Monday, June 1, 2020

It's so easy to sell comics right now

I've been slowly sharpening up the comic collection with a minor - but ongoing - purge. Dumping whole runs of comics on a local auction site, and making a little cash on the side, which I'll probably plough into more comic books, because that's the circle of life.

Usually I sell three or four lots a week, and I just keep relisting and relisting them until they disappear, but I started up again when the post shop on the corner re-opened after the lockdown, and this shit is flying out the door, man.

Just this week, I've unloaded a Brandon Graham comic collection; a copy of Kraven's Last Hunt, all of Neil Gaiman's 1602 series; all of the Marvel Star Trek comics I picked up last year; some Batman giant black and white reprint comics; all 10 issues of a Doctor Who comic crossover from 2017; the anti-300 Three by Kieron Gillen and Ryan Kelly; some Mark Millar Ultimate Avengers comics; some Minimum Wage and Goodbye Chunky Rice and some repetitive copies of Kirby's Jimmy Olsen.

I sold off the last six issues of Cerebus the Aardvark, and three Jim Lee X-Men comics, and the four issues of Hellblazer that Eddie Campbell wrote, and three Clive Barker graphic novels published by Eclipse that I've had since the early nineties (I'm keeping The Yattering And Jack, because that's got some sweet John Bolton art.)

I got rid of all the War Stories that Garth Ennis did with Avatar, which had stories that were as strong as any other war stories he'd told - there is a lovely bit about fall and autumn on the closing page of one of them which is sublime - but had atrocious art that hurt my eyes. It was always going to be a step down from the first generation of War Stories artists - you're never going to match Ezquerra, Kennedy, Lloyd, Gibbons, Weston and Higgins - but these comics didn't even try. And my local comic dealer kept giving me the covers with the 'good girl nose art' variants, and I never had the heart to tell him they're the ugliest fuckin' things I've ever seen, and the main reason I decided to sell these off is because those covers are just so embarrassing.

And that's all in one week. I've been selling comics online since the late 2000s and it's truly never been this easy. Our lockdown lasted almost two months, and I think people are hungering for consumer goods, and need some comic goodness.

That's okay. I've got what they need.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

People who know less than me

I love talking to people who know less about a subject than I do. I love telling them about new things, and seeing how they interpret things without all the baggage I bring to it. I listened to a bunch of newbies talking about Love and Rockets comics on a podcast the other day, and they saw things in the comics I had never considered before. Their fresh perspective was intoxicating.

It's vital to hear the point of views of peoples of different cultures and genders and everything, especially if they're just discovering new things, because they see what you can't. Nerd gate-keeping is horrendous, and you doing yourself a harm by refusing the opinion of people who are just figuring out things for themselves.

People who know less than me about things are people I want to talk to.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

People who know more than me

I love talking to people who know more about a subject than I do. I love it when they make me feel like a rube because I don't know shit about decent European comics, or the phenomenal cinema of Western Africa, and I use that shame to go out and make myself better. You find the best stuff in life by following trusted opinions.
I'm not scared of experts, and deeply value the judgement of competent people. I don't know everything in the whole world, and I don't think I ever will, but it's the trying that matters.

People who know more than me about things are people I want to talk to.

Friday, May 29, 2020

The only Invisibles quote that ever really matters

For better or worse, The Invisibles comic book was a big part of my life, but if you asked me to name a quote from the final issue, I'm 100% sure the first one that would spring to mind is: 'MY ARSE WAS BLOODY VANDALIZED, MAGOO!'

I don't know what it's on about, or if it's a quote from something else, or why that's the one that stuck in my head. But there it is, all the same.

We don't pick the quotes that stick in our heads, the quotes that stick in our heads pick us.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Legion: Music is everything

Portraying an onscreen psychic battle - two telepathic minds trying overpower the other - isn't easy. So many films and television settle for the combatants clutching their heads as the screen goes a bit wobbly, or having blasts of light coming from the forehead and hitting the other person in the face like a punch.

Legion, the television series based on the X-Men character, did a lot of things a bit differently. And while there was still some serious face-screwing and some heavy emoting when the mind-games began, the show also used music as a terrific metaphor for the telepathic carnage.

It used the thudding beat and soaring woodwinds of Bolero to lay down a mind-trap -

- had mental warfare in the form of dance-offs -

- and rap-battles -

- and saw a great evil defeated through maternal love and the power of Pink Floyd -

Each scene was stylish and intense, but the use of music was truly inspired, because music can convey deep feelings without using words. It make you feel truths in ways that language is too clumsy to do. In a battle of minds, it's the groove and the beat and the soul that matters, in all the best ways.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The slow rot of the zombie movie

These people are not having a good time

I used to love zombie films above all other forms of cinema. Forget your kitchen sink neo-realism or modern blockbuster entertainment, Dawn of the Dead is still one of the best films of all time. I watched every cheap and gross Italian zombie film my local video stores had in the 1980s and it was very, very bad for me.

So I was fully on-board when there was a post-millenial surge in zombie fiction. I got all the in-jokes in Shaun of the Dead, and thought 28 Days Later was a smart extrapolation of the genre, and the early use of digital camera set a whole new aesthetic.

