Got Your Nose, Douglas Noble, self published 2016

“Who is this bastard and why is he lying to me?!” – this was the first instruction given to me by my favourite English Lit lecturer, a guide for how to approach any given novel, no – check the expiration date, still seems good to go – any given text.  Shame that it falls apart only when you apply it back to the source, eh?

After all, who the fuck was this man and what did he have to gain from carving out space for that idea?  Only his whole fucking career.

Still, if I can’t pretend that this question will keep a roof over my head, I can still carry a jagged little fragment of it around in my back pocket, not so much an offensive weapon as a talisman to ward off the sly lies of authors, always so keen to have you see things their way.  So it goes with cartoonist Douglas Noble, whose New Lies in Every Line has had me bewitched and bewildered for a full year now.

I met Douglas at this year’s Thought Bubble festival, and spotting a sucker, he drew me in with his carnival barker’s knowledge of how to see into the heart of the audience, to know not just what they want to see but what they need to see.  He promised me that he was moving away from narrative and further into the realm of pure theme, and having glanced briefly at Got Your Nose, I believed him.

What can I say, I’ll always be a sucker for a Scottish accent in a distant land!

Beast Wagon #1, by Owen Michael Johnson, John Pearson, Colin Bell, and Gavin James-Weir (Changeling Studios, 2015)

I have no idea what this comic is. I cannot it read it. It renders reading impossible. What is that smell? No, that’s too kind a word for it. Stench is too florid, too learned. This comic doesn’t smell, it hums. Is it glue? My mind tells me that it must be, glue or something like it, some aspect of the binding.

It’s not the staples though, staples could never smell like this. It’s the glue. That’s what my brain tells me, but there’s another reaction, a deeper one. Probably just a different function of the brain. Definitely that. And yet it also feels like it’s a function of the body. I know, I know, all parts of the same system, but it’s like hearing a lion scream at you in the zoo: you know there are physical and social constraints preventing the brute from eviscerating you but part of you is still howling to run!

It’s only a comic, just a mess of words and pictures on the page, just paper and ink. Ink doesn’t smell like this, does it?  Probably not even if you use it wrong. No, I can’t read it, I want to get rid of it, I need to get it out of my house, need to wash the smell of it off me.

I think this comic is planning to kill me.

 

Fight Club 2 #1, by Cameron Stewart and Chuck Palahniuk (Dark Horse, 2015)

Dear Mister Attack,

You will be unsurprised to hear that WOLF EMOTIONS was giving the new Fight Club comic the hard sell in the shop the other day. Apparently Cameron Stewart is coming in for a signing, in theory he’s only going to sign copies of Fight Club 2 but I’m sure we could get him to stretch to some Batman underpants if we ask nicely.

Probably best to take them off and wash them before we make the request, mind.

Anyway, the comic itself is pretty much as you’d expect given who’s involved. If the book worked like a generational confession that was just novelistic enough to cast doubt on its own world view, and if the movie existed in a more open sort of conflict with itself due to the fact that it couldn’t help but try to sell you Brad Pitts by the box-load, then this represents the final triumph of Fight Club as product.

It’s a sequel so that might seem like a statement of the obvious, but just like Buzzfeed and Vice are made more evil by the fact that they publish some genuinely worthwhile stuff, the fact that this is an actual comic – worse, that it threatens to turn into a genuine collaboration – just makes it worse and more obvious. I could feel Eddie Campbell getting eggy over my shoulder while I read it, the pair of us getting increasingly fucked off with the surface level tricks, the scattered pills and petals that obscure faces and dialogue throughout.

You could even argue that the comic acknowledges its readership, gives them a twisted identification figure in the form of Marla, so horny for the destructive thrills of the source material – because this does not feel so much like a continuation as it does part of an extended universe, like Kieron Gillen writing what Darth Vader did on his holidays – that she doesn’t give a shit what feeding that monster brings,  GamerGate: The Musical, Before Fight Club, the immolation of her own flesh and blood, whatever.

It’s still all very cleverly done, of course, but even that calls back to one of the movie’s more resonant exchanges:

How’s that working out for you… being clever?