CBABIH 3 - Show Notes

Being a series of comments on Episode 3 of the all-new, all-shorter Comic Books Are Burning In Hell, a podcast by Matt Seneca, Tucker Stone, Chris Mautner and myself.

00:00: Finally, the secret premise of this show stands revealed. Four men, standing alone against the forces of tyranny in an ashen, faceless society. Devils today, at home tomorrow! Pray we will never need --

Comic Books Are Burning In Hell

"We are the only people."

00:47: So anyway, we decided to slash 15 minutes from the runtime. Part of that's because it makes the whole galumphing mess a little easier to handle -- much easier to annotate, I've gotta say [DELETE IF THIS POSTS AFTER 7/29] -- though some of it's in recognition of the fact that podcast listeners don't always listen to a show all the way through, preferring to skip around the mass of content to get to the topics they know they'll find interesting. So, consider the next few weeks an experiment in moving against the grain. Like most comics podcasts, our content tends to track what we've been reading recently, though many shows tend to stop the recording when the conversation's over; we're going to try and hone it all down to encourage a more classically 'show-like' presentation, hopefully to create a more focused listen (perhaps so you'll be sure to catch exactly when the highway pileup begins). Or, if nothing else, we'll be asking for less of a time commitment, since it's absolutely fucking insane to expect people to have enough free space in their days to listen to all of the bloody comic book podcasts out there, much less #346,221 in prominence. 

01:22: Obviously, there is nothing funny about the crimes committed by Jerry Sandusky. However, in ironclad proof of Antoine Lavoisier's law of conservation of humor, absolutely everything is funny about the Joe Paterno statue, from its jolly outstretched finger forever jostling a departed society for just one more word, to its abrupt shrouded removal in the manner of an overheated press conference concluding with the speaker hustled off the podium with a jacket over his head. My definite favorite, though, was the mystery villain issuing threats via the lost terror medium of airplane banner, because that's totally something that would happen in a Bob Haney script. John Wagner, in contrast, would probably have invented the minor subplot of Sandusky's memoir, had it not been real.

01:51: Part of what we're trying to do with the show is set up little schedules of topics to discuss, with space provided for particular books or general topics we can somehow spin out into discussion; we'd decided there was a little too much in the way of speech-making, not enough interaction, and the result was making fun of prospective Sandman prequel titles for almost a full minute. I am confident this breakthrough will launch us to #346,219 in e-prominence.   

02:51: Specifically, Warren Ellis wrote the script for an animated film titled Castlevania: Dracula's Curse; an official site still exists, although the project appears to have stalled at the animation production stage (Ellis did finish his role). The movie was supposed to be based on the 1989 NES game Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, although my favorite installment remains 1997's PSX Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which made good on the series' occasional proclivity toward mixing non-linear exploration elements in with the whipping skeletons in the face.

03:43: Gaiman has stated:

"I wanted to do a 20th anniversary story and it broke mostly because DC Comics would have loved me to do a 20th anniversary story at the same terms that were agreed upon in 1987 when I was a 26-year-old unknown. And my thought was, 'You know what guys, it really doesn't work like that.' I wasn't going to do a deal at the same terms we had in 1987 and they were not willing to do any better than that."

04:32: As a matter of fact, J.H. Williams III does have at least one spread of Batwoman issues drawn, beginning with the very next installment, #12. It should also be noted that the new Sandman stuff has been in production, apparently, for almost a year.

08:12: I can't recall when exactly I started reading Sandman; I was a timid boy in the '90s, and my first peek into that Mature Readers suggestion gave me a Marc Hempel vision of someone puking up a live stag in the midst of The Kindly Ones. By dint of sheer reputation, though -- and the fact that bookstores actually kept it in stock -- it was one of the few comics (along with Akira) I slowly pursued in book form in the late '90s once I had disposable income, so I actually wound up getting a lot of exposure to Neil Gaiman before his Brit comics forebears. I felt the series only really started to cook with A Game of You; it probably bears revisitation. Mike Allred's issue was #54; the colorist was Daniel Vozzo. Bryan Talbot did one of the Fables and Reflections stories (#30), part of A Game of You (#36), framing sequences for World's End (#51-56) and the crucial 1991 Special, along with the aforementioned 2001 Dead Boy Detectives spin-off with writer Ed Brubaker.

