CBABIH 0.1 - Show Notes

Being a series of comments on Episode 0.1 of Comic Books Are Burning In Hell, a podcast by Matt Seneca, Tucker Stone and myself.


00:00: The "0.1" episode designation should be taken to indicate that this is a pilot run, and it will remain so for at least one more week; as much as we'd wanted to hit the scene like a meteor, verily born to rule, it quickly became evident that talking a lot about doing a super-great podcast primarily led to talking a lot more about doing a stubbornly hypothetical (if totally sick) podcast, to the point where we finally elected, in desperation, to run screaming in the direction opposite that of planning and just make every mistake we possibly could in a public and prolific manner. This perhaps bespeaks a lack of professionalism, and moreover gives the potential audience little reason to invest their trust in yet another fucking hour of comic book chit-chat, especially one they perhaps cannot entirely hear. Luckily, my own experience suggests that trust is so limited in this over-saturated arena that pretty much nobody of an uncharitable disposition even pays attention long enough to make note of mistakes until about show #10, after which the threshold burden of are-they-just-gonna-quit has been met.

And anyway, you're currently on a website that didn't even use pictures until, like, three years after it launched. I feel like I'm coming home, again at the end of a wave, again from a blank template. But with unimagined friends.  

00:01: Tucker did all of the recording/audio engineering/sampling/editing on this episode, and also concocted the little overture. He did a really good job with what he had, since what he had was a largely formless conversation held very nearly on the spur of the moment, about half of which was pulled together into what you're hearing. Be gentle with our elephant baby, and for maximum effect pretend I'm in the same building and calling all of my lines out from two units down the hall, like I'm that lazy.

01:33: The Furry Trap, by Josh Simmons. It's not widely available yet -- not until June, I think -- but Fantagraphics had advance copies available at MoCCA, which is where Matt got it.  

03:22: Interested parties re: brutal shit are encouraged to visit GuroFan for a grey market sampler of extreme manga horror. The Shintaro Kago comic with the hoses is Olympics in Front of the Station, down in the unsorted section. We will not be held liable for the state of your desk and your shoes.  

04:50: I'd bumbled into a Grant Morrison conversation myself recently, where a friend of a friend was describing his frustration with being unable to find this play Neil Gaiman had written about Aleister Crowley; gradually, it came out that he was actually talking about Morrison's Depravity, from the Lovely Biscuits collection. If any of you many tens of charitable listeners happen to have access to a copy, you'd make a special ex-stranger pretty happy!  

06:24: Unfortunately, Simmons' Batman appears to have vanished with his website for the moment. Sleazy Slice #3 is still available from publisher Robin Bougie; it's got a harsh story about cow people in addition to the Cockbone main event. Matt is right that there was a standalone Cockbone release too, but I've never even seen one in person. Check those dollar bins for Kramers Ergot 7.  

10:07: When I mentioned Johnny Ryan's gradual evolution in Angry Youth Comix from funny-horrible to horrible-horrible, I didn't realize I was paraphrasing a comment left on a review I'd done... a comment left by Josh Simmons.  

10:48: Kramers Ergot 8, ed. Sammy Harkham. I'm probably exaggerating by calling it "pretty widely rejected by a lot of critics," in that art comics are never criticized in any great numbers, but there has been a good amount of supportive tweeting and hear hear-ing subsequent to this piece by Thomas Thorhauge, to the point where more lauditory reactions have been drowned out. I can't even name one off the top of my head, although Tucker and I tried to hash it out with Tim Hodler on Inkstuds last year.

13:19: "Democracy is fucking bullshit, man." I'd just like to point out how much I love the United States of America, and how glad I am to be a citizen of this fine country.

 18:27: Crossed, by Garth Ennis & Jacen Burrows, and Jamie Delano & Leandro Rizzo. There's a lot of Crossed out there, but we're mainly referring to the Ennis/Burrows run on the initial nine-issue series (2008-10, vol. 1 of the collected editions), and issues #1-3 of the presently running Crossed: Badlands series. Delano/Rizzo followed on Badlands with issues #4 and #5, and should remain through issue #9.  

