November 14th, 2015
Yes, it’s ANOTHER THOUGHT BUBBLE LIVEBLOG!
This one is a three-hander, commissioned by Ruan S, who wants me, Illogical Volume, and Bobsy to write six hundred words on We Are Robin #4.
This is a DC Entertainment comic-style product, written by Lee Bermejo and with art by James Harvey, Diana Egea and Alex Jaffe, and it is almost precisely as “good” as you would expect from a DC Entertainment comic-style product. There are many young people dressed as Robin, who are angsty about angst-making things — one of the young people has apparently died.
There’s narration told in Tweets, because in DC Entertainment comics-style products, Twitter is used by the young persons, rather than middle-aged angry people in the media.
There are inspirational speeches about Batman, and symbols, and legacies, and how important symbol legacies are important and symbolic. There are scenes set in a high school, and there are teenagers who use “Facespace” and perform minor crimes to attract superheroes so they can take selfies.
It is, in short, precisely the kind of desperate attempt to appear cool that one would expect from the talented people at DC Entertainment. I’m a thirty-seven-year-old fat bloke with a beard, and even I know that this isn’t how the kids talk and act.
Over to Illogical Volume…
Kids today, with their anti-social medias and their secret identities, doing the troll dance under a bridge as big as the whole world… they sicken me.
November 14th, 2015
This is a THOUGHT BUBBLE SPECIAL POST, by the tag-team team of Andre Whickey and Illogical Volume. Our task: “Write five hundred words about Dungeon Fun and make it as product-placementy as possible.”
Never let it be said that the Mindless don’t rise to a task…
Dungeon Fun is a collection of the award-winning all-ages comic, based around a parody of dungeon-crawling fantasy adventure, with the same kind of sarcastic meta-humour as, say, Order of the Stick or Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, but with a gentler feel than either of those, more suitable to its all-ages audience. Neil Slorance’s highly-stylised art perfectly expresses the whimsical children’s adventure story, in which Fun Mudlifter, a little girl raised by trolls, has a sword fall from the sky and becomes an adventurer.
With her ghost companion Sir Barnabus Games, Fun goes on an epic quest, encountering such characters as Gullibelinda the Gullible.
And now I’m tagging Illogical Volume…
November 14th, 2015
We’re in Leeds, we have jumble, and we’re ready to liveblog. If you’re at Thought Bubble and want Bobsy, Illogical Volume, or myself to do a blog post for you, we’re charging a penny a word. Short posts will be added as updates to this post, larger ones will get their own.
We’re currently sat in New Dock (definitely not Savile’s) Hall, and waiting for your custom. We have cakes.
The Beast Must Die is flogging his British Comics Award nominated Cindy and Biscuit:
Kind of cosmic sciatica Gary Lactus is elling his comics, including two volume of The Cleaner, his excellent autobiographical comic:
Don’t be fooled by the fact that he’s produced the comic under his (ridiculous) stage name Fraser Geesin, it’s 100% Lactus!
Gary’s completed the second volume of The Cleaner for Thought Bubble, and it’s essential reading for anyone who like stories about people doing things.
And I have a selection of my books-without-pictures for sale, for those of you who come to a comics convention but don’t want to buy any more comics. £5 or best offer.
Liveblog update one:
This is fifty-two words (to be comicy) for “Mystery Beardman” on the subject of “Elemental Micah: Just Exhale” by Michael Georgiou.
This is a black-and-white comic about a gay young man with the powers of a god. I am told it is very very good, and very very gay.
Liveblog update two, paid for by a mysterious benefactor:
Table 65a though bubble marquee – graphic violence and black and white female led sports drama – Freaktown
Not so much a blog post as an advert but one that was overpaid for to the cost of 5p so we’re not going to complain!
Liveblog update the final:
And finally, commissioned by the Mindless Ones’ own The Beast Must Die himself, we have two hundred words by Andre Whickey and Illogical Volume on Image United #1.
“Mayhem! Destruction! There’s no limit to the pain and misery I can cause!”
This is the ultimate comic, sequential art reaching its peak of potential. What could be better than Rob Liefeld layouts? How about Rob Liefeld layouts with Whilce Portacio finishing them? How about Liefeld, Larsen, Portacio, McFarlane, Silvestri, and Valentino?
Comics’ greatest creators, comics’ greatest characters, all in colour for three dollars ninety-nine. The greatest story in history.
