December 9th, 2012
Not a very shopbound week this week, so mostly library fodder. Go to the library: as we’ll see, they have some amazing free comics there.
On the shopfront though, there was…
The Phoenix #48 by Various, David Fickling Comics
There was the mighty ‘Nix, highlight being a particularly dynamic Troy Trailblazer episode.
TT‘s masterfulmind Robert Deas is ploughing quite a unique furrow among the burning feathery pages of the galaxy’s finest, with a heavy emphasis on pure visual dynamism, a pure propellant narrative language that contrasts beautifully with the sight gags and wordplay that it shares paper with. Some episodes are over in seconds but you never feel like you’ve been short-changed. Jessica Jetrider (not Jennie, as I mistakenly had it last week) kicks ass, and when I say that, I mean she really does kick someone’s ass.
In Pilotwatch this week, he’s forced to have a shower: the sheer mortification across every strand of fur is a treat. The next panel has him all bedraggled and stripped of dignity like cats get when they’re caught in the rain or fall in the toilet. And that’s it for Pilotwatch this week. Come back for more next week – if he hasn’t been turned into a flan by the Nano-Chefs in the interim.
Fury MAX My War Gone By #7 by Garth Ennis & Goran Parlov, Marvel Comics
Reading Fury MAX this week was handy because it minded me of the previous issue – that would be #6. Its depiction of the sexy evil Cuban baddie forms an I think quite necessary supplement absent from this, one of the ones what I got from the library:
Che: A Graphic Biography by Spain Rodriguez, Verso Books
It’s pretty wonderful in its own way of course – calmly historical, with no more romance and bias than you should have in a biography of one of the Twentieth Century’s genuine secular saints, but with a definite and surprising libidinal lack. Its subject’s subjectivity, the internal pressures that turned the comfortable medical student into the world’s most potent avatar of revolutionary justice, go unexplained.
Enter Ennis and Parlov’s proud revolutionary soldier: vanity, triumphalism, the military addiction to violence and self-erasure – as essential to the revolutionary firebrand as Fury’s imperialist pig.
Presumably to Rodriguez – quite the righteous dude himself by all accounts – the imperative of resistance didn’t need explaining. His pencil softens the leonine warrior, the world-famous Korda portrait Guevara (and its post-mortem proliferation, surely a perfect topic for a book like this, is relegated to a dry afterword) into a soulful, rounded cherub. The noise and the fire are gone – we get just the facts, not the legend, when in this, as in so few genuine cases, the legend is the reality. I was hoping more for Trashman in a beret.
Lint by Chris Ware, Drawn & Quarterly
Where everything in the universe entire is dots in circles, and dots in circles are horrorfying because…?
‘Lint’ is an American wording meaning, roughly, ‘fluff’. As in, ‘there was nothing in his pockets but knives and fluff’. As a title for a clothbound hardback study (gots to milk that commodity fetish) in the vanishing banality of Evil, it immediately embeds itself in such a pit of irony that it indicates all too clearly how unfair it’s going to play with the reader: just what kind of hoopsa boyaboys it’s going to ask you to jump through. In brief, Mister Lint is a shudderingly loathsome individual, as thorough a rendering – cradle to grave – of such as the medium (running at approx 50% villainy at the best of times) has yet to achieve. This is effectively the sole point (within a circle) the book makes. It does so with as many a literary and theoretical a nod as you would need to be convinced that Evil is real and it teased you at school, and if it makes you feel any better (no to that, btw) Evil is unhappy too, and such a coward it has probably repressed the memory of all those children it raped. It won’t even admit how Evil it is.
