal Eyeball, and there’s more but I’m fuctifano how to get all these trackbacks on the twtr, so look for yourselves, if you really want. Joel (that’s his tumblr) is a pwopa Marxist on the speed-dial and who knows; maybe he can diagnose and cure comics’ endemic corporate thievery better than a ragtag bunch of libertarians? My inclination’s to think this eminently likely.
It’s unsurprising that the editors decided to pull the text above out of it’s original introductory caption box and give it’s own page in the anniversary edition of Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, transforming it into a full blown preamble.
This is what Wikipedia has to say about the closing sentence, Alan’s Moore’s last word on and celebration of Superman:
“This is an Imaginary Story… Aren’t they all?” The legend is a triple entendre:
- It could be interpreted that the story is non-canonical.
- It could be interpreted that the story is canonical, since all comic books are “imaginary stories”, so it is as valid as any “official” Superman comic
- It could be interpreted that the story is canonical, but for this incarnation of Superman, as the upcoming John Byrne reboot would render the earlier series as “imaginary”.
- It could be interpreted that that the story is the end of the Earth-One Superman had the Crisis on Infinite Earths never happened.
Isn’t that a quadruple entendre? Whatever. There’s something missing from that list. It’s what gives the line it’s awesome fuck yeahness, but as it doesn’t speak directly to comics it doesn’t surprise me that it often goes overlooked. Yes, Moore was quite possibly concerned that the Superman stories of his youth had just been relegated to the bin of history by Crisis on the Infinite Earths, yes he could be railing against the strictures of canon, but personally I’ve always read that line as a celebration, not just of a certain view of Superman or a certain incarnation of Superman, but of the imagination full stop.
After all, isn’t Superman, the guy who can do anything, the superhero who best encapsulates all that’s good and beautiful about the infinite possibilities of the imagination?
It’s unlikely that the Alan Moore of the mid-eighties had quite such well-formed views on the subject of meaning and story as he does today – to the best of my knowledge he didn’t talk much about Idea Space in interviews back then – but to suggest that he put great stock in fiction doesn’t strike me as much of stretch, in fact I see the line above as evidence that his thoughts were heading in the direction that would ultimately bring us From Hell and Promethea.
When Moore writes “aren’t they all” he is putting Superman stories in the same broad category as the Bible, Noddy, personal historical narratives, and the mythology of predatory paedophiles, which isn’t to say that he’s explicitly arguing that all stories are of equal importance, just that stories have the potential to be very powerful indeed, and that, hopefully, this one is amongst the best. This point is reinforced by the juxtaposition of the legend with the opening splash page featuring a memorial statue of Superman.
Memorial statues carry with them connotations of timelessness, of permanence, of stories that cannot and should not be forgotten.
February 9th, 2011
Being: the second of two short posts building up to a third, slightly more impressive one.
It’s no secret that Alan Moore’s Dodgem Logic zine has its faults – my fellow Mindless Ones have talked about them a bit here and here already – but it seems to me that the short comic strips by comedian Josie Long exemplify the magazine at its worst.
Well, I say they’re comics, but they provide none of the pleasures that one associates with the medium, so they only really exist as an example of the “I know comics when I see them” nature of the form (Scott McCloud, consider yrself warned!):
The above excerpt comes from ‘Love’, the Josie Long strip that graced the first issue. In fairness, this is probably the worst comic Long has contributed to the magazine – her recent re-coloured, re-dialogued Ikea instruction diagrams reached the levels of mild amusement you’d find in the absent scribblings of a troubled friend. Whereas this comic, well, it’s a fifty panel pile-up of squished text and ever squishier faces. I almost feel like I should apologise for putting such horrible images and colours up on the Mindless Ones site, to be honest with you.
February 1st, 2011
Being: the first of two short posts building up to a third, hopefully more substantial one.
This series of posts is supposed to be all about mirrors and vanity, so what better way to start than by quoting something I said in the comments to this Phonogram review? Cast your mind all the way back… to December 2009!
I like The Phonogram – it shows me something I like to recognise, namely, me!
I hate The Phonogram – it shows me how stupid that bit of me really is.
Which is why it’s good, and why I love it, and why this review gets to the core of The Singles Club better than any other (though Nina’s review was also very good, if far harsher). I’ll be happy to see more issues, and sorry to see it end.
Still, it’s a bit of a prick at times, The Phonogram.
Sometimes, I don’t think it likes me as much as I like it…
How does the song go? Oh yeah: “I taught myself the only way to vaguely get along in love/ Is to like the other slightly less than you get in return/ I keep feeling like I’m being undercut…”
Of course, much as I admire these tricky qualities in Jamie McKelvie and Kieron Gillen‘s Phonogram, and much as I’ll always be grateful to them for dedicating an issue of their fanzine-as-fantasy-comic to a defiantly minor group like The Long Blondes, I’ve always known where to find the best example of this trick in all of comics.
Indeed, even back in December 2009, when I was young and naive and actually pretty cowardly about these things, I was still careful to give tribute to The King:
But then I thought of Alec – The King Canute Crowd: “yeah, all these books were written about you!” That Eddie Campbell’s a clever bastard, you know – I don’t think there’s a better laid trap in all of comics than that page.
And yeah, I’ll stand by that statement!