Tags: comic books

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The Banal Circus - day 1 of 3


The re-writing of Family Circus comics in such a way as to transform them from what they've been into something someone might imaginably laugh at is a time-honoured tradition, and certainly the ground in that respect is already well-tread.

Nevertheless, this morning, a fellow calling himself Marvin Candle and I, on 4Chan's comics & cartoons board managed to get into a pretty good groove with what is - in my experience - a novel approach to the material, and one which I think is more genuinely hillarious than most that I've seen.

Over the course of the next three days, I'll be posting the fruits of those labours.






(these next four are from Marvin Candle)

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Iron Man Anime - by Warren Ellis!



Apparently Warren Ellis (best-known to the masses as the writer of Transmetropolitan) is writing a crazy anime-style Iron Man series. The trailer looks fucking fantastic, and I have always LOVED Ellis's take on Iron Man. This looks exceptionally promising. If the series lives up to the promise of this trailer, I can very, very easily see myself buying DVDs of this one.

I'm especially impressed by the fact that the localization is being kept to really reasonable levels; from what I've heard, it has Tony Stark travelling to Japan (rather than being a Japanese teenager or somesuch nonsense), and they're plainly using an Adi Granov design for the armour, which I think establishes on a global scale the truth that everyone can agree that Granov is by far the best Iron Man artist of all time.

Oh, this is some kind of wonderful.
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"Barack the Usurper"

It seems that the other day, it somehow made the news that some US serviceman out there somewhere had bought into the tired old "fake birth certificate" meme that has been floating around in the American right-wing media for the past year or so and referred to President Obama as a "Usurper". While this would not under ordinary circumstances be of any interest or note beyond a sort of "Hunh. Slow news day, I guess" reaction, it HAS had the delightfully unexpected consequence of giving rise to some of the best darned fanfiction I've ever read.

I take no credit for the following, but post it in its entirety and with credit given.





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(taken from http://www.poe-news.com/forums/sp.php?pi=1001962752 )

Oh! And I would be remiss if I did not also mention THIS:

http://www.newsarama.com/comics/030931-DDP-Obama.html

It seems that Devil's Due Publishing is producing a very similar comic book series, hillariously entitled "BARACK THE BARBARIAN: QUEST FOR THE TREASURE OF STIMULI", which I fully intend to procure when it's released. It sounds so amazingly, balls-to-the-wall crazy that it HAS to be worth at least a look.
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An oldie but a goodie


I don't know how many of you have read any or all of my old webcomic which I have linked on my left sidebar there, Dave & Vyacheslav. My guess is "probably, not very many". This is okay; if I had any great level of emotional investment in it, I would still be doing the strip today, or at the very least updating the main page with something to the effect of "Strip's over! For further entertainment, just go visit my journal" or something. However, though I have little commitment to it at this point, I do have a great deal of commitment to this journal, and so some cross-pollination can happen in the other direction.

Here's a two-part strip which you can read on its own and without any knowledge of the story or the characters. The reason for this is that the script was actually not originally written FOR the comic, but got adapted for it when I realized that the "protagonist", whom in my head I was simply calling "Mr. Pompous" was speaking with kind of the same voice as the Colin character in D&V, and the comic was as such a good place for this material. As to the actual origin of the script, I shall quote myself from the time when I first put the strip up: 

This is the first of two parts of a script I wrote some time ago. It was early in the morning, and I was all sleep-deprived and crazy, and on my way into a Knight & Day restaurant, and just sort of envisioning the ultimate exchange between myself and a waiter. Even as I was being seated, I was at once both biting my tongue and giggling madly. As soon as I was seated, I whipped out my notebook and began to madly scribble down the conversation as I would have had it.

They say that every writer, in some sense and at some point, writes their own perfect world. This is a peek into what mine would look like.


