August 21st, 2016
Maid of Nails: Before we get into the Punisher, I think we should let people know how XTREME his fans are.
Botswana Beast: Should I read the letter?
[To paraphrase Keats: beauty is truth, truth beauty, and this letter is both]
MoN: So that is what we’re dealing with.
BB: It doesn’t ever mention race, that letter, but it’s fairly indicative of what a lot of early Punisher comics were, which is shooting “street toughs” of undetermined race –
MoN: Were any of these “street toughs” ever named Tyrone or Leroy?
BB: They may have been. Or Hector. So yeah, the Punisher’s origins are as a Spider-Man villain-cum-antihero who is hired by — possibly the Chameleon, I can’t remember, to take out Spider-Man under some false pretext. I think that was 1973, and his debut series was actually a decade later. At that point he became a leading character, shooting largely mafiosi and, as I say, street toughs (that’s not entirely fair characterization; Mike Baron’s a good writer — well, he’s written some exciting action comics), until 1999/2000, when Garth Ennis, the infamous Irishman, took over and really redefined the character.
MoN: A lot more mafia and organized crime, and a lot fewer street toughs.
BB: He does still shoot quite a lot of black people, but –
MoN: There’s a lot fewer story arcs devoted to him shooting black people. Except for Barracuda and John James Toomey (RIP), who gets shot in a setup that the Punisher coerces one of Toomey’s crew into. And then the guy from his crew is yelling at John James Toomey like, “Who’s gonna get your fuckin’ fried chicken now?” DUDE. A lot of people like fried chicken, but I find it odd that Garth Ennis went there.
BB: What really came to define him — and I think they are among the best, if not the best comics ever published, then certainly the best researched — is the adult imprint stuff from Marvel MAX.
MoN: Stuff with more war.
BB: Another favourite topic of Garth Ennis. Anyway, it began in 2003 with the prelude miniseries Born.
MoN: Let’s tell the readers: what is Born about?
BB: It’s about the Vietnam War, of course — because that is the sort of defining thing about Frank Castle, although it’s kind of difficult now; I don’t think Marvel can really sell a character who fought in the Vietnam War, because he would be 65 or something. So Garth Ennis does enjoy a war story, and Frank Castle, prior to any of this, was a guest star in issue #7 of Marvel’s The ‘Nam comic, where he appears as a young man. And it sort of nicely counterpoints him against Captain America because you have someone who fought in a good war and was treated extremely well on returning, and then you have someone who returned from an unjust, shitty piece of American interventionism.
MoN: I’m curious to see how they’re going to handle this, because with Vietnam, it quite quickly started to occupy this symbolic space in the popular American imagination. It was, yes, American interventionism biting America in the ass — you know, you have all these movies about people going to Vietnam: manly men sticking together but, surprise, everything is terrible and everyone is cynical.
December 2nd, 2015
A confession: I am a Strong Female Reader, and I can’t get enough Dicks.
To clarify, I adore Garth Ennis’ and John McCrea’s (if he’s reading this: hi, John!) two-volume series Dicks beyond all reason. It’s obsessed with the combination of male genitalia and violence, and isn’t ashamed of that obsession. It’s ostensibly puerile to the point of featuring an alien antagonist called Lord Bluevein, leader of the Dong. One of its main goals seems to be answering the question: how many cartoonish dicks can we cram into each page?
That’s why I love it so much.
I mean, there’s a building on my university campus called Bonar Hall, and every single time I walk past it I do a mental snicker. The day I learned that All-Star Superman was referred to as ASSMAN in official DC correspondence is a day I will treasure forever. When I picked up a black-and-white print collection of Vol. 1 of Dicks at London Super Comic Con and got McCrea and Ennis to sign it, I made a point of telling them that since it was in a bag, I had an actual bag of Dicks in my hand.
April 21st, 2014
BLANK FRANK IS THE MESSENGER OF YOUR DOOM AND YOUR DESTRUCTION
Happy Birthday to SILENCE!
Happy Birthday to SILENCE!
You look like a monkey
and you smell like…Brian Blessed’s beard…?
I think that’s how the song goes anyway. It is the return of original and best of the Narratorbots, Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735! No fractal distillations of self, or parallell versions, just the real motherboard-flipping deal. Back to celebrate 100, 000, 000 episodes of reality’s most beloved poddlecaste, SILENCE! What once was a mewling, quivering babe, is now a stooped and saggy old man, with low slung testicles and a shuffling gait. And it’s all because of you enabling those two Radio Hams Gary Lactus & The Beast Must Die in continuing to fool themselves into thinking the world wants to hear their unwelcome opinions. So congratulations dear listeners. this is all your fault.
What we need is an intervention.
<ITEM> As a special 100th birthday reward, The Dear Listeners have provided the twosome with a list of questions. You can guarantee that the important issues of the day will be cogitated over, digested and thoroughly dissected… there are so many quizzlers that we JUST HAD to call this Step Into The Quizzlertron, part 1! Comics Dialogue – John Ostrander, Del Close, Garth Ennis, Chris Ware, John Wagner, Wolverine deathcamp, Danny Beastman & Gary Lactenberg – where are we now?, Alex Ross, American Horror Story, Superhero movies, Jeff Goldblum, Gary eating eggs, Dr Strange movie – Burt Reynolds, Sam Elliott, Widescreen comics, Samuel L Jackson, Beano, Dennis The Menace, Early comics memories – missing Knight Rider tied to a tree, 2000AD, Ro-Busters, Secret Wars, Dredd mug, Flaming Carrot action figure, Comics day breakfast, Bob-Z, Ronin, Fantastic Four, Stan The Man Lee making breakfast, James from Twin Peaks made of plastic, Digital comics v analogue comics, Copra, indy vs superhero, Flaming Carrot, the rules of writing questions, Synth pop, Nu-Rom Antics, Lemmy, Keif Llam and so much more…
<ITEM> A sideways crab-like slide into the Reviewniverse to uncover the contemporary delights of Doop, Batman Eternal, weekly comics, Avengers Undercover, Stray Bullets, Auteur, Starlight
And this is just part 1! Aren’t you EXCITED? Couldn’t you just SCREAM?
Well go on then.