Poor ideology

April 19th, 2013

‘Nothing of note was to be inherited by her loved ones, and nor was anything ever expected to be. She was put to rest with exactly the same title as the one with which she was born. She never ruined anyone’s life and never once considered a career in the deliberate, violent immiseration of her fellow citizens.’

One measures a circle, beginning anywhere’ – From Hell

‘Easily the current century’s first landmark work of fantasy and ranking amongst the best pieces ever written in that genre, with The Vorrh we are presented with a sprawling immaterial organism which leaves the reader filthy with its seeds and spores’

‘I would say, that if you’re talking about a line of progress, if it can be called progress, that runs from Berthold Brecht’s Threepenny Opera, to Donald Cammell’s Performance, to Harry Potter, I don’t think you can really see that as anything but a decline… and also I would say that if you’ve got the Avengers movie as one of the most eagerly attended recent movies, and if most of those attendees were adults, which I believe they were, then if you’ve got a huge number of contemporary adults going to watch a film containing characters and storylines that were meant for the entertainment of eleven year old boys fifty years ago, then…’


‘We shall attack, we continue to wait… This gesture, which can never be fully grounded in reasons, is that of a Master. It is for the experts to present the situation in its complexity, and it is for the Master to simplify it into a point of decision. … The Master is needed especially in situations of deep crisis.’

‘BOMB ENTANGLERS DISENGAGED’

 

The Beast Must Die: So frazzled, bedraggled and maybe even bedazzled we all arrived safely back from this year’s Thought Bubble 2012 comics festival in Leeds, which once again proved itself to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience for everyone. It gets the tone just right – an even balance between mainstream and fringe, with the small press rubbing shoulders with industry pros. Girls, boys, seasoned fans, neophytes, kids, pensioners, cosplayers and the just plain weird, the TB crowd is diverse, good natured and one of the best aspects of the whole affair.

Attending something like Thought Bubble also reminds you first and foremost why you love the artform, a welcome shot of 4-colour adrenaline to enliven even the most message board weary fan.

The Mindless Ones were there in pretty full effect, with Andrew Hickey, Gary Lactus and myself  joined by Legendary Weapons Bobsy & Illogical Volume, as well as Mindless Cadet, Mister Attack and the living juggernaut that is Plok. We were positioned on the right hand side of the newly christened New Dock Hall. Andrew was selling his arsenal of wonderful music and comics books, as well as a new volume of his short stories. Lactus had the collected full colour beauty of The Amusing Bros and Andrew & Steven in Knights Of The Realm, and I was touting Cindy & Biscuit, including the brand new 56 page issue no.3. Mr Attack had his comic Everyone’s Felt Like This Once for sale, and Bobsy brought along a free comic featuring both the current PM and Lord Horror no less. Together we formed like Bruticus and set about ensnaring the public.

 

 

On a personal level I don’t think I could have had a better time of it. The reception that Cindy & Biscuit received was heartening, and I sold almost everything I took with me. What was especially gratifying was the breadth of customers I had – I sold a lot to kids this year, which was ace. It’s great to think of them reading mys stuff at home, and I just hope they were all appropriately thrilled, amused or spooked by Cindy & Biscuit. Lots of nice people said lots of nice things about it too, from comics pro’s to fans who bought earlier issues the previous year. All in all I was pretty damn chuffed.

It was great chatting to friend of SILENCE!, Al Ewing, whose gift to us was surely the best comic con exclusive that has ever been. He and his lovely friends were all most accommodating to our frazzled selves in the hotel bar on Sunday evening. It was as nice to see Kieron Gillen as ever, and I enjoyed talking to ace 2000AD scribe Rob Williams about Low Life. I was too nervous to speak to John Wagner, and certainly too nervous to ask him to say ‘I AM THE LAW’ in his stentorian Hibernian brogue. We happened to be on the table next to British comics catalyst  Paul Gravett, along with comics artist and scholar John Miers and his lovely partner Megan, who co-runs the Comica Festival with Paul. Paul was his usual enthusiastic self, and did the circuits with his usual charm and aplomb. John and Megan were also  excellent company, and truly sympathetic hangover buddies on Sunday. John’s comics are here and info about Comica is here.

