Thoughts for July 4.

*This update is dedicated to my non-US reader(s) and all of you out there on the internet on Independence Day. Trust me, anything around here will be preferable to all of the fireworks on television. I prefer the unlicenced fireworks shows held in my neighborhood anyway, like these neighbors who almost burned a nearby tree down when everything exploded at ground level. That is how we show our love for this country, folks!

*Just to keep myself in tune with the blood-flow of the comics shops, I think I’ll hold off on my usual fun and games like Last Week’s Reviews and the like until tomorrow. No new comics until Thursday, by the way. Don’t be the asshole who wanders in on Wednesday afternoon, because all of the employees are going to titter as soon as you leave, even the nice once. They just can’t help it.

*Food for thought for those of you looking for comics chat this July 4th, from Warren Ellis’ Bad Signal:

“...people have been asking me where the good comics websites are, for general talking-about- comics rather than news. There isn't one. Comicsreporter.com comes closest, for Tom Spurgeon's occasional essays and thought pieces as opposed to news coverage. I like comicon.com/thebeat because Heidi's funny. But that's it, really... There's a big hole for the sort of writing about comics that makes you want to make comics, but all the discursive sites are really just too sunken in hatred to be interested in that... The field right now is just a morass of unfocussed, infantile hate for anyone in the creative community who doesn't approach on bended knee, dares to have an opinion or commits the unforgivable sin of attempting to do something with their lives. So fuck 'em. They can have the comics conversation. You'd be amazed at how many comics pros have cut the comics web out of their reading in the last year.”

By “general talking-about-comics” I presume Ellis is not referring to what Dave Fiore once termed ‘comics punditry’ (oh Jesus fuck, I’m the #1 Google result for ‘comics punditry’... top of the world, Ma!), which is to say commentary on the current industry and business practice. Or maybe he is. He seems to be referring to writing on process, on philosophy of the form, on possibilities. But then, how exactly does such theory-fed writing descend into “infantile hate,” or at least the type of hate that Ellis is describing? I think he’s conflating possible meanings of what comics commentary can be, which isn’t to say that such meanings shouldn’t be conflated. I can’t speak for any columnists besides myself, but I find my writing drifting from formal concern to presentation, to recent news to ridiculousness at the drop of a hat, because that’s the shape of the art. Maybe it’s a mistake to try and adhere to such a wide view, and more focus should be necessary. But anyway, it seems that Ellis is perturbed that there’s not a lot of writing on what can be done with the form, with the mechanisms in place, or maybe with alternate mechanisms to be dreamt up. As usual, he indulges in hyperbole for the sake of effect (either that or he simply doesn’t have a very complete view of what sort of commentary is out there right now), and that little bit about pros ignoring the internet sounds like pure emotional appeal directed to chafe against the impotence of oversensitive fans (I mean... ok, pros are ignoring the internet... and?).

But the meat of his argument... well, that hits at how the comics internet can serve as a force for creation (of comics; I’ll agree right up front that criticism is a form of creation too, but bear with my semantics) or as a force for criticism. I think Ellis wants to see more material to inspire folks to produce their own works, though his criticisms seems to step largely from a familiarity with writings intended to comment on works currently before the reading public. There’s intermixing between these types of commentaries (obviously a call for new comics can incorporate a cubic shitload of criticism of the current offerings), but perhaps if one is looking for writing meant to excite folks into trying new things by reading material intended to analyze what is happening right now, the perception of “infantile hate” is an easy one to foster.

And no, I don’t think that analytical work that takes a critical stance against what is currently being offered for edification is a de facto clarion call for new material; I need a little planning in my theories for The New Comics.

*Still Warren Ellis is always an inspiration to me. So much in fact, that when an old friend of mine asked me to go to the bar last night, I instantly thought of blogging straight from the floor of the place. Now that’s the way of the future-present!

But... where will I plug in my monitor and hard drive? Ellis’ pub must have a lot of electrical outlets.

Regardless, I went to the bar. My friend, an old acquaintance from my glory days of covering ribbon-cuttings and bridge erections for the local paper who opted to stick with journalism, was trying to tell me about Live8 (apparently Jay-Z was the best act there) when a local hardcore Christian rapper took the stage. I turned around and saw that only one person was on the floor, a young man sitting on a chair, balancing a video recorder. Everyone else had left. The guy on the stage winced and grimaced out his performance, sweating and looking to be in genuine and not inconsiderable pain.

This is a song about fighting discrimination that my friend wrote,” he announced.

I think we were all supposed to shout against discrimination during the chorus but none of us did. And yet, I couldn’t take my eyes off the poor soul, strutting and puffing to nobody and screaming over his prerecorded beats.

I decided to order a Red Bull.

God. That crap tastes like cough syrup. And it doesn’t even get me as high as a bottle of Robitussin!

Fuck that.