The KeyBoard Is My FuckMonkey:
It’s been a while since I said much about comics here. Apparently — on the grounds that this is a comics-related column, hosted by a comics-related website, packed full of more comics-related stuff than even the creepiest Panel-Fetishist could shake a pink veiny Bat-schlong at — I’m obliged to occasionally mention the bloody things. A nasty shock, that. Here was me thinking you people visit my stinky rantpit for a weekly top-up of unfocused, pointless, meandering hatebilge, when all along you’ve been faithfully waiting for Sequential Pearls Of Wisdom. Mea culpa, mea culpa.
(“Sequential pearls”. Hur hur hur.)
SO. I suppose it’s about time I said something about Superheroes, isn’t it? Hoist my cape up the flagpole, throw my spandex into the ring (as it were). Something judgemental, generalised, slightly snide and thoroughly subjective. Nice, non-contentious material like that. That’ll redeem me.
Listen: Superheroes are the best thing that ever happened to the (western) comicbook business, and the worst thing that ever happened to the comicbook medium. They sell like Cold Beers in Hell — yes, good, huzzah — and can, if the circumstances are right, if the batch is well-brewed and the label is prettily designed, refresh like No Other Grog. Buuuut the bloody things also come in weird-shaped bottles, aren’t always full to the brim, and are nowadays so bloody ubiquitous that there’s no room in the Infernal Refrigerator for anything else. And I like Gin too, dammit.
Superheroes are so intrinsically intertwined with the way the Western Massmind regards comics — particularly those chunks of it which don’t read the bloody things — that in certain circles the terms “Comicbook” and “Superhero” are basically synonyms. There are whole legions of Unwashed Ignoramuses out there (Ignorami? Ignoramu?), who’ve never experienced that Spine-Raping Soulpunch Of Glory that only an ingenious comic can deliver — in a way no novel or movie could match — because Said Ignoramoids don’t like Multicoloured Steroidal Boyscouts In Capes And Underpants. It’s their loss, I agree, but they’re not about to shift on that one. I know this because a lot of these people, sorry, are my friends.
Behold: the blokes watch football, talk about cars and tits, read crime novels and bad thrillers, and go to art galleries when they’re feeling worthless. The girls watch TV talent shows, talk about each other behind their backs, read worthy literature and melodramatic romance-epics, and go to art galleries when they’re feeling cultural. And both bunches — all of ‘em — smile indulgently from the corners of their mouths whenever I mention I write comics for a living. Why?
Here is why: Because these people secretly suspect that the entire gamut of my creative life begins and ends with working out what sound-effect is made when Overmuscled-And-Impossibly-Virtuous-Git #A punches Mincing-Spiky-Chinned-Puppy-Drowning-Villain #B.
(Krathwakoomch, for the record.)
That, my comicky chums, is what Our World looks like from the outside.
“Why should we care, Si?“, right? “Fuck those guys! Fuck the jocks, man! We don’t need universal approval! We’re happy! Goth chicks dig Manga these days too, man! I nearly got laid last year! Things are changing! Why should we care?”
We-he-heell, I’m glad you asked. It’s because, see, Our World — ongoing Mangaquake notwithstanding — is contracting faster than a Homophobe’s Sphincter in a jailhouse shower. We face a seeeerious drought of Genuine Brilliance, and a mouldy palsied attitude to Trying New Things, and unless we can convince some of my Ingorilla Pals and their ilk that Comics are as viable a medium as movies, TV shows, novels, magazines, podcasts, divinely-etched tablets and trackside pornos — irrespective of genre — we are (as a great man once said) Fucked.
Problem iiiiis, the poor sods are never going to discover that there are alternatives to Square Jawed Fashion-Crimes With Symbols On Their Pecs out there — romance comics to pop your heart and restore your faith in The Power Of Ponies; crime comics to squeeze out a twisty link on Don Corleone’s head and slip powdered glass in Tony Soprano’s cwaffee; horror comics to scuttle under your skin and leave you with brown bedsheets for a whole stinky week — because, as far as they know, Comics Equals Capes.
(A sidenote: in more recent times Hollywood’s got into the habit of stripmining the local comic store rather than farting-out any original ideas of its own, and that’s introduced the phrase “Graphic Novel Style” into the lexicon of the pretentious moviegoer — meaning, of course, “sort of like 300.” Now, “Graphic Novel Style”, as annoying a simplification as it is, has opened a sneaky vaginal pokehole in the impenetrable crust of Comicdom: giving the world just a flickering hint of Sequential Narrative Stories which aren’t about Punching For Justice.
