Friday, December 25, 2009

Pele


It is said that the volcano goddess Pele once challenged a brave chief named Kahawali to a toboggan race down mount Kilauea. Not knowing she was a goddess and entranced by her beauty he agreed.

Despite her power the chief won the race due to his superior skill and asked for a kiss as his prize. Enraged Pele pursued him, sliding down rolling rocks which quickly turned to lava as her fury set the whole mountain alight.

Reaching the sea the terrified chief escaped in a boat just ahead of the smoking rocks she threw at him.

When he turned and looked back at the beach Pele had resumed her fiery form...

end.
From a folk tale of Hawaii.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Rory Hayes: Where Demented Wented

Rory Hayes had one of the most extreme visions among the transgressive artists of the comix underground. The leading lights of the scene in the 70's considered his disturbing and primitive stories to be minor masterpieces of paranoia and terror.

There's a child like dread in his stories, crudely delineated, starkly presented and usually featuring a button-eyed anthropomorphic teddy bear in tales of murder and mutilation. I was introduced to his work in the 80's, in an article about underground horror comix in Marvel's news-stand fantasy magazine Epic - a short lived attempt to compete with Heavy Metal - and have sought it out ever since.

They're like the scrawled nightmares of a traumatized child dosed with heavy psychedelics.

Hayes had serious problems. His nightmarish comix reflected an equally nightmarish inner world. He was an enthusiastic user of drugs and ultimately died of an overdose. Vancouver comix artist Colin Upton, who I briefly knew back in the 80's has flatly said that "Rory Hayes was nuts. I mean, really, truly insane."

Others have argued that positioning Hayes as an 'outsider artist' a primitive stylist pouring his mental illness onto the page is too simple, among them Dan Nadel, co-editor with Glenn Bray of a new Fantagraphics retrospective of Hayes work:

"Where Demented Wented: The Art and Comics of Rory Hayes"

"This idea that he was some kind of outsider artist is overstated. He was an artist pure and simple, and very ambitious. He suffered from personal problems and was self-taught, but then R. Crumb was self-taught and suffered from personal problems. It's not that different from Krazy Kat. But Herriman was canonized and Rory wasn't."
But regardless, the work of Hayes elicits strong reactions from anyone exposed to it ranging from disgust to fascination.For more of Hayes work including several complete strips check out MONSTER BRAINS.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Santarchy

This one came to me from my buddy professional astrologer Matt Currie. You can find his vaguely disreputable yet rakish column at Astrology.com He's in San Francisco these days, enjoying the outside world looking like the inside of his head for a change.




Related: Santa, No!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Sacrifice of the Holy Fool

Edward Woodward died on Monday at the age of 79. He had many movie roles, including two authentic classics in Breaker Morant and The Wicker Man, but will be remembered primarily as one of the most prolific British TV actors ever. Most Americans probably remember him best from the 80's TV hit The Equalizer, as a retired secret agent using his deadly skills and barely repressed righteous fury to defend the weak and downtrodden.

To genre fans though, he will always be remembered as Sergeant Neil Howie of the West Highlands Constabulary, stolid, priggish and utterly dedicated to his Christian duty.

The Wicker Man was made in 1973 (For the love of God avoid the disastrous remake starring Nicolas Cage and directed by Neil LaBute, a misogynist hack and the most over-rated film-maker ever.) it tells the tale of a dedicated police officer who comes to a remote Scottish Isle searching for a missing child and discovers mystery, sensuality and a jovial yet sinister population who all seem to be in on a joke that he is left out of.

The joke, of course, is on him.

Despite the delightfully malevolent presence of Christopher Lee as the mysterious Laird of Summerisle and the pulchritudinous unclothed charms of a young Britt Ekland, the movie depends above all on the performance of Edward Woodward.

