Illogical Volume introview

December 5th, 2010

This is his face


Terrifying… but also sexy

Since Illogical Volume a/k/a his govt. name, David Allison, joined the Mindless Ones the comics interent has never been the same again (although, thinking on it, wouldn’t it be odd for things to be the same, the exact same again? I don’t know what date I’d go back to, but I’d defo be younger, maybe some time 1998, or 2002, or 2004?) Anyway, ya boy has been droppin’ bombs from such a height as to make said comicsinternet look like Dresden, c.mid-February 1945, and we would have got round to doing this when he’d his own blog Vibrational Match, and you want it. Yeah, you want it, you sluts.

1. How do you feel um being Mindless now? Fucking brilliant, I bet.

Oh indeed! Since you’re the best comics website around, it feels a bit like joining the Wu-Tang Clan. Which is brilliant, actually, because it makes me the Mindless equivalent of Cappadonna! In 2012 I’m going to flip out and spend a year driving a taxi around Baltimore before rejoining and changing my name to The Cab Driver – it’ll be good fun, just you wait…

Seriously though, it feels great to be Mindless – it’s made me a kinder, more sensitive lover, plus it’s given me a good reason to get out of the black bug room and back on the internet. Here’s hoping I don’t stink the place up too much now I’m here!

2. Who do you admire in the bloggy world and why?

It sounds like I’m sucking up if I say the Mindless crew, but it’s true. When you guys showed up I was raging because right away you were doing a more stylish & more regularly updated version of what I was trying to do. Like I said, best comics website ever!

I’m also constantly aware that Jog is a far better reader of comics than me, that Sean Witzke is a better comics writer than me, and that as such both of them are able to provide genuine insight on a scary-regular basis. And then there’s Plok, who thinks in bubbles while the rest of us think in circles. Sometimes my eyes feel like they’re going to pop when I’m done reading one of his posts, but that’s all part of the fun!

Outside of comics blogging, I take it everyone knows that Adam Curtis is blogging on the BBC site, right? Some dangerously good material there – his posts are full of wit, historical scope and great archive footage, just like his documentaries, so there’s genuinely no good reason for you not to be reading them.

I’m heavily into some of the more poetic music blogs – 20JazzFunkGreats has received praise of this site before, but I also like Said the Gramophone. Both sites seem committed to finding ways to write about the music that match the excitement of the music, instead than just writing “proper” music reviews, and that seems to me a very Mindless approach. Plus, also, Marcello Carlin’s blogs, particularly Then Play Long, The Blue in the Air and The Church of Me. Carlin’s got a better sense of musical history and theory than most, but he’s also an unrepentantly personal and subjective writer: ‘but then I suppose that’s the difference between “real journalists” and writers like me; they write in what they think is the correct way to write, whereas I write me.’

I could mention more – there’s Penny Red, who knows how to pick the right fight at the right time, and Marnie Stern, who talks about vaginas more than anyone who’s not a teenage boy, and shit, Eddie Campbell’s blog was pretty great while it lasted wasn’t it? – but I should probably just stop before it becomes obvious that I love everyone who has ever blogged and am therefore not to be trusted.

3. What’s your favourite blog post over the past year? Why?

My favourite post of the year appeared in the space between you asking this question and me answering it. It’s K-Punk’s The Great Bullingdon Club Swindle, which, in its insistence that “Right wing victory is only inevitable if we think that it is”, manages to be weirdly uplifting while at the same time laying out exactly how fucked we are right now.

Mark “K-Punk” Fisher is an odd one for me – I think he’s about 50% useless as a pop culture critic, in that he often seems to decide what he’s going to see before he looks, but his relentless focus means that he’s absolutely brilliant the other 50% of the time. His book Capitalist Realism snapped a lot of things into focus for me, and that Bullingdon Club post brings its argument bang up to date.

I’d say more, but there’s an idea for a post on this lurking at the back of my skull and I don’t want to use up the few tentative “good bits” I’ve got here…

Honourable mention: Sean Witzke’s Top 100 Movies list, No Star Wars, which made me want to get back into film and has inspired a regular movie night round my way. Just really great writing, totally engaged and bullshit free, the exact opposite of what you’d expect from a top 100 list of anything.