18:52: Stephen Thrower has most recently been involved in the release of Wounded Galaxies Tap at The Window, the newest studio album by Cyclobe, the music duo he forms with partner Ossian Brown. THE WOODS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SMELL OF HIS COMING. Interested parties can still purchase copies of Nightmare USA from the publisher, FAB Press. A sequel has been promised.  

19:50: To wit -

 "It has often been said that 'bad' films overlap the surreal, although those who make this claim tend to refer back mainly to the black-and-white era. Few critics have insisted that the cinema of the 1970s and 1980s can contribute; I hope we can agree that a few astounding candidates are dotted throughout this book... Such filmmakers may stumble upon techniques normally associated with the avant-garde, while remaining stubbornly -- or helplessly -- cut off from the safe haven of art theory. A clever idea can be mired in mundane expression, and a senseless film can sometimes capture in fleeting form a penetrating truth. Buñuel is an example of a director who was unafraid of the most ludicrous notions because he intuited that in art deemed low and idiotic there were jewels of insight. There's nothing to stop the characters in The Exterminating Angel (1962) from leaving their dinner party - and yet they stay, befuddled by their relentless 'sophistication.' Similarly ludicrous notions crop up all the time in 'bad' movies, and it's as intriguing to encounter Doris Wishman in this mode as it is to confront the giants of surrealism: the only difference is self-consciousness, and since the surrealists were desperately seeking to evade rational thought, we can hardly be blamed for assessing those incapable of it just as favourably.

"Rather than sneering at the perceived shortcomings of a low-budget film like, say, Wishman's A Night to Dismember (1983) or John Wintergate's BoardingHouse (1982), perhaps a more illuminating, reasonable and enjoyable method of viewing is to imagine one is 'through the looking glass' into a world where films are meant to look this way, where all the 'shortfalls' of technique are actually artistic achievements. Instead of being condescending to 'bad movies,' why not treat the 'errors' and 'shortcomings' as a sort of art-in-negative, where divergences from the norm, whether accidental or not, make up a parallel film universe? A place where tracking shots are supposed to stumble, editing always obscures, and actors characteristically refuse to give even the basics of a plausible performance. It's by taking this trip to another world that we can really start to enjoy 'bad' films, and also to discover their aesthetics. We need an imaginary film grammar to account for movies in which a high concentration of ostensible failure -- technical, logical, discursive -- transcends mere kitsch."

- Thrower, Stephen, Nightmare USA, p. 43.

It's indeed helplessness that both enlivens and frustrates the Delano/Rizzo Crossed, perhaps from the writer seeking a deliberately nightmarish, elusive quality that the artist cannot provide; his 'sophistication,' however, is that of a trained professional who does not excel, but latently understands what his sector of the audience wants -- 'realism,' hot girls posing, muscles, etc. -- thus stubbornly grounding the whole cockeyed affair. This potential is the prime separating force between the zones of horror comics we discuss here, rather than simply the niceties of collaboration.  

23:38: Obviously my synopsis ran so hot the machines needed to take a rest, but what happens here is that Matt asks me what kind of artist I'd prefer instead of Rizzo, and I gurgle and stammer and burp like I do anytime I'm confronted with anything I haven't prepped for, including unfamiliar desserts and "I love you." (We're saving those for episode 50.) I think I mention Hideshi Hino? He was on my mind, in that another Crossed writer, David Lapham, recently started a new series titled Dan the Unharmable, which for its first issue was mostly goofy crime comics hi-jinx starring a spacy hero with the ability to survive any grievous damage his body can take. It reminded me -- speaking of extreme Japanese horror! -- of the Guinea Pig series of horror videos that Hino helped create in the '80s, specifically 1986's He Never Dies, which is mainly a cringe-horror/comedy series of vignettes in which a man who cannot die mutilates his body more and more; so much of the comedy is reliant on the sensations provoked by the film, and while comics can't ever really create that same kind of effect, I thought a stronger artist than Dan the Unharmable's Rafael Ortiz could have squeezed a lot more juice from the premise by evoking some tactility to the otherwise non-effect of that Avatar violence. Lest I trash the whole of the publisher's drawing corps, though, I'll note that Gabriel Andrade is quite decent on Lapham's wildly misanthropic Ferals, probably his best Avatar thing.  

