John Berger 1926-2016 - "Ways of Seeing" + More The loss of the living repositories of 20th century culture continues into 2017.
One of my two favorite art critics (the other was Robert Hughes) has passed away. Berger was a brilliant thinker, and popularizer of the ideas of Walter Benjamin, who questioned all assumptions about the western art tradition, such as authenticity, the objectification of the nude (vs. "naked," an important distinction he makes in ep. 2 of WAYS OF SEEING), the "great man" theory of art, and more.
Still very much worth watching. I've also included some other goodies: interviews and visual essays, a talk in 1983 with another of my idols, Susan Sontag, and video of him sketching Tilda Swinton. The talk with Sontag, on his show VOICES, is fascinating, a polite sparring match. I love almost everything she says here and the nuances of her thinking about storytelling, particularly questioning the value of truth and universality. To this day I still have the hugest braincrush on her.
Adam Curtis: "Hypernormalisation" (2016) + BBC Radio Interview In which Curtis brings you up to date on the world you now actually live in. Including Trump. I have a few criticisms. Among them: Curtis flattens and conflates history in weird ways, such as the way he describes the internet and social media. Or most glaringly, that he basically pretends President Obama never existed. And the manner in which he describes the rise of what is not named as punk is...interesting.
Hannah Arendt Interviewed, October 28, 1964 (German TV; English Subtitles)
I'm currently listening to an audiobook of the third part of Hannah Arendt's excellent and terrifying Origins of Totalitarianism. I highly recommend you read it. When she talks about what happens with alienated physical masses in economic upheaval, and the underestimation of the conservative parties who think they can use fascists as a temporary, disposable tool to hold their own power, she's describing what has just happened. We've learned nothing. And I really hope I'm wrong.
A Carol For Another Christmas (Rod Serling, 1964) An obscure TV-movie classic written by Rod Serling, originally aired Dec. 28, 1964 (same year as he wrote the screenplay for SEVEN DAYS IN MAY). Starring, among others, Sterling Hayden, Ben Gazzara, Eva Marie-Saint, Peter Sellers, and Britt Ekland.
There is some argument it actually comes from a play at the time, but most--certainly Breitbart's editors and audience--think of it as Göring. The point is what it signifies to them, not its actual origin. And what they're trying to say by calling back to a quotation that, by now, is loaded, to say the least. It's not meant to slip by you.
It's even phrased in a way that presumes intimate familiarity with the original German. The "Browning" is usually translated as "revolver." The whole phrase you may have heard as: "When I hear the word 'culture', that's when I reach for my revolver." It's a fairly famous quote and they riffed on it in this headline.
Deconstructing Comics: Emmet & Me Talk Politics in Comics
That goddamn election just sneaks into everything! Emmet O'Cuana and I just can't seem to stop talking. Post-election, we commiserate and kvetch, and then discuss the treatment of politics in comics, covering V FOR VENDETTA, PREZ, AMERICAN FLAGG!, NAT TURNER, MARCH, the works of Pat Mills, and much more in a freewheeling discussion. Give it a listen!
And of course it's long, I'm talking. And stammering, sorry about that.
Bond villain scale his revenge would take.
If you think it's too much
to imagine Putin would actually want to break up the United States and
remove its superpower status(and isn't this how HUNGER GAMES begins?)
you're forgetting we've been proud to brag WE did it for 25 years. How
we put in people that would dismantle them, how we broke them, made them
beg, how we broke their union into separate republics and knocked them
off the world stage almost to the present day. We did all this. We
disabled them and exacerbated their problems till they were too consumed
by them to think outside Russia anymore. We made the modern Russia. And
we have never shied away from taking full credit. So why should we be surprised?
I'm not saying that we should let it be done to us, because we all
would suffer, and Putin is a fucking terrifying autocratic beast. I'm
just saying it's being done. And we're not recognizing the full picture
Deconstructing Comics: Emmet O'Cuana & I Talk Wonder Woman: Earth-One
Wonder Woman: A great, but difficult character, with one of the patchiest histories of any world-famous fictional icon.