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Fables


There's a comic book series currently being published by Vertigo entitled "Fables" which my friend Colin introduced me to last year. Pretty good. Pretty good. The premise, in the broadest terms, is that all the old fables and fairy-tales and legends and such of all the cultures of earth are in some sense true; the characters are all real people who call themselves "fables", and their stories play themselves out in parallel worlds and realities. They're as resilient as their stories are, and as such, the more popular and/or well-known of them, like Snow White and the Big Bad Wolf, are all but unkillable and have been alive for many centuries. It hasn't been made explicitly clear whether they're created by these stories, or if the stories just reflect things which already happened or what. I suspect that's something we'll learn somewhere towards the end of the series.

 

 

Anyways. Some centuries ago, there was a great war which engulfed the various worlds of the fables, with some great looming "Adversary" gradually conquering these worlds and either killing or banishing anyone who dared to resist. This list comprises most of the "good guy" characters from many dozens of stories, and no small number of "bad guy" characters as well. They were driven back, ultimately, to real-world Earth, where they've been hiding in exile for centuries now, using their magic and such to keep themselves hidden and secret from the world at large. 

 

I've quite enjoyed it, in spite of the writer. Now, I know this may sound odd, but it does happen; the personal politics and such of a given writer may be loathsome to me, but their works themselves continue to entertain. Orson Scott Card, for example, is apparently a Mormon whack-job and homophobe, but this doesn't really infect his novels and comics, and so I can enjoy them in spite of disliking the man who wrote them. So it is with Fables, too. The guy who writes it, Bill Willingham, has apparently said that the book is broadly meant to be a commentary upon the Israel/Palestinian conflict, and once this has been said, it's difficult to see the book in any other terms. I think I see how all the parallels work, and I'm going to spell them out here, but be warned: It's kind of revelatory of an ugliness of spirit and indicative of the sort of paranoid anti-Semitic Zionist-crazy nutjobbery which is a little off-putting. Naturally, I'm going to spoil quite a few major plot points in this analysis, and so if you haven't read the book but think you might like to, you may want to take a pass here.

 

The primary antagonist of the series is Geppetto, of Pinocchio fame. Over the course of centuries, he carved more and more living puppet people, and - having learned from Pinocchio’s rebellious nature - made sure each and every one of them were by their very nature slavishly devoted to him. He had them infiltrate the governments of his neighboring lands and replace their rulers with these expertly-crafted puppet people, brought to life by the Blue Fairy like Pinocchio before them, so as to secure his own safe little patch of earth in his enchanted forest. Geppetto appears the very stereotypical image of the sinister, malign old Jew, with his hook nose, stooped shoulders and scheming, shifty eyes. He creates puppet governments all around him, spreading out his Zionist conspiracy, murdering those who stand in his way and putting one country at war with one another in order to protect and insulate his one isolated little patch of land (Israel), having no care about the suffering he brings to the world around him as long as his personal peace is maintained. Eventually, he gains the use of vast foreign armies of goblins and ogres and such which he uses to enforce his will. These represent the American and British militaries whose support Israel needs to continue to exist, all of whom appear as slavering, nearly-mindless brutes.

 


Geppetto, the scheming old Jew.


The protagonists find their homes gradually taken from them, one by one, as they are driven ever back by the vast might of these foreign armies arrayed against them. They represent the Palestinian people, being driven into the West Bank and the Gaza strip. Eventually, they're pushed into the real world of Earth, a land far from their homes where they're forced, like the Palestinians, to live in what amounts to a crowded ghetto where their traditional and ancestral ways are denied them by the grim realities of their existence. 

Eventually, these fables make contact with the fables of Baghdad (Aladdin, Ali-Baba, etc), with whom they find they have common cause against this "Zionist entity", and they conspire together to overthrow them. The leader of these Iraqi fables – Sinbad - who is quite distastefully used as a stand-in for Saddam Hussein, is enlisted in providing material aid in a bombing campaign against Geppetto's empire. This part of the story ultimately culminates in Prince Charming winning the jihad against Geppetto in one final "heroic" act of suicide bombing with the aid and support of the leader of the Iraqi fables, who praises him posthumously as a hero and a martyr to the cause.


Sinbad, the Iraqi Fables' leader. Is he not a dashing military figure?