23:52: Actually, using this pause to think - I guess I'd really like to see something like the old Stephen R. Bissette/John Totleben/Tatjana Wood team from The Saga of the Swamp Thing, where Alan Moore's writing -- an obvious and powerful influence on Delano, whose entry into American comics in the first place was prompted by that very content -- was augmented by a nominally realistic visual style with an aptitude for breaking out into wriggling intensity and heaving magnificently under acid burn hues. Every page of those comics feels burnt out and hung over and twitching nervously, eternally, in 85 percent humidity, 90 degree heat. Taking Crossed down south - that's where it ought to go!

 26:07: The nearest detailed source I can find for Ennis' account of his religious upbringing (or lack thereof) is the pretty extensive suite of video interviews he gave on the dvd for Stitched, a short horror movie he directed. But blurbs on the Celebrity Atheist List'll do in a pinch.  

30:23: Specifically, Lapham wrote two seven-issue series -- Crossed: Family Values (drawn by Javier Barreno, 2010-11, second collected book) and Crossed: Psychopath (drawn by Raulo Cáceres, 2011-12, third collected book) -- as well as the one-off Crossed 3D special (drawn by Gianluca Pagliarani, 2011); he'll also be writing Badlands after Delano finishes, with Burrows on art. Simon Spurrier is presently writing the Crossed webcomic, drawn by Barreno and inked by Gary Erskine.

 30:46: Tucker's weekly column at the Comics Journal - your source for Ennis chat, although the prose comparisons refer to his Fury: My War Gone By, drawn by Goran Parlov in vivid enough a manner to render my perusal of various Dynamite comics directly afterward less misfortune than evidence of some lingering character fault.  

31:20: The greatest moment of my professional writing life was dropping a Golgo 13 reference into Bookforum, so obviously I was just itching to christen this good ship. I'd have worked it into Thriller! I CAN DO THAT.  

32:25: Bruno Mattei. Face the truth. If you're hungry for added Lucio Fulci info after you've enjoyed The House By the Cemetery, you can also consult a second-hand copy of Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci, written by no less an authority than Mr. Stephen Thrower, who is definitely not the black pope behind this podcast.  

33:05: The Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred #4, by David Hine & Shaky Kane. Image also has a collection of Hine's Strange Embrace, which he wrote and drew.  

33:51: Not that I know better than Hine & Kane or anything -- in fact, it makes perfect sense for them to cite the cut-up technique as part of the '50s milieu the series invokes, just for thematic reasons beyond the concern of format -- but I just don't think direct comparisons to experimental literature do their comic many favors; there's probably something to be said for presence of pictures acting as an anchor to the (presumably after-written) words in the issue that prevent the 'text' from loosening in the way pure prose can -- and Matt rather does say something, from his preference for the visual aspect -- but even on the level of direct readerly engagement the cut-up issue is a pretty straightforward (if not linear) exploration of the series' backstory, easily discernible as such if the reader is not severely allergic to every single panel not necessarily carrying some specific plot information. To compare it genuinely harassed narratives is to beg a sigh of "oh, comics," when a book as fun as this ought to be more "oh! comics!" So I think Craig Baldwin's 'found footage' films -- available on dvd from Other Cinema -- work better metaphorically, both in their communion with Hine's & Kane's conspiratorial Americana obsession, and in their fundamental adherence to narrative, although obviously Kane's images weren't so much gathered from hither and yon as assembled from his notions and formidable chops.