William Moulton Marston's creation an icon of
feminism, an example of exploitation, or a confusing mix of both?
may not understand any better after hearing two white men talking about
Grant Morrison & Yanick Paquette's WONDER WOMAN: EARTH ONE and
the various problematic aspects it highlights of her history. (including
her years of humiliation at the misogynist hands of Robert Kanigher)
Miriam Hopkins' Amazing Expressions of Barely Contained Terror First, a point of comparison. The very flirty and sexy (and very pre-code) Hopkins at the start of the film.
In its pre-code cut, the 1931 DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE was the best-acted, best- written, and most mature horror film of the 30s. Especially for the performance of Miriam Hopkins as the horribly abused Ivy. Here are a series of her expressions, which are where most of her acting goes in this as she's mostly terrified to talk back to him. Till recently, censors left only 5 minutes of her in the film, which is a goddamn shame; it's better than Bergman later in the same role, in my view. Which I nevertheless also like. partly because of its resonance with her daughter playing Dorothy Valens in BLUE VELVET. Something I probably should have had a look at for the very similar scene with Schilgoch in the most recent LULU. Definitely something to study for later chapters though; very related. Read more »
So this happened today. Trump dog-whistled the assassination of Hillary Clinton to his followers. And even if Trump now lies about his intent, his followers certainly seem to know what he meant. Just click on the video below and look at the comments. And Trump should be in a holding cell right now, and if he were anyone else now--including Hillary--he would be.
In light of this descent he's pushing our country into, it might be wise, fellow Americans, to be shown what this looked like once before--only in this case orchestrated by the US. Is this what you want?
It should be obvious to everyone this man is not an enemy of the Democrats, he's the enemy of everyone. Remember to vote. That's the only way left to shut him up.
So seems to me the only places Trump has to go from here: 1. Actually try to shoot Hillary in Debate 1 2. Open... https://t.co/5zFejx8gwN
Ken Ham smiled his serene, implacable smile in front of his ark, as the struggling townspeople of Williamstown gathered before him for answers in their multitudes. He had never seen so many people with lengths of pipe in their hands. He couldn't think why as an ark with plumbing would not be accurate, so they couldn't be donations.
Krzysztof Penderecki's THE DEVILS OF LOUDON (German TV, 1969)
The 1969 opera by Krzysztof Penderecki, who most of you may know as the main composer used in the Shining. This is an adaptation of an adaptation, specifically John Whiting's play of Aldous Huxley's excellent novelistic history. Later, the Whiting play was used as the basis for Ken Russell'sthe Devils (1971), which is among my top 10 favorite films.
But when I watch this, I think Russell must also have seen this before doing that film, because I see a lot of rhyme between the atmosphere and music of this and Russell.It's a piece I seem to like in almost every form, and now I'm wondering if I might want to tackle it myself (I was wondering the same thing the other day about Dracula, another horror thing I've seen a lot of versions of since I was a kid). Pretty powerful, dark stuff. And almost exactly as old as I am! Argh
I spent way too long detailing a tree I'm only going to ink over last night, and today my index finger is in hideous pain. Do click here to see what I done did, posted (for everyone, but please take the opportunity to pledge) at Patreon. (or click image below to see less tiny version)
An Evil, Reptilian Pamphlet Disguised as a Show: Why You'll Never See Me Post Any "Yes, Minister"
Tried to watch the first season of YES MINISTER but couldn't escape thinking that its characters and creators are all horribly smug evil cynical bastards who should be in Hell.
Though Nigel Hawthorne is amazing, regardless, with a cold, ambiguous stare to rival Ralph Richardson (whom I never noticed he resembled a bit). Good that he moved on to worthier work. I only knew what he did later, not this.
It's propaganda, really, and not in theory but in fact, as one of its showrunner/creators was an advisor to Thatcher(the other later did NUNS ON THE RUN, so, you know, talent finds its own level). And I have studied propaganda since college; it's something my work examines and appropriates from sometimes. But this is so obvious and graceless. Did it seem so at the time? In Adam Curtis' THE TRAP, they brag about the messages they inserted into the shows.
Like they have to point them out. They're just there, THUD for looong stretches, long and barely dramatized, nearly every line a party political speech, with wry little what-fools-these-mortals smiles on their faces. Only watching Hawthorne makes it bearable. The kind of sitcom only a banker would enjoy.
