Deconstructing Comics with Young, McNamara, Aoki, and Me Tim Young of Deconstructing Comics was traveling across America recently, and doing podcasts along the way.(listen to some of the others here) He visited Berkeley and talked at Sack's Coffee with Jason McNamara, Deb Aoki, and myself about corporate comics, Kickstarter psychotics, and other matters. As usual for my appearances on this show, I likely sound an idiot, but listen here.
¶ Monday, April 14, 20140 Comments
02 April 2014
Please Mr. God Don't Drown Us
The truth is that one reason I'm glad NOAH came out is that the Flood story ranks with Job in the "if you say so" category of Bible story. As in, this is what is being worshiped, in stark relief: this concept of a murderous psychopath god. You begin to think of things like the Frankenstein monster and suddenly it's good his creator made him more powerful than himself. Why is this concept of a god at all associated with the idea of "good?" This is just a generic, boiled-down-to-the-essentials version of a Bronze Age god: Zeus without anything but rage. Gods then being things you placated and bargained with. "Love" was not at all part of the idea. Gods were basically personifications of the things in nature that could destroy you, primitive human. Jesus is a retcon. Jesus also stood against everything THAT god stood for. Is this ever noticed? Who did the customs he was rebelling against come from? Supposedly, Yahweh. Daddy. And I wonder why it's surprising that god would then crucify him before he could say or do too much. If you believe in the redemption, you could, I suppose, take the resurrection as Jesus' triumph OVER that god. As myth it makes more sense. (I think the gnostics believed something like this) But I mean, why would someone worship this except out of fear? "Oh please Mr God please we love you just don't drown us again please" "I might have drowned you all, but look! A jolly rainbow! I know how you all like rain now. Oh, see you weep from happiness at the sight! "The rainbow is an absolutely real and eternal sign of my promise. Here, hold it." Something doesn't have to be worshipped even if it does exist, incidentally. Even if gods were real, that doesn't obligate anyone to "worship" any of them, except in the way you might "respect" a mobster.
But certainly not ones that act like indecisive writers, tearing up draft after draft, but in this case generating planet-wide body counts. Far from being perfect, the god of the Old Testament is an easily surprised(God in the Old Testament is surprised many, many times), rage-filled improviser who has no idea what he's doing.
I'm not saying whether there's a God or not. I do not know. I am not inclined to think so. It's not a question I choose to wrestle with or argue about--to me it's like being asked what my favorite sports team is. I hate sports, so none of them. I don't care. For this reason I find the Dawkies as tiresome as any fundamentalist Christian. And make no mistake, I find both very loathsome.
But I am interested in the manifestation of that in the world, which does exist: religion. What people believe, and why. I make characters. I like to know these things. And I believe an acceptance of this flavor of god, and a belief this kind of god represents "love," is certainly illustrative of a serious level of cognitive dissonance. It is reflective of a disturbing mindset. If that is God, it is unworthy of worship. If that God exists we should be terrified. If that God existed he would be no better than Cthulhu. He would be Cthulhu, really.
Then consider this is usually considered the most child-friendly story in the Bible. I certainly recommend reading the Bible. It undoes the case for religion very well by itself. Check out the story of Jacob sometime, especially as Robert Crumb depicts it. Nice guy.
From the Archives While I'm Busy Drawing: ALRAUNE Starring Brigitte Helm (1928, Silent)
Time to indulge a fairly regular passion of mine--German silent film. Here's a classic German science-horror film (courtesy of Youtube's Silent Film Democracy, whom I would suggest you subscribe to) from Michael Curtiz, starring the Golem's Paul Wegener and Metropolis' absolutely phenomenal(and criminally unknown) Brigitte Helm. Here's a brief bit of Wikipedia's description:
Alraune is a 1928silentscience fictionhorrorfilm directed by Henrik Galeen and starring Brigitte Helm in which a prostitute is artificially inseminated with the semen of a hanged man. The story is based upon the legend of Alraune and the powers of the mandrake root to impregnate women. In this version the symbiosis caused by the sexual union between the human and the root causes the girl to kill all men who fall in love with her.
It's actually a remake--the Hungarian 1918 original is considered lost. You may recall a chapter from Mark Millar & Phil Hester's SWAMP THING story arc "River Run," with an evil Abby Arcane homunculus; it's based on this. Here it is, all of it.
Bill Nye Caused Ken Ham To Get Funding for His Goddamn Ark. Nice Going, Nye.
