SILENCE! #232

July 14th, 2017

“SOME LIKE IT SCOTT!”

With The Family Beast still busy chewing on cigars with the big boys of Amazon “Optimus” Prime, mere minutes away from negotiating a deal that will see them broadcast into living rooms and pockets across the world, Gary Lactus is forced to do the one thing he didn’t want to do…. negotiate with the Skype-inept monsters of Mindless North for a second episode running.

Despite the usual technical problems that occur when North and South try to get together – blame Nicola Sturgeon for nationalising Scottish Skype in a better reality! – Gary Lactus is joined by Illogical Volume and Mister Attack, their shirts wet with rain, their bellies full of macaroni and rage.

<ITEM!> Who sponsors Gary Lactus? Some guy called Dave.  Who sponsors the sponsemen?  Fuck it, I dunno, Geoff Johns probably.

<ITEM!> The gang discuss the recent Small Press Day, the life changing/band forming dangers of encountering strange works by shifty creators in darkened rooms and the explosive properties of turtles.

<ITEM!> Shifting effortlessly out of the classical forms he has already mastered and into the new realm of Perhaps, R. Gary R.R.R. Lactus presents his new science fiction masterpiece: A Westworld.

<ITEM! > The question of who the nicest Mindless One is raised again.  Will Illogical Volume prove that he is actually a callow, cynical monster whose whole existence is a lie perpetrated against human decency by actually holding a twitter poll to determine whether people think he is nicer than Mister Attack?  Only time will tell.

 

<ITEM!> In SILENCE!…Because The Film Has Started, Gary Lactus is surprised by Spider-Man: Homecoming, and the Scottish are grumpy about Marvel movies and enthusiastic about gingers and ants.

<ITEM!> With all the relevant admin taken care of, the trio dive arse-first into the Reviewniverse for purposeful wallow in the  inky pleasures of comics.  John Allison’s Giant Days, new non-hierarchical/anonymous arts project SLABAl Ewing, Dan Brown and Travel Foreman’s Ultimates 2 (which Illogical Volume has finally started to read!), Craig Collins’ Oubliette, Hot Trash Dimension and Ross Geller Fanzine, the cosy era of the Justice LeagueGumby comics, and the wonderful info-comics produced by the University of Glasgow’s Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology.

After making a speedy exit from the Reviewniverse, the team take a brief detour through the pages of Show Call…

…and tolerate Illogical Volume promoting Cut-Out Witch (drawn by the wonderful Lynne Henderson), Looking Glass Heights and Living Rent before heading off in search of more dinner.

 

[email protected]

You can support us using Patreon if you like.

This edition of SILENCE! is proudly sponsored by the greatest comics shop on the planet, DAVE’S COMICS of Brighton. It’s also sponsored the greatest comics shop on the planet GOSH! Comics of London.

It must be strange to be in Mogwai, and to read reviews that chastise you for sounding too much and not enough like yourself.  It’s a familiar pattern, but then Mogwai are a familiar band these days.  Perhaps that’s the problem: when they started out with the ten minute songs and the Blur: Are Shite t-shirts and the Bucky rage they were easier to idolise.  Eight albums in, they’re a more difficult journalistic proposition.  As comfortable noise merchants, opinionated men who are adamant that their music carries no pre-determined meaning, purveyors of defiantly mainstream art rock, what exactly are we supposed to make of Mogwai in 2014?

These concerns seem relevant in blog posts and in music magazines, but in the context of January’s show at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall they seemed utterly meaningless, even absurd.  It’s an observation that’s tired enough to seem trite by now, but Mogwai are one of those bands who you really need to see live in order to fully appreciate.  2010′s Special Moves is an excellent simulation of the band’s live dynamics that doubles as a testament to the quality of their later work, but even played at an absurdly high volume it never threatens to capture Mogwai’s true range.

