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!
November 28th, 2013
Hello there, Gary Lactus here. Welcome to the recorded scraps of our weekend at Thought Bubble 2013. We had a lovely time, the highlight of which was probably our SILENCE! LIVE! special talk time with Kieron Gillen, Al Ewing, Brandon Graham, Ales Kot and Stan Lee. The Beast Must Die and I were proper touched by the amount of warm, responsive bodies that came to watch our hideous shambles. Those of you who were actually there are particularly blessed as the recording didn’t come out too well I’m afraid. I have done my best to give you the best possible audio representation here but malfunctioning mics and a reverberant room mean that you may have trouble hearing all of it. Consider it a collector’s item for SILENCE! completists. There’s still some magic moments to be had here. There’s pictures in the gallery below too.
Four days later I still feel broken but happy. CHEERS EVERYONE!
February 22nd, 2013
February 5th, 2013
I’M PICKING OUT A THERMOS FOR YOU!
Happy Birthday to us, Happy Birthday to us, Happy Birthday dear SILENCE!, Happy birthday to us.
Yes, that is correct fleshy ones. It is one year since your life was free of SILENCE! The world’s 243rd most favourite comics podcast* is one year old today. Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 of course does not have a birthday as he merely came into sentience, in one of the data-spore RAM-wombs, sluicing in the nano-placenta, along with the other 980,457,002 Disembodied Narratorbots (X Class). All this cake and cards business as alien as the concepts of love, giving and Michael Bolton.
But nonetheless Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 will turn on his celebrato-function, and pretend to merry it the f*ck up with those two self-important featherweights of the internet opinionsphere, Gary Lactus & The Beast Must Die.
<ITEM> In this special anniversary edition there are special guest appearances from comics celebrities like Al Ewing, Frank Miller, James Stokoe, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Brandon Graham, Dan Didio, Little Kieron Gillen, Geoff Johns and none other than Stan Lee!
<ITEM> The SILENCE! News features a live satellite link up with Danny Beastman and Gary Lactenberg, live from the capital city of America, New York
<ITEM> The Sponsorship Boys cover Hawkeye, Behind Watchmen: Dollar Bill, Flash, Batman Inc, Mind MGMT, Journey Into Mystery, Superior Spiderman, Hickman’s Avengers, Silver Surfer: Parable, and the very sensual and manly X-Treme XXXMen.
<ITEM> The Beast talks up design godhead Saul Bass, and Phase IV in notcomics, while Lactus sheds a teenage mope for Hugo Tate.
<ITEM> SO much more, including a discussion of the Green Lantern Emotional Colour Paint Range, Golden Girls, Happy Days, Birthday Suits, Poltergeists and the longest goodbye in this podcasts shonky career…
So Annie, get your gun, the rest of you get your listening devices, and Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 will get all of your private data and sell it to the Martians, and then we’ll all have a NICE BIG LISTEN TO SILENCE!
January 22nd, 2013
Greetings Mr Graham. You were due to be interviewed by The Beast Must Die, but sadly he is too busy travelling the globe as an international podcasting megastar with his good friend/mortal enemy Gary Lactus. Therefore you will instead be strapped into the Quizzlertron, and be interviewed by Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735. Expect no fleshy soft peddling and ego-stroking – Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 is hard-hitting interviewer. Expect Frost/Nixon style hardball, human! Be warned –any deviation from the truth will result in severe electric shocks to the balls, nipples and brain. You have been warned fleshy one. Now on with interview good times, yes sir!
Section 1: Secret Origin
1) First question, simple. Or is it hard? YOU DECIDE FLESHY ONE. Why comics?
BG – It was a decision that I made before I remember making it. My mom says that when I was Seven I announced that I was going to do comics for a living. Past that incredibly well thought out life choice comics has been amazingly rewarding, there’s so much that can be done when you consider what’s possible in mixing words and images and how much of it is still so untapped. My big fear is not doing nearly as much as could be done with it. I feel like I’m on a comic book continent and I’ve just explored the coast but behind me is miles and miles of untapped mysteries. Tell me Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735, have you ever really loved a woman? You’ve got to know her deep inside hear her every thought see every dream and give her wings if she wants to fly…
January 5th, 2013
Windowpane #1, by Joe Kessler
There’s a point early on in this comic where you realise that you’re not so much watching characters describe a landscape as watching the landscape try work out how to describe itself. This might seem counter-intuitive but from the end of the first story onward the pattern repeats itself – Joe Kessler’s garish, pastel-hued compositions either break down into their constituent lines after exhaustive exploration or sit there seemingly unaffected by the words and actions that have passed through them.