11:15: While I'm saying this I'm scrambling to recall how many issues of Miracleman Gaiman wrote; it was eight, #17-24, not counting the framing bits of the Miracleman: Apocrypha anthology series.

14:29: The Pact! appears in The New Gods #7, Feb./Mar. 1972. 

14:42: I had told Tucker this pants-shitter of an Armageddon 2001 joke a few days before, and you can tell he's just thrilled to hear it again, knowing it will be recorded and made available on iTunes to everyone from Anne Hathaway down to our parents.  

14:59: Specifically I wrote about Before Watchmen: Ozymandias for Tucker's column at The Comics Journal. My hope for the Before Watchmen project -- resigned as I became to the reality that the comics were really going to happen -- was that the new work would function in much the same way as the Moore/Gibbons book did to Steve Ditko's Charlton creations, i.e. as a learned, confrontational means of addressing the implications of the earlier text(s). Jae Lee sort of begins to do this in a purely visual capacity, but I can't say it goes anywhere lashed to such a completely lame script; but then, just as Tucker calls the the very idea of prequels like this "a way of attacking literature," they represent a sort of meta-textual 'confrontation' with Watchmen in terms of rejecting the very idea of a freestanding literary work in favor of burrowing themselves -- respectfully, of course! -- into the earlier work as a means of revitalizing it along the lines of the endlessly revisited, boundlessly 'relevant' superhero comics of today... the state of which, you'll recall, is due in large part to the reluctance of anyone involved to create original works out of legal worry or concerns for economic self-preservation.

16:51: Parker: The Score, by Darwyn Cooke, adapted from a novel by Donald E. Westlake. The previous volumes in Cooke's Parker series are The Hunter (2009) and The Outfit (2010); Tucker did a long interview with Cooke at Comics Alliance in the buildup to the second volume. The "point" Tucker refers to my making was via email in preparation of our all-important schedule, not in some deleted sequence or anything. The AV Club interview to which I refer is here; in all fairness, several people in the comments section do bring up the conspicuous absence of Parker (mentioned in passing in the piece's introductory text), which may well be due to some tacit or explicit urging on the part of DC's publicity folks to keep the chat on target; a review of the book was posted elsewhere.

19:11: Seriously though, I'm certain something exactly like this happened at some point in Cooke proving ground Batman: The Animated series or etc., and you bet your ass there's a blog post or an essay out there on some pop/geek culture site singing that episode's praises. Particularly if it's coming from the sort of writer that's decided that "real, legitimate, lasting work[s] of art" are nothing that's ever coincided with what they've found moving or profound or meaningful. You might even say that sort of impulse powered a lot of the earlier underground comics - an antipathy toward abstract expressionism and the accordant rejection of figuration prolific in institutional education. The irony's that the impulse has been turned toward benefiting corporate institutions - see how easily, intentional or otherwise, that AV Club talk turns the subject of Before Watchmen away from notions of ownership and toward the idea of 'strong' female characters, a real and virtuous discussion that nonetheless positions the corporate entity as less an assertive owner of IPs than the very inevitability of navigable terrain.

23:18: According to the title link above, Cooke is next planning to adapt The Handle, which jumps over an additional two books in the series. At this point the series might break format to do a small standalone (comic book?) version of Slayground, which jumps ahead five books, and possibly then Butcher's Moon, which is the second book after that, unless something else pops up in between.

26:09: HAW HAW HAW

26:51: The prospective Jason Statham vehicle is simply titled Parker. The Mel Gibson ("Porter") movie was Payback, the Lee Marvin ("Walker") was all-time classic Point Blank, the Robert Duvall ("Macklin") was The Outfit, the Jean-Luc Godard (Anna Karina as "Nelson") was Made in U.S.A. (not a faithful rendition), and the Jim Brown ("McClain") was The Split.

