Off-the-cuff Links

(Soundtrack: The Rondelles– Fiction Romance, Fast Machines)

So much going on today!

Grant Morrison’s biggest fans are not at all happy with his Arthur comments! They were preceded in these sentiments by the always wonderful John Commonplacebook… My own position, of course, is that that guy who’s calling himself “Grant Morrison” has no special connection to the works attributed to the author with that name–’cause the author is dead!

Interesting piece on The Filth by Gary Wilkinson over at Ninth Art, marred only by the occasional facile statement, such as:

There’s also a comic within a comic, STATUS QUORUM, which illustrates the utter banality of the characters and plot from comics past compared to the cutting edge of now (ie THE FILTH itself) as the characters from STATUS QUORUM interact with those of THE FILTH.

Come on man! Status Quorum isn’t just there to beat on the superhero past! If I thought there was nothing more to it than that, I’d have been pretty annoyed.. In case you’re wondering what I did make of it, well, some of it is here. Basically, as far as I’m concerned, “Secret Original” is Buddy Baker, and the interpolated comics are not a parody of the silver age, they’re an attempt on Morrison’s part to further interrogate his own “Coyote Gospel”!

On the other hand, I can definitely appreciate Gary’s sentiments here:

Each person approaching a text will bring with them different experiences that will affect how he perceives the work. For me, but maybe not for you, THE FILTH was deeply affecting. Some things I took out of it were not even intended by the authors. While reading, I became convinced that the inclusion of a pair of artists who enjoy playing with filth may be a key to unlocking the text. I asked Morrison why he used Gilbert and George for Man Green/Man Yellow. “They crawled up out of my subconscious in that form. It just seemed right,” he explained. Ah, well…

Meanwhile, Ed Cunard has responded to my “anti-respectability manifesto”. It’s a good post, and I don’t have too many problems with it really–I’m certainly the last person to argue that “comics should be for kids” (on the contrary, I’ve always argued that superheroes are a particularly unsuitable genre for children–as distinguished from the “intelligent fourteen year-old” that I think we should all try to be for as long as we can!)

Ed and I part ways (or rather, we see the same path, we just disagree on where it will take us), however, right here:

You wouldn’t know it from reading the New York Times Book Review now, but there was a period in time where prose fiction was considered substandard and not worthy for discussion by the literary establishment of the day, who preferred the poetic form to the novel. However, as prose became legitimized, the canon itself was changed to a more catholic form – now, I don’t really see the day where comics are taught alongside Oscar Wilde in every school in the country, but I do feel that there are comics works suitable for academic study – as Dave obviously does as well. However, where he sees the legitimacy of the medium imposing some kind of standard that all creators will shoot for literary acclaim, I see the chance for people to “keep on keepin’ on,” and I – optimistically, true – hope that the works deserving of attention will find an easier time getting that acclaim. Right now, where comics are perceived as illegitimate, there are people out there trying desperately to find that critical acclaim, and in most cases, their intentions are completely transparent – for example, I had the misfortune to pick up a comic called “An Open Place,” or something, that is trying so desperately to be IMPORTANT that it’s simply laughable. I give readers the credit to be smart enough to know the difference.

See, my position is that the novel was terribly damaged by its accession to cultural respectability! Most of my favourite novelists: E. Bronte, Dickens, Melville, Hawthorne…even Henry James, Joseph Conrad and Dash Hammett… were considered practitioners of an “illegitimate” art form (James and Conrad are sort of on the cusp, but they certainly weren’t around for the novel’s true “baptism of respectability” in the twenties; Hammett was, but, in his case, he was working in a specific form–the “pulp”–that avoided the curse of “respectability”) Now, this has a lot to do with my personal aesthetics–and I can’t force anyone to share that with me!–basically, I have no use for the “pale affirmations-through-negation” of the modern “literary” genre–and it is a genre, believe me! (Marc Singer has referred to this as the literature of “little epiphanies”, and I think that’s apt)… I like my complexities and subtleties to emerge out of “concurrent hysterics” (can you tell by the way I write this page?) I privilege the generation of melodramatic intensity (nourished, to be sure, by a truly creative irony) in art over the kind of lame-ass diffidence that masquerades as irony in a lot of novels written in these more “respectable” times…

Now, of course, no one is forcing our “literary stylists” to write the way they do–and Paul Auster is a perfect example of a guy who, right now, is writing novels the way I think they should be written…precisely because he harkens back to the medium’s disreputable past. Paul Thomas Anderson is doing the same thing in films–while the Coens render sly hommage to the Hollywood genres, PTA is actually generating the kind of hyberbolic power that Capra, Dieterle, Borzage, and many other directors did regularly in pre-Cahiers Hollywood.

Jesus! I’d better go! And I didn’t even get a chance to discuss
Neilalien’s thoughts on Strange #1 (gonna pass on that one I think…where’s Morrison when we need him indeed?) and The (Veitch) Question (you may be right about this one Neil–but I have to see for myself!)

Oh yeah–and Dan Jacobson is having fun (and entertaining us!) with the Defenders issues which provided the catastrophic backstory for Gruenwald’s Squadron Supreme–which I’ll get back to any day now, I promise you!

Also–Todd Murry discusses Following Cerebus… Wonderful discussion here…now I’m convinced that I have to get it!

Good Evenin’ Friends!



  1. I think you and I agree more than it might appear. I’m curious, though – what do you think of the implications of legitimacy outside the critical sphere, such as the legal issues I mentioned?


  2. Hmm…well, of course, I have no wish to see anyone censored–ever… Still, the novel’s legitimacy hasn’t stopped campaigns to proscribe Huck Finn, etc… From what I can see, the people that get involved in that kind of activity are completely oblivious to aesthetic considerations of any sort–their objections are always to some aspect of the work’s content, and they don’t care whether it’s a comic book, a novel, an epic poem, or an opera… and there’s really no defense against literal-minded prudes! (perhaps these are the “schizophrenics” that Grant Morrison was ranting about in Arthur)


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