SILENCE! #282

July 14th, 2020

 

I’M DONE WITH ADULT MATTERS, I’M DOING THE CATAPULT, I’VE BEEN MEANING TO GET OUT OF HOLLYWOOD

In my day, a blurb were something you could be proud of. These new fangled blurbs? Pfeh! No-one even tries anymore. Time was, a blurb would be the work of a craftsman. Man could spend 20 years learning the blurb trade before he was even allowed to put pen to page. Now? Any chancer can write a blurb – just string a load of nonsense together and then it’s pens down, off to play squash, or drink a Perrier or what have you. Disgusting. My father’s spinning in hos grave every time one of these new blurbs gets written. Poor old dad. What a world.

What a world.

<ITEM> It’s a brand new SILENCE! As regular as clockwork. If that clock is broken and at the botto of a pond. Gary Lactus & The Beast Must Die coming at you live (not live) and direct (circuitously).

<ITEM>Sponsorship in this brave new hellscape – what does it look like? FIND OUT HERE

<ITEM>Sad news, Thought Bubble 2020 is cancelled, but find out here about all the great comics that Gary and The Beast WOULD have been debuting at the con.

<ITEM> Reviewniverse time, and it’s a big juicy chat about Beautiful Stories For Ugly Children, The Far Side, Captain Victory, Stray Bullets, Piranha Press, Billionaire’s Island, Todd McFarlane’s Spiderman, Tomorrow, Documentary Now and more more more (more).

<ITEM> Who is, what is…The Savage Beast???

 

 

@frasergeesin
@thebeastmustdie

[email protected]

You can support us using Patreon if you like.

This edition of SILENCE! is proudly sponsored by the greatest comics shop on the planet, DAVE’S COMICS of Brighton. It’s also sponsored the greatest comics shop on the planet GOSH! Comics of London.

 

SILENCE! #281

June 16th, 2020

 

SHE SAID THE CITY WAS DEAD AND GUTLESS

Watch out, cos here we come. It’s been a while but we’re back in style. So get set, to have some fun. We’ll give you action…and satisfaction. We are SILENCE! coming on stronger than ever before. We are SILENCE! Gary Lactus and The Beast Must Door (Die)

That’ll do won’t it? Come on, be reasonable, you can’t expect more from a blurb at times like these right? Take a look at yourself. When did you last have to write a blurb eh? EH? WELL?

<ITEM>It’s a brand new day, it’s  brand new SILENCE! with those two testy old goats Gary Lactus & The Beast Must Die ready to fill your ears up with a hunka hunka burning comics.

<ITEM> Admin, rambling and SILENCE! (Because the Film Has Started) with the Steve Rude documentary and Dream Dangerously, the Neil Gaiman documentary. QUALITY WATCHING

<ITEM>Slip inside the Reviewniverse, step over the slumped prone body of James Stokoe and check out the chit chat about Morbius The Living Vampire no.1, Batman pocket books, Joe Kessler’s Windowpane, Doug Moench’s Spectre, and a bit more plus

<ITEM> RIP Denny O’Neill

ALL OUT OF ITEMS

 

@frasergeesin
@thebeastmustdie

[email protected]

You can support us using Patreon if you like.

This edition of SILENCE! is proudly sponsored by the greatest comics shop on the planet, DAVE’S COMICS of Brighton. It’s also sponsored the greatest comics shop on the planet GOSH! Comics of London.

 

Dreaming of monsters

June 16th, 2020

Like a surprising number of people out there, I’ve been having strange dreams in quarantine.

Some are straightforward anxiety dreams – e.g. showing up to some fancy event but only wearing a towel because I forgot to bring any real clothes – while others are more comics-oriented. The most vivid involved fighting a group of superheroes gone bad who were led by the Homelander from The Boys; it was sort of a dream-bootleg version of Garth Ennis’/Darick Robertson’s/Russ Braun’s seminal comic. Another, less vivid but with more of a quietly lingering emotional impact, and also a The Boys ripoff, placed me at the bar where, in the comic, Billy Butcher sits on St Patrick’s Day while chatting with the bartender, an Irish man by the name of Proinsias.

I’m about 75% sure this bar is modeled on Foley’s, a real-life NY bar (run by a cool Irish guy) that is sadly shutting down.