But fluff is easily blown away, and was too inconsequential a thing to begin with – it didn’t even care that it was killing you, and itself, from the inside. It was just traveling on currents too big and chaotic and very, very terrifying to even know what kind of damage it could do. Except, these currents aren’t potty training related, or abuse-abandonment linked, or coherent in any of the ways them thinker mans have tried to establish. The only currents at work here are those invented, arbitrarily, reasonlessly, as vengeance against the bully perhaps, by the author of the piece.* He picks and chooses the Evil at work as befits his meticulous scheme. Gestures towards reality remain exactly that – gestures, intricate and dazzling and formalistic to the WOW, to be sure: but shapes drawn on the air all the same. It’s not a description of Evil – it’s just a fiction: There’s nothing about the world to be learnt here, though it’s trying really hard to make you think otherwise.
(*This is a good lesson for life, that this book won’t give you: man made things are man made, and can be unmade. Anyone who tells you ‘it’s too big and chaotic to work out’, or ‘that’s unrealistic’, or ‘that’s not how things are’, just doesn’t want you to try. Lint cops out with ‘Evil’s just Evil, don’t trouble with the why – analysis is fraud…’. I can’t afford to live like that.)
The Hive, by Charles Burns, Jonathan Cape
Much better than the last issue. That one was an autopilot greatest hits set, or one of those meticulous live replays of the classic album beginning to end, even the shit tracks you skipped, where you realise all the influences that made them what they were, that you tracked down in the interim, 80s Cronenburroughs plus Herge for that Nazi frisson in this case, were yep a lot better actually than the pasticheur. Except for Tintin, fucking always, always boring.
While Lint and Ware mine Freudism for an effective touch of authenticity and sheer screaming development horror, early on before abandoning the conclusions you might be forced to reach if you were brave enough to take these things seriously, with The Hive Burns hips himself up a bit by taking that psychoanalysis schtick on a generation or two, adopting Jock Lacan’s Real-Imaginary-Symbolic triad. On Tuesday night, in the midnight time, much addled after watching Japan’s premier doomgaze band, Troll#1 and I couldn’t for the life of us work out what level lined up with what… Doug and Sarah, they’re Real, right? But comics, comics, though Imaginoid, are more real than the people in them, god knows, so the comics, (still not clear whether that means The Hive I hold in my hand or those insanely wonderful, naughty, lush Swan-looking romance things Doug and Sarah like reading) maybe they’re The Real? And the lizard affect-factory that they toil in, that’s kind of everything right there too, but that’s got to be Symbolic right?
It’s a crazy mixed up world. We well couldn’t work it out. Help in the comments section please, even if it’s help of the ‘I hate you because you’re idiot’ variety.
Bardin The Superrealist by Max, Fantagraphics
This was rather wonderful too in its way, warm as cognac and the Catalan summer, thick clear lines a reassuring sense of structure and boundary on the journey inwards… Charming and smooth then, but somehow altogether too elegant and poised to convince as dream gnosis.
It looks real good in those off-the-peg Dali-worship rags, and cosily codifies the baroque Tibetan iconography so beloved of the Andalusian dog-botherers into pocket-sized impieties that you’d be happy to carry around, but it doesn’t ever threaten to go far or wild enough beyond the hand me down cultural structures already available to reach a state of divine madness itself.
It’s not the kind of book you want to criticise, but the sweetly sozzled states it describes just aren’t quite paranoid enough, so maybe doing so would help.
Glitz-2-Go by Diane Noomin, Fantagraphics
The word I keep wanting to use is ‘retchro’. This is stuffed with – or, sort wants to give you the impression that it is stuffed with, when in fact much more of its strength comes from simple touches like the way the characters talk to each other in such casually abrasive, finely heard cadences, and kind of open up so the barrier between the reader, the character on the page, and the life behind the inky figures there collapses so you feel as if you are part of the family, long and wearily acquainted with those friends of Noomin who she’s granted through the sharp magic of her line this extra dimension of on-page existence… You already know them, know what they’re going to say before they do. It’s a rich and soft book, for such a sharp and sassy purple little package.
Where was I yes stuffed with that spikey gogo exotica beach blanket early 60s through a mid-seventies filter, draggy, druggy, bad girl bad taste John Waters surf vibe, like a Cramps song or something…
It’s not like that at all, but if that helps cool it up a little, then fine.