There’s something in the grain of Mogwai’s live show that’s never quite made it onto their records.  It’s in that washed out, trebley guitar sound that starts out sounding like an inner ear itch and then grows until it batters you bodily.  The physical impact of this noise would be near-impossible to recreate without the help of plush PAs like the one in the Concert Hall, but you can hear an echo of it Mogwai’s quieter recorded moments – it haunts Happy Songs for Happy People and provides the undercurrent of barely controlled rage in their soundtrack to Douglas Gordon’s Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, for example.  You can hear it on Rave Tapes too, but what was merely a whispered rumour on the album version of opener ‘Heard About You Last Night’ is screamed loud enough to ruin hairlines and destroy reputations in concert.  

Speaking of damaged reputations, click here if you want to see me do more violence to my own!

Despite my seeming full mental breakdown after the first issue of Transformers: Regeneration One, I held on to my sanity well enough to continue buying it on a monthly basis.  Didn’t take long for a feeling to creep in that, beyond the initial shock, things were maybe… Off the boil? I continued to buy it more out of a sense of nostalgic loyalty than any actual engagement.  After all, who doesn’t want to see the creators of their childhood iconography still get paid, in this crazy work for hire world?

(assuming they haven’t espoused something morally dubious or engaged in something horrible)

PART 1: PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS

For Christmas this year I was given the prospect of impending joblessness, a gift that has a fine Dickensian heritage, though unfortunately it’s not Dickens but Shakespeare who has a cameo in the comic at hand:

You don’t need a Shakespearean imagination to understand that redundancy is not the sort of gift I’ve always dreamed of receiving, or to appreciate that it’s not the sort of unwanted gift that you can easily pass on to an unsuspecting relative…

Not that I’m so lacking in compassion for others that I’d *want* to inflict that on anyone else. Even in this post-Monneygeddon age, there’s a limit to what I’m willing to admit in public!

A few weeks ago an alternative version of this present drifted into view, a hot air balloon that looked like it might be capable of taking me somewhere:

Click here to find out exactly where that cheeky chappy there thinks he’s going to take you!

Windowpane #1, by Joe Kessler 

 

There’s a point early on in this comic where you realise that you’re not so much watching characters describe a landscape as watching the landscape try work out how to describe itself. This might seem counter-intuitive but from the end of the first story onward the pattern repeats itself – Joe Kessler’s garish, pastel-hued compositions either  break down into their constituent lines after exhaustive exploration or sit there seemingly unaffected by the words and actions that have passed through them.

The best example of the latter category involves a wet-dream about a pig in a dress, whose fall through the night sky is contrasted against an unflinching cityscape with a moment-by-moment precision that does far better justice to the pithy punchline than this description:

In the former category, the Invisible Cities-derived third strip is as close to definitive as Windowpane gets.  The way it links its characters shared status as splashes of ink and colour on the page with their philosophising about the interconnected nature of reality — “…a cluster of atoms resembles a cluster of galaxies.”/”Well they’re both clusters” – might seem trite in isolation, but the surrounding stories make these philosophical observations feel more like a little bit of texture on a varied landscape.

All of this might  sound a bit chilly and distant, but Kessler’s human figures are depicted with a deceptive sort of ease, as a series of curving lines whose relationships to each other is nevertheless very carefully observed and delineated:

 

Still, in keeping with Kessler’s paradoxical thematic schemata it’s the backgrounds that are the focus here, existing as they do on the precise point where detail blurs into abstraction.  The interaction between text and territory here has a sly kinshsip with Dylan Horrocks writing on maps and comics, and perhaps also with Kevin Huizenga’s conception of the comics page as a place for exploration and discovery, but Kessler’s backgrounds have a forcefulness to them that resists his characters attempts at attaching meaning as much as it encourages them.

This is tricky relationship is most clearly explored in the final two strips.  In  the penultimate entry, words shrink on the page as Kessler depicts his precarious human figures parachuting in to kindle-worthy hillscape:

Thought and language here are reduced to a form of quaint annotation, one that is far less effective at providing a guide to this hazardous landscape than the blocky symbols that line these panels.

The final story focuses on a burned lover who – uh, *SPOILERS* – tries to find solace in the freak resemblance between a man and a decapitated bull.  It plays out like a sneaky assurance that the process of muck sitting up, looking itself and trying to figure itself out isn’t totally meaningless. It’s also the sort of assurance that’s both underlined and undermined by the fact that,  unlike any given sunset, you know this resemblance was put there to be noticed.