He doesn't disappoint. The rigidly self-righteous Sgt. Howie shouldn't be as likable as he is with his dour and disapproving Christianity and his quivering tight lipped fury at the sin and debauchery he encounters at every turn on an island where Christianity has long since been supplanted by a much older faith.

Woodward doesn't play Sgt Howie, he becomes him, and after multiple viewings you can still find yourself hoping against hope that he'll get back in his police seaplane and leave the dark mysteries of Summerisle behind. But events unfold with as they must, bringing him inexorably to a windy seaside cliff and his unavoidable destiny.

The movie is a study in bizarre tonal shifts and discordant atmosphere. It's a mystery, a comedy, a horror movie and a character study. Sprightly traditional folk songs contrast with a steadily building menace. Audience expectations are toyed with expertly - particularly via a sudden shift to a traditional action movie chase sequence late in the game that suddenly becomes a cruel jest on both protagonist and audience.

I can't recommend The Wicker Man highly enough. Its a great way to remember an actor's actor who brought a commitment to every role he took inhabiting the skin of baffled angry men with just enough self knowledge to make them tragically flawed icons of victimized everyman.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

It's in the Blood

Vampirism is almost as flexible a metaphor as Zombies can be. Vampires have represented teen alienation, addiction, class elitism and of course sex. Most recently legions of enthralled teenage girls have utterly internalized getting bit by a vampire as corresponding exactly with 'losing it' in a series of rather dim novels and now movies.

But the correlation at the heart of the myth and implicit in Dracula, the Ur text of the genre, is vampirism as disease.

In Stoker's Dracula, Vampirism is a blood born taint being fought by science. The supernatural element is of course present, but as others have observed its really a book about Syphilis. In Victorian England before antibiotics drove a stake into it, Syphilis was what AIDS was until recently; an incurable, barely treatable blood disease. Nice people didn't talk about it, it was spread by 'beastly' behavior and the sufferers would die slowly and grotesquely being marred with ugly stigmatizing sores and wasting away and going mad as the disease ate at their brains.

In that context, Bram Stoker's Dracula with its emphasis on blood borne evil and modern (for the time) medical methods like transfusions becomes a very different beast than it is to modern readers.

Nosferatu the first unauthorized adaptation of Stoker's tale made the disease metaphor explicit. The vampire is a horrific deformed creature with rat like teeth bringing plague and swarms of vermin with him as he invades the comfortable reality of modern Hamburg.

And now film-maker Guillermo Del Toro and co-author Chuck Hogan make the disease metaphor explicit again with the first in their new trilogy of novels The Strain.

The hero is a doctor for the Center for Disease Control brought in to investigate a mysterious plague that has wiped out an entire airplane full of passengers - or has it? The medical mystery element is played well, but the underlying monstrous evil of the vampire begins to unfurl as the story goes on. Disease becomes unearthly evil gradually but utterly.

In this age of SARS and H1N1 and the world wide unease that we are due for something makes The Strain as timely and unsettling as any horror novel you've ever read. The fact is that a deadly killer flu strain seems to hit the world every 4 decades or so - and the last one hit us in the 60's. If SARS or H1N1 aren't it that doesn't mean it isn't coming.

The airplane opening in The Strain is a reminder that in our modern globalized world, the next killer virus could be burning in the bloodstreams of the worlds capitals for days or weeks before we even realized what was happening to us. This is a modern unease that The Strain captures very well.

Del Toro, of course, is the film-maker responsible for Pans Labyrinth, The Devil's Backbone and the Hellboy movies among others. He's currently in New Zealand working on the Hobbit with Peter Jackson. If you've seen and enjoyed any of these films - and enjoying them pretty much goes hand in hand with seeing them - then you will love The Strain. I'm looking forward avidly to the next book in the series, and after reading it I think you will be too.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Steal from the best

So I'm watching the new episode of Supernatural. It's not a spectacular show but its entertaining enough and it hooked me when it had an episode with the title 'Criss Angel is a douche-bag'.

That's a great title, man.

