July 2nd, 2015
The five people who are eagerly awaiting my book on Grant Morrison and Chris Weston’s pestilent fantasy The Filth will note that the book has still not been released yet.
That I have failed to finish this project in time for the release of the hardcover edition of The Filth will surprise no one who has retained interest in the project for this long. The fact that said hardcover contains just the bare minimum of fresh material – a script for issue #6, some sketches that make the book even more difficult to read on the bus, the reheated contents of the charmingly crap Crack Comicks website – will also fail surprise anyone with a basic understanding of both comics and capitalism.
Good little enemy of the entertainment complex that I am, I paid to consume The Filth for the third time anyway. The hardback edition simulates the glossy colouring of the single issues rather than the battered bog roll of the trade paperback. It offers the reader a sense of solidity, of lasting luxury, that the previous editions lacked.
The Filth is a disgusting, slippery mess of a book. As Terrance Moreua said in the comments to one of my preview posts:
The visual grammar of The Filth is all over the place. The discontinuity being part of the point, of course. There are times when it seems to be Morrison’s script callouts (the tv cameras) and times when it seems to be Weston (background texture effects, etc) and times where it’s really fucking hard to tell (the goddamn photoshop transform tool effect to signify getting squeezed into the crack, or getting your personality fucked with in psychedelisex)…
Essentially, I find The Filth to be textually rich, garishly colored, expressively acted, disgustingly rendered and more. But comparatively poorly composed. I think there are too many components fighting for interplay. And while that’s part of the larger point, I think a little less noise and little more signal would have heightened the contrast between the two much better.
January 9th, 2015
And we’re back… after a poorly coordinated Christmas break that was brought to you by the combined powers of sickness and having other stuff to do!
Our previous excerpt dealt with the methods of production of pornography and ended up questioning The Filth‘s efficiency as a way of dealing with the muck of modern techno-capitalism or some such shite. This excerpt picks up right where that one left off, almost like this is what I’ve been building to all along – the question of whether the only way to discuss the muck we live in is to live with it
Were there alternatives? When challenged by Greg/Ned on the horrors of the world and his role in it, Palm supervisors Man Green/Man Yellow seem to suggest that as products of this world we do not have an option about how much of it is in us:
Man Green: The crack runs through everything. And everyone.
Man Yellow: Without it, we would be perfect, like angels, and as dull.
Convincing as this rhetoric might sound within the story, there were alternatives – different Filths were possible, and which might even turn out to still be possible if Hollywood ever gets desperate enough to commission a big budget adaptation. Unless a work of art is created at gunpoint or under duress we should be ready to heap scorn on those who claim that they had to write the rape scene. Nevertheless, the question remains: would The Filth be as effective as it is if it didn’t contain what it tries to critique? The medicinal metaphor is invoked throughout the packaging of the collected edition (“The experts agree — nothing is more effective for shrinking painful existential eruptions”), but while this is yet another stimulating comparison, one should be careful not to mistake it for reality – a story is not an inoculation against other (similar/worse) stories, no matter how much we might wish it were so.
Two parallel cases present themselves within The Filth, and though they occur in the world of the story rather than in our world and thus operate by the boundaries set by its creators, they nevertheless illustrate two extremes The Filth avoids and in doing so make a limited case for its methods.
December 12th, 2014
Another week, another Filthy pre-view. Last Friday I spent a bit of time thinking out loud about the different approaches I might take with the cover for the print edition of this book. This week I mostly find myself thinking that I’m going to need to tweak this piece a little to account for the current debate about these (stupid) anti-porn laws.
I don’t have enough time to re-write the relevant parts of this post today, but rest assured that it’s on my mind and that it will be on the page come April.
I should note at this stage, possibly far too late, that I do not write any of this in a state of horrified tabloid panic. With regards to real world pornography, I am attempting to stay cognisant of Andrea Dworkin’s description of porn as “technologized prostitution” and I have written about pornography in the context of Michael Bay movies in an attempting to take onboard Dworkin’s comment that “The dirty little secret of the left-wing pornography industry is not sex but commerce”. I do not propose here to make moral judgements about those who star in adult movies any more than I wish to tell any sex worker what their life and profession is all about – those who labour in both fields can give undoubtedly give a better account of the varied and complex circumstances in and around their work than I could hope to. Instead, I wish to focus on the conditions in which hardcore movies are created, and the effects of their reception.
