Thoughts as Tuesday drifts to bed...

*This Chinese food tastes plenty weird. I wonder what’s up with it.

*Ecstasy Dept: Although, I did have the most wonderful experience picking the food up. There was this old mom ‘n pop video store next door; I don’t rent a lot of movies, but I decided to go in anyway.

Oh wow.

It was perhaps my personal ideal as to what a small video store ought to be, sprung right to life in front of me. Note that my personal ideal probably has little-to-no connection to business viability or whatever. Just shelves upon shelves of faded VHS boxes, beautiful old ’80s cover art everywhere. It was one of those places where there’s a blocked-off ‘Adult’ room for the hardcore porno, but the ‘softer’ stuff, the Skinemax bait, was liberally sprinkled around by the foreign films, or even the sci-fi. There were maybe 10 anime tapes in there, and half of them looked to be from ADV’s old sex line from the ’90s. Man, you’ve come some way, ADV.

Of course, the real test is always the horror section. There was initially no discernible logic to the organization of said section (a big one), until I noted that everything was racked according to the finest gradients of transgressive appeal, the Italian gore pictures leading into the all-Japanese material, coupled with the shot-on-video affairs of the late-’80s/early-’90s, zombies here, autopsy shockers there. It was madness, but it was like I could intuitively understand the ways of stacking; it’s like everything I could expect was at the tips of my fingers. It was damn near subliminal, but I knew.

And it was enveloping. The horror section was in a corner, except the wall blocking off the (hardcore) porno section was also right there, so I was blocked on three sides with shelves, all of them horror, half of them fairly extreme, with all of the blown-out box art that the past two decades could dream up. Baroque gore scenes photographed, and presented as box art with blocky yellow titles and little additional comment. Many cases were not in English at all. Nudity was rampant, sometimes left in, sometimes scratched out from the surface of the box itself, real gritty salesmanship. Three sides. Three sides.

I actually started to get nervous, all of this stuff leering at me from everywhere but behind. It was wonderful. I kid you not - it was absolutely sublime in its intimidation. I felt like I was 10, and that my Dad would arrive in any second to yell at me for looking at the ‘bad’ horror films. I became intoxicated with nostalgia atop my already-hammering trash buzz. Fucking sublime, sublime.

I never rented anything.

But god, just being in there.

*The results of the big bad 2005 Comic Bloggers’ Poll are in, and Chris Tamarri has gotten together with Ed Cunard to offer up a little analysis of the winners and the rankings. Perhaps by virtue of my being immersed in the world of comics blogging myself, I don’t find many of the results to be terribly surprising; after all, it’s logical that you’d be able to at least expect many of these winners simply by reading through blogs, as favorites would naturally reveal themselves over the course of time. I do have to say I was a bit taken aback by the sheer size of Grant Morrison’s landslide win for Best Writer - a full 60 points ahead of his nearest competitor in a race with only 500 points available, 10 unawarded, and 76 (or so) competitors clawing for the rest. I think Ed is right on the money in noting that part of Morrison’s appeal is that everyone seems to like him for a different reason - he’s isn’t really nailed down to any one method of pleasing readers, and (more importantly) he seems successful with an inordinately large number of these methods. The reader who likes Morrison’s stuff for the humor very often likes him just as much as the reader who likes the crazy ideas.

I have to wonder if maybe part of Morrison’s appeal rises from his sheer prolificacy. It’s certainly not that bloggers keep hitting on Morrison to praise his past glories, reexamining the brilliance of Flex Mentallo over and over - the guy’s been out there pretty much every other week (sometimes even more often) for the second half of 2005 with new stuff, and I have to presume that the simple constant presence of him has bolstered his appeal to a certain degree. This would fail if the work being released was consistently bad, but having good (or at times relatively good) material coming out so very often creates something of a steady beat of attention, where bloggers who like Morrison want to keep reading his stuff and keep writing about his stuff, and are verily provided with no drought of stuff to cover.

I think some of this might relate to what Eddie Campbell mentioned in his recent interview with The Comics Journal, in his thoughts on ‘comic-book culture’ vs. ‘the graphic novel sensibility.’ Campbell felt that this was a better way to isolate the separate evolutionary models of ‘comic books’ and ‘graphic novels,’ which he feels are both fundamentally ‘comics’ (as in, visual language, sequential art), separated by matters of sensibility rather than purely formal or industrial concerns (page count, serialization, etc.) - he makes it exceedingly clear that “a failed graphic novel is a much less interesting thing than a good comic book,” and identifies himself as working in both cultures at different times. There’s little doubt in my mind that Campbell would identify concerns regarding regular periodical release and twice-monthly prolificacy as the products of ‘comic-book culture,’ the mindset that comics need even be released at a constant frequency, rather than focusing their fundamental intent on the final ‘graphic novel’ work (it ought be said that Campbell’s extended self-described ‘comic-book culture’ affair was Bacchus, one of the more frequently on-time independent releases of its day).

Morrison can be seen as deriving some of his 2005 popularity from his able straddling of both cultures. He releases things frequently, often respects established characters, loves to reference past events and aged trivia, and generally maintains a vigorous Direct Market presence. Also, he tends to carefully structure his works to provide coherency as single stories, he provides a strong authorial voice and career-spanning thematic concerns (even when working on the most venerable of superhero franchise properties), and he often works with sophisticated allusions and visual symbols. Put in short, he has the sensibility of two eras (to butcher one of Campbell's own statements), and neither overwhelms the other to a significant degree, and I think a lot of readers (I’m dealing specifically with bloggers here specifically, a disparate enough group, though it’s quite plain that Morrison’s popularity stretches well into the larger comics-reading body as well) have come to respond to that positively, albeit in often different ways.

Also: Epileptic, like, totally should have won in Best Collection of Previously Collected Material.

*And just to close out the Morrison material, here’s a nice piece by Peter Hesnel on the religious allusions present in Mister Miracle. Good food for thought.