Tonight's episode (I believe the children are the future - another great title.), spoilers of course, is about a little boy named Jesse who is extremely powerful without knowing it. Anything he believes comes true in a radius of several miles around him. So if he believes joy-buzzers really do electrocute you they do, if he believes the tooth fairy is a leering biker in a Tutu that's who will show up and yank out all your teeth.

Turns out he's the Antichrist, but is actually a really nice kid with no desire to destroy the world.

This is, of course also the plot of the novel Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

Let's be charitable and call it a tribute.


Monday, October 19, 2009

I see a Darkness

Cash I See a Darkness (Paperback)
A review of the graphic novel.
by Rheinhard Kleist

224 pages
Self Made Hero



A spare and elegant interpretation of a story anyone likely to read will likely already be familiar with.

The challenge then, for German cartoonist Rheinhard Kleist, is to take the same material from Johnny Cash's autobiography and every other compendium of tributes and oral tradition that the makers of the film dipped into and justify his own versions existence.

But Kleist has produced something wholly unique and beautiful here. His choice of which parts of an iconography almost gospel to Cash adherants and produced a must have for Cash fans and fans of excellent sequential graphic art.




The format is an assured biographic narrative inter-cut with less successful dramatizations of Cash songs with Johnny in the starring roles. Get it for the southern Gothic aesthetic of the depression era segments and the noir prison bar shadows of the mythic concert at Folsom.

Not the dramatic comic strip interpretation of Ghost riders in the Sky.

The art is the real treat here. An evocative mix of intricately delinated and shadowed close ups and almost expressionistic rendering of the backgrounds along with almost cartoonish sequences that mostly manage not to distract from the rest of the book's look.

It's a fine line, but for the most part Kleist walks that line.






Of course there's also this earlier interpretation from Christian Archie publishers Spire:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Weekly Comics - August 15

The Walking Dead
Volume 10, What We Become

I collect The Walking Dead in it's trade paperback collections. I balance the painful wait between volumes with getting more story at a time. Volume 10 collects issues 55 to 60 of the savagely brilliant ongoing series that is one of the most bleak but compulsively readable epics in comics.

The premise, for the uninitiated, is that at the end of the zombie movie the story just keeps going. We follow the hunted survivors of the roaming bands of zombies that have over run the Earth. Different hunted groups merge, characters join the group, form relationships, get eaten, new people arrive, but distressingly, less all the time.

People transform. As the book advertises. 'No government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable TV. In a world ruled by the dead we are forced to finally start living.' In this volume we learn that can also mean becoming monsters no less terrifying than the hungry dead.

Highest recommendation.



Amazing Spiderman
602

Let's call this the 'Welcome back Mary Jane' cover shall we?

So, a few decades ago in real time, a few years in comics time Peter Parker found out that Mary Jane Watson knew he was Spiderman, had in fact always known since they were both teenagers but had kept that knowledge a secret even from him.

After years of playing the field Peter Parker zeroed in Mary Jane Watson, they were a steady item for a few years and then in a time of event driven comics they got married.

And the writers just couldn't figure out how to do Peter Parker, put upon young everyman if he was married to a super model/actress. They were split up by Mary Jane's move to Hollywood but stayed married. You can't give a heavily licensed trademark comic book character a divorce. Just can't happen.

So after the Marvel Comics Civil War event when Spiderman revealed his identity as Peter Parker to the world and Aunt May got shot by a sniper, the powers that be specifically editor in Chief Joe Quesada, decided that they needed a full continuity reset.

Spiderman couldn't get a divorce, so he sold his marriage to the devil in return for Aunt May's life and the secret of his identity back.

No, really.

After a year away, after everyone on Earth's memory is wiped of the knowledge that he's actually Spiderman Mary Jane returns to establish the current continuity line that almost everything happened the way it originally did except that they didn't get married. They had a longstanding relationship, she seems to still know he's Spiderman, maybe they even lived together, but they didn't get married.