I find myself entranced by an unfinished series of essays written by UK politics blogger Tom Gann in which he proposed a left wing critique of pornography that re-framed the legal debate not in terms of the (laudable) liberal defence of whatever activities grown adults chose to take part in, but in terms of the means of production:
Max Hardcore boasts of his innovations, “Positions like pile driver, where I would gape the girls asses wide open, and provide a clear view for the camera… I also created the technique of cumming in a girl’s ass, having her squeeze it out into a glass, and then chuck the load down… A little later, I started pissing down their throats several times during a scene, often causing them to vomit uncontrollably while still reaming their throats.” It seems unclear whether the current legislation would necessarily cover any of this…
Against capitalism’s inversion, the point cannot made enough, all these things are being done to a real woman. Capital’s inversions and bashful concealments of production underpin the argument that the thing (the pornographic image, speech) must be protected even, or rather especially, against the existence destroyed to produce it…
These conditions did not exist as part of the production of The Filth, so their importance here is as a point of reference. Tex Porneau does not exist as an unfathomable phantom that Morrison and Weston have dredged from the void. His actions are an extrapolation of the processes by which entertainment is produced for our consumption, and the style in which it is processed for delivery. If the ridiculousness of Porneau’s schemes strikes us as being over the top, perhaps we should reflect on the way that Michael Bay’s movies use real world violence and technology as a starting point for their own otherworldly fantasies.
December 5th, 2014
As was noted in the comments to the previous entry in this series, the analysis of sex provided in that section of The Function of The Filth wasn’t particularly attentive to the mechanics of The Filth as a comic.
I’m working to take some of those criticisms on-board while redrafting this chapter for print, and I’m confident that the finished result will go baws deep on the question of quite how narcissistic Greg’s fantasy sex scene is, and how little he and Boy/Miami/Nil enjoy it. As I explained at the time, the second preview was the weakest standalone section because it was most obviously written with the hope of getting elsewhere – this doesn’t excuse the weaknesses of the section as it stands, but it does put the weight of expectation on this preview!
This is where it becomes obvious where the first chapter of The Function of The Filth is going, so hopefully this chapter will strike you as having a somewhat… meatier taste and consistency to it. If not, please send your complaints to the usual address!
When we see Greg in his home, he tends to be either looking at porn (“Hear Caroline scream as Mike shoves his eleven inch dick… in her dad”), watching the news (“Thousands dead… mourning continues”), or pining after his cat (“You look after yourself and eat your special dinner up”). In fact, in one scene in the first issue he combines these three activities into one page’s worth of fun, taking care of his needs on the couch before clearing up his cat’s shit, all to the soundtrack of distant tragedy. This combination hints at the unkempt, exhausted, low level squalor in which Greg exists, but it also serves to carefully unite the crude, screaming brutality of modern news stories with that of hardcore pornography rather neatly.
This is crucially important to The Filth, because while – as we have seen – traditionally commercialised violence and sexual fantasy are surrealised and made unstable by Morrison and Weston throughout The Filth, their combination in the form of hardcore pornography receives a different treatment altogether. The theme of sexual brutalisation is present from that first image onwards, even in its Weston-diluted form, but it becomes increasingly inescapable for all the artist’s self-censorship. The fleshy peak of this aspect of the series pokes up through the binding in the two-part storyline that fills the fifth and six issues of the comic, ‘pornomancer’ and ‘the world of anders klimakks’. If The Filth is a desperate fantasy, then this is the point where the dream takes on a life of its own; if it’s all ‘real’, then this is where we get a glimpse of the bigger, grubbier picture.
November 28th, 2014
In last week’s instalment of THE FUNCTION OF THE FILTH, we skipped straight to the “violence” part of the equation. This time round, we’re dealing with sex, because sex is always important in this sort of story.
This sort of story? Well, try not to stop me if you’ve heard this one before!
There’s this guy who wakes up from his mundane life to discover he’s really a disturbingly important human being – maybe the most disturbingly important human being – rather than just another boring arsehole with bad hair. Inevitably, he’s a little incredulous about the whole thing to begin with, but as one world crumbles away he soon starts to find himself more at home in his new reality – and it’s almost always his new reality, whatever complications may arise further down the line.
This detail tends to narrow down the rest of the possibilities of the story so that at least one attractive woman will usually be involved – the idea of “normal” being what it is, can you think of a better way to ensure that the transition from the “real” world to another, more overdetermined world goes well? Cosmic purpose on its own isn’t enough: if the switch over is to be successful then the deal must be sealed with flesh. For this price, plus teleological extras, our hero finds it within himself to be all that he can be.
This story is called The Matrix, or maybe Star Wars, or maybe even Wanted. For all their differences, these stories are all equally at home in the pages of comics and on cinema screens, in visual media where they can best present the dreams of their audience back to them as a dressing up kit, a series of moves or tools or attitudes that can be easily copped and used to remake the world. These stories represent the transformation of dreams into merchandising, and as such their tropes are as easy to critique as they are hard to resist .