But this is a keen example of satire from the Right, with all the attendant smug long speeches acting as though their alternative (Thatcher's) was common sense, and the only reason for opposition were people trying to cling to undeserved places. This show and Thatcher managed to recast unions, the civil service, and the like as a type of new landed aristocracy, and took advantage of that feeling to redirect the hatred toward the ACTUAL powerful, who remained undislodged and enriched. And this was only speaking to the educated classes, very dry by design, what one might call "sophisticated." Like Fox but classier.
It's an evil, reptilian pamphlet disguised as a show and I don't even like studying it as a historical artifact. I post UK comedy here often. This isn't comedy. It's tragedy, but not in the classic sense. Because it worked. As I understand it, it inspired THE THICK OF IT. Thankfully, I can only see the barest influence, because THICK OF IT is brilliant and leaves me with none of this feeling I've accepted a sales pitch without knowing it, as this seems to.
Pet Peeve: Flying Female Superheroes in Skirts So BATMAN rebooted recently, with Tom King (who I haven't heard of before) and David Finch. And it's not bad--certainly one of the least boring of the DC Rebirth stuff so far. As far as the unholy mess that's now Superman,no comment; it is interesting though whenever they reboot that they go to some trouble not to fuck with Batman in any permanent way.
There's a thing though that bothers me and brings one of my biggest character design pet peeves to the fore: why would a flying female character ever wear a miniskirt? And for that matter, a tiny girly mini? Here are two new mysterious characters they've introduced, Gotham and Gotham (ech) Girl, the latter name to me already amazingly sexist and dated:
A few problems are immediately obvious. the first being: why would a superheroine want people to always be able to see up her skirt? I'm sure Roger Ailes would approve, but he's not in charge of DC. (and hopefully, not much longer at Fox either, but that's a digression) Skirts. Thongs. Why would a crime-fighter not want to protect her legs? Do they not ever even get cold? Why would she want to display her ass and...more, every time she wears her costume? But also: why would you fight crime in a skirt anyway? I don't know a woman who even wears a skirt when she's doing a chore. Because skirts (and thongs, for that matter) are impractical and pants are not, if you're doing things in many cases, except
maybe dancing or like that. But surely if you're fighting crime and
flying. But even more so, a simple matter of physics. What happens every time she's descending to land? Well, if you know what an updraft is, and apparently many mainstream male comics artists do not, this:
And that's a much longer skirt. Now imagine one you can barely hold down. A skirt that would even make sitting awkward. Imagine this every time she lands.
I suppose that thought turns some on, but to me it's juvenile. No woman who intended to survive or be taken seriously would fight crime in a skirt or a goddamn thong. And even from a sexist point of view: if it's sexy legs you're after--as all comics artists know, without color all skintight suits, even
pants, are nude, so why bother with a skirt anyway even then? Doesn't make much sense even from that angle. ________________
The Banned VLADRUSHKA #1: Yours for a Minimum Pledge at Patreon
As most of you know, I have had a number of censorship issues with Vladrushka, one reason I haven't drawn her in a while. Well, for those that pledge at my Patreon, the elusive VLADRUSHKA #1 is available again in digital form! For the minimum suggested pledge ($15--however, you can give as much or as little as you like otherwise and thanks) you can download the whole 60-page collection of all Vladrushka stories from 2003-2010. Check it out! ___________________
Your Random UK Comedy for Today #20: Nathan Barley (Brooker/Morris, 2005)
From UK dark comedy geniuses Charlie (BLACK MIRROR) Brooker and Chris (too many to list but if you come here often you know that) Morris comes a satire of, well, the early pre-Facebook/Twitter internet, but still hilarious. We do still have ridiculous hipsters, and some of the jokes here are more true than they were. On the other hand, the show revolves around a successful print magazine that doesn't seem to have a website, and that was already dying in 2005. Anyway, it's a great show. Enjoy!