29:01: To wit:

Much is said in the transition from the girl's contented face in panel 1 to the naivete expressed through her simplified 'long shot' form in panel 2, to say nothing of the stolen glance in panel 4 - stolen, we can tell, both from her expression and her proximity to the panel border. Excellent stuff. 

33:04: I wrote a little more about the contrasting Jacques Tardi & Darwyn Cooke crime aesthetics here, in case the metallic tinge of my voice is driving your body wild.

33:40: Barry Sonnenfeld's Dinosaurs vs. Aliens, by Grant Morrison, Barry Sonnenfeld, Mukesh Singh and "Liquid Studios." The legal indicia does list the title as simply Dinosaurs vs. Aliens, though the publisher, as you can see at the link, files it under "B." I hope I don't sound too gratuitous detailing the catastrophic levels of tackiness involved in the packaging/promotion of this thing, but I honestly do believe it's contributed to the relative low profile of the release even beyond it being a twenty dollar unfinished graphic novel you can read in under 15 minutes - for an author as fond of going on about the "pop" of things as Morrison, he really is involved here with the geek culture equivalent of a Nickelback album. Merits aside, 'the kids' wouldn't be caught dead with such a gaudy-ass thing, and that's the first time I've ever felt the need to say that about a Grant Morrison comic.

35:55: No, seriously - Tucker blogged it.

 "I'm not a Perez Hilton fan, but no bullshit, he was the best host of one of these type of things I've ever seen, and while no, I haven't seen very many 'reunion' specials, he was in no way similar to those creepy freaks that host shit on MTV, he wasn't like Ryan Seacrest, he was a foul mouthed jackal intent on telling the girls he liked that he liked them, and even more intent on telling the girls he thought were whores things like 'You're a whore.' I won't be keeping up with his blog anytime soon, unless 'anytime soon' also means 'never', but well played sir. Well fucking played."

Hilton appears to be commenting on the cross-platform announcement itself on the back cover; I doubt he's even aware of the comic's particulars. Same goes for io9:

"Tired of X Vs. Y movies? Too bad! Now shut up and eat your awesome... are there any 'Versus' movies that can top aliens against dinosaurs?"


38:57: No, allow me.

41:14: I got my comics-format movie pitches mixed up here; Jeevan Kang drew the Garth Ennis/John Woo 7 Brothers, while Mukesh Singh did the Andy Diggle/Guy Ritchie joint Gamekeeper; none of these folks stuck around past the series' first storylines, btw. Aside from what I list aloud, Singh also did the first five issues of the Top Cow-ish pretty girl comic Devi, and *every* issue of the immortal Jenna Jameson's Shadow Hunter. For the record, 18 Days was a rendition of the Mahabharata, of which the Bhagavad Gita is part. Virgin also put out 16 issues of Ramayan 3392 AD, based on the other huge Sanskrit epic.

42:02: From this:

to this:

44:39: "Do they show them applying the war paint with their little arms?" Yeah, as much as I value imagination and metaphor - sometimes you just crash against the rocks of concept. I'll say no more tonight.


CBABIH 2 - Show Notes

Being a series of comments -- hopefully the final such set at this ultimately near-incapacitating length -- of Episode 2 of Comic Books Are Burning In Hell, a podcast by Matt Seneca, Tucker Stone, Chris Mautner and myself.

00:00: As Robert McKee once remarked, nothing screams 'accessibility' quite like spoofin' & goofin' on Pennsylvania public radio institutions; worse yet, Chris and I had (unbeknownst to each other!) planned to do a gag opening exactly like this for weeks and weeks. Tragically, this will not be the final 'NPR'-related jest of the hour, although we did make sure that absolutely nothing we referenced is actually syndicated by National Public Radio - because we keep it real.

01:16: Tucker's "fast and loose" remark references the fact that -- unlike most episodes, even the preliminary ones -- we didn't have a set schedule of what to talk about. It was kind of an experiment in extremes for the July 8th block, as the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen episode was devoted entirely to one comic; here, we decided to race through as much as we could hit off a single amorphous list floating around multiple emails. We actually do hit everything besides Nicolas Mahler's Angelman (a pleasant enough bit of superhero industry satire from a very much non-industry artist, if exceedingly lightweight and unmemorable, especially if you read a lot of trumpeting on the internet).

