Being: the second in a series of posts about John Smith and Edmund Bagwell’s top British horror comic Cradlegrave.

If you’re going to talk about Cradlegrave, you’ve pretty much got to face up to this image at some point:

Stripped of context it’s just a doll, just a tired horror-movie prop, a signifier of terror rather than something actually terrifying. In context however, this dull prop seems far more potent:

The sense of surprise, that feeling of “what the fuck is that face doing in the middle of this conversation?”, is enough to give the image some fresh charge here.  The last panel of the sequence hints at the answer, but for the duration of the two panels before it you could be forgiven for thinking you were in another, more Lynchian kind of horror story.

Still, even the most bewildering emanations in Cradlegrave trace back to fleshy, non-Lynchian sources, so it’s just as well that there’s more to the this sequence than  lifeless eyes and startling incongruity.

Look into these eyes, and tell me what you see…

Being: the first in a series of posts about John Smith and Edmund Bagwell’s top British horror comic Cradlegrave.

ONE – If you didn’t look past this cover-cum-promotional piece for Cradlegrave, you might think that it was telling a very specific sort of story, the sort of story you might describe as being either “tabloid shit” or “a bit Jamie Delano” depending on which of those two targets was more worthy of disdain.

When I first discussed Cradlegrave back in December, regular comments thread contributor Thrills said he was looking now that he’d got past his concerns that it would “be like that Denise Mina Hellblazer where ‘hoodies’ are ‘demons’.”

Ah, so it’s tabloid shit that smells like Jamie Delano.  The worst of both worlds.  Fuck.

TWO – Despite the fact that the “Fear they Neighbour” text is missing, the cover of the collected edition still aims to make a similar impression:

To my eye, there’s something less real about the four hooded figures in this reformatted cover though.  The overly harsh, pixelated light that gleams off of their shoulders is even more unnatural when set against an all-black background, a background that now seems to expand outwards from the empty spaces where four young faces should be.

These are absent phantoms, not flesh and blood monsters, and while I wouldn’t want to pretend that they’re being deliberately undermined here I still find it hard to imagine anyone taking them seriously.

The only fear in this image is the fear you bring with you, be it fear of “savage” yoofs or of dehumanising right wing rhetoric…

Click here to drink the black milk… IF YOU DARE!

Indigo Batman: Leviathan Prime

February 6th, 2012

1. Endtroducing

Flashback to 2011 and the world is ending. Again. The signs are easy to interpret now, when they require any interpreting at all: a news anchor blathers away on TV,  building up so much expectation that the large hadron collider, suffering from a fit of performance anxiety, unravels and takes reality with it; meanwhile, under the sea in a parallel Earth, an archaic supervillain announces that he has “hung a deadly necklace of deadly meta-bombs around the world like precious pearls; on the internet, or rather in a dated parody of cyberspace that resembles nothing so much as X-Box live for “edgy” business folk, a rapidly mutating program tries to take over everything.

Responses to this are equally typical: standing in a futile crowd beside a fatbalding awkwardman, a disinterested woman holds up a sign informing everyone that “THE END is NIGH!; a bloodied hero crawls forward, trying to save the world again, knowing that all he has to do is push a button, but that even this might be to much for him now; elsewhere, tough men decide to make tough decisions with predictable results.

I’m talking about Batman Incorporated and Indigo Prime here, because they were the two garish fantasies that played best for my (semi-informed, heavily solipsistic) sense of panic throughout 2011, that end of season finale of a year.

After all, if you feel like everything’s falling apart, sometimes it helps to be able dress these feelings up in twisted words and garish costumes instead of focusing on the garbled socio-economic truth.

Spacetime becomes jelly.

The walls of reality buckle and fold.

Higher Dimensions intrude into the supersymmetry.

Dark Matter condenses as worlds collide.

Mmmmm, yeah, that’s the stuff.

Come down with me.