 

Ultimately (and here, I suppose, we enter the realm of wishful thinking on the part of the author), Geppetto is brought to heel and is forced at knife-point to sign a treaty with the protagonist "Palestinian" fables which gives them their lands back, with Gepetto made a subservient subject of the "heroic" fables. 

It's a compelling and exciting story, and not EVERYTHING in it is a political allegory of this conflict, but it's central enough that it can be occasionally uncomfortable reading, especially for someone like myself who does sympathize with the Palestinians and views the actions of the Israeli establishment as generally-monstrous, while at the same time viewing the Palestinian suicide bombing tactics as morally-repugnant results of a hideous religious fundamentalism; I kind of feel like saying "stop agreeing with me, you're making my side of the argument look bad!" as he employs anti-Semitic racial stereotypes, glorifies suicide bombing tactics and pushes the most extreme form of anti-Zionist hysteria in his story. It is definitely an entertaining story, but not one which I can read without some degree of inner conflict and occasional moments of embarrassment for the writer.

 

 

 

 

PS: I will note that, in the past, Willingham has publically described his stance on the topic in slightly different terms…

 

"Politically, I'm just rabidly pro-Israel and so that, as a metaphor, was intended from the beginning." He adds, however, "as much as politics are going to intrude in Fables, that's as far as I think I'm willing to go. It's impossible to keep them out entirely. We're all political creatures whether we cop to it or not. [...] Yeah, it's not going to be a political tract. It never will be, but at the same time, it's not going to shy away from the fact that there are characters who have real moral and ethical centers, and we're not going to apologize for it."

 

 

 

 …but the pro-Palestinian analogy which runs throughout the book is too strong to take such claims or even outright statements of intent on his part very seriously. I suspect that this is just another manifestation of his primal dread of the Elders of Zion; so motivated by his dread of their influence in the media that he needed to construct this preposterous claim that his book was actually PRO-Israel just in order to mollify and appease them, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding

PPS: It’s also possible that I’m putting my own spin on things in direct and intentional contradiction of his own stated intentions because I think doing so is really, really funny.

 

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"You are Most Certainly Not a Rabbit, and I am Most Certainly not Attracted to you, you Vile Whore!"


Good day, friends and fellows! As promised, my latest re-write is ready for consumption by the public! 

For those of you new and unfamilliar with the process, allow me to explain in brief: For reasons of my own - principal among them the entertainment of those depraved souls out there in the ether who share my comic sensibilities - I have taken to taking japanese horrific pornography and turning them into english-language pornographic horrors, and in so doing, crafting the finest of comedy gold.

Previous such works are to be found here.

And now, without further delay...



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Comic Books You Should be Reading - Secret Six


Everybody likes a heist movie, right? A bunch of criminals and goons getting together for some big job, each of them with their own skills, their own quirks, their own really extreme personalities, each bringing their own energy, their own friction to the mix, all barely holding it together in order to get some big job done? Some bank robbery, something like that? And core to nearly every heist story is the “trainwreck” element to it; you know things are going to disastrously fall apart at some point, just because of who and what the protagonists are. Someone is going to snap, someone is going to turn on the team, someone is going to do something crazy and horrendous.

Now imagine taking that dynamic to the next level by adding super-powers, make it an ongoing series, and you’ve got the core of DC’s Secret Six.

A bit of background first: Some years ago, DC was having one of their seemingly-annual mega-events, this one entitled “Infinite Crisis”. Lots and lots of stuff was going on in this story, but all you really need to know for this moment is that an imposter Lex Luthor was heading up an effort to unite all of Earth’s super-villains in one huge organization, simply called “The Society”. This is where the first Secret Six storyline, entitled “Villains United” begins, with a number of malcontent, misanthropic and deeply idiosyncratic villains being approached by this group and basically telling them “fuck off.”

