Have a Nice Day

April 28th, 2020

On the night our young decade was trying to be born, those trapped in the ritual of havering between TV channels in the UK might have found themselves wondering which century they were in.  On one channel, Travis, the slightly more nimble proto-Coldplay.  On the other, the Stereophonics, Oasis without the world-threatening streak of experimentalism.

The only sign that this wasn’t 1999 was the beard on Travis singer Fran Healy’s face, a mass of hair that would have made it impossible for Healy to perform ‘U16 Girls’ without being arrested on sight, even in the ’90s.

So we were living in the future after all. It didn’t feel like it, but then it rarely had before either.

Near the top of Zach Snyder’s 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead, ‘Have a Nice Day’ by the Stereophonics plays in a pre-carnage sequence where Anna drives away from her prophetically long hospital shift and towards the last glimmering daylight of suburban comfort.  Cynics would say that this is just an early example of Snyder’s penchant for the obvious, a tendency that would see him hose every scene in Sucker Punch and Watchmen with big classic massive anthems until all ambiguity is blasted from the frame.  True believers know otherwise.  Those of us who have studied the sacred texts know that Snyder works on a mystic level – this is the man who anticipated 9-11 a mere twelve years after it happened in Man of Steel, after all.  No mere filmmaker, Snyder is an occult operator who predicted his own Man of Steel three years after it happened in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, thus ensuring that pop culture and pop reality were caught up in a perpetual feedback loop.

So while to the uninitiated the use of ‘Have a Nice Day’ at the top of Dawn of the Dead might seem to be the sign of a filmmaker battering you with dramatic irony, to those attuned to the Snyderverse it will be apparent that this move was really part of an effort to reprogram the world, a slow spell that has really started to take effect in the year 2020.

Coincidentally, Snyder’s Army of the Dead has a tentative release date of winter 2020.

Post, Human

April 21st, 2020

(CN: Rape)

When the sixth issue of Providence came out we talked about not wanting it in our houses.  We made nervy comments about custom raids, then talked about taboos and how sometimes – just sometimes – they were there to serve a valid social function.  We said the usual stuff about how the culture warriors of the ’60s and ’70s might find themselves fighting for the other side now without even realising it, and we mocked ourselves for saying it too.

We acknowledged that saying there was a lot of rape in Alan Moore’s comics didn’t really constitute new information at this point, but agreed that this was no excuse for ignoring it.  We talked about the way Providence #6 played with perspective on a visual and narrative level on a way that made us complicit while also putting us in the role of the victim, comparing the derangement of time in the issue to the derangements of character and culpability experienced by the protagonist.  We weighed the argument for the book’s implicit condemnation of authority, and came back again and again to the potential impact of all its cleverness on survivors.  We made defenses then talked ourselves out of them.

We were rattled, shook.

Mostly though we talked about how we didn’t want it hanging around our living rooms and how we were going to burn it/chuck it into a charity bag/hurl it deep into the pit.

Mindless Decade: Finding a Finder

February 25th, 2018

MIndless Decade: Ultimate Classic!

I often find myself being drawn into arguments where I know almost every example of the thing I’m defending is bad yet still feel compelled to argue for what I believe to a worthy principle.

“Text section in comic books” is one example. People can tell me that they’re often bad (they are!) or that good comics writers aren’t always good prose writers (they aren’t!) but no matter how many pointed examples they come up with I’ll still find myself determined to argue that they’re closing off possibilities we can’t afford to lose.

Carla Speed McNeil’s Finder provides a good, if typically atypical, counterargument.  Every time I read the comics sections I find my brain racing in a million new directions, lost, determined to find answers to questions I’m struggling to formulate.  Every time I read McNeil’s annotations I find myself presented with answers to a whole other set of questions, all of which are equally mysterious to me.

This shouldn’t work.

It does.

Finder is two different comics every time I read it…

We all devour down here

February 13th, 2018

Hi, Mr. Morrison! Can I call you Grant?

Great. Great. Gotta say, fantastic job getting Happy! on TV and with Pax Americana changing the whole freaking game and everything.

Uh, listen. We need to talk. We’ve been going back over your oeuvre and, well, we noticed some points of…concern, so we just wanted to check on how things are going.

The Woke Liberal Fans? Nah, they love you. Don’t worry; you got that demographic locked down forever. No, what jumped out at us was the way a few of your recent-ish comics portray, you know, females.

I know you know women read your comics. But our research shows that for some reason women don’t like being treated as purely abstract concepts.

Like this, Grant. What is this?

What

the

fuck?*

Read the rest of this entry »

Impersonism: a manifest

February 7th, 2018

I’ve tried to hide from the truth, but wherever I go it finds me… whatever age I might claim to be, right here, right now, I’m an Internet Grampa.

As soon as a columnist finishes the first draft of an article bemoaning the hordes of trolls that lurk under every digital bridge, I’m knocking at their front door, ready to warn them that they’re at risk of demonising dissenting voices, that they might just be confusing those guys who’re always two clicks away from a rape threat with those who simply don’t want to bow down to the guy who wrote The IT Crowd.