Oh, plus, J. Jonah. Jameson is Mayor of New York and Peter's back to working for him and a creepy serial killer super villain coats Peter's face in plastic and drops him into a pit of acid.

Yes, this review was an excuse to run that cover.


The Chronicles of Wormwood The Last Battle
Preview
Garth Ennis and Oscar Jimenez

Like the novel Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Wormwood is a play on The Omen, the story of a sympathetic Antichrist. Instead of a likable 12 year old boy, Wormwood is a mostly likable grown up TV executive. He has a perverse intelligent rabbit, a forgiving girlfriend and he likes to hang out at the bar with his brain damaged buddy Jesus Christ.

In the first volume Wormwood's girlfriend dumps him after finding out about his steamy afternoons of anal sex with Joan of Arc. She's taken him back now, but he's still keeping the whole Antichrist thing a secret. Volume 2, The Last Enemy was really only memorabe for the line "Suck my cockectomy spawn of the Dark One!"

Now after defeating both his father Satan and God in Volume One to get them to leave humanity alone, somebody even worse has taken over Hell. This is just a brief preview of the coming miniseries Volume 3, The Last Battle, with an affordable $1.99 price tag.

It's a
sacrilicious treat!



Dominic Fortune #1 of 4
Howard Chaykin and Edgar Delgado

Chaykin resurrects his 30's era pulp adventurer created in the 70's. He was originally published by Atlas Comics and called the Scorpion and then in Marvel magazines and comics as Dominic Fortune. It was always a stylish and sexy book. Now, in the new miniseries for Marvel Max, Marvel's explicit content line there are a lot more naked people and blowjobs.

A cross between Indiana Jones and Alexander Portnoy, as the story begins Dominic Fortune is demonstrating what an amoral swashbuckling mercenary he is by selling his fighter pilot skills back and forth to both sides of the just ended war between Bolivia and Paraguay, (which would make this June of 1935.) and falling from the sky into a naked starlet's swimming pool.

The war over he drifts to Hollywood and a job babysitting a trio of drunken actors. A racist conspiracy and some rather brutal whore shooting hint at the larger story.

It's got my attention and I'll be coming back for issue #2.

Raw Hide

Dead Kennedys
(All Midget cast)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What's in a name?

So a rapper named 'C-Murder' was just convicted of murder.

This suggests you should never leave books of matches around Steve Arson, and whatever you do, never go out for dinner with Johnny McDaterape.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Weekly Comics - August 8

The Saga of Solomon Kane Dark Horse
Dark Horse
Collecting classic stories from Marvel magazines like Savage Sword of Conan and Kull (Even Tomb of Dracula as the two characters meet in these pages.) with script adaptations by Roy Thomas among others and featuring art from such 70's superstars as Bernie Wrightson, Neal Adams Howard Chaykin and even some early Mike Zeck.

Solomon Kane was one of the many pulp creations of Robert A. Howard that were stacked in comic and magazine form under bongs and Black Sabbath albums in bedrooms all over the world. The Dour puritan with the flashing blade and a fierce hatred of evil never became as popular or well known as Conan or even Red Sonja, but he had a long career of backup feature status. Dark Horse has added him to their Robert A. Howard publishing line and this release is a nice affordable collection in the popular black and white 'phone book' format. Over 400 pages of content for under $20.




Justice League Cry For Justice #2
DC


Popular writer James Robinson returns to comics after a long hiatus and is joined by the beautiful painted art of Mauro Cascioli. Classic characters Green Lantern, Green Arrow and The Atom are joined by Super Girl, the new Captain Marvel and minor oddities Congo Bill and the 70's Starman in a story about the heroes deciding to become proactive and start actively hunting super villains. So far its all buildup, albeit with Robinson's sophisticated dialogue and Cascioli's expressive art.

The best scene in this issue is Green Arrow twitting Green Lantern about what a man-whore he is, most of this issue is conversations on rooftops or in warehouses.