These are the protagonists of Secret Six, a gang of misfits and nobodies who, collectively, are actually capable of operating quite a ways above any of their individual levels. The group is written by the brilliantly bizarre Gail Simone, who has always shown an almost Morrisonian ability to generate really great, outlandish character concepts and bring them vividly to life. Most of the characters who have starred in this book are either entirely new creations or re-imaginings of old ones. Perhaps the most remarkably memorable of which is Ragdoll; a second-generation super-villain, and one who really does read as someone who might be the product of an upbringing by one of those insane old silver-age DC super-villains. Ragdoll is a contortionist, and so utterly dedicated to his trade that he’s gradually had virtually every bone in his body surgically replaced, altered, jointed and spliced so as to allow him maximum flexibility and mobility. The end result is that he’s a hideous patchwork of scar tissue and stitches, with an anatomy which scarcely resembles humanity anymore, but he takes a profound pride in this accomplishment. Tie this to his creepily gentlemanly demeanour and genteel manner, and you’ve got a character who is absolutely charming in an utterly horrendous way.

And let it be stressed that these are criminals; murderers and sociopaths, with very few redeeming features among them except for one: They genuinely like and respect each other. Their camaraderie is genuine and in times even touching, especially when set against the very dark places that they very often go. And this is another great selling point of the series; set in the same setting as Superman and Batman and such, a book made up of career criminals like this, often coming into conflict with other criminals – these people have been around the block enough times to know there’s no profit margin in fighting someone like Superman, and avoid that sort of situation like the plague – sheds a very, very different light on that setting than we’re used to seeing.

Below are five pages from their first mini-series, “Villains United”. Since this time, there’s been a six-issue Secret Six limited series, and now finally an ongoing series, which is just coming up on issue 8. I would heartily recommend checking out the first story to get in on the ground floor with this gang of lunatics. It’s a wild, unpredictable ride which keeps me gasping in astonishment, laughter and horror each and every month.

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Comic Books You Should be Reading: Seaguy

I remember the day when I was a young man - perhaps fifteen or sixteen years old - that I got a really severe fever for the first time. While I recall only in the vaguest of terms being kind of achey and sore up to the point where I went to sleep, I remember the dreams I had that night with a terrible kind of clarity. In my dream, I was perhaps an inch tall, in a dream-version of my own bedroom, which was to its normal scale. This is to say that I was unimaginably tiny and my furniture was mountainous and titanic in scale. In this dream, there was a tiny little racetrack on my bedroom floor, weaving in and out and all about my furniture, built to such a scale that cars for people my size could navigate them. The substance of this dream basically revolved around my being in a race with a bunch of other drivers, zipping and zooming all over the floor of my room.

It was by far the most terrifying experience of my life.

Not because there was anything innately frightening about the dream itself; it was quite innocent and care-free, really. But in my feverish state, my emotions were all mis-firing, the familiar and comfortable became unreal and terrible, and I couldn't understand a damn thing that was going on. My brain, in short, was not prepared for the experience of living my life, and I was gripped by an agony of horror. I woke up and wandered around my home in a daze. At one point, sitting on the toilet, I remember seeing mathematical equations hovering, ghost-like, in the air before me. I couldn't make sense of them, but nor did I question their reality or existence because the world was such a confusing and un-natural place for me that this was no more off-putting than the floor or the sink themselves. I recalled that my math textbook had the answers to all of the questions in it at the end of the book, so that students might check their own work, and so I wandered off in search of it so as to be able to solve this phantom equation. I spent an hour lost in the impossible labyrinth of my eight-room house, trying to find the book in vain.

This is what reading Grant Morrison's Seaguy is like.