Nye, you stupid, naive, media-hungry tool. Now Ham has a place he can undo anything you've spent your life trying to teach. Because of you. And it wouldn't have mattered if you won or lost. Just engaging him was enough to do the damage.
This is exactly why I said elsewhere Nye should not do this, nor should anyone engage with these people. They thrive on, and PROFIT from, attention, and plus, Nye consenting to debate Ham gave Ham legitimacy he shouldn't get. Nye got muddy, and the pig he wrestled with enjoyed it. I get so sick of the Lisa Simpsons of this world, that think that if only they get their point across reasonably conservatives MUST change their minds. Reason has nothing to do with it and to use it on them misses the point and is a total waste. It's like trying to debate against horseflies.
This is also why I never post anything about Palin or Limbaugh, or for the most part, Fox News, anymore. To do so is to be their publicist. They don't care if you mock them--in fact, they like it because to them and their followers it proves them right. And it spreads their message and makes it part of a national conversation.
Why give them that? Why debate them? Do you enjoy it?
Putin's Sputtering, Paranoid Press Conference: A Few Thoughts
Okay, a few things. (1) I wish I could say he's drunk. I'm left only with he's crazy. He sounds like a repurposed Fox viewer. (2) Man, he REALLY MISSES having the US as an enemy. He really wants us back and it drives him crazy we haven't given a shit about Russia since 1992. I think a small part of this is that. He'd love us to take some kind of action--it fits into his strange attempt to become the leader of his hemisphere. He spends a bit of time in this trying to blame us for fomenting it. Forgetting, again, no, we have no reason to, we truly do not give a shit. (3) Lies, lies lies. And here's the thing about the way he uses the term "fascist," which an actual Ukrainian explained to me: they use that the same way we might use the word "communist," or "terrorist." In other words, as a tag for any perceived enemy. This is, obviously, because of their experience of the Nazi invasion and massacres. It's particularly important to him to remind the Ukrainians of those memories(as Guiliani liked to remind NYers of 9/11 and for the same reason) because Ukraine and Belarus suffered first and worst in that. (Note: It's not working because Ukrainians also remember another country that murdered masses of them just before that) (4) Putin seems unaware that any media is visible to Ukrainians, Russians, and indeed the world than official Russian propaganda. He tells a series of easily-disprovable lies, exactly the same way they did in the days of the USSR. I wonder if he knows or cares he sounds like Iraqi Pete. Probably not because he's not vulnerable as they are. Keep in mind you are looking at a desperate man increasingly unpopular in his own country. Also keep in mind the measures Putin has taken in Russia recently are very much the sort of things a tyranny would before launching a war. (for one thing, it locks the RO Church in its support of him, helpful at such a time certainly) Desperate men do stupid and destructive things. ___________________
It's appearing that the lineup for the next THIS SICKNESS(that's right,
bet you thought I forgot!) will be Suzy Spreadwell, Lulu and Uncle Cyrus. So I'm working on the last two simultaneously. I've already
posted some of the new Lulu pages; here's another.
And here's the first inked, and also unlettered, page of the first Uncle Cyrus story since 2001, and the first one to be not just drawn, but written by myself, rather than honored co-creator John E. Williams. With his blessing, I'm happy to state here. Those older stories were done from Kurtzman-style breakdown scripts by Williams--by which I mean the layout in those stories was also his. Here I'm working without it. Hopefully in the intervening time (over a decade) I've risen to an adequate level.
"I was a beloved governor. Despite being a bit of a loud annoying prick. Chocolate pie, you're my one friend that won't testify now. For now, I eat you, as I would all of them if it were legal." And he did! Except for what stuck to his face, and his briefs.
"Mumfghhrs. MMFHGGH!" Then Chris walked into the room of chocolate pies and did the same with another.
You did not know that even pies can tremble. Know now that they can. And did. "Are you scared? Huh? Scared, pie? You should be," Chris taunted the scaredy pie.
And all Clowes does? Lets the lawyer handle it and ignore the twat as he should, and not letting a child make him act like one. And he makes the celebutwat look twattier every moment.
It makes me feel proud to be a cartoonist. Well, almost; that's the closest any cartoonist can come. Then there's LaBeouf's profound confusion about the difference between appropriation and plagiarism.
Open Letter to South San Francisco Officials Regarding Their Proposed E-Cigarette Moratorium Here is a letter I sent to several South SF City Council officials (their names, titles, and email addresses are included below) against their proposed ban on e-cigarette stores such as the one I frequent, the Vapor Den. I suggest others in the Bay Area with similar sentiments use those email addresses to tell them so.
