Looking Glass Hearts

March 24th, 2011

Being: an index to my recently completed series of posts on stories, mirrors and what happens when you mistake one for the other.

Since I botched the timing of these essays, I thought I’d link to them all in order, just in case anyone felt like humouring me and reading them all as part of the one big story:

Come on, take a dive with me – you might not regret it!

All of that blather aside, I’m pretty happy with this little essay series. It’s properly modular, just like Seven Soldiers wasn’t, but I also think it pays to read the whole thing at once.

Agree/disagree/tl;dr?

Please feel free to let me know in the comments!

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!):

You can do anything with words and pictures, but maybe you should try a bit harder than this...

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.

Click here to see my put on a full suit of armour to attack a fudge sundae!

Comik motorik

February 8th, 2011

A Tuesday review of Rumble Strip by Woodrow Phoenix, Myriad Books, 2008

It doesn’t seem so obvious until you start reading this book, but 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. When Rumble Strip starts to accelerate, a few pages in, and the road and its cluster of accepted meanings start to vanish in the distance ahead of you, before their inevitable return, renewed and redefined, permanently mutated… You realise Kerouac, Ballard, Kraftwerk – if they had really wanted to nail this thing down, they should have been doing comiks. And they should, impossibly, have done them as well as Woodrow Phoenix.

rmbl

Crash here to read on

  • Phonogram Book Two: The Singles Club #7. By Keiron Gillen, Jamie Mckelvie, and Matt Wilson.

pg7

  • Getting this post done is probably the only New Year’s Resolution I will stick to. Shame then that I haven’t, crucially you might think, thought of anything good to say or interesting to add* to the established critical consensus, let alone a structured, witty overview, analysis and pithy summation of Phonogram. (Which was a great, perfectly imperfect comic that lived in the zeroes and died in 2010, and whose passing should be marked.)
  • In the absence of trifling little entities like Form and Content, we will therefore be going with the randomish bulletpoints format again, fire up a few bad jokes, misapplied anecdotes, predictable gimmicks, attic junk, and creepy sextalk, and see if anyone makes it to the end.
  • There’s not a prize or anything.
  • *Like really I haven’t, this comic’s been out for so long, it’s pathetic I haven’t thought of anything good to say about it by now. But we proceed – Singer’s Law be hanged bedad!
  • Oh but, I’ve just read it back to myself and by god this is probably the most annoying, which is to say @@nnnnyyoyyyeeeeiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnnng, review of a sweet, innocent little comic book that you will have ever read, so if you’ve the guts to go on, be warned – it gets a little unreadable out there.

But will I get it done by Xmas Eve, Eve?

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.

I'm not going to have time to properly get into it here, but Jamie McKelvie's art was just so perfect for Phonogram, with its cast of fragile characters trying so damned hard to pose their thoughts into reality. Suffice it to say, if you got McKelvie to draw a working diagram of the universe I'd expect it to be boys who like

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!

Wanna find out what’s through the looking glass? Click here and all will become clear! Well, mostly!

& babble on & on & on & on

December 24th, 2009

Articles of the Shame of a Common Man ~ #1 ~ Things I’m Glad No-one Knows About

A long time ago Laura, who I mentioned in the review of Phonogram 2.1 a year ago and is in no way like the character who once reminded me of her so,  set me a challenge to which I was too weak to rise. She said: ‘If you love Dexys Midnight Runners so fucking much, come into our trendy metropolitan university one morning dressed as one of them circa Come On Eileen. Dungarees, kerchief, hat, the lot. And I will give you fifty English pounds.’ Scared stupid, and unwilling to give her the satisfaction of pissing herself laughing at me while I got stabbed by less tolerant fellow students, I declined, without so much as a too-rye-aye.

phonogram_cov061

Smirking lke a Cheshire cat, she christens me. ‘Your Phonogram name will be, ‘ she says (except she didn’t of course, it’s just how this could have played out if you were writing the scene like that now… The bit about the bet’s true though, and the name:)

<i>Princess Dexy</i>

In response to this slice of post ironic pop-cheesecake she says to me she says, ‘Just because they’re not superheroes, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be ashamed.’

phonogram_cov5

Loook readers, you can see her knickers! Le Fwoar!

Phonogram Book 2: The Singles Club #4, by Keiron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson

pg2issue4

Not, by the way, going to allow this review to be coloured by how annoying those Pipettes at the next table in the cafe on Saturday were. Didn’t really notice myself, to be honest, I was wrapped up thoroughly in my weekly dose of Wednesday wonder (it’s the comic it’s OK to read in public! Best Aquaman ever!), but when I looked up my betrothed had her homicide face on, filled me in on the details later. One Pipette telling off another Pipette for not being Pipettey enough. Read: first rule of Pipette club – do not be a better singer than lead Pipette. Another line-up change on the horizon? How 2006.

pipettes_cover

Which I think is big of me