Said bartender, as Ennisheads may already know, is an older Cassidy: the charismatic, hard-drinking vampire from Preacher. Although The Boys never explicitly states this, the clues are there: Proinsias is Cassidy’s first name, which he drops upon emigrating to America (and presumably reclaims at some point before The Boys takes place); he talks about wanting to open a bar in Texas called “The Grassy Knoll,” which is the name of the bar we see in The Boys; and to cap it off, there’s that distinctive accent. Granted, The Grassy Knoll is in New York, not Texas, but like all good Ennis characters Cassidy is drawn back to New York, where he first made his home in the New World. As for the accent, while it’s true that having an Irish accent doesn’t necessarily mean he must be that Irish guy we met in a previous comic, Ennis knows what he’s doing when it comes to writing Irish inflections. (For contrast, check out Dicks, which showcases Belfast accents to great effect.)

When we last saw Cassidy at the end of Preacher, he had regained his humanity after making a deal with God and was driving off into the night to who knows where. I guess he ended up in New York, where he fulfilled his dream of opening that bar but also got to experience some of the side effects of humanity, like significant weight changes – he’s distinctly heavier in The Boys than in Preacher; being able to get fucking diesel, because check out those biceps; and presumably having some kind of midlife crisis, which is the only explanation for his ponytail.

Why

The conversation between Butcher and Proinsias/Cassidy doesn’t do much to advance the comic’s primary plot; it’s mainly two guys – one British, one Irish, both now living in New York – opining about America. But there are little moments that make it worth noting, such as Butcher and Proinsias drinking club sodas and repeating the recovering addict’s mantra:

“One day at a time, eh, Billy?”

“One day at a time.”

From this we can infer that Butcher and the man formerly known as Cassidy have quit drinking, which is an especially big deal for the latter. Not only does he own and work at a bar, he used to abuse the hell out of alcohol (and drugs, and people’s trust) like it was his job.

If you used to be immortal, though, “one day at a time” doesn’t just refer to how the addiction recovery process works. It’s also a reflection on how life is finite now, a quantity you can measure in temporal periods that always end – and that embracing everything said finitude encompasses is necessary to live a life that doesn’t lead to utter destruction.

At this point I should say: it’s hard for me to write about these topics from a completely analytical standpoint, at least in the sense that Cassidy has always been such an emotionally fraught character for me. Maybe I’ll do another, more in-depth post about it someday, but for now here’s the short version: That motherfucker broke my heart when I was 21, and I’ve never entirely gotten over it. To quote Cassidy’s ex-friend Xavier (the voodoo practitioner from the New Orleans/Les Enfants du Sang story arc), “I loved him so much I let him climb inside of me [...] and then he let me down.” Ennis has a gift for writing enchantingly charming shitbags, from Cassidy to John Constantine to Tommy Monaghan – who, admittedly, is more of a dirtbag with a heart of gold, but you get the idea. I mean, Ennis’s Constantine was a huge mess, but you can see how Kit Ryan wanted to get with that, even if I personally would not touch it with a ten-foot pole doused in holy water and engraved with crucifixes.

Cassidy, though, is more of an archetype, even as much as he is his own person. We all know someone who can talk their way into other people’s hearts and pockets, which they essentially strip-mine for parts, but with such deftness that a) the people being fucked over want to keep giving up pieces of themselves to this charm monster and b) the Cassidy-type manages to fool themselves in the process, self-deceiving with stories of how they’re the real victim here despite, say, having sucked thousands of dollars out of an unsuspecting, now almost broke friend.

Combine that with the physical invulnerability that comes with being a vampire who can heal themselves and can only be killed by exposure to sunlight, and…well. You know the truism about absolute power corrupting absolutely? Imagine knowing that you could shoot up so much that your blood was mostly heroin, that you could drink until your liver dissolved, that you could crawl out of any fistfight without permanent injuries – hell, that you could have your extremities shot off or be decapitated, both of which happen to our boy Cassidy – and then imagine how much that would warp your mind.

What can’t you do? It’s not like you’ll ever die from an overdose, no matter how much you inject or snort or swallow or drink or butt-chug (this last one doesn’t happen in Preacher, but I have to assume Cassidy has tried it at some point), so bring on the illicit substances, right? And it’s not like you could ever be beaten to death or die from a gunshot, so you can start a fight with whoever even thought about looking at you funny, right? And it’s not like you’ll ever get old in the same way people do, where your internal wiring, plumbing, etc progressively deteriorates, what with that self-healing thing, so who gives a shit about “planning for the future” or – what’s that word? Starts with a C. No, not that one – “consequences”?