Add to that the thrills of our ongoing experiment in listener alienation with our SILENCE! Thought Bubble special, the epic drinkery at the post TB Saturday night bash at the Leeds Corn Exchange, and you have a pretty full weekend. As I stated earlier, the atmosphere at Thought Bubble is open, friendly and enthusiastic. I can’t rate it high enough, and will certainly back next year.

But really, I hear you pretty much scream, FOR THE LOVE OF AQUAMAN, WHAT ABOUT THE COMICS???????!

Well…

Being: the third in a series of posts about John Smith and Edmund Bagwell’s top British horror comic Cradlegrave.

I know one thing – they’re out there and I’m in here. Or rather, we are. Burrowed into precariously rented homes, needing increasingly mutilated services, awaiting mail that brings nothing but threats and bad news, painfully aware that social participation is as demanding of contacts, salesmanship and resources as much as livable employment, vaguely bewildered at a city that announces NOT FOR YOU from every corner: This is the Condition of the Working Class in Bizarro Town. Occasionally supermarkets, burger bars and pasty chains beckon for our devalued labour; if we can demonstrate the ‘right attitude’ (note: I can’t). Failing that, providers of job-seeking ‘services’ extract their own value promising to train us in the ‘right attitude’ and mandatory salesmanship. Otherwise we can shut the fuck up, get off the streets, and watch TV shows informing us that we’re scum. Or, as far as one’s amour propre can allow, talk to faceless strangers on machines that mine and collect details of every careless utterance. This is how neoliberalism ends: Not with a bang, but whimpering, numbing Dystopian cliche. A design against life.

(Pere Lebrun, A Hungry Gorge)

Click here for extra added haunting!

Being: the second in a series of posts about John Smith and Edmund Bagwell’s top British horror comic Cradlegrave.

If you’re going to talk about Cradlegrave, you’ve pretty much got to face up to this image at some point:

Stripped of context it’s just a doll, just a tired horror-movie prop, a signifier of terror rather than something actually terrifying. In context however, this dull prop seems far more potent:

The sense of surprise, that feeling of “what the fuck is that face doing in the middle of this conversation?”, is enough to give the image some fresh charge here.  The last panel of the sequence hints at the answer, but for the duration of the two panels before it you could be forgiven for thinking you were in another, more Lynchian kind of horror story.

Still, even the most bewildering emanations in Cradlegrave trace back to fleshy, non-Lynchian sources, so it’s just as well that there’s more to the this sequence than  lifeless eyes and startling incongruity.

Look into these eyes, and tell me what you see…

Being: the first in a series of posts about John Smith and Edmund Bagwell’s top British horror comic Cradlegrave.

ONE – If you didn’t look past this cover-cum-announcement for Cradlegrave, you might think that it was telling a very specific sort of story, the sort of story you might describe as being either “tabloid shit” or “a bit Jamie Delano” depending on where you felt like throwing your cruelty.

When I first discussed Cradlegrave back in December, regular commenter Thrills noted that he was “looking forward to reading Cradlegrave” now that he’d got past his concerns that it would “be like that Denise Mina Hellblazer where ‘hoodies’ are ‘demons’.”

Ah, so it’s the worst of both worlds – tabloid shit that smells like Jamie Delano. Fuck.

TWO – Despite the fact that the “Fear they Neighbour” text is missing, the cover of the collected edition still works hard to make the same impression:

There’s something less real about these four hooded figures in this second, reformatted cover – the overly harsh, pixelated light that gleams on of their shoulders is even more unnatural when set against an all-black background, a background that now extends into the empty spaces where four young faces should be.

These are absent phantoms, not flesh and blood monsters, and while I wouldn’t want to pretend that they’re being deliberately undermined here, I still find it hard to imagine anyone taking them seriously.

The only fear in this image is the fear you bring with you, be it fear of “savage” yoofs or of right wing rhetoric…

Click here to drink the black milk… IF YOU DARE!

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.

With our gift giving over but spirits still high, Zom pipes up about the problems with continuity using X-Men Regenesis # 1 as a starting point.  Conversation drifts to many areas including DC’s New 52, 2000AD and more, ending with a whole lot of talk about just how great Judge Dredd is.  Speaking of which, here’s a panel by Garth Ennis and Glen Fabry from the Dredd tale, Talkback.

Click to download

Illogical Volume: Okay, so the idea here is that we’re going to do another one of these shit-talky back and forths, this time on DC’s New 52 (I hate the whole Nu52 thing, smells like team Durst), with various diversions into non-DC comics for added flavour.  I don’t know, I guess I’ve just read a veritable CUMPKINLOAD OF COMICS in the last three-and-a-half months and I feel the need to share my thoughts on them with both you and the rest of the world. Do you feel like enabling me big man?