And BE POLITE.
This is in regard to your proposed moratorium
on e-cigarette stores. As a former smoker who was able to quit
cigarettes because of this device, I suggest this is a very bad idea. I
had been smoking for 25 years, and had tried to quit many, many times.
Nothing ever worked. Not the patch (which also causes my skin to itch,
so I couldn't stay on it anyway) nor the gum (which I cannot use because
it dissolves fillings). My only option was cold turkey, and when I tried it that way, I
never, ever lasted more than a month. The vicious headaches, the
nervousness, the sleeplessness, and the complete inability to
concentrate on ANYTHING but trying to not smoke eventually would get to
me. These are not issues of will, or character. They are physical things
that cannot be ignored. Non-smokers do not understand what this is
like. I lost count of how many times I tried to quit after twenty.I have
issues with anxiety, which makes it especially hard to quit.
In May I tried using an e-cigarette instead. And from that
point onward I have not felt a single craving for a cigarette. Not one.
Nor any of the other effects of it. And the one time I tried one again, I
couldn't--it now tasted terrible, as it had before I got used to it. It
was a compromise. If my body gets the nicotine, it does not care about
the other stuff a cigarette has--which is what, after all, causes
cancer. I was always a considerate smoker who tried to keep it away
from others. and I remain in that habit even though the e-cig does not
pose any risk to others. There has not been a single downside to it.
I've even saved money.
If you make it impossible for people
to get that anymore, all you will be doing is forcing a lot of people to
resume smoking. Period. Unless you're also going to ban the sale of
cigarettes, trying to keep people from buying e-cigs will in fact force
people back to the thing you're trying to get them to quit. I don't WANT
to return to smoking. But I also do not want to go through withdrawal. I
will not win. I know this. I will just start smoking again.
It could be argued to be hypocritical to ban this but not
the sale of cigarettes. Personally, I have no issue with the rules of
vaping being the same as those of smoking; as I mentioned I still remain
in those habits--I don't vape in restaurants or stores, etc. But to ban their sale entirely would be a major mistake. I urge you
to consider the harm you will cause and how counter-productive this
action would be.
George Bailey In Jail (from the archives) So, after the end of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, you know George would still go to jail, right? I mean, just because George got the same town he'd stolen the money from to give him more doesn't change federal bank regulations. "Fucking Clarence," George muttered during the daily sodomy. "Fucking fucking angels." Then at night he would scream "YOU USED ME FOR YOUR GODDAMN WINGS!" till his cellmate beat him to sleep. They all thought he was insane. But he was fine to pass around for cigarettes. And his stutter only got worse and worse each day. When no one was around, "There is no escape, George," a disembodied voice would giggle to George in his cell. Mr. Potter was his only visitor. But he didn't speak; he would merely chuckle for 5 minutes, then left. The following Christmas Bailey cursed life and all the pain it brought. But at least there was his memory of that wild night with Violet to comfort him. All those awful things she had to do for that wad of money. _________________
Happy Christmas Yer Ass! - The Pogues - "Fairytale of New York" (live, 1988) The greatest Christmas songs and stories are not the religious ones, nor about miracles, nor the ones talking about how warm and cozy the holiday is, nor about gifts. It's about the way the season brings out what you lack in sharp relief. It's a little midlife crisis every December, where you cannot help but take stock of everything you lost or fucked up in the previous year, and think, Christmas should be better, but it's like this instead. But like Camus' Sisyphus, you realize the absurdity of it, say "fuck it" and go on with Christmas anyway. Because what else are you going to do? The one day a year you absolutely have permission to just say, "fuck it, life goes on." And that's what the best Christmas stories and songs are about. Being Scots-Irish I'm biased, but I've always thought this one the best of those. So--The fucking Pogues, with the sadly late Kirsty McColl, "Fairytale of New York," here live in 1988.
A live reading of James Snowden's "Koba's Bad Cut," performed by me at Faire Gallery & Cafe and introduced by Mr. Snowden, in Seattle, Aug. 17, 2009 for the McCroskey Memorial Internet Playhouse. Yes, that's supposed to be a Russian accent I was asked to perform it in, something I learned actually when I was in YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU in high school as Mr. Kolenkhov, the Russian ballet teacher. You judge how accurate it is...
Andrei Tarkovsky: "Andrei Rublev"(1969) and "Stalker" (1979) A double feature of my favorite two from Tarkovsky, the "Soviet Kubrick". Or perhaps Kubrick was the American Tarkovsky?