Worth picking up but you may want to wait for the inevitable trade or hardcover collection.







The Hangman #1
DC
DC Comics takes another stab at reinventing the Archie Comics Red Circle heroes. Last time it was the Impact Line in the early 90's. Respectable but not spectacular and ultimately short lived. This time they've given the characters to Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Stracynski and he's begun the process of incorporating them into the main DC continuity. There will be one-shots for the major Red Circle titles The Shield, The Inferno and The Web (But not The Fly this time unfortunately.) as Stracynski does much the same for the Archie golden age characters as he did with Timely's lesser know Golden age characters in his Marvel miniseries The Twelve.

The Hangman is a well written tale of supernatural revenge, even though it does follow a rather well worn path most recently trod by DCs updated revival of western vigilante El Diablo. We've seen this all before, but its an entertaining story nonetheless.







Also out his week: North 40 #2, Wednesday Comics #5, Warlord #5 and Astro City the Dark Age Book 3 #4.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

There's Horror...

..and then there's self-indulgent, hateful murder porn.

Rampage is a new film from Uwe Boll. Yeah, that name alone is the hallmark and warning of utter crap. The fair warning that you are considering viewing the product of a sub-literate crap-meister who owes his entire career to a German tax law that seems to have been based on the plot of The Producers. Literally a legal way to make investors money on utter failure both artistic and at the box office.

Rampage is Boll's latest masterpiece. Artistically and morally it is clearly nothing more than repugnant murder porn. Don't believe me? Check out the trailer. Fair warning, you will need a shower afterward.

See? Uwe Boll is about to become the go to film maker to all the dismal little losers who've convinced themselves it's everybody else's fault that they are worthless little turds who can't achieve anything with their lives and all women are evil because every one they meet can smell the crazy loser stink off them from a mile away.

This movie seems designed to create copycat acts of violence. I hope Uwe Boll gets sued to death by the families of every victim of every crazed loser with a gun and a grudge who comes along and has this piece of shit in his DVD collection next to all his tentacle anime and drool covered holocaust documentaries.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Master of Horror: Vincent Price

Hi, I'm the Dweller and I'm addicted to Vincent Price movies.

Okay, so it isn't crack. I'm not sucking dick to afford my habit.

Among other reasons, Vincent Price DVDs are remarkably cheap. Both in price and quality for the most part unfortunately, but there are some bright spots among the dollar store public domain cheapo releases of The Last Man on Earth and The House on Haunted Hill - two great flicks ill served by the back alley DVD burner and color photocopier versions churned out with depressing regularity. The original Night of the Living Dead has been tarted up and turned out in much the same way.

But the MGM Midnight Movies imprint has a big catalog of Vincent Price's output from the 60's and 70's. They're bare bones releases but better than decent transfers. Stand outs include all the Corman films loosely adapting the stories of Edgar Allen Poe - usually keeping little more than the title, but frequently outrageously stylish gems. They range from the endearingly silly The Raven to the grimly sadistic Witchfinder General - originally titled 'The Conqueror Worm' after the poem to continue the Poe theme but of a very different school of film-making from the light weight drive in fare of most of Corman's output. Gems of the batch include the first film of the series The Fall of the House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum and The Tomb of Ligiea.

Also great are the elaborate revenge fantasies the two Doctor Phibes movies and Theater of Blood. Every elaborate, gory 'murder inventions' and 'one by one revenge' movie including Se7en and the increasingly witless and dreary Saw series has these three Vincent Price films in their lineage.