But it’s a harrowing way to live, and I say that in the traditional sense. It breaks you up. Scores furrows into your soul. Source: have been between the ages of 18 and 25 in the past, during which “the future” extends to, I don’t know, the looming final exam at the end of this semester of undergrad rather than the incredibly nebulous notion of being 50 (?!) years old one day, or older, if that’s even possible. I’m not going to lie: despite all the insecurity and fear, it was kind of fun.

However.

Part of growing up is realizing how much power you don’t have. How vulnerable you are. Where you need to stand on the bending/breaking, willow/oak continuum, and when. To do otherwise is to become a Cassidy, stunted, stuck, perpetually rotting from the inside out until nothing is left but, in Jesse’s words, “the shape of a man,” a simulacrum without humanity that damns themselves as they shamble through their existence. (Let’s remember, too, that Cassidy is to a degree stuck at the age of sixteen; he was born in 1900 and becomes a vampire after he and his brother flee the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin, so if his body can never fully age, he is an eternal teenager, which by itself is curse enough.)

At the end of Preacher, though, he becomes human – or, more specifically, self-immolates by stepping into the morning sunlight and then comes back to life as a mortal human, due to a side deal he made with God – which he describes as “be[ing] a man,” in an echo of Jesse’s earlier invective. I can, obviously, only go so far in analysing this, given that I do not identify, and never have identified, as male, but here goes.

It’s striking that Cassidy’s, or perhaps Ennis’s, definition of manhood encompasses the recognition of the vulnerability that comes with being mortal, partly because conventional toxic masculinity aggressively refuses to outwardly acknowledge that in any way whatsoever, but also because it means growing up. Ennis isn’t contrasting manhood with other constructions of gender here, but rather frames it in the context of maturation: if you are male, are you an eternal child or are you an adult, i.e. a man? Being the latter requires embracing the vulnerable state that comes with mortal humanity, which on the one hand comes with things like aging, illness, and weakness, but on the other is a lot better than locking yourself into a state of existence that urges you toward greater and more hurtful monstrosity.

Ultimately Cassidy chooses to stick to the path of manhood as opposed to boyhood, which is good news not only for him but for at least one other major Ennis character: The Boys‘ Billy Butcher, shitbag extraordinaire who finds himself facing a similar fork in the road of maturity. Cassidy – or should I say Proinsias, because Cassidy is dead (a phrase that pains me a little bit to write, even now) – stands before Butcher as an illustration of a possible future: subject to the ravages of age, yes, and with unfortunate hair, but content. Healthy, jacked, fulfilled, no longer needing to chase down the excesses or hostile performances of toxic masculinity, and content. It’s notable, too, that Proinsias is the only character in The Boys who calls Butcher by his first name, Billy, drawing attention away from the violent connotations of “Butcher.” (The exception is Becky, Butcher’s dead wife, but she only appears in flashbacks so that doesn’t fully count.)

But getting good news doesn’t mean a damn thing if you don’t listen to what it’s trying to tell you.

In order to withstand combat with the strongest, fastest, limb-extending-est, etc. people on Earth, Butcher’s body is pumped full of Compound V, the same substance that gives The Boys‘ superheroes their powers. Compound V makes him, and them, a hell of a lot less vulnerable – there’s that word again – to injury; increases his, and their, physical strength; and slows down the aging process so that a man in, say, his fifties has the constitution of one several decades younger. These effects enable Butcher to channel the violence that drives him into a mission: eradicate every single person with superpowers from existence, whether they’re psychopathic adults or children too young and too exploited to make any informed choices about what they’re signing up for. To paraphrase Arnaud Amalric at the Albigensian Crusade, kill them all and let the CIA sort them out.

While waging a seemingly endless war isn’t easy easy, it’s a lot easier than stepping away. That would mean a life not driven by the creation and fomenting of violence, where the body ages at a human pace rather than at a superhumanly halting one, where a punch doesn’t glance off you but hurts like fuck; a life where power is defined on new terms, or at least terms that Butcher has never had to reckon with.

Tfw you’re an extremely cool and normal guy

In such a context it’s so tempting to keep doing what you’re doing, especially if it means you can channel your worst flaws into something approaching strength.

But we can’t, can we?

Unlike Cassidy – sorry; Proinsias – Butcher never gets the chance to see what he could become if he’d chosen to shed the trappings of monstrosity. Instead, he destroys his own mission, kills almost all of his closest friends, and coerces the survivor among them to kill him, dying in a burst of self-annihilating violence.