As embedding has been disabled by Mosfilm, you will have to click on the links to watch. Sorry. But it's worth it. Both these films are among the greatest ever made--especially the first one. His masterpiece Andrei Rublev (1969)
And a foreboding of Chernobyl, which also may have caused the cancer (because the area it was filmed was contaminated) that killed him, the film's star Anatoliy Solonitsyn (also the actor who played Rublev ten years before that), and others involved. That would be Stalker (1979)
I really don't care if you think Russian films are long, slow or boring. Give these films a chance, because they're magnificent. You'll see. __________________
Christmas Fast Approaches: Give The Gift of LULU (and more) Hey, you know what would make a really original and appreciated gift? I have a suggestion! Do your friends have great taste? They do? Then why not give my new and somewhatacclaimed graphic novel, LULU Book 1?
Peter O'Toole Dies. Here is His Greatest Performance: THE RULING CLASS (1972) Another of my favorites passes away--my favorite actor, period: Peter O'Toole, at 81, so I guess it had to happen eventually, but still sad. In my opinion the greatest actor of the last 50 years. Here is his greatest performance ever, in its entirety: THE RULING CLASS by Peter Barnes and Peter Medak (yes, all of them Peters; I may have posted this before, but who cares). If you haven't seen it, fix that now. This was a project that was very, very dear to him, and he's brilliant.
LULU Book 2: Chapter 4, p. 64 Pencils (Updated with Inks)
More of the next part of LULU, with pencils here for p. 64. Inks posted when they're done; keep checking back. As you saw before, Schwarz indeed has taken on a hipster look. To fit with his new station as a Great Artist. Click image to enlarge.
Jed Perl is Attacking Art Spiegelman for the Wrong Reasons Jed Perl has a piece at the New Republic about Art Spiegelman's CO-MIX retrospective, charmingly entitled "Art Spiegelman Is Comics' Most Pretentious Faux-Artist." Whoa, no trolling for pageviews there! Nevertheless, here is a link.
He does include this cringey quote by Spiegelman...
means mirror in German,” Spiegelman once explained, “so my name
co-mixes languages to form a sentence: Art mirrors man.” Neither Picasso
nor Matisse ever said anything quite that pretentious.
Ummm...okay, I'll give you that. That is pretty bad. But compare to the intensely egotistical statements of, say, someone like Gustave Courbet, and it pales a bit. There
is also the fact Perl doesn't really go into, in my view a far truer criticism, that he hasn't done anything especially ambitious
since MAUS--not anything nearly on that scale anyway. After that he has
been more akin to an editor or art director (and keep in mind, I do like IN THE SHADOW OF NO TOWERS, LITTLE LIT, and indeed all his stuff, precisely why I wish for something meatier)--at times including title).
And his best books since then, like the excellent BREAKDOWNS, were retrospectives of
pre-MAUS work. Compare this to his contemporaries, like Alan Moore, who
just kept getting grander and grander ideas to this day. Leading one to a possible conclusion that MAUS was in fact the CULMINATION of his career. So
that I think would be a valid criticism of Spiegelman: that he has been
resting on his laurels for, Jesus, has it really been 22 years since
the final volume of MAUS? (and 27 since the major media coverage the
first one got) It
would be excusable in an older man, but Art was still relatively young
back then. He's made an industry out of MAUS. The book itself, lecturing on it, commentary on it, etc. MAUS
is a great work and you could say anyone would be happy to do only one
work in their life as good. True. But this is the mercurial Art
Spiegelman we're talking about. To stall at that point--as far as
important work--is not particularly excusable. That
said, Jed Perl's premise is: to think comics can be high art or be
ambitious is itself pretentious. Perl also doesn't understand Spiegelman, nor Art's idea of comics as a form of writing. (which I agree with wholeheartedly) Great draftsmanship is NOT a criterion of good comics--in fact sometimes it gets in the way, the need to make a pretty picture rather than understanding storytelling. And I say this as someone who tries quite hard (how successfully is up to others to decide) to be a good draftsman and effective storyteller. Perl doesn't really get what comics are. Then again, most of its practitioners and publishers don't, either.
So you know,he can go fuck himself. How's that for unpretentious, Perl? ___________________
"Eternity in the company of Beelzebub, and all of his hellish instruments of death, will be a picnic compared to five minutes with me & this pencil." --E. Blackadder, 1789 Questionable
words & pictures from John Linton Roberson