 38:22: Thriller, by Robert Loren Fleming & Trevor Von Eeden, and then Bill DuBay (writer, as of #8) & Alex Niño (artist, as of #9). Johnny Bacardi set up a whole website about it. For the life of me I can't find the Frank Santoro stuff Tucker is referencing. The Trevor Von Eeden interview with the Journal is in issue #298. UPDATE: Johnny has mentioned some malady befalling his old Thriller site, and so it will now be moved to a different venue. We'll keep you posted. 

41:00: This is another terrific example of what happens when I'm made to look away from the cue cards - my chest tightens and my heart races and I plead for help, much like the time I collapsed at a Better Than Ezra live show and wound up with a police officer hovering over me, laughing. At the time I had just presumed Better Than Ezra were warlocks, but it looks like podcasting has cleared their name. Maybe you should just read Michel Fiffe, who conducted the aforementioned Von Eeden interview, on the topic. Yeah, that's right.  

43:37: Judge Dredd Megazine #322, ed. Matt Smith. I don't know if the digital edition comes with the bonus reprint pack-in; if you're in the U.S. this particular issue is probably still displayed in the comics section at Barnes & Noble.

44:58: "The guy from Portishead" is Geoff Barrow, collaborating with Ben Salisbury on the Dredd-inspired DROKK (Pitchfork rating 6.7) (HOW DID DOUGLAS WOLK NOT WRITE THAT?). Thanks to the fun of international shipping delays, the sample track available online is exactly the same thing 'exclusively' available with your Megazine purchase.  

46:05: I'm pretty sympathetic to Mark Millar's Purgatory; it's nobody's idea of a great comic, but I think its sheer abandon is a bit closer to the '70s thrill font than many would care to admit - the absolute love of furious retribution, of seeing society's laws fold away and justify, vindicate the bloodlust that a Gerry Finley-Day would convey in a strip like Invasion! Millar's primary twist was to make it a bit nastier, crueler, but the lassitude of his satire isn't so far from that of the early 2000 AD. Compare, however, to some of the recent comics written by founding editor Pat Mills -- Requiem, for the French market, or the latter Flesh serials in 2kAD -- and you can sense a different, less worked-over, almost blissful race through violent sensations, akin to some of the abandon managed by Johnny Ryan and Gilbert Hernandez, if we turn the focus away from genre and into composition. Thrill power.

 46:22: "All of the Dredd stories I did were attempts to develop a filmic approach to the character. I couldn't see much else to do - at least Batman also has Bruce Wayne, giving him all of two dimensions. Dredd is just Dredd. I think the character is now as relevant to the new century as Dan Dare was to the 1970s."

- Grant Morrison, whose position I piggishly caricature, from Thrill Power Overload (not Unlimited), p. 162. The writer is David Bishop.  

49:09: "Fascism is the most aesthetically delightful politics." I'd just like to point out again how much I love the United States of America, and how glad I am to be a citizen of this fine country.  

51:53: Those issues of Scarab were #3-4. Writer John Smith, penciller Scot Eaton, inker Mike Barreiro. Nothing against colorists or letterers. Stuart Chaifetz, Clem Robins. Scarab's about as disjointed as you've heard, but I've always loved it anyway. Out of all the early '90s Vertigo books, it was probably most devoted to taking the original source -- Alan Moore's purplish explorations of storytelling -- and trying to drive it into poetical directions. Plus, it was all about fucking, which is scandalously rare in comics Suggested for Mature Readers.

52:50: For all of you waiting patiently for the part where Tucker lays into some silly comic for a sustained period, here it is: Andy Diggle's & Jock's very silly Snapshot. Tucker is so good at this, always seeming playful and lighthearted, while my every attempt to be funny makes be seem like a pompous, mocking stooge, braying like an ass, which is what I truly am - stripped of the artifice of prose, you can hear the mean-spirited creak in my voice, the hateful tremor I cannot hide. Don't you want to throw a pie in my face as hard as you can? You were right about everything; you can see into my soul, through this rude crack of verisimilitude. I will struggle to hide what is undeniable in the future, as our technique hopefully picks up to offset these little involuntary boo-boos. We'll simply stop for now. Love ya, listeners!