HI KIDS! ILLOGICAL VOLUME HERE, BEAT-BEAMING MY THOUGHTS STRAIGHT ONTO ANDREW’s COMPUTER DIRECT! LIKE AN OLD-SCHOOL IMAGE COMIC, MY BRAIN IS REALLY FUCKING LOUD SO FORGIVE THE ALL-CAPS!
WHAT AM I DOING?? I’M JUST LIVING THAT LIFE, LYING ON THE GROUND, TOUCHING MY TITS UP, PUNCHING MY OWN FACE OF THEN WATCHING IT SOAR THRU THE SKY! YOU THINK I’M DOWN BUT THEN BAM!, I’M FISTING A SHARK, GETTING PEGGED BY THE SPIRIT OF STANLEE! THIS COMIC HAS THE REAL ANIMAL MAGIC, Y’KNOW? WHEN PAPPA’S GOT A FINN PAPPA’S GOTTA GET HIS FINN ON! I’VE SPENT MY WHOLE FUCKING LIFE TRYING TO BE CLEVER BUT NOW I’VE FINALLY FUCKING REALISED IT: ALL I REALLY WANTED WAS A WITCHBLADE!
November 13th, 2015
Sleeping Dogs – Cabal Press 2015 – written by Fraser Campbell, drawn by Lautaro Capristo, coloured by David B. Cooper and lettered by Colin Bell.
“One reads so few comics that are truly juvenile, knowingly juvenile and proud of it” - is that true? If not, why did it hit me with the force of a thousand failed understandings when my pal Plok said it, in relation to Millar/Hitch’s work on The Ultimates?
If it’s not true, why does it feel that way? Is it because I’m disconnected from my more juvenile instincts now that I’m a high-faluting comics critic on the internet, or is it just that I don’t encounter comics that play to my own juvenile tastes that often these days? Having read Sleeping Dogs, I’m starting to think that the latter might be the case.
It knows that it’s a bit crude, Sleeping Dogs, which isn’t to say that it’s particularly gross or shlocky in comparison to fairly mainstream things like, say, Takeshi Miike movies or Mark Millar’s creator owned comics and their Hollywood adaptations. You don’t get the feeling that Campbell, Capristo and co are trying too hard to shock you or that they’re fundamentally damaged in some way when you’re reading Sleeping Dogs, but it has a rude energy to it. It reminds me of Philip Bond comics, of Garth Ennis when he’s almost-but-not-quite being too much of a piss-taking arsehole, of a million silly alternative roads for British comics that could have been well-stomped post-2000AD and post-Deadline but which are perhaps a little more neglected than they could be.
It’s tempting for me to overdo this UK comics connection, so strong is the appeal of this book’s big faced hardmen to me…
…but for all that the shabby locale (a run-down tower block) and the clipped, action movie patter put me in mind of those comics, it’s worth remembering that Capristo is Argentinian. I know little of the man or his work, let alone of his living environment, but I think I know what he likes in his comics and I like it too.
November 12th, 2015
The following post was written as a response to The London Graphic Novel Network’s discussion of From Hell.
when I read [Moore's] stuff I get the feeling is that nothing has been lead to chance and everything is designed for very definite and exact reasons you know? If other comics are a little jelly and playful and “make your own mind up!” – Alan Moore in a labyrinth of cold hard steel: arranged in such a way that the only possible stance you’ll allowed is that of a mouse – desperately trying to find its way to the piece of cheese at the end.
And here’s my response:
Joel, the way you describe Alan Moore’s work there makes it sound hugely unappealing. I don’t think your account of how his art works is fundamentally untrue, mind, but it makes his work sound awful, tyrannical even – “Imagine being held in the iron grip of The World’s Mightiest Beard… FOREVER!”
And yet… the sense of total control is undeniably part of Moore’s appeal, always has been. It’s there in the famous grids of repeating imagery in Watchmen, in From Hell’s attempts to draw together an occult history of murder, in Promethea’s attempt to overlay scientific theories on Judeo-Christian creation myths. It’s even in the carefully synthesised pulp that fuels relatively Thrill Powered works like V for Vendetta and Halo Jones and (why not?!) Crossed 100.
It’s also the aspect that can curdle his attempts at humour, the thing that sometimes makes his self-consciously light and playful comics feel like anything but, the… oh shit, is this why he always crams those bloody songs into his comics? Is it the final test of his mastery, the compunction to try and make you hear music in a comic? Will he manage it one day?