Overlooked gem. A film that completely dropped out of sight in 1997, which is odd. You'd think a George Orwell adaptation starring richard E. Grant & Helena Bonham Carter would have gotten a bit more attention. Possibly this was partly to do with the boring title the US distributor put on it, "A Merry War," and having seen the film I still can't see what that has to do with the story. Most likely it's because we don't really know the word "aspidistra" in America. It's basically a kind of basic, hardy fern that requires little care and is hard to kill, though the protagonist Gordon Comstock, who sees them as a symbol of everything he hates about British middle-classness, does his best.
I will say it will warn you off ever thinking that writing is a way to fame and fortune. The beginning may remind you a bit of HOW TO GET AHEAD IN ADVERTISING, but this novel had been one of its inspirations in the first place. (and for WITHNAIL fans: Grant vomits on someone's shoes) Personally, I'm just happy to see one of his other works besides ANIMAL FARM and 1984 get some attention. A film of DOWN & OUT IN PARIS AND LONDON or HOMAGE TO CATALONIA might be cool too.
So here's pretty much the only place you'll see it. Enjoy:
Suzy Spreadwell In Progress: Two Latest Inked Pages (Unlettered, Uncolored) More work done on the newest SUZY SPREADWELL story. Click images below to see larger versions at Patreon, and please consider giving whatever you want to support this and my other work you know well. (if you come here, I assume...)
I've also started doing Patron-only posts there. While there are rewards for certain levels of support, these (which are the lettered versions of the pages as they're finished, and later the color versions, long before I start serializing them publicly; I only do that once I have the whole story) you get to see for any amount pledged.
So: give in any amount you can ($15 is suggested but all help is appreciated), and you get to see finished pages, as they're finished!
Brexit: Never have so many so regretted a decision they were tricked into by so few. Well, not in England, anyway.
Oddly done, England. As the saying goes, I guess then you've bought it. And my sympathies to my friends (and fans, I think there are one or two) in the UK who did not want Brexit, and whose money from American publishers is now fucked because of the pound dropping like a hanged man. Just a few of those whose lives will be made unnecessarily harder by this massive unforced error most Brits, it's said, now regret, and some of whom only googled "EU" the day after the election.
It all sounds too American. It's creepy, England. Stop being as stupid as us. That's not your job. (click for larger version)
LULU - Pencil Sketch Just a quick practice sketch of Lulu using Stefania as reference. With a little work it possibly might make a good cover image at some point.Click to enlarge. Don't forget to get the newest chapter in THIS SICKNESS #8 at Amazon,Comixology & Google Play! (If you'd like to buy this sketch send $30 to me via Paypal at john(dot)roberson(at)gmail.com)
Bonus: even quicker Suzy Spreadwell sketch done recently in prep for next story, which I've begun drawing. Also find her debut story in THIS SICKNESS #8. (this one can be gotten for $20. Both are postpaid.)
oh shit it's just downhill
language, Carly, don't make me burn you
I'll curse you
I know just
I can get my soul back in 90 days right Carly
I'd have to return my commission but I'll remind you
Actually, this is the second version of the rant: in both cases I had notes for reference but the first time was a lot more spontaneous, I think. But the technology failed us and not a bit of it was recorded, so two days later we recorded again. I know putting "Me" where it is in the title above is ungrammatical, but that's what O'Cuana gets for gloating like a bastard when he found that his precious segment was pristine and recorded.
In both cases my segment clocked in at one hour twenty minutes.
I hope it sounds as good as the first one, but it's hard to compare as the first one is, sigh, GONE FOREVER. But I came from theatre, so I chose to just view the first one as rehearsal.
The whole point of Suzy Spreadwell, down to her name, is that the most sexually repressed people, like "Purity" Christians, are not only the most sexually obsessed, and the most vulnerable to temptation, but the ones that no matter how hard they try always sound the most perverse, and like a pimple, the more they try to get rid of it the bigger and more painful they make it, till it bursts whether they want it to or not. If you think about something all the time, even negatively, you will be it. You'll just hate yourself and others for it, that's all.
"Eternity with Beelzebub, and all his hellish instruments of death, will be a picnic compared to five minutes with me and this pencil." - E. Blackadder, 1791 Questionable
words & pictures from John Linton Roberson SUPPORT US AT PATREON!