I haven’t finished this one yet, so can’t reasonably write much more about it, in fact I’ve probably already said far too much, and wrong at that. I think I’m going to review a book I haven’t read Every! Week!
September 23rd, 2012
LISTEN TO IT, FOOL!
Cartoon County is an association of over 100 cartoonists and comic artists in the Sussex area. Our regular meetings are usually on the last Monday of every month at The Cricketers, Black Lion St, Brighton, from 6 til late. If you’re a cartoonist or a comic artist, or use those particular styles of drawing in your work as an illustrator, animator or storyboard artist, you are very welcome to join us.
July 13th, 2012
HERE COMES A NEW CHALLENGER!!!!!
Welcome then, gentle listen-folk, to the Twilight Zone….where anything can happen. Such as Gary Lactus NOT appearing on this week’s edition of the internet’s favourite aural-comics affairs-cast SILENCE! Fear not though, stepping into his large cosmic brogues comes sprightly upstart BOBSY! He and tired old deck-hand The Beast Must Die just couldn’t bare to think of a week without pointless comics frippery, so they’ve teamed up to bring you SILENCE no.21!!
And what a fist they make of it. In a whopping two and a quarter hours they cause merry havoc discussing 2000AD, Judge Dredd, middle-class Quantam Leap, Rocketeer Adventures, Superman 3 (ie the best one), Fury MAX, Earth 2, Robert Downey Jr’s gradual transformation into David Gest, Ron Perlman (aka the Monster Don), Thief of Thieves, The Reckoning, Marvel NOW!, Ozymandias (aka Between Watchmen), AVX, Haunt, Dial H, Action Comics, Castle Waiting…plus a typically rambling digression into Steve Gerber’s wonderful Infernal Man-Thing. Oh god but that’s just the tip of the iceberg…well, actually it’s more like the main part of the iceberg, but the real cream of the iceberg (what?) is the sparkling interraction between two broken mammals who can’t think of anything better to do than talk about comics (while Rome burns)!
Phew! Just when you thought 2012 couldn’t get any HOTTTERRRR!!!!???
May 23rd, 2012
SOMEONE’S IN MY FRUIT CELLAR!!!
Ayo, weary traveller, pull up a stool and bathe your stinkin’ dogs in a hot bubbly bath…it’s time for the 15th edition of SILENCE!, the podcast that is no longer taking prisoners but rather is executing them, Miller’s Crossing-style in the middle of the woods, with just a hat blowing in the breeze for company…
In this very special episode we have a guest appearance from none other than BOBSY MINDLESS who swings by Lactus’ Cosmic Loungeship for a cup of tea and some heavy duty 2000ad chat (including the best Dredd analysis you’ll find on the intywebosphere, and a wholehearted spunking over Zaucer of Zilk and Flesh). But I’m getting ahead of myself! Before that Beast debuts his deeply sensual deep house ballad ‘SATANUS! (Human Flesh)’ and Lactus gives us a taste of his LIVE acoustic singer-songwriter powers with ‘Crossover Classix’. The SILENCE! News comes next in the way that night follows day and vomiting follows Cinzano, with an exciting announcement about SILENCECON 2012!
Then, and only then, the two-time twannies get onto vital topic of COMICS…thank god. They do talk about:
Peter Bagge’s Reset, Saga, Scalped, Fantastic Four (Nazis Win!), Shade, Fury, Hellblazer, and more…
Then Lactus grits his teeth and prepares to receive the soul-punishment that is ‘Crossover Classix with Gary Lactussssss’ and tries gamely to read all the various AVX and Owlfight shit that is being pumped his way. Including discussions of Nightwing, Red Hood and The Outlaws, Catwoman, Avengers Academy, AVX VS…so nothing good basically.