Maybe. Or maybe he just read too much Pynchon and smoked a little too much Tolkien before going to bed last night.
November 11th, 2015
November 9th, 2015
WRAPPED ON THE JUNGLE FLOOR, JACKIE’S DRESSED IN COBRAS
Stately, plump Gary Lactus came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellowed copy of Dark Knight Returns, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him on the mild morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned: “welcome to SILENCE!”
<ITEM> Administration Nation! From station to station! With The Beast’s detailed rundown of the S.M.A.S.H event run by the London Graphic Novel Network, 21 Statements About Comics Criticism, Thought Bubble 2015, breathtaking tales of deadline crushing, burning David Cameron effigies, the Lewes Bonfire, and of course listener’s favourite SCIATICA!
<ITEM> Egadz man, it’s the Reviewniverse, shimmering before us, like some sort of…some sort of…Reviewniverse! Talking’ bout Claus no.1 by Grant Morrison, Dr Strange, Hotel Shade, Doom Patrol, Steve Gerber, Unfollow, Survivors Club, more Magnum P.I. Team Up, Paper Girls, Howard The Duck and more
Now do one, you rowdy rabble
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November 9th, 2015
Fresh from his appearance at the debate on comics criticism at S.M.A.S.H. in London this Saturday (pictured above), here are 21 statements on comics criticism from The Beast Must Die:
1. Comics as an art form has the critics it deserves.
2. Comics critics are not as good as critics in other art forms.
3. Comics critics enlighten people about an art form that they might not know about.
4. Comics criticism lacks notable or significant figures in its canon; there are no Pauline Kaels, Harold Blooms or Roland Barthes [‘Bartheses’, surely?].
5. Comics critics are the best critics of all, because comics is an art form free of decades of critical debate and point-scoring and endless spiralling discussion.
6. Comics criticism is a place for juvenile people to snipe at each other pointlessly whilst keeping out strangers from their precious domain.
7. Comic critics who can’t talk about the art in a comic are no good as comics critics.
8. Comics podcasts are a popular avenue for criticism. They are the most ill-informed, badly thought out most lazy form of criticism.
9. Comics podcasts are a popular avenue for criticism. Comics podcasts allow for free-flowing conversation which generates genuinely interesting critical ideas.
10. Most comic criticism is on the internet, and as such often has little or no editorial input, meaning it is littered with mistakes, weak ideas and groundless opinions.
11. A lack of editorial input means that comics critics are free to think in original and interesting ways.
November 6th, 2015
It might seem counterintuitive to name a post about transport, technology, and the different ways we imagine ourselves hurtling into the future after a Mogwai song, but remember: I’m a life-long pedestrian, so like Mogwai I plod along at the side of your automated adventures, only occasionally encountering the violence of twisted metal or getting caught up in the wakes of your passing.
Ahem. Anyway, where was I going with all of this…?
1. Mad Max Fury Road
Oh yes. Here. Always here. If you were lucky, perhaps you woke up one morning this summer after your second or third showing of Fury Road to find Brother Bobsy perched on the edge of your bed whispering his Mad Max monologues straight into your dreams:
The Fury Storm sequence is key to the film’s intent, mapping a space unexplored by the previous Mad Max trilogy. Although climate change, nuclear summer, associated water/petrol resource crunches, and militarised neo-feudalism were all too predictable (or depressingly inescapable) from the perspective of the late 1970s, the history of cyberculture and networked existence went unforeseen. The Fury Storm rushes in to fill this chasm in Mad Max‘s rebooted version of tomorrow.
Imperator Furiosa nevertheless deliberately turns into the storm: eager not just for the camouflage, but the active tactical benefits it affords over her ill-protected pursuers: naked War Boys mistaking annihilation for apotheosis. It doesn’t matter how much they enjoy their lovely day, how they shout and confuse the heat of digital immolation for the light of false afterlife – the War Boys are getting torn into bits in there, while Furiosa and the Five Brides (plus Max himself) are only truly empowered to taste water and freedom after traveling through the storm’s event-horizon and its violent, chaotic multiplicities.
There are several contradictions built into the sort of immersive enjoyment of Fury Road that I’ve experienced – loving a movie that frames women as exquisite things while explicitly rejecting this worldview is complicated – but perhaps none are more fundamental than the sense of hope captured in the above paragraphs, this rapture of collaboration between bodies in a scenario where flesh and blood are just yet more commodities to be scavenged.