My absolute favorite from the Price Canon is the ultimate peak of the Corman Poe years The Masque of the Red Death. This was Corman's most ambitious film, with a brooding sinister script by Charles Beaumont and others that grafted the Poe stories Hop Toad and The Masque of the Red Death onto a story that recalls Sade's 120 Days of Sodom. Price is at the peak of his powers as the devilishly charming Satanist Prince Prospero lording over a castle full of slavish degenerate nobles as the Red Death ravages the countryside. His dialogue is witty and bubbling with sinister mirth as he conducts an elaborate seduction of his prisoner the beautiful and virtuous Francesca. His evil is all the more terrifying for the occasional flashes of the possibility of redemption he lets slip out from under his mask of cruelty and sadism. While the decadence and scheming goes on in the castle, Death in the form a soft voiced but utterly implacable hooded figure awaits outside for his hour to toll. Beautifully filmed, this lush exercise in elegant surrealism is one I can and do watch again and again.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lotion

The Greenskeepers

First Five Minutes of the Horror Movie


Robotic Technology Inc.'s Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot -- that's right, "EATR" -- "can find, ingest, and extract energy from biomass in the environment (and other organically-based energy sources), as well as use conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline, heavy fuel, kerosene, diesel, propane, coal, cooking oil, and solar) when suitable," reads the company's Web site.

That "biomass" and "other organically-based energy sources" wouldn't necessarily be limited to plant material -- animal and human corpses contain plenty of energy, and they'd be plentiful in a war zone.
Yeah, nothing could possibly go wrong with that...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Let the REAL Right One In

I have to second the Aint it Cool team: Remaking the recent Swedish horror classic 'Let the Right One In' is unnecessary, fraught with disaster and just a Really Bad Idea.

Yeah the posters AICN turned up are vaguely promising, but considering the original only came out last year, such indecent haste to re-film it in English, seems outright disrespectful

Do yourself a favor and let yourself be hypnotized by this icy tale of innocence and blood in its original version - the DVD even has a dubbed version if you just can't hack subtitles. Let the Right One In is easily the best Vampire movie I've seen in years. If you haven't seen it yet you're missing out.

Set in the snowy closed in world of a Swedish housing estate in the mid 80's, we are introduced to Oskar, a slight, shy 12 year old bullied by his peers and ignored by his parents, who have less presence in this film than the adults in a Charlie Brown cartoon. They're there to provide the minimum basics of parenting while withholding any real involvement. Oskar frankly acts like a budding serial killer as he fantasises about stabbing his enemies and making them 'squeal like a pig!' But mostly he just seems intensely isolated.

And then there's Eli, who only comes out at night, wandering through the Swedish winter in bare feet. Eli is 12 too. But Eli has been 12 for very long time.

The two meet and form a careful but quickly all-encompassing bond in the silent emptiness of winter darkness in abandoned public spaces, playgrounds under street lights and barren apartments.

Oskar needs human connection desperately, but Eli's needs are more pragmatic, and Eli isn't human. Both are innocent, in the way that children or sharks are innocent:

They do only what they have to.

Another amazing thing about this movie: It's about real kids. Not little adults spouting dialogue, not kids as adults mythologize them, but real affectless kids, free of ironic detachment or hip cynical humor, free of all but the clumsiest most revealing attempts at childish artifice.

Real human child behavior in movies is rare enough to be a jolt when you see it.

It's also a rare thing when a movie comes along and pulls you into its world, against your will even. Let the Right One In is a masterful example of sparse but immersive film making that treats its characters and its audience with respect.

Monday, July 13, 2009

'A Prayer to the Predator Gods'





"...and in the darkness something hissed and green, cat's eyes flashed.."













"Black and empty sockets in torn leather
faces
stared at us with terrible knowledge..."










"Teeth like thin black nails, eyes
like the glow of rotting fungus.."









Trapped in the suffocating darkness.
Trapped with the Dead.
'A Prayer to the Predator Gods'
2010




Sunday, July 12, 2009

No More

The Brains

Festival of Fear

It's almost enough to get me to Toronto.

Almost.

The Rue Morgue Festival Of Fear National Horror Expo 2009.