Then The Beast brings back the purple prose with an appreciation of Don McGregor’s Black Panther: ‘Panther’s Rage’ in Beast’s Bargain Basement, and drops in a word about Michel Fiffe’s awesome looking Suicide Squad comic.
All this and a whole hot mess more in the love letter from us that means you’re fucked forever…SILENCE!
April 25th, 2012
UP FROM THE DEEP, THIRTY STORIES HIGH, BREATHING FIRE, HIS HEAD IN THE SKY…
In this 12th anxiety inducing episode of the World’s* Favourite* Podcast* Gary Lactus continues to sit at the table (verily) and The Beast is saddened by the imminent Geoff Johns revamp of his life. There will be blood…
After Lactus reveals his theme for America’s Got Powers, a strongly ethical SILENCE! news follows, before the pugnacious pairsome get all frisky with the latest comics fillies. Under the merciless eye of scrutiny this week…Peter Bagge’s Reset, Matt Kindt’s 3 Story, Garth Ennis’ Shadow (he knows, by the way), the truly exceptional Prophet (with added Dalrymple), King City, and Wonder Woman. But! Then! Gary Lactus reveals that he is the bravest man(god) on earth as he tackles EVERY SINGLE AVX and BATMAN: OWLS crossover issue released last week. And he plans to continue with this foolhardy plan until his eyeballs pop like cherry tomatoes on a griddle… what a guy! There follows a bit of discussion of Wolverine and the X-Men, and crossovers in general, and Lactus rounds things off with a mention of Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse’s Resident Alien.
That is not all, tough you lucky little piglets! The tenacious twofers then spend way too long discussing what kind of music superheroes listen to, before they head off into the sunset like Clint Eastwood and that orangutan in that film about Clint Eastwood and the Orangutan (and wasn’t it weird in that movie the way that when Clint hooked up with a lady, and then they’d go home and bump uglies and then there’d be a fucking orangutan in the mix…how fucking gross would that be having a post coital glow interrupted by a six foot ape wearing denim?????)
So dig yourself in, and await the heavy shelling that is….SILENCE!
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July 10th, 2011
Part 1 here
Back to this, then.
Maybe I was too hard on Geofferson Aerojohns in my first post. Maybe “Bollocks” was an appropriate response to a room covered in blood and the stink of the supernatural. Bollocks might often carry with it a low level sense of levity, but then John Constantine has had to weather some pretty terrible things in his time. Things worse than a few pints of the red stuff and a black magic chaser. Perhaps, for Constantine, a bit of sardonic humour helps him manage his emotions. Perhaps he just doesn’t respond to scenes of hideous violence in the way that you and I would, his emotional responses deadened after one too many trips to Hell.
February 22nd, 2011
Yes, there is! We talk about Chris Ware’s Acme Novelty Library # 20, also known as Lint.
Then there’s some rambling chat about Mark Millar, Marvel Ultimate stuff, The Authority, Bryan Hitch, Warren Ellis, Freak Angels, The Boys, Garth Ennis, Unknown Soldier, Jesse Custer’s hair and white jeans, Peter Milligan and Hellblazer. Then the battery ran out and we all went home to bed and it was all a dream. Or was it? Of course it wasn’t, you can hear it here:
Click to download
December 15th, 2010
…And by this point in our recording session that’s what we’ve done. I for one was pretty drunk by this point. Amy Poodle brought along Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Preacher for us all to talk about. I can’t remember much more than that other than we digressed heavily into Mark Millar and other stuff. Why not listen with me as I refresh my memory.
And that’s it for our 2010 podcasts. Thanks for listening and hopefully we’ll all get together in the new year for more of the same.