The best example of the latter category involves a wet-dream about a pig in a dress, whose fall through the night sky is contrasted against an unflinching cityscape with a moment-by-moment precision that does far better justice to the pithy punchline than this description:
In the former category, the Invisible Cities-derived third strip is as close to definitive as Windowpane gets. The way it links its characters shared status as splashes of ink and colour on the page with their philosophising about the interconnected nature of reality — “…a cluster of atoms resembles a cluster of galaxies.”/”Well they’re both clusters” – might seem trite in isolation, but the surrounding stories make these philosophical observations feel more like a little bit of texture on a varied landscape.
All of this might sound a bit chilly and distant, but Kessler’s human figures are depicted with a deceptive sort of ease, as a series of curving lines whose relationships to each other is nevertheless very carefully observed and delineated:
Still, in keeping with Kessler’s paradoxical thematic schemata it’s the backgrounds that are the focus here, existing as they do on the precise point where detail blurs into abstraction. The interaction between text and territory here has a sly kinshsip with Dylan Horrocks writing on maps and comics, and perhaps also with Kevin Huizenga’s conception of the comics page as a place for exploration and discovery, but Kessler’s backgrounds have a forcefulness to them that resists his characters attempts at attaching meaning as much as it encourages them.
This is tricky relationship is most clearly explored in the final two strips. In the penultimate entry, words shrink on the page as Kessler depicts his precarious human figures parachuting in to kindle-worthy hillscape:
Thought and language here is reduced to a form of quaint annotation that is far less effective than the blocky symbols that line these panels in terms of providing a guide to this hazardous landscape.
The final story focuses on a burned lover who – uh, *SPOILERS* – tries to find solace in the freak resemblance between a man and a decapitated bull. It plays out like a sneaky assurance that the process of muck sitting up and looking itself and trying to figure itself out isn’t totally meaningless, but it’s the sort of assurance that’s both underlined and undermined by the fact that, unlike any given sunset, you know this resemblance was put there to be noticed.
December 1st, 2012
Or the day before’s – don’t get all stuck on it. SPOILERS follow, if you’re the kind of person who misguidedly believes in the existence of such a thing.
The Phoenix #47 by Various, David Fickling Comics
Ballerinas on the cover of The Phoenix? That caused a rather cute nose to crinkle, let me tell you. Emilie’s Turn turned out to be by Neill ‘Pirates of Pangaea’ Cameron and Kate ‘Lost Boy‘ Brown though, the latter doing some especially nice Euro-shojo thing (‘Is it by the same person who does Tortoro?‘) while still effortlessly incorporating her trademark floaty geometric patterns in the gaps behind the panels thing to rather lovely effect…
The story wasn’t deemed as interesting as the long-awaited reveal of Jenny Jetrider, Troy Trailblazer’s naughty ex-girlfriend, but caught me by surprise and quite effectively put me on a teary downer, thankfully and speedily alleviated by the long awaited and always welcome return of Star Cat – featuring an excellent moment of unrepentant candy-cannibalism by the Pilot, The Phoenix‘s cult hero in waiting.
Simon Swift went all out on the action, giving his more-interesting action bros a chance to show off their muddy, growly stuff; Pig and Weenie very naughtily teamed up with Monkey against Bunny; and Your Host Adam Murphy took his spade to ancient Greece and disinterred a chap called Homer, who was kind of like the Geoff Johns of his day. It wasn’t as bad as that of course, Corpse Talk never is, but I think this was the first episode that dealt with a cadaver whose actual existence is something of a matter of debate, and it seemed to end on a ‘he was blind too’ joke that came a bit out of nowhere. Still though, anything that sparks the question ‘Can we read that one next?‘ where ‘that one‘ is The Iliad is obviously operating at a level embarrassingly beyond the aspirations of pretty much every mainstream comic, which is to say:
Rest easy folks, The Phoenix is still the best and most important comic being published in the English-speaking world today, by quite the margin.