Featuring Roger Corman, Bruce Campbell, Udo Kier, Barbara Steele, Tom Savini, Linda Hamilton, Max Brooks, Lloyd Kaufman and the Suicide Girls and music by Psychocharger.

This Convention sounds like the inside of my own head.

If you're going to be in Toronto this summer, first, my sympathies. Second, You really should go to this. It'll probably be air-conditioned for one thing.

The Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 222 Bremner Blvd South Building.

August 28 - 30.

Thought for the Day

I think the various Ed Hardy tattoo graphics t-shirts are actually pretty cool looking and I'd actually get one if every teenage boy on Earth wasn't wearing them right now.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lie To Me

Tom Waits

Weekly Comics - July 12

This series will happen most weeks, between Wednesday and Sunday. This week Wednesday Comics, Batman and Robin 2 and North 40.

Wednesday Comics #1
DC
DC hits one out of the park with this evocative artistic recreation of the old fashioned broadsheet newspaper comic section. Some of the most exciting artists in the industry paired with some of the best writers do tightly plotted one page strips. This first issue has to bear the burden of story set up which different features handle with varying degrees of success.

Highlights are the Raymondesque Kamandi by Gibbons and Sook, Paul Pope's deco arabesques in Adam Strange and the sunny subversion of Gaiman and Allred's Metamorpho. The Superman page by Arcudi and Bermejo is a beautiful artifact and will be reprinted in USA Today every week, potentially bringing some new readers into comic shops.

This project is an exciting mix of nostalgia hit and modern reinterpretive appropriation. Recommended.




North 40
#1
Wildstorm
Lovecraftian horror meets small town angst in this horror ongoing about a town touched by demonic forces and cut off from the world. Now Entering Conover County written by Aaron Williams with art by Fiona Staples sets up the situation and characters without sacrificing suspense or horror. Bored goth kids get the library to send them the wrong book from the restricted stacks (If it looks like the Necronomicon and acts like the Necronomicon...) and unleash ancient magic on their town.

All over the county people fall asleep and wake up trapped and changed. Forces begin to emerge, sides begin to be dimly seen. You could be forgiven for thinking the creators might be angling for Adaptation attention. This book sometimes reads like a big budget HBO horror series.

Worth it for the writing and art. Lovecraft fans in particular should be picking this up.




Batman And Robin #2
DC
Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly continue their stylized high energy take on the new Batman and Robin. The original Batman Bruce Wayne is currently presumed dead fallowing Grant Morrison's apocalyptic Final Crisis and this is original Robin Dick Grayson donning the cowl while Damien Wayne, Bruce Wayne's long lost secret son with the daughter of a super villain has taken on the role of Robin.

In this issue a conflicted Dick Grayson has second thoughts about taking on his mentor's role and Damien who's been raised by assassins and terrorists continues having trouble adapting to life as a hero, much less a sidekick. He puts himself in danger heedlessly following the villain of the piece.

Doctor Pyg, a horror movie monster of a Batman villain may be one of the most disturbing menaces yet and brings a disturbing frisson to an otherwise shiny and knowing superhero comic dancing right up to the edge of deliberate camp.

This is about as subversively smart and fun as mainstream superhero comics get.


Other worthwhile books this week: No Hero #6 and Gravel #12 by Warren Ellis each up the ante in their stories and Peter Bagge's collection of his satirical Reason Strips steals my planned autobiography title with Everybody Is Stupid except for Me, and Other Astute Observations. Funny and smart.

Find your nearest Comic Shop Here
.

The Children of Earth

Torchwood: The Children of Earth is as good as TV Science Fiction and Horror get. I want to talk about it with some mild spoilers.

Fans of the dark, sexually ambiguous adult spin-off from Doctor Who were disappointed to hear this season Torchwood would be one five part special. Along with the hugely popular Doctor Who reduced to a series of specials this year the BBC signals their intention to strangle the geese that lay the golden eggs and subsist on reality TV, talent searches and game shows. A future Doctor Who actually warned of in the episode Bad Wolf.