What Butcher and Proinsias/The Bartender Formerly Known As Cassidy show us is not that we can choose to change, but that we need to change. Otherwise our psyches ossify into something fatal and pernicious that infects the circles we occupy, and if we don’t see anything wrong with that then we fucked up. It’s scary to walk into an existence that embraces vulnerability; what’s scarier, though, is not taking that first step and forever staying right where we are, weaponizing the callowness of the ways we think about power and agency and mortality and the point of taking up space in this world.

Take one step, as soon as you can. One day. One choice at a time out of monstrosity, into being more fully human.

Welcome, Dear Listener to a life-changing podcast. After much persuasion of top agents and huge cash bribes to powerful guardians of access, Gary Lactus has secured the interview of the century with THE Danny Noble.

In this intimate and revealing chat we discover the amazing truth behind the creative genius behind the pencil case behind the drawing board of the wonderful Shame Pudding. Gary and Danny talk about all sorts of things as if they were actually friends! Thanks to Amy poodle and Zom for providing some of the questions. Listen now! You won’t believe what happened next!

 

 
@frasergeesin
@thebeastmustdie

[email protected]

You can support us using Patreon if you like.

This edition of SILENCE! is proudly sponsored by the greatest comics shop on the planet, DAVE’S COMICS of Brighton. It’s also sponsored the greatest comics shop on the planet GOSH! Comics of London.

 

Oh Shit, Comics!

May 14th, 2020

Short and to the pointless, here are a few comics you might want to check out online if you haven’t done so already…

Erika Price – Disorder

A series of experiments in unmaking, Disorder doesn’t need me laying it on thick, a quick glance at a couple of pages will tell you that you need to read more.

What impressed me most my second time through the series as it currently stands was the range of approaches Price adopts from a strip-to-strip basis.  Episode 2 achieves a sense of real vulnerability by showing us a figure in motion, its shifts in mood and physicality tracked in great detail panel-to-panel:

Episode 3, meanwhile, plays out a similar drama in a totally different format.  Here, whatever pain happens is framed by a writhing, corporeal, semi-expressive landscape, inner space projected outward until the difference between self and world is obliviated:

The next six strips see Price trying out a variety of different approaches to narrative, image making and panel layout without every blurring her vision of what Disorder is.  It’s remarkable work.  It’ll get under your skin.  You’ll want it there.

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

Target 2012

May 12th, 2020

Paul Jon Milne – Guts Power #1-6

Dan Cox and John Riordan – Hitsville UK

The gospel was told, some souls it swallowed whole
Mentally they fold and they eventually sold
Their life and times, deadly like the virus design
But too minute to dilute the scientist mind

Wu-Tang Clan – ‘A Better Tomorrow‘ 

Spacing (notice that this word speaks the articulation of space and time, the becoming-space of time and the becoming-time of space) is always the unperceived, the non-present, and the non-conscious. As such, if one can still use that expression in a non-phenomenological way; for here we pass the very limits of phenomenology.

Jacques Derrida – Of Grammatology

Two comic book series, both started before the world ended in December 2012, both completed some time after the apocalypse.  So far so standard. What makes them both remarkable is how prescient they are about all the ways the world has continued to end and about how we might continue to live regardless.

To be brief: they reek not just of knowledge but of foresight.

The sixth and final issue of Paul Jon Milne’s Guts Power spends most of its time getting ready to go out for the party.  When I last reviewed this series, only the first four issues had been published but the mood of the comic was well established, its grimly eroticised kitchen sink misery distinguished from all the other neurotic indie comics out there by virtue of Milne’s seeping imagination:

I’m stuck on Milne’s style, on the use of that old fashioned alt-comix grossness not as a mode for outrageous straight white guy funtimes, but as a way to genuinely queer the Sex-Men experience.

With its tentative dance floor adventures, “Pepto-bawbag particles” and alluringly grotesque cast, Guts Power manages the rare trick of making one man’s whims, stray thoughts and fancies seem like a genuine delight, probably because the combination feels fresh and true; would that the same could be said of all such ventures.

By the time issue #6 starts, death and romance have already happened and everyone is gearing up for some sort of revolution.  You can practically feel the wee white dots form around you in the air, feel yourself being drawn back into the radiant possibility of a blank page, right up until the moment your cat farts and you’re left sitting on your couch alone with your own misery.