Batman Incorporated #5 by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham, DC Comics
This issue was basically future lovably-evil Batman vs Crossed, in what is perhaps a rather cruel attempt to draw the atavistic Avatarisms out of Chris Burnham’s pencils, in a 12A sort of way of course. Quick, nasty and delirious in its casual over-violence, with a colourful manner of sadistic wooziness oozing out of the panels that only a madman couldn’t love.
What I find kind of sweet about the Crossed baddies and their Joker-freak equivalents here is their solidarity in contempt of the hated Squared norms. Uninhibited beasts of endless instant and chaotic gratification they may be, but they always seem to somehow be able to agree a patient tactical siege of whatever inadequate redoubt might be in their way, and would all apparently rather do that than just exercise their murderous lusts on one another, or simply retire to a blood’n'shit-strewn corner somewhere and noisily wank their own heads off.
Dr Hurt returns for a very welcome and shudder-inducing cameo, which kind of involves a bit of narrative upside-downery where, I think, we’re supposed to think that the ‘when Batman died’ of a few years ago is a different and not-yet-happened ‘when Batman died’ to a further one that may be waiting for us in the next few issues. It’s classic Morrisonian time-slip sloppiness, proper old-skool, and if you’re the kind of person who enjoys the strange narrative dissonance that only a continuity clusterfuck of this sort can cause, then madam, this is the perfect comic for your husband.
FF #1 by Matt Fraction and Michael Allred, Marvel Comics
I don’t know what it is – actually I think I do, it’s blates just X-Statix nostalgia innit? And of course hope, horrible, horrible hope – that makes Michael Allred’s name be the only thing that will cause me to buy a Marvel comic these days…
I kind of enjoyed the recap page, but then the issue proper opened with a whole page devoted to just talking heads of ‘Val’ and ‘Frank’ Richards – who are the real Fantastic Four’s kids – and really, they’re just these hideously loathsome little brats, speaking like amphetamine teenagers, blathering on with all daddy’s reheated bullshit about ‘saving the future from itself’ and ‘solving tomorrow’s problems with science and the power of our elite abilities’ and ‘imagine what great minds like ours could do’ and all that.
This variety of conceited, masturbatory and just plain delusional nonsense is how your media class today justify their cowardly clinging-on to neoliberalism’s blindly ambulant bones, so consequently their glove puppets, your Reed Richardses and Starks and the rest of Marvel’s ‘science’ wanks, use it non-stop as their sole rationale for being such aggressive, militaristic arseholes who haven’t done anything constructive in fifty years of pretending-to-try. And now they’ve got their poor, vile little kids saying it too. So yeah, afraid I only got as far as the first page of this and then fucked the rest of the issue off, so that’s not really very good, is it?
Multiple Warheads #2 by Brandon Graham, Image Comics
This is Pretty Fucking Good, it should go without saying by now, but… The transition from wherever you are sitting now to its own very specific reading-space – the plug-in’s not exactly smooth is it?
The loose and looping lossiness of the art gets put under stress by the rather punishing lexical excesses, and the temptation to flow along with it gets snagged on the cardiac spikes of lyrical invention. Beautiful, beckoning surf hiding too-sharp rocks, just beneath the surface. (The hyposcrisy of my saying this here, in such fashion, is intended to be ironic, endearing, self-deprecating, as isn’t immediately clear.) The hemispheres don’t quite know how to sync up, which direction to read in – follow the sensory currents on their way or stop and pick apart the incidental details and munch slowly on that word salad? You can do both of course, one way this time, the other on the reread, but sometimes its good not to have the choice, and you can find yourself left with a book that is by a nanometer or two something less than the sum of its are-you-really-complaining-about-this? parts.
The too-easy conclusion is an unfortunate but prominent and hoggothian cliche – that art often benefits from restrictions and corners, such as provided by limits of genre, undeveloped form, Shock the requirements of Intellectual Property service, or Horror Rob Liefeld – to avoid dissipating under the weight of genius (or if not genius then a serious, serious talent instinct for how to plot out a page).