But did I say we would be talking about sex instead of violence this time? Yeah… let’s do that!
November 21st, 2014
Fresh from Thought Bubble 2014, it’s the one chapter preview of THE FUNCTION OF THE FILTH, my forever delayed book on Grant Morrison and Chris Weston’s best comic, The Filth, to be serialised in five posts corresponding to the five positions of The Hand!
December 31st, 2011
This is us talking about the possibility of a Watchmen prequel/sequel. We then talk a bit then finish with a song. I think by this point we’re all too drunk to be podcasting. By “all” I mean Gary Lactus. Just listen to how drunk the foolish cretin is here:
August 26th, 2011
SPECIAL “BAD TOUCH IN GOOD COMPANY” EDITION!!!
Anyway, enough of that (You’re telling us! – Ed) – I want to put some filth in you . Best take your shots first, unless you actually want to catch something…
June 28th, 2011
For the transcript click here
Here’s a recording of a Grant Morrison interview concerning mainly his new book Supergods. Bobsy did the interview with small interjections from Gary Lactus. Here’s the nice picture on the back of the book:
Thanks to Grant and the folk at Jonathan Cape for their help in setting up this interview. Apologies for sound quality.
Inadequate speakerphone with buzzing!
Intrusive street noise!
Phone line breaking up!
Phone and recording device falling over!
We need to do a transcript which will appear here soon but we thought you might want to hear the whole thing.
If you’re new here you might want to have a look around. We have lots more thoughts on Morrison’s work.
Amy Poodle on the Invisibles for The Comics Journal
Illogical Volume on the Filth
Batman annocommentations (probably quite different from anything you’ve read elsewhere)
Amy Poodle on All Star Superman
And that’s just the tip of a very big iceberg.
May 4th, 2011
Being: a speculative essay on the self-regulating limits of reality/a celebration of impurity/ a demonstration of the many sickening uses of human waste/ a manifesto for kinder, gentler wank fantasies/a failed attempt to write a feminist critique of The Filth/ and, finally, an embarrassed declaration that it’s time for something great …
1. In The End, Everybody Wins
There’s a moment in the last issue of Grant Morrison and Chris Weston’s scatological sci-fi horror comedy, The Filth, which seems to me to perfectly capture the panic of the moment. Greg Feely/Ned Slade, negotiator for the covert organisation known as The Hand and weird, porno-drenched bachelor, has finally snapped. After twelve issues of black comedy and painful existential eruptions, Feely has had enough. His pet cat Tony has died, depriving him of the only love he knew, and now he’s taking his protest right to the very heart of things, to his superior officer Mother Dirt.
As he storms through The Crack, Greg is confronted by his fellow Hand agent, Miami, who reminds him that he has been recycled into the very system he’s rebelling against. Before he was Hand negotiator Ned Slade, she claims that Greg “wouldn’t want to know” what he was:
You, Thunderstone, Bemmer… the whole crazy gang of social activists… You were all gonna destroy the foundation stone of the world.
The system is perfect, Ned. It has to be perfect; it’s all there is. Attacking The Hand is like attacking your own immune system. 
Does this seem familiar to anyone else? As the foundations are shaken and explosions go off all around, a wide-eyed Miami tries to stop Greg by telling him, what… that there aren’t any other options? It’s a statement that would seem perfectly at home in our current political climate. Don’t like the way things are going? Think that terrible acts are being carried out in your name? Feel a bottomless pit open up inside you whenever you even think about Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron or Nick Clegg? Find yourself choking on your own sick when you hear Chancellor/arch bastard George Osborne give a speech to the Tory party conference in which he lays the blame for Moneygeddon (© Charlie Brooker & co 2009) purely on the (admittedly very guilty) Labour party, as though Blair and the boys weren’t just following Thatcher’s lead?
What about when he goes on to tell the poorest UK citizens that they’re going to have to pull their socks up, or claims that he “believes” in public services – does that make you feel like punching your own face off? Well, tough! This is the way the world works now, history has ended and there are no alternatives, so suck it up or go home. If you’ve still got one, that is.
Vote Labour or Vote Tory, hell you can even Vote Lib Dem if you like. This is what you’re getting, this half-cut shadow life. All other options have been deemed non-mutual, incompatible with life as we know it! And may the gods help you if you want to make any bigger changes – under the current system, your proposals cannot be countenanced!
And what’s Greg’s response to all of this? How does he react to this bold statement?
Well, he storms out, eyes blazing like a fucking demon:
But hey, wouldn’t you?