January 25th, 2013
PART 1: PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS
For Christmas this year I was given the prospect of impending joblessness, a gift that has a fine Dickensian heritage, though unfortunately it’s not Dickens but Shakespeare who has a cameo in the comic at hand:
You don’t need a Shakespearean imagination to understand that redundancy is not the sort of gift I’ve always dreamed of receiving, or to appreciate that it’s not the sort of unwanted gift that you can easily pass on to an unsuspecting relative…
Not that I’m so lacking in compassion for others that I’d *want* to inflict that on anyone else. Even in this post-Monneygeddon age, there’s a limit to what I’m willing to admit in public!
A few weeks ago an alternative version of this present drifted into view, a hot air balloon that looked like it might be capable of taking me somewhere:
Aww, fuck. Might as well start off with a quote from Millar, the Instigator:
“But I love that Kapow! is sold out. I want people to turn up, find that out and think: ‘Damn, I’m definitely going to get my ticket next year.’ There is something cool about that.”
(Kapow! Superheroes come to Britian – man, this even willingly leans in to those Zap! Pow! punches, eh?)
Ok so one of the weird things about Mark Millar, as a figure in popular culture, is that I’m predisposed to disbelieve almost everything he says in interviews. He’s like Tony Blair that way for me, only, you know, Millar’s not actually irredeemably evil.
He is the king of the obvious idea, apparently, and as such the first person to write a comic where a supervillain is the main character. The book in question? Nemesis (Icon Comics, 2010), except… that’s not quite right. You see, the weird thing about this particular boast is that Millar actually beat himself to the punch on this one, with Wanted (Top Cow, 2003). Or maybe the pluralisation invalidates that example, in which case all I have to say is: Zodiac (Marvel, 2009). Or maybe: Irredeemable (Boom Studios, 2009). If plural supervillains count then maybe I’d be saying Empire (Gorilla Comics, 2000) instead, but the point is that it’s a silly boast, one that’s easily proved to be untrue.
Still, at least it’s still a relatively new idea, eh?
Oh. Okay. Maybe not. Well… there probably weren’t any gay incestuous womb-bombs in those old Joker comics, but maybe that’s just because it’s a shit idea?
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:
- Short and to the Pointless #1: The Like Trap (a short post on reader identification in Phonogram and Eddie Campbel’s autobiographical comics)
- Short and to the Pointless #2: Josie Long and Dodgem Logic (about the deadly combination of bad comics and bad romantic advice)
- Looking Glass Hearts Forever (a long post on the Scott Pilgrim comics and movie)
- Short and to the Pointless #3: The Playwright (on the fact that you can no more write your way out of a story than you can jump your way out of freefall)
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.
Please feel free to let me know in the comments!
March 17th, 2011
Being: both a short postscript to my previous three posts AND a review of one of the best comics of 2010.
This series of posts is supposed to have been all about mirrors and vanity, so what better way to start this than by going on another weird tangent? I’ve probably written enough on this site now for readers to know that everything reminds me of something else. As such, it should come as no surprise when I say that I thought about Eddie Campbell and Daren White‘s excellent comic The Playwright yesterday while I was at an exhibition of the photography of John Thomson.
Dating back to the 1870s , the photographs Thomson took in China are a strange and striking mix of gorgeous detail and grainy noise. The photos themselves are beautifully composed, of course, and they range from the intimate to the respectfully traditional. More than any of this it was the scratchy, broken, physical texture of the images that arrested me. Each tiny abstract marking on Thomson’s glass negatives carries over a century’s worth of context, and each warped corner ruptures the illusion that you could feel fabric that’s in front of your face if only you could reach inside one of the pictures.
Some of the descriptive captions at the Burrell’s exhibition of Thomson’s work hint at the dodgier readings Thomson had of his own material – a stunning image of two Buddhist monks comes with a quote from the photographer about how no visitor to China could look at these men and decide to trust them with their loose change, never mind their eternal souls. The abundance of jigsaw puzzle cracks and scribbled notes can’t help but prepare the viewer for this prejudiced statement – the imperfections of age and reproduction haunt these pictures, ghosts of the photographer’s intentions, inescapable evidence of the fact that you’re seeing all of this through the mind of an adventurous outsider.
But what does all of this have to do with The Playwright?
February 1st, 2011
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.
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!
November 16th, 2010
OR: Alec – How to be an Artist, and why some stories are just too fucking massive not to be told
Another thing I remembered, and I don’t think I ever mentioned it to Alan, but I always felt a certain resentment that Billy the Sink got Big Numbers and blew it while i was stuck drawing Jack the bloody Ripper for ten years (I once described it as a penny dreadful that costs thirty five bucks). I stand by my opinion that Big Numbers was the superior idea and would have been Alan’s masterpiece. Of course it is also true that Sienkiewicz is a world class illustrator and there’s no way I could have done a job that complicated in 1992. I could have taken a crack at it later (post-Birth Caul/Snakes and Ladders), and offered, but Alan wasn’t up for that. I love the ease with which Bill shifts from photographic mode to outright loony tunes. The separated Gathercoles remembering their courtship and early marriage is a masterstroke (pages 19-21). That’s an odd note at the bottom of page 29 where he slips back into his Moon Knight style.
(Eddie Campbell on Alan Moore and Bill Sinkiewicz’s Big Numbers)
The first time you read Eddie Campbell’s Alec – How to be an Artist, you might find yourself wondering why Campbell spends so much time on the story of how Alan Moore and Bill Sinkiewicz’s proposed masterpiece, Big Numbers, never added up to much in the end.
I mean sure, it’s a good story – the fact that a project so well conceived with so much talent behind it could not come together for more than three issues (only two of which were published!) is just plain baffling. More than that, it’s good gossip!