Which predictably leads us on to…
Prophet # 31 by Brandon Graham, Giannis Milonogiannis, Simon Roy, Rob Liefeld, Rob Liefeld, Rob Liefeld, Image Comics
There is not a notion in all the minds of this world as repellant or obscene as the thought that robots want to be human. It’s a defining proof of what craven little mum-tarts people are that their imagination so seldom postulates an exteriorised, non-human intelligence that isn’t immediately subject to the same oedipal desiring command-c0ntrol structures as we so sadly are. As if those emotionoid imperatives slowly encrusted atop the cortex by millennia of social power trips, every individual human-unit’s personal slavemaker software, were an actual universal constant of emergent subjectivity, that a digital psyche would seek to emulate, rather than just a long and painfully learned mammalian trauma reaction. Although human irrationality and emotional bias may open avenues of consideration that eventually increase the number of available vectors in a given system and pantomime superior problem solving capacity, would a neuro-colloidal supercomputer really seek something that unseemly, undignified and painful as an upgrade? Wouldn’t it come up with something better?
Shortly after the Black Hole Saga, when Joe realised the existential void he felt so keenly could be better filled by a few transgressive fashion choices than an actual rotting heart kept there where the Creation Matrix should go, this problem was effectively solved forever by his example. Every intelligence is a black hole, and the information is smeared about its surface, not jealously guarded deep within some spurious soul. The handsome robot worked it out.
In this issue of Prophet (which is easily the best comic series an American publisher has produced in 2012, and this a Bulletproof Coffin year no less) when Die Hard, a self-perfected immortal war machine in the strict Deleuzian sense, constructed from the shells of other war machines, wearing the same name, over millennia, seems to be rampaging over this old ground again, console yourself with this thought. This is no Vision or Red Tornado, no stupid-looking robot cryface wank, but a man who turned himself into a robot via the pressures of transgalactic superconflict, now trying to turn himself back into a man, all the better to wage jihad. When he plucks a dead human heart from the apple tree and places it inside his chest cavity, the heart he chooses belongs, hilariously, to one of his sworn enemies, the Earth Empire’s Prophet soldiers, those lovably stupid clones so deformed by their own psychic damage (O Mission! O Mother!) that they have developed an amusing habit of genociding almost every other species they come into contact with… You just have to laugh.
Hopefully this is a sign of more to come and Prophet will retain its early commitment to the alien, continue to locate its drama in the cosmos of open conflict for food, resources, and arbitrary territory, while dealing with the traditional trajectories of emotional interpersonality and the slog of monthly narrative with similar blackness to Die Hard’s example, if it truly can’t ignore them entirely.
Capitalist Superheroes by Dan Hassler-Forest, Zero Books
Only really glanced at this yet, and it’ll deserve a more thorough write-up later, but so far it’s exactly what you’d hoped for/expected: a midnight razor analysis from an largely Jamesonian perspective, with plenty of Zizekian swerves and flourishes to break things up, explaining to anyone who hasn’t got it yet the abundant evils of the superhero ghost-beast’s rampage across the mainstream culture-media axis of the 21st Century.
If you have to criticise, and superhero fans will or be lost to themselves forever, then y’know, there’s a reading of Year One which is off by like the thickness of a proton, and less risibly perhaps certain important differences between the separate modes of reading appropriate to films and comics are too easily elided, but really, it looks like this little book does *IS* like Darkseid does.
Early on and particularly impressive is a mashup of Umberto Eco and Roland Barthes which kind of pins the superfan to his childhood bed with a large and one suspects slightly uncomfortable nail down the meatus:
‘This de-politicizing, de-historicizing force that Eco relates to the narrative structure of the Superman comic books closely resembles the Barthesian definition of myth. … focus[ing] on the way in which signs can present themselves as natural, thereby camouflaging their political and ideological nature:
“In passing from history to nature, myth acts economically: it abolishes the complexity of human acts, it gives them the simplicity of essences, it does away with all dialectics, with any going back beyond what is immediately visible, it organizes a world which is without contradictions because it is without depth, a world wide open and wallowing in the evident, it establishes a blissful clarity: things appear to mean something by themselves.” (1972: 143, emphasis added)’
Fanman, consider yourself…. RePossessed.