But the complete five part story is a triumph. A suspenseful, horrific masterpiece throbbing with paranoia, guilt and hideous brooding menace.

This is Russell Davies at the peak of his game. Its a structural master piece as he ratchets up the tension in a steady rising curve for more than four hours concluding without an easy cheat as he occasionally does. The character writing is some of the sharpest I've seen from a writer famous for his dialogue. Captain Jack regains some much needed moral ambiguity and depth. Ianto goes through a splendidly delineated arc in his scenes and Gwen is finally shown as the brilliant badass she always should have been married to Reese who may be stocky and ordinary and out of his depth - but he's no idiot and gets a couple lovely scenes.

And while the villains may overtly seem to be the menacing and mysterious Species 456, the elite figures of government are the ones who will truly make your blood run cold as they coolly plan the ultimate betrayal of the same people they always betray. There are thoughtful reflections here to the modern British culture of totalitarian surrveilance, class based discrimination and demonization of youth.

Doctor Who once did a withering take down of Margaret Thatcher in the classic 80's episode The Happiness Patrol. In Children of Earth Davies does his most unforgiving portrayal of a political class that could be ASBO promoting authoritarian Labourites or war on working class Tory social engineers. That sequence alone, that cabinet room full of panicked elites holding their very own modern day Wannsee Conference is a sly commentary on a political class aggressively disengaged from their populace. People often incorrectly reverse the two, Children of Earth reminds us of the truth through a tale of dark socio-symbolic fantasy.

It's hard to conceive how Torchwood comes back from this.
Between the last episode of last season and this five parter they've lost more than half of their core cast and left the show's infrastructure and status quo literally in ruins.

Arguably worth it for five of the best hours of TV SF in my memory.

Echos:
Children of Men, Grant Morrison's The Invisibles and The City of Lost Children

What to Expect

This is a blog about the things that entertain me. The pop culture ephemera given depth and reverence above its station.

So there will be Music. A lot of fuzzy guitar, blues, punk, surf, weird percussive world music, indie and anything ending with '-abilly'. Jazz, Hip Hop, mostly West Coast backpacker stuff and some old school, Trip Hop and Acid Jazz. I love Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, DJ Shadow, Miles Davis, Dan the Automator, The Reverend Horton Heat, The Clash, Lyric's Born, Nick Cave, Flogging Molly, The Brains, Seasick Steve, Charles Mingus, The Distellers, UNKLE, Huevos Rancheros.

That kind of thing.

There will be Art. The Symbolists and the Surrealists. Panic, The Grand Guignol and the Theater of Cruelty. Lots of pop culture retrofits like Coop, Phil Noto, Darwyn Cooke. Zombie movies, old 70's American and British TV SF, Akira Kurasawa movies, Steam Punk, Dada, Hammer Horror, hard boiled detective novels and the cinematic work of Mister Vincent Price.

There will be Reading. Reviews of the stuff I like and why. In fiction, my tastes include authors like William S. Burroughs, Robert Anton Wilson, Lawrence Block, Dan Simmons, Alan Moore, Harlan Ellison, Philip K. Dick, Andrew Vachs, Roger Zelazny, George C. Chesbro, Warren Ellis, plus lots of random SF, Horror, Mystery and non genre stuff. I love comic books and will be reviewing them regularly here. For non-fiction I read a lot of histories, lot of political stuff, anthropology, sociology, cutting edge physics news (Not the math.), Astronomy and environmental engineering. Plus a lot of stuff about self engineering, Shamanism, Zen Buddhism, Chaos Magik, intelligence enhacing pharmacology, Neuro-linguistic programming and ritual working.

But this blog will skew heavily to the Sex, Drugs and Zombie movies parts of my brain.

Garbage Man

The Cramps

And a terrible beauty is born

They said it couldn't be done. They said it shouldn't be done.

I did it anyway.

Popular Posts

Recent Posts