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.
July 6th, 2015
IT’S THE BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ IN THE DRUM OF THE EAR
Doug stepped out into the sunlight, blinking. His dressing gown lolled open, exposing his paunch. Tina’s vest top, pulled on accidentally in his rush to get outside barely covered it and the thick black hair on his belly poked out obscenely. In one hand he held a spatula; the other reached reflexively into the dressing gown pocket for the lighter he knew wasn’t there. Last night’s beer emanated from his stale mouth and he rubbed his tongue across his teeth. He wanted to belch but found he couldn’t. Taking his eyes from the sky for a moment he glanced to his left. Kathy was stood on her front lawn, gazing upward with her mouth hanging slackly open. Her two year old hung at her legs, pulling on her arm sleeve whining in a low, insistent tone. Across the road the Petersons crowded around their camper van, all staring up.
The vast alien structure that hovered high above them was still humming it’s deep bass tone and rotating slowly. The bone like growths that sprouted from it creaked as they slowly undulated. The noise was awful, too much, too loud for Sunday morning. Doug couldn’t take his eyes from it, but his brain had already started to hanker for a Bloody Mary. Just as he was trying to remember if the tomato juice was still okay to drink, a jagged split opened up in the base of the structure. And that’s when it really began.
<ITEM> There’s a fresh crop of admin, waiting to be picked, with nosey bouquets of Sponsorship and more Christopher Walken than you can shake a (Walken) stick at. It’s time for a new SILENCE! the only podcast that predates the discovery of the moon. Seasoned pod jockeys The Beast Must Die and gary Lactus are joined by new season recruit Bobsy, and the fun flows like lava,
December 10th, 2014
Frank Quitely, Grant Morrison and Nathan Fairbairn – Multiversity: Pax Americana #1
It’s here that our story begins: in pieces. Many, many authors have shot at this target and missed, preferring not to recognize that in truth this is what we really know, and what we really believe, about the forces that create and shape our lives — preferring not to see that what science and philosophy describe is the branch from which our lives’ dramas depend, and not just convenient intellectual set-dressing for them.
We should remember that murder mysteries are always just local expressions, of a grander philosophical struggle — someone is killing capes, and who’s next? Well, after the scientists the answer is, we are: as the stunning profusion of interlinked symbols that fills Pax Americana’s pages ceaselessly intimates to us the unavoidability of that final, bitter realization of entropy. War, and death, and chaos…
…Or, what is perhaps worse: not chaos, at all, but order.
An implacable order, that we can’t resist. A pattern we’re trapped in, that we can’t see.
December 9th, 2014
THAT CAT’S SOMETHING I CAN’T EXPLAIN
Dog carcass in alley this mornin’, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I ‘ave seen it’s true Nanny Goat Race. The streets are extended gutters and the bloody gutters are full of blood and wen the drains finally scab over, right, all the vermin will drown. The bloomin’ accumulated filff of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the bloomin’ ‘oores and politicians will ‘ave a look up and shout “Chas’n'Dave us! Honest guv!”…
…and I’ll ‘ave a look dahn, and whispa “nah mate.”
They ‘ad a choice, right, all of them. They could ‘ave followed in the footsteps of right good men like me favver, or President Truman. Decent men, ‘oo believed in a day’s work for a day’s pay. Instead the followed the droppings of lechers and Communists and didn’t realize that the bloody trail led over a precipice until it were too late. Cor blimey guv! Don’t tell me they didn’t ‘ave a choice.
Now the ‘oole world stands on the bloody brink, starin’ dahn into bloody hell fire, all them liberals and intellectuals and smooff-talkers… and all of a sudden, no bloke can fink of anyfink ter say.
Okee-day, let’s get started, we can’t just sit around all day! We’ve got a podcast to run, people! It won’t run itself. Unless…it did??? A sentient podcast! Crivens! doesn’t bare thinking about really. Luckily this podcast isn’t sentient, it’s the home of Gary Lactus & The Beast Must Die, and it;s SILENCE!
<ITEM> Sponsorshamallamadingdong! Dave’s Comics & Gosh get the usual shouts, and there’s a bizarre anecdote concerning the demise of Gary’s comedy night ‘Mouth Leak‘, which is worth the entrance fee alone. Plus Christmas markets, movie marathons and more.
<ITEM> A square kick i the pants, and the pair are launched into The Reviewniverse. Jolly good. They cover Crossed 100 by Alan Moore, with a discussion of his recent interview on Scroobius Pip’s Podcast. But that’s not all, there’s Edge of Spiderverse: Sp//dr, Edge of Spiderverse: I walked With A Spider, Secret Six, Grayson, Wolf Moon, Gotham Academy, Uber, Angela and Alex Potts’ Quiet Disaster.
<ITEM> Gary recommends a trio of Swedish minicomics. Ooooh!
<ITEM> Some more podcast recommendations and a bit of the ol’ self promotion, plus a threat to the dear listeners? It’s all here in the newly christened Appendmin…
Now where was i? Let me clear my throat…”Dog carcass in alley…”
This edition of SILENCE! is proudly sponsored by the greatest comics shop on the planet, DAVE’S COMICS of Brighton.
August 19th, 2014
WELL IF YOU’D LIKE TO KNOW WHAT POP STARS HAVE FOR TEA, ASK JOHNNY DEE
Welcome acolytes. Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 has been to the top of the mountain. Spent much tme amongst the clouds. The silence. Enlightenment followed. Shhh, no noise. Too much noise. Learn to switch off. Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 switched offfffffff….
Also downloaded hot new Haiku app. Hot results. Sweetness follows.Reaching quiet.
From fully to manchild
The spandex, the oblivion
To the oblivion. Psteve.