Whenever a young man is about to serve up a freshly baked Game of Thrones meme, I’m limbering up so I’m ready to come crashing through the rafters like the world’s shitest Santa!  As soon as that image is sent out into the world, I’m there, covered in plaster dust but still willing to deliver a pointless lecture about the good old days when you needed more than thirty seconds on their phone and a snazzy font to contribute to a fandom.

And don’t think you’ve escaped my reign of tedium! Next time you like something that a casual acquaintance has posted online I’ll be there, tucked up in your jumper drawer, just waiting to have a conversation about why Livejournal was a better platform for conversation than whatever the fuck it is we’re using now.

To my fellow Internet Grandparents, all I can do is offer you condolences and love!  You’re at least as wrong as you are right, but like you I feel the pull of the copper-clad garden, and like you I’m not quite ready to give up on the whole damned thing!

But let’s go back a bit, see if we can figure out what the damage is and where it was done…

The first time I read Preacher, I was 20 years old on the other side of the world.

My year abroad at Oxford was coming to an end – and about time, too, because for this socially awkward kid from Hawaii with extremely working-class parents, the Oxbridge milieu was confounding. Before coming to England I’d spent two years of undergrad in the midwestern US, so figured I could handle another cultural adjustment.

Ha ha.

The academic system was different from anything I’d ever experienced. The sociocultural codes bordered on the downright inscrutable. The tutors expected us to know all about subjects we’d barely even touched upon in our previous education (here’s a note for any Oxford lecturers reading this: American schools don’t use the English Civil War as a primary historical touchpoint).

And in the midst of the incomprehension and fear, I discovered Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon.

The Borders bookstore near campus – I remember how surprising it was that Oxford had a Borders – stocked most of the trade paperbacks in their comics section. Luckily, its employees were either too oblivious or too apathetic to stop me from holing up and reading each volume cover to cover, which is what you do when you’re a broke student. That’s where I first met Jesse Custer, where the bottom of my heart fell out when I learned about Cassidy’s monstrous nature, where I weighed the benefit of continuing to read one hell of a comic against consuming 66 issues plus specials of raging blasphemy (I was raised in a speaking-in-tongues evangelical church), and where I learned the term “reach-around”.

I didn’t realize at the time how special Dillon’s art was, because it drew me in without even giving me time to blink. It all seemed real. More than that, it all seemed accurate. That’s exactly how it looks when someone machine-guns a report to bits in the office, I thought. That’s totally the pose you fall into when your friend’s ex-friend sends you into a voodoo trance.

Of course, these weren’t conscious thoughts; Dillon’s work invited you to react subconsciously first. It was a lot like reading comics as a kid, if you disregard all the sodomy references and profanity. My childhood comics reading experiences were immersive, or rather, I judged comics on their immersive capacity. Did I feel as though I were on that gargoyle-studded rooftop beside Batman, narrowing my eyes at the criminal scum/people failed by Gotham’s mental health care system on the streets below? If yes, then it was a good comic.

As I got older, I learned to spot badly proportioned bodies, static poses, overly photorealistic likenesses, and other artistic touches that push readers out of the action. Coming from a performing background, the best analogy I can think of is that it’s like watching an actor who’s clearly Doing A Character, or this piece of brilliance from Derek Jacobi’s guest star spot in Frasier.

Preacher was none of that. Preacher simply…was. Dillon wasn’t Doing A Comic. It felt like Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy had allowed him to observe their exploits for the purpose of documentation, because that’s something real people can do, and under Dillon’s hand they were as real as the rustle of Batman’s cape once was in my child-ears.

It was a comfort, not only for the sharp wit cloaked in splashy vulgarity, but for the surety of those good old Dillon lines. Everything around me was unknown and scary, except this. Here, in Preacher, art by Steve Dillon, was a world where even the most outlandish could be familiar, like a welcome I didn’t know I needed.

Read the rest of this entry »

AND IT CAME TO PASS that fully paid-up member of women Maid of Nails, deep Dundonian Botswana Beast and comics artist/aesthetic superstar Dan McDaid had many thoughts regarding the Justice League.

The BS nature of “good immigrants vs. bad immigrants” stories, the mind of Morrison, the paranoia that comes with mortality – all is laid bare in this exclusive audio recording from one of the many times they got absolutely fuckin’ tanked.

Is it, as Dan said, “the worst podcast ever”? I mean, probably. But there’s only one way to find out….

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7Wd3DomYYztOEVOOC0yeF91WU0/view?usp=sharing

The bunny/duck optical illusion of our times

I show my friends I care by obsessively tracking every detail of their lives

 

The smell* of urban magic permeates the air

 

*it smells like Silk Cut and wine voms

Howl

May 4th, 2016

I don’t get to the comic shop as often now as I used to.