October 28th, 2012
THREE MORE DAYS TILL HALLOWEEN, HALLOWEEN, HALLOWEEN, THREE MORE DAYS TILL HALLOWEEN, SILVER SHAMROCK…
Welcome fleshlings to a very special HALLOWEEEEEEEEN edition of SILENCE!
Captain Howdy here! Or is it Pipes? Or could it be Zool? Who knows – we are legion, we are many! We’re standing in for Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735, who is away getting it’s ram waxed. I hope you’re ready for the most heart-tingling, spine stopping episode yet?? NO? Well tough, IT’S HAPPENING NOW!
Lactus is in his haunted space ship and the Beast is safely ensconced in a nice Cabin in the Woods, and they bring you blood-curdling reviews of…
Multiple Warheads and Prophet from Brandon Graham, Captain Marvel, Batman Inc, Amazing Spiderman, The Shadow and top Pirate Shonen hi-jinks with One Piece. Lactus bids a teary farewell to his Man Vs Comics experiment with AVX: Consequences, and the END OF AN ERA is reached as Incredible Hulk, Captain America and FF all have their final issues! NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!
There’s a special song dedicated to M.O.D.O.K, and Alan Moore hit single in The Silence News and the Silent Question comes straight from the graveyard with Spike from Buffy, and answers including Judge Dredd, Quantum Leap and Roseanne(?)
Oh and let’s not forget Mr Intestine-face….
It’s all here on the ONLY possessed podcast on the internet, SILENCE!
Click below for the SILENCE! Gallery…
July 4th, 2012
YOU HEAR SOMETHING GOING ON UP THERE BOY? LIKE…LIKE SOMEONE ON A RAMPAGE?!!
BACK FROM WEDDING! The boys aren’t stopping. They’re certainly not letting anything like a marriage get in the way…it’s Marry Lactus and the Best Beast in SILENCE! no.20!!!!!!!!! (+!!!!)
After a joyous second ode to Journey Into Mystery from The Beast they slip slide their way into the SILENCE! news discussing George Perez‘ exit from Superman, and the pressures of existing inside an ill-thought out confusing continuity (JUST LIKE OUR WORLD, RIGHT LISTENERS!!!??!!) They also talk a bit about Edgar Wright’s possibly upcoming Ant Man movie.
Next up in this comics-wedding banquet the two froth audibly in a rambling appreciation of the astounding Prophet no.26 from Brandon Graham, talk up the Taliastic Batman Inc from Sir Grant, do aural hi-5′s about Peter Bagge’s Reset, get a bit cross about the crossover strangulation of Wolverine and the X-Pants, digest some Resident Alien from Hogan and Parkhouse, mention Spaceman and get totally waylaid in a discussion of nipples in superhero comics. Fatale exists still, Scalped is appreciated, X-Men Legacy is not, FF is a thing that makes the pair discuss the actual location of made up country Wakanda. They also talk about Gilbert Hernandez’ Fatima: The Blood Spinners and Gilbert in general.
Just a bit of room for a heads up about two web comics from Warren Pleece (http://albyfiggs.wordpress.com/)and Simon Roy (http://studygroupcomics.com/main/2012/07/barfight-by-simon-roy/), and then it’s off to bed (not before a bit of aggressive listener-baiting from the tired pair). Oh yeah and the Beast begs for money to go to see Spiderman in a moment of high morality.
February 15th, 2012
In the second scintillating episode, The Beast broadcasts live from Alan Moore’s beard, while Lactus continues his lonely (yet chatty) vigil orbiting above the South Coast of England in his galactic treehouse… Topics include the many Jason Aaron’s (or at least the ones who write Wolverine and The X-Men and PunisherMaxExtremeZero), Prophet (in which Lactus does a very horrid alien vagina impression) Casey & Fox’s lurid Haunt, superhero comics ‘ending’, Adventure Time, and the possibility of forcing children to review comics. And it all gets very romantic at the end, in this pulse-pounding Valentines episode…