August 27th, 2009
- Oh I know he doesn’ t need any more praise but Bryan Lee O’malley’s Scott Pilgrim site rocks as hard as do all things SP related. You’ve gotta admire the fact that he’s turned himself into a one man franchise without sacrificing any ofthe comics inherent yumminess. If you haven’t read SP yet I presume you have no eyes, in which case you can’t read this which means you can’t see me sticking my fingers up at you. (tbmd)
- I’ve really been enjoying Hip Hop Isn’t Dead recently. Max’s dedication to slogging through the entire Wu-related back catalogue is particularly rewarding (see: U-God and Cappadonna aka The Cab Driver). I don’t agree with him a lot of the time, but it’s a good site from a man with generally excellent taste in Hip Hop. (tbmd)
- Bit of a 2000AD flavour to my online reading this week – starting with Garth Ennis’ first contribution to Rich Johnson’s Bleeding Cool, When 2000AD was the Future. It’s an unabashedly nostalgic birthday tribute to the Galaxy’s Greatest, and although it feels a bit hacked-out, if you don’t get a lump in the throat or pants upon reading his list of standout moments, then, brother, you must have no pants. It’s also interesting for several other reasons – Bleeding Cool has been a bit of lame replacement for the much-missed Lying in the Gutters, having somehow managed to bring out a heretofore unimagined boring streak in Warren Ellis’ online columns, so if it’s giving us regular bulletins from Ennis now (the first time he’ll have done this kind of regular editorialising since, what, the Preacher letters page?) then all to the good. Secondly, funny to note the unfortunate truism ‘2000AD was better when I were a lad’ can be heard coming from even the most level headed industry professionals. Thirdly, the revealing detail that Ennis does not count 2000AD as a significant influence on his career-best Punisher MAX run, although he does with nearly all of his other, far less essential US work. And finally, the general public acknowledgement of the debt he owes to Tharg, which will seem ironic to anyone who read Wagner’s Dredd story last week and noticed how much Jay Doubleyou appears to have been reciprocally influenced by Ennis in recent years. Five pages of unbelievable tension and gravitas balanced effortlessly across three simultaneous scenes, no action but lots of quiet political violence, in an episode of sheer comics storytelling perfection that displays the kind of tough yet elegant narrative engineering that Ennis has lately made his own.
- This has been up for ages but I’ve only just stumbled across it: Cradlegrave, John Smith and Edmund Bagwell’s recently-concluded tale of alien body-horror and kitchen-sink drama on a Northern housing estate is being hailed by some Squaxx as the best story The Mighty One has put out since Halo Jones. A full Mindless report to follow soon, but in a rare move the excellent 2000AD Review site has put Smith’s script for an entire episode up for your perusal. Bloody brilliant.
- Further happy proof that the world you live in is becoming more like Judge Joseph Dredd’s every day! (b)
- Look, 5 posts for the price of one! Andrew Hickey’s hyperpost continues apace. The topics, which he’s attacking from multiple and diverse angles, are canon and continuity and other stuff that concerns those of us of a fannish bent. So far Andrew’s posts have focussed on Morrison’s concept of Hypertime, Cerebus via Oscar Wilde (or should that be the other way round?), and an ‘imaginary’ (in the Alan Moore sense) Dr Who audio story which doesn’t feature too much Dr Who but does feature a dying man. This kind of multi-pronged oblique criticism is exactly the kind of thing we try to do round here, and exactly what Andrew Rilstone did so fantastically in his recent fanzine Who Sent the Sentinels?. Looking forward to seeing what else Andrew can come up with.
- Ah, its been ages since we’ve given some love to the boys at Funnybook Babylon. If you don’t listen to their podcasts you really should as they’re some of best pop-critics out there, and really don’t get the credit they deserve nearly often enough. The standout moment in the latest edition has to be Chris Ekert’s disembowelling of Ultimatum – to call it criticism would be to give Loeb’s writing too much credit, but it sure is funny as shit.
July 14th, 2009
Welcome weary traveller, come in from the rain. Pull up a mildewed stack of Doug Moench’s Spectre comics and rest your tired posterior. Take a sip of lukewarm tea and we can leaf through these recently acquired second hand graphic novels together, to fight off the pangs of longing till new comics day….