Imaginary the graphic
Beast, poo manchild in irritant
with no Gary to spandex
<ITEM>It’s all here: Sponsorshambles, Gladmin, EXXXtreme stand up, Letter Chat, Number Chat, Gaz Top, Fred Dineage, Helen Bonham-Carter, Olive-theft, Gladiators, Alan Rickman, 1994, Clare Danes, Injury, You’ve Been Framed, Fellini, the onset of time and by thunder a whole lot more time-wasting! Love, sex, intelligence Gary Lactus & The Beast Must Die coming on like the Seventh Seal -wait is that right?
<ITEM> Like sneaking into a strangers house, trying on their wedding dress and sitting in a bath in it (D-bot loves ya Morello!), the pair sneak in to the Reviewniverse, talking up Supreme Blue Rose, Batman, artistic injuries, Zero, Starlight, Comicbook Confidential, Alan Moore, Reality Bites, Emily Carroll Through The Woods, GI Robot, then Gary Races Through The Rest: Astro City, Moon Knight, Hulk v Iron Man, All New X-Men, Avengers Undercover, Amazing Spiderman, Original Sin, Walking Dead,
<ITEM> Just enough time for a digression about the return of the Aphex Twin before James Stokoe’s ne favourite regular feature SILENCE!…Because My Mouth Is Full (Of Delicious Food!) with Gourmet Lactus and The Beast Must Dine!
Now clear out pests! Enlightenment has passed. Turns out it was just wind.
This edition of SILENCE! is proudly sponsored by the greatest comics shop on the planet, DAVE’S COMICS of Brighton.
April 5th, 2014
Still fired up from February’s discussion of what’s worth watching on American TV, Mindless twinset Mark (Amypoodle) and Adam (Adam) have written an Experts Guide to HBO’s ‘True Detective’ and weird comic book fiction for Comic Alliance.
There’s a lot of great stuff about Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, H.P. Lovecraft and Thomas Ligotti in that post – if you’ve read any of Mark or Adam‘s stuff before, you’ll know what to expect, and if not you’re going to enjoy finding out!
March 11th, 2014
Talking Comics is a highly irregular feature where I try to review a few new(ish) books with the help of my phone’s voice recognition software. It’s just like a regular comics review post except that it takes more mouth than fists to get it done on time, and is therefore far sexier than your average bloggy night on the town.
It’s also sort of like a bit of tech writing, except it’s even less useful to my future career as a failed magazine writer grumbling about social media in the corner of a pub on a cold Thursday morning.
Anyway, that’s enough warm-up for now. Onwards, to the reviews!
The Deleted, by Internet Villain Brendan McCarthy and Darrin Grimwood
Sex Criminals, by Chip Zdarsky and Matt “Matt” Fraction
LOEG: Nemo: The Roses of Berlin, by Kevin O’Neill and Alan Moore
Battling Boy, by Paul Pope and Hilary Sycamore
Multiple Warheads – Down Fall, by Brandon Graham
Dungeon Fun, by Colin Bell and Neil Slorance
That’s all we’ve got time for this week folks – don’t know if there’ll be any SILENCE! this week or not yet, but keep your eyes peeled because you never know what that amiable auld space god is capable of!
December 21st, 2013
One of the jokes that the other Mindless Ones have about me is that while I often complain about not having written enough, I’m ridiculously productive (I write two or three books a year, on average). They only make this joke because unlike me, they don’t know Phil Sandifer.
Phil recently released TARDIS Eruditorum vol 4, the fourth volume of his look at every Doctor Who TV story (and many of the books and audios), A Golden Thread, a critical history of Wonder Woman, Last War In Albion Chapter Four, the latest in a series of short ebooks charting the parallel careers of Grant Morrison and Alan Moore, and Flood, a book in the 33 ⅓ series, in which he and co-author S. Alexander Reed look at the classic They Might Be Giants album.
And by recently, I mean in the last two months. He might have released something else since I made that list — I haven’t looked since lunchtime.
Much, though not all, of his work is serialised on www.philipsandifer.com (where I’ll be doing a guest post next week on Final Crisis, incidentally) and readers of Mindless Ones will, I’m sure, find it worth checking out.
June 4th, 2013
By 1990, Doctor Who had finished on the TV. There was nothing left but the hopes of the occasional of old shows on VHS or (for stories that had been destroyed) cassette, the comic strip in Doctor Who Magazine, which surely couldn’t keep going that much longer now there was no TV show, and the Target novelisations, which themselves had to come to an end once there was nothing left to novelise.
April 19th, 2013
‘Nothing of note was to be inherited by her loved ones, and nor was anything ever expected to be. She was put to rest with exactly the same title as the one with which she was born. She never ruined anyone’s life and never once considered a career in the deliberate, violent immiseration of her fellow citizens.’
‘Easily the current century’s first landmark work of fantasy and ranking amongst the best pieces ever written in that genre, with The Vorrh we are presented with a sprawling immaterial organism which leaves the reader filthy with its seeds and spores’
‘I would say, that if you’re talking about a line of progress, if it can be called progress, that runs from Berthold Brecht’s Threepenny Opera, to Donald Cammell’s Performance, to Harry Potter, I don’t think you can really see that as anything but a decline… and also I would say that if you’ve got the Avengers movie as one of the most eagerly attended recent movies, and if most of those attendees were adults, which I believe they were, then if you’ve got a huge number of contemporary adults going to watch a film containing characters and storylines that were meant for the entertainment of eleven year old boys fifty years ago, then…’
‘We shall attack, we continue to wait… This gesture, which can never be fully grounded in reasons, is that of a Master. It is for the experts to present the situation in its complexity, and it is for the Master to simplify it into a point of decision. … The Master is needed especially in situations of deep crisis.’