Having sprinted through enough dodgy deals, guilty secrets, Beatific visions and nazi incursions to fill 23 issues of a normal comic, Hitsville UK crosses the finish line of its seventh issues with a sense of perspective that’s bound to baffle all traditional metrics.  Last time I checked in on the comic, I found myself racing to keep up with its evolution, with the way that it had left my initial concept of the series as a referential but not reverential pop fun somewhere way off in the distance:

What I will say is that the issues of Hitsville that have been published since then have had an increased sense of urgency to them.  The boys may not have set out to create a fantasy of communal resilience in an age that seems increasingly under threat by undead attitudes, shambling zombie racism, and the endless monetization of your every passing daydream, but fuck me if they didn’t do it anyway!

The conclusion of Hitsville UK gives you some sense as to who’s pulling (or should that be playing?) the strings and some idea as to why.  We still don’t know why the world ended in 2012, or why it persists in this form, why even blogs have somehow been allowed to continue, but all of this prompts a question: why did the children of The Invisibles decide to persist in their endeavours, knowing that the end would come before anyone could finish their stories?

BEATS ME FOLKS! BETTER CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT!

SILENCE! #279

May 6th, 2020

I FORGOT IT’S HAPPENING AGAIN SLOW DIAGONAL I FORGOT I FORGOT

Take that bit there, the thin bit… that’s righ, Now pull it towards you whilst twisting it. NO! ANTI-CLOCKWISE! Sorry, didn’t mean to shout but you could have blown us all up there… okay, now take the round thing and clip it onto the end using the square thing. That’s it, you’ve got a blurb!

Hey! Do you have a mind? Well not for long because Gary Lactus and The Beast Must Die are going to blow it with another issue of SILENCE! Just how are they going to do that? With a series of items of course!

<ITEM> Some initial chat to lull you into a false sense of security. “How are you?” “I’m fine.” That sort of thing.

<ITEM> BANG! The thing you least expected! Gary Lactus has watched a film and tells you about it in an explosive SILENCE! (Because the Film’s Started). The film he’s seen is The Illumination of Jim Woodring.

<ITEM> With a head still swimming, the boys stamp on what’s left of your brains by holding your head down the Reviewniverse then flushing Rogue Trooper: Cinnabar, Thriller, Love and Rockets and Jason Shiga’s Meanwhile all over it.

<ITEM> A polite wind-up chat to bring you to your senses. “Any plans for the weekend?” “No.” That sort of thing.

Dare you listen?

@frasergeesin
@thebeastmustdie

[email protected]

You can support us using Patreon if you like.

This edition of SILENCE! is proudly sponsored by the greatest comics shop on the planet, DAVE’S COMICS of Brighton. It’s also sponsored the greatest comics shop on the planet GOSH! Comics of London.

 

PRELUDE

In times like these as in all other times, you are allowed to be relieved when someone else has done the heavy lifting for you.  As such, it’s comforting to find that Clark has put together not only a series of thoughtful posts on the immediate impacts of Covid-19 on the comics industry, but also a run of weekly link blogs to keep folk up-to-date on what’s going on in this little corner of the world.

Free from any delusions of being thorough, I figured I’d write a short post drawing attention to a few free comics / comics related videos closer to home, and maybe highlight a couple of ways you can help the artists involved along the way if you’ve got the cash to do so.

PART 1 – FREE COMICS!

Lockdown has seen a number of comics artists giving away their work for free, or at a discount.  Here are a few such works that we’ve reviewed before, if you’re stuck in the house and want a sense of what you might want to amuse and enervate yourself without splurging your last few iso-bucks!

Sarah Broadhurst, Jules Scheele and an army of sharp feminist voices – Identity: An Anthology (One Beat Zines, originally reviewed November 2015)

DOWNLOAD IT FOR FREE HERE

This is not only a truly beautiful object but a useful one too.  From Sabba Khan‘s elegant self-reflections to Alia Wilhelm‘s too-close photography by way of Sammy Boras‘ more traditional use of the comic book form to explore difficult questions of sexuality, Identity always makes intersectional feminism feel as natural as it really is, despite what some commentators might have you believe, arranging all of these disparate voices and means of expression together in one powerful volume.

This might sound like damning with faint praise but it’s meant sincerely.   Seemingly taking its cue from the punchy, “here’s my point and I dare you not to take it” expressiveness of Scheele’s cover design, this collection of comics and essays transforms lived experience into a rallying cry against complacency, against the possibility of mistaking your own experience for the only one worth listening to.

I can’t recommend it highly enough.

WANT TO LEARN MORE?