4. Desert island dinner?

Good question! I’m a total muncher, so my answer will take the form a genre-busting epic, to be illustrated by JH Williams III or someone of equal but cheaper stature.

Starter (to be prepared in a glorious Kirbytech assembly room, with giant murder machines disassembling an endless array of conceptual birds for YOUR pleasure): shredded crispy duck with hoisin sauce and pancakes. Honestly, I could eat this all day long, which is going to be problematic since I might not leave much space for the—

Main course (presented in the well worn style of Raymond Briggs, with colours that are low key but still luminous enough to remind you that this man drew Fungus the Bogeyman): my mum’s home made lasagne, served with garlic bread and potato smilies. Total sentimental comfort food, of course, but my god – it’s goopy and glorious, and it hits hard on all sorts of non-sentimental levels too. Also, destroying rows of smiling potato creatures makes me feel like an evil god, which is always a plus!

Desert (a tropical island landscape that’s been coated in chocolate, Seaguy style, because CHOCOLATE MAKES EVERYTHING ALRIGHT!): and for desert, I’ll eat the island! Wokka-wokka-wokka!

[Drops to the chocolate floor and waits for the all-too-familiar sound of drumkits falling!]

I think ice cream’s the perfect finisher here. They do Tullibardine ice cream at the Battlefield Rest, and it’s pretty great – toffee plus fudge with vanilla & chocolate ice cream plus whisky! Mmmmm! They sometimes do another thing that’s got ice cream, honey, Baileys and tablet in it, but I can’t remember what that’s called right now. Whatever – I’ll have some of both, thanks!

Two quick tangents on the subject of dinner:

(1) Once the actual eating’s done, I don’t fuck around with cheeses and whiskey and all that shit. Coffee’s fine, but as for that other stuff, well – I can’t shake a story about a friend of mine who got stuck into all that after having dinner with his girlfriend’s family, only to meet with a frosty reception when he went to bed later that evening:

“Ugh, get away – you smell like my dad!”

Eight words no man needs to hear, I’m sure.

(2) While he was working his way through the revamped Battlestar Galactica, my flatmate quickly worked out exactly what he would do if he was a robot Cylon capable of infinite ressurections.

Being a man after my own heart, he decided that he’d eat a Really Great Dinner, to the point that he physically couldn’t eat any more, commit suicide, then start again, eating another Really Great Dinner, stopping when he had to, commiting suicide, then starting the whole process over and over and over again.

When it was pointed out to him that the process of death and rebirth was supposed to be a fairly traumatic one, my flatmate acknowledged this, but noted that he figured comfort eating would help him get over it in each incarnation.

Now there, ladies and gentleman, is a man who is dedicated to his dinner! I only wish I had the heart to share his mad vision, but I can’t… I’m just not hardcore enough!

5. What other interests do you have outside of comics and blogging?

Other… interests?! What is this— “outside”—you speak of?! Whole worlds of freedom and tyranny, all aglow in the unshackled daylight…?!

It must be nice “out there”—in the world!!! Maybe one day I’ll see it, if my eyes don’t melt from constant exposure to the garish colours of the page and the radioactive light of my trusty monitor screen… and so on.

One of the great disappointments of my adult life is that I haven’t grown up to be some sort of Tony Wilson style goofy impresario-cum-famous prat about town, and that as such I’ve never managed to make a convincing story out of my interests. Still, you’ve asked so here we go!

“Your dream date David’s interests include: tight-arsed American punk rock (particularly Sleater-Kinney and Fugazi), smart-arsed British comedy, the loud bits in Mogwai songs, Bill Murray’s face, Tina Fey’s glasses, the New York poets (Frank O’Hara! Kenneth Koch!), On the Corner-era Miles Davis, the perfectly stacked wrinkles on Samuel Beckett’s forehead, Janelle Monae’s quiff, The Thick of It (which has the BEST SWEARING EVER and is also a microcosmic British version of The Wire, obviously), David Simon’s angry scribblings, David Shrigley’s absurdist doodles, the Wasteland rap of the Wu-Tang Clan, Daniel Plainview’s moustache, socialism, Brass Eye’s title sequences, dead poets who liked to wrestle with god (Donne/Herbert/Milton/Blake/Dickinson), dancing, eating, theorybitching, and taking long walks on cold, sunny mornings.