…But even that doesn’t work, really, because it’s a movement inherently concerned with visual idiosyncrasy rather than subject or story or the existence of a wealth of genre choices. As long as we keep telling the world that “Comics = X”, we’re selling the poor things short.)
For the record, I love Superheroes. I love reading them, I love writing them, I love talking about them.
But here’s the thing: I also love Laurel & Hardy flicks, yet I’d be pretty fucking irritated if cinemas never showed anything else. Wouldn’t you?
Or, say, if most people in the world had no concept that there was such a thing as a movie which didn’t star Laurel and Hardy.
Or if a trend appeared among Prose Novels for two-hander slapstick bumbling buddy-stories, which called itself “Movie Style”.
Or if cinemas were packed every night with audiences who’ve spent so long loving Laurel and Hardy that they’ve completely forgotten how to tell if the flick they’re watching is a) genius, b) diarrhoetic quimleakage, or c) so profoundly average it’s an affront to Emotional Response. And will keep on coming every week anyway.
Or, or, or. You get the point.
Take a week to think on it, my people. Ancillary thoughts from Yrs Trly next time too, assuming I haven’t been lynched by enraged Cosplayers in the mean-time. And, y’know, there’s a COMMENTS section down there for a reason.
This Week I HAve Been Mostly Hating:
We all know someone who does this. Smokers, the fucks — though that’s not the crime. No, no, you can smoke, go ahead, knock yourself out. Gimme one while you’re about it, only don’t tell my missus. Only please, when you’re smoking, when you’re ambling about in the busy busy streets of your wretched carcinogenic stumpy little life; when you’re flouncing merrily through crowds with your stinktube swishing left-right-left — because you really honestly think, ahahaha, that it Makes You Look Cool — do me a favour: Calm The Fuck Down. Yeah? Settle petal. Keep It In Your Fucking Mouth.
The smell? Nope, I can live with that. The Secondary Smoke? Nuh-uh (though I’m happy to follow you round and hyperventilate for my daily dose, if it helps you feel better). Then what’s the problem, Si? Don’t be such a Square!
It’s the way you walk, you unbelievable little turd! You people have almost singed my bollocks three times this week! Swish-swish-swish, oh sorry, didn’t see you there… You burnt a neat little hole in my favourite fucking jeans at That Party The Other Day, and I didn’t even see you do it! Puff puff, swing swing, burn burn. Keep your distance, you dink! You’ve been responsible for more Ruined Tights than all the spiky suspenders, ill-advised dry-humping and over-sniffy dogs in the world!
These people, these people! An actual stick made of actual FIRE, and what do they do? Inconsiderate fucks! With this glowing little blistertwig jabbing about like some pixie’s fucking Cattleprod, they wave their arms, swish their elbows, swing their hands! Brushing-by like they’re sharing bodyheat! They’re mincier than a fucking Shepherd’s Pie! They’re eyeball-killers! Hair-singers! Coat-ruiners! WANKERS!
But I’m onto them. I have schemes, oh yes.
See, at first I thought it was a purely Health’n’Safety thing. At first I took my revenge by waddling cheerfully among the sinister little groups huddled round patio-heaters outside pubs, waving a syringe like a conductor’s baton and talking loudly about T-Cell counts and Gifting. HA. See how quickly the fuckers bundle back inside then.
But no, not fair, too dark. (Also, the needles kept snapping-off in the soft meat of fat peoples’ thighs, and it takes ages to put on new ones.)
No. You’ve got to guilt the fuckers into realising what they’ve been doing. Get ‘em to stop in a cold and shivering flush of abject, utter horror.
So here’s what you do, okay? You go buy a really realistic baby-doll — the hollow sort, with glossy plastic skin — and you pull off one of its arms. Pack it out as densely as you can with cotton wool, then pour Pig’s Blood (available from supermarkets in Grownup Countries, and non-sectarian butchers everywhere else) into it. Hey presto: a genuine, bleeding, squirting, dripping Infant Arm. Which you grip out to one side, as if you were holding a kid’s hand just a moment ago, and, wait, where’s it gone, oh no, oh god, someone must’ve pushed past too hard, oh god nooooo!
And then when some cigarette-waggling twunt comes mincing past and barges you with his incendiary cock of hate, you chase him down the street shouting “My baby! You killed my baby!“, waggling the disembodied limb and pointing at the bloody smear down the shithead’s skinny-style Vintage Coat. AAAAhahahah.
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C/O William Christensen,
515 N. Century Blvd.
Rantoul, IL 61866
(Disclaimer: Secretly, I’m nice.)