Let me back up a bit and tell you about Grant Morrison. Grant Morrison is a revolutionary comic book writer. So revolutionary, in fact, that most people do not know how in the world to deal with his shit. He has done, and continues to do super-hero work, and my main exposure to him came some nine or so years ago when he took over writing X-Men for three and half years or so. The X-Men books had been a stagnant swamp for years; crippled by a desire to maintain a comfortable status quo, they'd become tedious and dull. Morrison came in and basically broke every rule, slaughtered every sacred cow and kicked over every bucket. By the end of his run, the series was no longer ABOUT what it had been when he showed up, and every writer of all of the other seven or so X-Men books which then existed had to scramble madly in order to catch up with what he had done. But it re-vitalized them and reinvigorated the entire franchise. It was a work of beauty. He's presently doing the same with the Batman books for DC; during his multi-year run on that book, he's introduced Batman's murderous, nightmarish illegitimate son named Damien, killed off Batman, and had the original Robin - Dick Grayson - take over as Batman, with Damien taking over as Robin, thus inverting the old dynamic, since we now have a smiling, light-hearted Batman and a scowling, serious, dark-hearted Robin. Few writers would be given the latitude that Morrison is given, and the reason he's given it is because he's so monstrously imaginative and can create stories which no normal mind could produce.

But that's what he's like when he's writing a mainstream book like X-Men or Batman. That's what happens when he enters the sandbox at the public park and has to play with the other kids and share their toys. Even then what normally happens is that he tries to play nice but scares off all the other kids anyways because they don't understand what the fuck he's doing. It's an old adage that no character Morrison has ever created or had any large role in defining will ever be used by any writer again because they know full well that they DO NOT UNDERSTAND these characters, and do not know how to write them. Some years ago, he took seven obscure DC characters and wrote a bizarre series called "Seven Soldiers of Victory", where even the story structure itself was almost beyond human comprehension; seven individual stories starring seven unrelated characters which weave in and out of one another's paths, all dealing with the same events as one another without ever meeting each other. It was his effort to write a team of super-heroes who never met and did not know of one anothers' existence. After some friends of mine and I read it, I recall a conversation we had where I said something to the effect of the following : "No, you see, when that guy 100,000 years in the past threw his spear forward in time to defeat the time-travelling menace he was fighting, this other girl had to BE the spear in the present world and impale the bad guy in the present day in order to save the world in the past!" This is the sort of thing that happens when Morrison is given free reign to write the way he wants to. I went on to say "You may have SMOKED Grant Morrison before, but this series is like fucking injecting it right into your fucking arm!" Virtually nobody has made any attempt to use these characters for any purpose since then, for the familiar reasons.

This having been said, Seaguy is like injecting Morrison straight into your carotid artery, so it is carried direct and undiluted into your brain.

As of this moment, it's a three-issue limited series, conveniently collected into one trade paperback from Vertigo. It is apparently the first in a trilogy of volumes Morrison has in mind, with two more on their way now. By mid-way through the first issue of this first series, I was moaning in agony, clutching at my head at the intellectual agony of the experience. It felt like I was wandering through my labyrinth of my house again, with familiar things made horrific and bizarre by the fact that my brain DID NOT HAVE THE ABILITY TO UNDERSTAND IT. It was like going insane. Or perhaps, more accurately, it was like I was sane, and perceiving the fruits of a brain which existed in some non-sane state. Some hyper-sanity or such, in which information was processed differently than the way the human brain might, and presented for the consumption of same. If I'm right, any hyper-sane person could read this and have it make perfect sense to them. This is the hallucinatory fever-dream of the comics-reading experience. To those of us with merely human brains, it's a confusing ordeal of madness and uncertainty. Morrison has called this work "his Watchmen", in the sense that where Watchmen was the ultimate and perfect expression of Alan Moore's creative abilities, Sea Guy is that for Grant Morrison. I can easily believe it.

Rather than attempting to explain the substance of the series itself, allow me to present seven pages from the first issue and let them speak (in some alien and incomprehensible tongue) for themselves. 
 

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The series becomes less-grounded and more hyper-sane as it progresses, such that by the end of this first part of the trilogy, I felt like I wanted to scream or something. None of which meant that I wanted to put it down or stop reading, and none of which prevents me from wanting to expose myself to the cancer of the soul which I'm sure volume 2 will be when it comes out in a few months' time. Because an imagination like this is a spectacle to behold, regardless of whether or not you can really absorb all of it in one go. Or ever at all.

In conclusion: Read Seaguy.