“David likes zombies, but worries that they’ve been overplayed in the past ten years or so – he reckons that Shaun of the Dead, Dead Set and the Left4Dead games are the best outings his favourite monsters have had recently.

“David lives and works in the south side of Glasgow , which is exactly where he wants to be, and he finds it easier to explain what he’s interested in by writing dorky third person narratives for reasons that probably say too much about his particular hang-ups.”

What else? Well, my love of Marnie Stern’s music is probably a little too well documented by this point, but Marnie’s the Batman of guitar, her best songs sound like ‘Baba O’Riley’ tumbling over itself into infinity, and I won’t rest until her Birthday is an international holiday. I’m serious with that Batman comment by the way – Marnie’s played her way into the past (on her first album!) and the future (on her second!), only to come face to face with the hole in things on her most recent record. She’s a hero, totally committed to the idea that art matters, and I’m not ashamed to cheerlead for her at every possible opportunity.

To be honest, I mostly just read a lot. I love David Foster Wallace, Angela Carter, Steve Aylett, Jeff Noon, China Mieville, Flann O’Brien, William Gibson, Ursula Le Guin, Edwin Morgan, David Peace, Alasdair Grey, and so on. The stranger, some might say better side of modern-ish(!) literature, basically.

6. A superhero that you’d really like to see made over and/or a superhero sub genre you’d like to see done better?

I’m going to cheat a little on this one, if you don’t mind? Let’s try a good, old-fashioned three-in-one shot here!!

Character: The Mirror Master (Grant Morrison version)

Sub-genre #1: the story told from the villain’s point of view

Sub-genre #2: the British superhero story

The how: I don’t really think Evan McCulloch needs any fixing – he’s a sentimental trickster hardman from my home town for fuck’s sake! What he does need is a bit more time in the public eye, preferably in his own book, set in Glasgow, with the big man taking on a job for a mysterious organisation (The City Fathers?) who turn out to be every bit as fucked up and overly-ambitious as you’d expect them to be. Hence, drama, comedy, cool visuals, stupid quips in a broad Glaswegian accent.

The why: well, I’ve not read many good cape books from the villain’s point of view (there’s Zodiac and then what?), and after the twee provincialisms of Knight and Squire #1 I’m dying to read a good superhero book set in this neck of the woods. As for the Mirror Master, well, he normally makes me laugh and I could do with more of that.

I’m thinking crazy mirrored labyrinths under Glasgow, spaceships above, and a masterplan that’s more about sacrificing the city than ripping it off. This is all getting a little specific, I know, but if I’m going to dream then why not imagine an impossible collaboration between Edwin Morgan and Mike and Laura Allred, eh?

7. Favourite non superhero book, a current one and an all time cuhlassic?

The WORLD’S GREATEST DAD Award for all time cuhlassic comic book greatness goes to… Eddie Campbell’s autobiographical comics.

Campbell’s spent the past 30 years working out how to get all that’s best and most baffling about life on the page, so I’d give him the nod here despite some very stiff competition from the Hernandez brothers. Individually, Graffiti Kitchen and The Fate of the Artist are probably his best books, but it’s probably best to take the whole thing in at once. The Alec – The Years Have Pants collection has most of what you need, and if you read that with The Fate of the Artist then you’ll of read my favourite extended run of of comics art ever.

These comics need more words than I’m able to give them here, but they’re both an earnest treatise on life and how to live it and a witty acknowledgement that all of this is bollocks in the end, so I can’t enthuse about them enough.

The SCRAPPY DOO award for the best new noise goes to… Puke Force, by Brian Chippendale.

Because it’s crude and dense and funny in a slightly cruel way, and because like Chippendale’s previous book Ninja it’s REALLY FUCKING NOISY!!!!!!!!