Botswana Beast: Yeah, the nomenclature is – it’s external, it is entirely New Metal (the first music I loved, forefathers: Faith No More, whose cassette album ‘Angel Dust’ was the first by a single band I owned, in fucking Christmas 1991/2, I did have Now 17 before that.) It should have an ümlaut ideally, because comics are nothing if not racist and utterly without taste.

But anyway, yes, I think I have some feelings about comics, still, in my one remaining nerve, the world passes me by in numb shock, but these – well, one can express oneself. Isn’t it wonderful now everyone can express themselves via this technological medium? Wunderbar.

Illogical Volume: FEELINGS ABOUT COMICS ARE THE ONLY TRUE FEELINGS! So long as we can keep that in mind, we should do just fine here…

2000AD Progs 1750 – 1763

If I was writing about 2000AD like The Beast Must Die is was doing for a while there (note to The Beast Must Die: please write about 2000AD again soon!) I’d have the slight problem of wanting to repeat myself every week – there are two strips in here that are regularly worthwhile, you know what they are (Indigo Prime and Judge Dredd) and I can’t think of much to say about the other strips.  Which is just another reason why TBMD >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> me, obviously.

I’d feel like a total dilettante trying to say anything clever about Judge Dredd, so I’ll focus on Indigo Prime right now, which… well, thanks for “making” me buy the Indigo Prime trade at Kapow!, Botswana Beast, because this is so exactly WHAT I WANT that I can’t believe I hadn’t read it all before.

The last strip in Indigo Prime’s previous incarnation, Killing Time, also happened to be the best one. It’s both From Hell as written by a skin-sick sensualist and (thanks to the bulgy brilliance of Chris Weston’s art) a warped precursor to The Filth, which is to say that it’s pretty close to comic book perfection.  This freshly relaunched series doesn’t quite have the same queasy feel to, but that’s okay.  If Killing Time was the blue meat you’d pick up from a bad butcher, these two new stories have had a sort of processed meat feel to them, more like something you’d buy from the local Spar on yr lunch break and instantly regret. Only, you know, good.

Regardless of the exact flavour of meat involved, it (the old and new incarnations of Indigo Prime) is (are) one (two) of my favourites. Yes.

Plus, also, Al Ewing and Brendan McCarthy are going to be working together on a new strip called Zaucer of Zilk for 2K, so you can consider me officially THERE for the New McCarthysim, as always…

Click here for more! An early Xmas Overload awaits, now with extra added Scottish!

Welcome back to my bi-weekly review of the Galaxy’s Greatest/attempt to disprove that you can never go home… For a lengthy rationale for my return to Tharg’s bosom, go read the first post here.

Now let’s get busy with Progs 1752 & 1753…

Hey D’israeli? Nice cover!

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I come to you, a lapsed Squaxx.

I stopped reading the Galaxy’s Greatest in any sort of regularity a long time ago. More than 15 years ago I reckon. That wasn’t always the way though. For a long time 2000AD was the most important comic in my life. I don’t really need to list the reasons – you’ve heard it all before no doubt. English comics fans proudly informing their bored US counterparts that they don’t know shit son, cos they weren’t there. But fucking hell man sometimes it was hard not to gloat – Millligan & Ewins on on the scorching psychedlic war strip Bad Company; Morrison & Yeowell on Zenith;  Mills & O’Neill on the utterly original and frankly just plain crazy Nemesis; Mills & Bisley on the heavy metal nihilism of ABC Warriors; the incredible John Wagner (whose contribution alone to absolute fucking rock solid thrill power for the last 35 years means that, really, we should have a National holiday celebrating the man…); Brendan McCarthy; Mike Fucking McMahon; Bolland, Gibbons; Cam Kennedy’s incredible shattered war torn planetscapes that still absolutely kill it; Brendan McCarthy again; Halo Jones (Alan Moore’s best work, and it is so fuck off and it’s a proper tragedy but also kind of beautiful that it’ll never be finished); John Hicklenton (RIP); DR & Quinch; Big Dave;Dredd’s boots….JOHN MOTHERFUCKING SMITH….

Fuck, I did it anyway. Sorry…

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