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!
April 4th, 2011
The second of three post’s looking at seminal takes on the Joker. Part 1 here.
I. Super Creep
“Do you want lipstick, sweet guy?”
I was five years old when Ashes to Ashes went to number one but I vividly remember how much the video disturbed me and continued to do so right up into my teens. There’s an intensity to it that few big name promos before or since have even attempted let alone matched, and why would they? Loosely centered around Bowie’s clown and a troupe of Blitz kids dressed in high fashion’s answer to mourning dress marching along a solarised beach, followed by a bulldozer, the video has the feel of a funeral set on some faraway peninsula of David Lynch’s imagination. The overall effect is alienated, surreal and ominous, reeking of drug addiction and mental illness, and while fans will detect an air of deep introspection this does nothing to create a more comfortable space.
Coming into his teenage years and young adulthood during the 70s and 80s respectively, Miller would have been steeped in Bowie’s career and protean flight through his various personae – aesthetically driven fiction suits which the mega star inhabited both on stage and to some extent in real life – so it comes as no surprise that a writer with his sensibilities would have produced a Joker that seems to borrow, intentionally or not, from Bowie’s iconographic legacy.
February 11th, 2011
August 21st, 2009
As adults we forget how strange things are. Take caves, for example.
On a recent holiday, my wife, son, and I found ourselves on a guided tour through a cave system. The group was large, and the cave as well lit as the intersection between health and safety and the management’s sense of theatricality would allow. The guide’s patter was honed and confident, glinting with comfortable jokes that didn’t require laughter, and just the right blend of folklore and history to keep us interested. The package offered no reason this side of phobia to feel unsafe, or uncertain. No-one was going to get lost, and no-one was going to get hurt, even boredom was unlikely to be much of a problem given that the tour was, quite sensibly, rather short.
But somewhere in the darkness beneath the spotlit consumer experience the real appeal rustled. Awe. It went unspoken of course only ever hinted at or skirted. The guide spoke of a gigantic network of which ours was but a fragment, of divers who had squeezed their way through small spaces in the deep and discovered gigantic caverns, one of which was thus far inexplicable to the geologists and engineers that had pored over the photographs, the mega-tonnage above the vast cave roof apparently unsupportable. The guide also spoke of deeper passages still, of underground lakes and streams, and of tunnels yawning forever into the earth. Even the history of the place hung like a heavy shadow. The caves had been sacred to the Celts, who offered up sacrifices to the dark. Later the Christians came and banished the old religion, a conflict hinted at in the local legend of a witch turned to stone by a priest. The guide showed us the rock where, if the light is right, the witch’s petrified profile can still be seen glaring into the blackness, and claimed, as a good tour guide should, that late at night her mordant laughter can be heard echoing in the depths.
Perhaps from sub-level 7, perhaps deeper
March 17th, 2009
Part 1 here
Daydreaming and trains. A topic I keep coming back to.
Britain has long been in the throes of a difficult and passionate relationship with it’s vast, antique rail network. Delays and overcrowding ride by side in the popular imagination with adventure and freedom, the feeling that the final terminus can still be the Britain of myth, the nation as idyll and possibility. Growing up without a car, a viable and not entirely uncommon experience this side of the Atlantic, I spent more than my fair share of time staring out of train windows watching countryside blur into city blur into countryside. Perhaps the most familiar spectacle, one which has remained a constant over many years, is the view over the rooftops of central London as the South East of England’s railway lines flow together before and beyond Charing Cross.
February 16th, 2009
Sometime in the nineties the cry rang out: Marvel was gonna put the “character back into comics”.
This was news to me.
As far as I was concerned the Marvelverse, with the possible exception of the X-Men, was still firmly rooted in a pre-Watchmen era. It was only the energizing touch of the man Miller that rescued the company from my utter contempt. DC on the other hand, was, in my rather woolly analysis, the natural home of adjectives like mature, and visionary, the only company where character was likely to flourish. My case rested upon little more than DC’s willingness to publish The Dark Knight Returns, The Killing Joke, and Arkham Asylum, and the serious moonlight cast over the DCU by Watchmen, and the Vertigo imprint.
While I’m now well versed in the legacy of Marvel’s legendary creators, if I’m honest I remain skeptical about Marvel’s claims to the concept of character. I grant that Lee and Ditko’s willingness to subordinate super to man was likely revolutionary back in the late sixties, and that they quite possibly changed the landscape of comics, but the reality is that while character is certainly the focus of many Marvel titles the characters in question have seldom been allowed much more than superficial depth – the MU as a place of histrionics rather than history. That, even as its best, seldom produces character studies with more going for them than I’d expect to see in a well realized soap opera. Don’t get me wrong, I think good soaps have their own virtues, and, and this is important, I’m not sure that I want to see rigorous character studies in (many) superhero comics, but I think it’s worth pointing out that by treating the term character as a monolith, and not admitting to its multiple meanings – the different ways in which the centrality of the concept can be approached, from Dynasty to Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe – Marvel, and its die hard fans, are perhaps heaping undeserved glories on themselves. I mean, we’ve all read the Ultimates, right?