8. (optional BUT NOT REALLY!) where do you fall on the betty draper debate

As has been noted on the Mindless mails, I’ve only watched the first season of Mad Men so I’m a bit behind on this. The Betty I’ve seen is mostly lonely and disconnected and prone to the occasional act of extreme violence against those of an avian persuasion, and who can’t relate to that?

I’m not sure I really “get” the other side of this debate, if I’m reading it correctly. Maybe I’ll understand it better when I get further on, but a quick skim through this post indicates that I’m unlikely to swap sides any time soon!

9. have you written any comic scripts? tell us about them.

I wrote a short comic called The New Testament for the second volume of Kieron Gillen and Alex de Campi’s Commerical Suicide anthology. It was drawn by tasty Tim Twelves and it was my attempt to (1) pretend to be Chris Morris, (2) pretend to be Frank “The Tank” Miller, (3) vent a little about some of the stupider news stories I’d seen at the time, and (4) take the piss out of the onanistic magickal habits of my favourite comic book writer.

Mistakes and regrets: the Morrison piss-take that drives the plot is a bit too insidery, and isn’t very well conveyed in the story…. the script’s a little overwritten… the Yorkshire Terrier on page 3 is in no way a Yorkshire Terrier (Butch, RIP!)… some individual sentences got weirdly re-punctuated along the way, and the last two pages fart out in a haze of oddly positioned word balloons. Most of this is my fault: the first draft of the script had the whole thing accelerating into a nine-panel grid overlayed with frantic text jabber, which was probably a bit much to expect, so we had to rework it a little along the way.

Despite all of that, I still feel a little bit of childish pride about the fact that my strip was partly responsible for the book being pulled from the shelves of Gosh comics in London and I wish I hadn’t made quite such a tit of myself when the next issue of Commerical Suicide was being put together, but oh well.

Since then I’ve written a lot of shit that’s never made it all the way to page. In particular, I’ve written a lot of photo-comics that I can never seem to get finished, mostly due to my own laziness and ineptitude. Coming soon, to an imaginarium near you: Looking Glass Hearts, the world’s first momentist romance comic!

I’m currently working on a script with Scott McAllister, which has the unshiftable working title of Counting To None. It’s a four part comedy, sort of a cross between Seven Soldiers and Spaced, in which the two romantic leads only share page time in a few transitional moments because one’s on dayshift and the other nightshift. Ever felt like you were in a long distance relationship without the long distance? That’s the feeling we were going for here.

I’ve written the first part, which is set in a bookstore after closing time and written as a zombie horror story with the zombies replaced by OTHER PEOPLE WHO ARE DRUNKER THAN YOU. Scott’s written parts two and three, which follow a postman through Gilliam-esque adventures on his route and on into a stage play in a costume shop. I’ll finish fourth part will one day (sorry Scott!), and hopefully when it’s done it’ll make a Halloween party feel like a cross between The Wicker Man and The Prisoner. It’s all about the bewildering nature of OTHER PEOPLE and how we try (and fail!) to deal with this through comfortable fictions… all that good shit.

What else is there? Oh, yeah: there’s Cut-Out Witch, which now looks like a sneaky photocopy of Terminus but was actually conceived years ago and has taken forever to get together (my fault again!).

The basic set up: I come up with silly ideas, phrases and characters and my friend Lynne takes that and comes up with a lot of better stuff which I then try to take credit for. We’ll get it out in the world one day, just you wait…


Knight & Squire #1 says no.

11. What is it about Davids being so good with comics? It just seems half my favourite bloggers, and I dunno, a quarter of creators are called Dave. Where do the Mindless Ones from Brighton buy their comics – Dave’s Comic Shop? You are a David, EXPLAIN

Well, it’s all in the name isn’t it? We Daves are common as fuck, and we have to put up with incessant Top Gear reruns on a TV channel that bears our name, so we feel the need to try to distinguish ourselves somehow. Due to our sheer numbers you’re bound to notice when we succeed. There are good Daves and bad Daves, but one thing’s for sure: eventually, all will be as one, in the world of Dave…

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