But the rot started to set in around the time of the Dawn of the Dead remake, not just because the undead were running around all over the show (I didn't have that problem with the same thing in 28 Days Later, because they weren't dead in that one, but running zombies has always struck me as a weird arrogance of the now), but because everything was so obvious, and loud, and over-paced.

The state of zombie films has only gotten worse since then, and there are literally too many cheap pieces of crap to keep track of - including some that take further shits on the names of Romero's original great trilogy. Romero himself came back to the shuffling dead to diminishing returns, with dull characters shooting dull found footage and ghouls on horseback. And while The Walking Dead was okay for a while - any dull episode was usually redeemed by some brilliant piece of action - it disappeared up its own decomposing arse a long time ago.

I haven't seen a new zombie film in years now, and it's been a long time since anything has truly scared me like those earlier films did. They're all flash and bluster and the most obvious of metaphors, with jump scares instead of the slow and terrifying plod of the ravenous dead.

And, frankly, I just don't want to be associated with the kind of hardcore fan who has laid claim to the zombie film. It's grosser than a Fulci eye-gouging the way a certain kind of zombie movie fan craves the apocalypse, aching for that freedom of a destroyed society, ignoring the sheer fucking horror of it all.

They always think they'll be Woody Harrelson in Zombieland, not one of the actual shuffling dead, smug in their arrogance that they would be the survivors if the apocalypse did come, because they'd watched a few movies. The ranks of zombie-movie fans riddled with QAnon fucktards who think they can sit back and 'enjoy the show', because nothing could ever actually happens to them, or religious zealots who think the book of Revelations is a goddamn guidebook, not a warning.

Maybe zombie films are just something you grow out of, and those who don't are destined to be stuck in that rotting herd, hungry for flesh, but never going anywhere. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Never getting around to Crumb

There are so many great comic books in the world, and so many great creators, it can take a while to get to things. Some corners of the comic world - especially in the non-English circles - are a complete mystery to me There hasn't been a day in the past 40 years when I haven't read some kind of comic book, and I still feel  ridiculously uninformed about a huge amount of comics.

And Robert Crumb's work is definitely a huge blind spot. By the time I got old enough not to be freaked out by his comics, I never could find his books anywhere. I saw the Crumb movie when it came out, and I read a few of his comics - the Kafka book he illustrated was absolutely terrific, the Short History Of America is straight-up brilliant, he did the best Phillip K Dick comic strip ever and his Book of Genesis from a few years back was lovely. But I just don't think I'm ever going to be taking that deep dive into his work.

It's not just that it's problematic as fuck, although that hardly helps. It's just that I'm not that interested in a lot of the things he has written about. The weird sex might have been truly transgressive back in the 1970s, but now feels forced and obvious, and the same goes for his greater points about modern society. I get that his comics about Bigfoot fucking dudes in the ass is a great big metaphor for the ills of civilization, but I still just don't want to read stories about fuckin' Bigfoot.

It's not the art - that has been consistently beautiful for decades. His detailed scratchiness and big curvy lines are always gorgeous, and the caricatures and portraits he does of friends and strangers can be hauntingly beautiful. I thought that would be enough to pull me finally into the orbit of Crumb, but I'd still rather read a Mark Millar comic.

I'll still read some of his comics, but I can't see myself ever getting into the whole thing. Life's too short and there's too much else to do.

Monday, May 25, 2020

I came in with Superman and his big green rock

While I might not have been going to the movies much lately, but I've been in love with going to the movies since 1979, when I went to see the first Superman movie with my teenage cousin Maria. It's the first movie I ever remember seeing in the cinema. I was four, and there might have been films that I'd gone to before then, but Superman was the one that still sticks in my mind, four decades later.

I remember going to see it, and remember sitting in the mighty Majestic Theatre before it started, but there are only two things I actually can recall from the film. One was the swooshing credits in the opening scene, which were incredibly impressive, and - for some reason - the bit where young Clark finds the glowing green crystal under the shed on the Kent farm.

It wasn't the super-tense helicopter scene, or the bit with time turning backwards, or the truly transcendent moment when Superman flies above the world and drifts away with one of the greatest shit-eating grins in all of cinema. It's the bit where he finds the neon rock under the wooden floorboards.

When I rewatched the film years later, and saw how long the opening credits went on for, I wasn't surprised how that part had stuck in my mind for so long. But I have no idea why the glowing green crystal burned itself into my head.

Who ever knows what kids are ever going to remember? Or how it sets them up for life?

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Fast food snobs are the worst

I've eaten hugely expensive meals, and happily hoovered up michelen star meals, mainly following the lovely wife into the world of gourmet food, but I still can't stand fast food snobbery.

When New Zealand went without all kinds of fast food for more than month, people were desperate for a burger or a pizza or anything they didn't have to make themselves. Unsurprisingly, there were long lines at the local McDonalds when they opened up again.

Unfortunately, it was just as unsurprising that so many people couldn't resist getting up on their fucking high horse and telling everybody who could listen that they shouldn't be eating fast food and global conglomerates were evil and don't people know the packaging tastes better than the food and blah blah fucking blah.

It's the dumbest fucking thing to be a snob about, judging people for what they eat. It's all right if you don't like it, nobody is forcing you to eat it, but there is no reason to be an arsehole to everybody else who just wants the grease and convenience. It's been a hard fucking year, and a hamburger won't fill the void all this pain has caused, but it might fuckin' help.