Click here to read about more gud comics on the site that just can’t seem to quit you, no matter how many resolutions it makes!

For the second year running, the Mindless Ones will be hawking their tawdry wares at the Thought Bubble comic convention in Leeds.

We’ll be at table 46 in the recently renamed New Dock Hall, so feel free to stop by for headtouching and pishtalk if you’re at the convention!

Last year’s convention was generally agreed to be one of the best comics related gatherings that Team Mindless had ever attended, so we’re coming team handed this year.

Cick here to find out quite how many hands our team is likely to have!

*and Batwomen, obviously!

As anyone unlucky enough to follow me on twitter will know by now, I was at Dundee Comics Day yesterday with Botswanna Beast, Mister Attack, Ben Deep Space Transmissions and Ben Deep Space Transmissions’ mate (who was lovely, but whose name I never managed to remember for >>> 5 minutes because I am a cock) yesterday.

Comics journalist Laura Sneddon was working at the event too, so Team Mindless had a brief but enjoyable chat with her about The Singing Kettle, which… uh, probably isn’t something you know about outside of Scotland, I guess. I also apparently ignored at least one person I’m twitter friends with, so sorry Dan!

Anyway, Dundee Comics Day has been a fixture of the town’s Literary Festival since 2007, and this year’s event was focused on Grant Morrison and some of his collaborators.  What this meant was that me and the boyce were treated to a solid day’s worth of comics chat, in a setting that was designed to force Mister Attack and myself and especially the Bottie Beast flashbacks back to our time in higher education.

The conversation with Grant Morrison that kicked off the day was entertaining if short on revelation.  There wee a few routines in there that anyone who’s heard Morrison speak more than once in the past decade will probably have heard before (“more space combat!” etc), but the man’s still good company whether he’s discussing why Batman is the only character he keeps coming back to (“because he’s so sexy”) or making my teenage brain melt by mentioning that he’s met with the RZA re: the proposed movie adaptation of Happy!  Of course he would have gained extra points if he’d announced this by saying “Me and the RZA connect”, but so it goes.

During the Q&A part of the event, I asked whether Morrison was interested in writing something set closer to home – if not GRANT MORRISON: THE SCOTTISH CONNECTION, then maybe something close.   Morrison responded by saying that he’d like to write something set in Glasgow, which he reckons would be a good setting for a horror story.  He pointed to Bible John as being the work of his that comes closest to fulfilling this promise, but noted that he  probably won’t get around to doing something else set in his hometown until he’s in his dotage.  Morrison also added that he’d love to play a computer game set in Glasgow so he could drive a car through Princes Square, to which I can only say “I Want To Go To There!”

There was a definite break between Morrison’s panel and everything that followed, and the line between the two parts of the day was exposed when Morrison was asked a question abut the future of comics.  Morrison joked that he’s still hoping that the world is going end in December so there won’t have to be a future of comics, before describing how he reckons that the sort of comics that thrive on the variety of new platforms available to them will almost certainly have evolved to make use of the new dimensions available to them.  This idea was presented enthusiastically, but there was a subtext of melancholy that makes perfect sense when you think about how closely entwined Morrison’s personal iconography is with the physical properties of the comics form:

 

Click here to read more about the event that experts are calling Morrison Con for people who didn’t finish their computing degrees!

I hope you’ll forgive me a little bit of Mindless Self Indulgence here since we’ve already covered the comic in question in some detail, but just try to imagine my surprise when after reading pages and pages full of brilliant, moving stuff about growing older in a world that is indifferent to your bewildered perspective in LoEG Century, I came face-to-face with the young Antichrist and discovered that he was me.

Of course, he was also Harry Potter and Will Stanton and Kevin the Teenager, but as he peeled his way out of the page…

…and started rambling away at our heroes in that deadened voice of his, I began to feel like I was watching myself rip my way through the comic. A spoiled young man raging against the story he’s grown up in?

Fuck! Yeah, okay – guilty as charged!

Mmmmmyesss! Click here to initiate contact with a Mindless antichrist!