EXPOSITION: From the first few pages onwards it’s clear that this is one of those LA stories, an everyday apocalypse in which a strung out and savvy cast of screenwriters, rappers, astronauts, agents and cultists collide against a genre-mashed backdrop; the prophetic screenplay that drives the story is modeled on The Last Boy Scout, but Richard Kelly’s media-frazzled sci-fi meltdown Southland Tales seems the more fitting tonal counterpoint for this story of a city stuck on an apparently endless cycle of destruction.

You might remember reading about all this in the early hype, but if not you can always obtain the first issue for free online and get a flavour for it yourself.

The main characters in CHANGE are lost and ambitious souls, tilting after people and projects like a set of modern day Don Quixotes, struggling to find their way to an imaginary elsewhere that might just resemble home if they can stick the landing.

If there’s a criticism to be raised here it’s perhaps that the women in this comic tend to be framed at the centre of the madness, while the men are given more active roles as explorers.  Richard Doublehead (“the Virginia Woolf of screenwriters”) and rapper turned movie producer W-2 and find themselves instigating the plot and exploring it respectively, and in their dueling roles both men are spurred on by the loss of their partners.  Charlie Kaufman style maverick screenwriter and surprisingly competent car thief Sonia has a more active role than either of the female love interests, but her ability to write what’s about to happen still positions her as being somehow in tune with the madness where her fellow protagonists affect and are affected by it:

Thinking about Sonia’s character, I keep coming back to Angela Carter talking about her experience with the surrealists:

…I had to give them up in the end. They were, with a few patronized exceptions, all men and they told me that I was the source of all mystery, beauty, and otherness, because I was a woman – and I knew that was not true. I knew I wanted my fair share of the imagination, too. Not an excessive amount, mind; I wasn’t greedy. Just an equal share in the right to vision.

If Sonia has anything, it’s vision, but somehow her goals seem less tangible those of her male counterparts; for all that her voice is the most purely entertaining one in the comic, I still can’t help but feel that her arc is also the least satisfying.  Even the astronaut, who spends most of his page time cut off from the other characters, finds himself on a journey to be reunited with them and with himself:

Click here to see if I can bring this post down to Earth safely.

CHANGE is… coming soon!  In fact, it’s possible that it’s already here.  Perhaps you’ve already read the comic, and are looking for more information on the people who made it.  Or maybe you’ve been here before, and have found yourself stuck in a loop, struggling to get out.   Regardless of your circumstances, I’m glad you’re here.

CHANGE is… a bracingly modern pulp adventure comic, set in Los Angeles, in which an astronaut, a screen writer/car thief, and a rapper caught midway through a transition into a Hollywood afterlife find themselves entangled in the tendrils of a plot that mixes showbiz horror with Lovecraftian glamour. Or is that the other way round?

CHANGE is… written by Ales Kot, drawn by Morgan Jeske, coloured by Sloane Leong and lettered by Ed Brisson.  Quite a line-up, I’m sure you’ll agree!

CHANGE is… a stylish, ambitious comic that makes perfect sense as part of of Image’s attempt to make popular genre comics that aren’t totally stylistically and thematically inert.  Comics that read like they were made with care, energy, enthusiasm, and maybe even that earth element you call… love.

As such, I’m happy to present to you with a “Choose Your Own Adventure” style interview with two of the creators involved in this comic, Ales Kot and Morgan Jeske.

If you don’t think you’ve got the heart for this sort of postmodern gambit, you can click here to read the interview straight.

If, on the other hand, you’d rather experience the adventure your own way, click here and enlightenment will follow.

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.

As previously mentioned, the Mindless dream team of The Beast Must Die, Illogical Volume and Andrew “Mandrew” Hickey made it down to Leeds for this year’s Thought Bubble comics convention. These are their recollections of the event, as distorted by the passing of time, sleep-deprivation, alcohol consumption, and the brain-scrambling dazzle of a white lounge suit:

Enter the Mindless (23 Chambers)

Being: the first of three posts about Carla Speed McNeil’s “aboriginal science fiction” series Finder…

Reading one of Carla Speed McNeil’s Finder comics is like wandering through a strange new city without a reliable guide. Or a map, for that matter, but maybe that’s better in the end. After all, sometimes maps can cause a different sort of trouble:

A map can organize the world according to almost any principle of order…. All classificatory grids are arbitrary. They have no necessary or absolute status. It does not matter what kind of grid is used on the map. Any system of lines or points of reference can be imposed to provide orientation, although different mappings may serve very different interests…. For those who inhabit particular mappings, they are likely to be viewed simply as reality.

(Geoff King, Mapping Reality – an Exploration of Cultural Cartographies - via Dylan Horrocks)

Forget maps for a minute.  Let’s stick our head in there and see what we see…

Ah, well, as far as broad statements of intent go, that one’s as good a starting place as any for this post.  You see, unlike that other master of anthropological science fiction, Ursula Le Guin, McNeil doesn’t pretend to build up her world up systematically in front of your eyes.  Instead,  find yourself discovering information about the cultures in Finder almost accidentally, by watching the characters interact and keeping your eye on some of the key sights. No wonder Kelly Sue DeConnick compared the book to a shotgun blast!  Still, I’ll stick with my ‘strange city’ analogy, if only because of the comic’s pace. Freshly re-released as part of this collected edition, Finder: Sin Eater is a brilliant, wandering introduction to a truly great comic book. It’s a twisted mess of a story, with family ties, military ties and cultural boundaries revealing themselves at a leisurely pace, all the better to fully appreciate the damaged contexts the cast of characters live in. McNeil’s art becomes more and less abstract as the story dictates, sometimes suggesting an expressionistic hybrid of Western alt-comics and manga tropes, at other points snapping into “realistic” focus to give us a better look at the thoroughly singular world she’s created.

Want to find yourself falling faster and faster until your body bursts into fire? Then click away dear reader, click away!