If you want to understand how director George Miller, Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron communicate such intense relationships through image and sound, Chris Ready’s your man.
If you need a more critical look at the film’s terminus point and treatment of the female passengers, the Kraken boys might make more suitable tour guides.
2. New roots for public transport
If you’re interested in identifying Fury Storms in our present moment in the hope of mitigating or better preparing for the bigger storms yet to come, you could do worse than read this Novara media piece outlining six meaningful ways we can work together to fight climate change now.
For the sake of this travel themed 5 For Friday, it’s the fourth option that’s most attention worthy here, seeking as it does to re-imagine the urban environment as a zone connected by free transportation (“There’s little need to burn fossil fuels to get around cities – if the right transport and energy infrastructure is in place”) and suggesting new sites of mutual struggle, such as those between environmental activists and public transport employees:
Opening up mass struggles for public transport also offers opportunities for alliances with transport workers – such as fare strikes/free rides, as pulled off by a collaboration between Occupy Wall Street and rank-and-file transit workers in NYC in 2012.
Developing and sustaining these relationships will no doubt make the spectacular coordination of Fury Road look like child’s play, but while you’d be foolish not to take the difficulty of a journey into account before embarking on it, that doesn’t mean that you should treat all difficult journeys as though they are impossible.
But maybe all of this talk of choosing your journey is just terribly outdated, what with automatically driven cars assembling in a secluded car parknear you right now. While the possibility of robots taking the jobs of professional drivers provided a new front for the debate about the relationship between automation and the world of work, it was this article on the ethics of programming cars to kill is the one that’s taken me captive.
The key line, for me:
People are in favor of cars that sacrifice the occupant to save other lives—as long they don’t have to drive one themselves.
In contrast to the toxic, dust-filled landscapes and radiation scoured pageantry of Fury Road, this suggests a very clean, carefully managed sort of dystopia. Think Cosmopolis as invigorated by J.G. Ballard – a future in which an elite class is driven around from one anodyne, too-easily diagrammed space to another, protected from the lower classes who populate the space in between by the clever programming and sturdy construction.
Action sequences in which driverless cars are programmed or hijacked have been part of our fiction for a while now, but for all my apocalyptic pulp rhetoric it’s the solidification of common human reactions that’s most unsettling here. We can perhaps understand people who make split-second decisions to put themselves first, but to specifically program a car to plow into a crowd of strangers in order to protect one passenger, to reproduce these survival instinct as code, to make them marketable… all of this is far harder to feel at ease with, for this pedestrian at least!
4. Rumble Strip
That diagram of different crash scenarios burned itself onto my eyes the first time I saw it, overlaying its emotionless reductions of life and death scenarios onto my everyday experience. It took until my vision had cleared for me to realise that I’d been here before:
As Bobsy (yeah him again!) said back at the time of Rumble Strip’s release:
…the visual language of roads, the set of consensual signifiers that give punctuation and meaning to the otherwise meaningless grey expanses, the easy-to-read fluency of the roadsigns and road-markings, the minimalist and directly unambiguous design principles they adhere to – are an almost too-perfect subject for interrogation via the comicbook medium.
The three previous entries in this post have dealt with where we might be going, charting alternate destinations for our journeys. Woodrow Phoenix’s Rumble Strip is something else entirely – a lucid expression of the journey as we experience it now.
5. No DeLorean
As Marnie Stern fan #1, I’m duty bound to say that she gets a pass on Back to the Future nostalgia for life, but everyone else could do worse than read this post on fake geek guys, hoverboards and how the obsession with technological commodities in the Back to the Future drowns out any consideration for how its fetishised future would have been built and by whom.
This might seem to be beside the point – the people who made those movies knew their way around a product, after all – but since we’re not exactly lacking in signs pointing us towards that sort of future, we should stay mindful of other possibilities.
After all, they may just end up taking us beyond our current limitations, to somewhere we’ve yet to imagine.
November 5th, 2015
LOOK HERE! IT’S
House To Astonish to ponder the impossibly specific question, ARE THINGS BETTER OR WORSE.
Unsurprisingly things turn pretty ramblesome pretty quickly as our cosmic castaways talk about Comic Book Movies, Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada and The Changing Face Of The Industry In General. There’s some laughs, some sagely nods and some lovely Moral messages at the end.
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