01:36: Once again, we futilely attempt to draw the podcasting Excalibur that is banter from its internet scabbard; any week now we'll be hitting it as big as the SModcast line, and then we too will have our lives irrevocably validated by material success in the form of a cable television program - created in large part, admittedly, to piggyback off the success of a prior cable television program, albeit with a wacky 'geek culture' twist. In fact, I've concluded that the last bit is probably more important than even having a podcast, and so the reason why these show notes are (once again) late is because I've been feverishly wracking my brain for a way to hybridize ourselves with World's Worst Tenants. The details are still a little cloudy, but this is basically why I've been hitting the gym.

02:40: I'm almost certain this is the Octomom post to which Tucker refers. No, no - please, no roses, applause is enough! Hey, maybe we can do an on-air fleshlight ad...? But anyway: Jack Reacher; distressing lack of Werner Herzog Eurovillain footage.

03:45: Hero Worship #1 (of 6), by Zak Penn (story), Scott Murphy (story, script) and Michael DiPascale (art/color). Zealously detail-oriented listeners will note that I somehow never mention the comic's title. Many samples of DiPascale's visuals at the link; the interview I reference is an interview with him ("Zak Penn and Scott Murphy wanted something that they could reproduce for movies..."). Creators' rights wonks are hereby informed that the comic is trademark and copyright the writers and the publisher; cutting the artist out of such considerations is the general SOP at Avatar, so that, for instance, Crossed is TM & © Garth Ennis. Unsurprisingly, virtually all of the ad copy -- and, as far as I know, literally all of the semi-formalized conversation save for this goddamned show -- has focused on Penn's screenwriting credits on various Marvel-derived superhero blockbusters, up to and including a story credit on this season's bazillion-grossing The Avengers. So omnipresent is the specter of nerd media around the guy that (anecdotally) not a few people seem to assume that Herzog directed Incident at Loch Ness himself - although, given the heavily improvised nature of the project, it likewise cannot be said that Herzog didn't command considerable influence.

(And none of this is to say that Werner Herzog worship is not considered by certain connoisseurs to be a facile and geeky infantilization of the rich and varied project of the New German Cinema; Film Comment recently had a nice overview of Werner Schroeter, for instance, and obviously a world without Fassbinder is not one in which I'd care to live.)

06:14: Ferals, by David Lapham & Gabriel Andrade. Maybe nobody's interested in this stuff besides me, but Ferals appears to be a work-for-hire project, going by the legal indicia - it could be the publisher is hoping for another crossover horror hit. Dan the Unharmable, in contrast, is TM & © Lapham & Avatar, in a more typical Vertigo-ish 'creator participation' setup, if my reading is correct. Andrade is probably the most traditionally skilled of the present crop of Avatar artists, although the only prior work of his I know are a handful of issues of the Howard Chaykin-written Die Hard: Year One (#5-8). As I imply, Ferals #6 closes with a suitably ridiculous concluding image, which I sort of wish would permanently close the series, since I prefer the moments in these Avatar projects where Lapham throws up his arms and goes fuck it - Caligula was peppered with just enough such scenes to maintain my interest.

07:14: My diet has me hungry for burgers, I guess. Excluding everyone who does longform work for Marvel/DC superhero comics and any webcomics people, the Four Other Guys right now would be Brian K. Vaughn, Robert Kirkman, Brian Wood and the Atomic Robo team, which I will count as a collective Guy. Tucker's Age of Apocalypse thoughts are here, Matt's Young Liars thoughts are here (also recommended: this Mindless Ones chat with Lapham).

10:40: New York Mon Amour, by Jacques Tardi, Benjamin Legrand & Dominique Grange. Specifically, it is the eighth release in the present Fantagraphics Tardi series. When Tucker asks about the photo collage bits in Cockroach Killer and Chris goes "you're talking about the little coda at the end," that's a signal for me to stop flipping through my Cheval Noir back issues on the other end of the couch because I'm not going to find it; my comments are entirely off the cuff.

20:31: When Matt calls Eisner/Miller "vastly underrated," he's no doubt impliedly referencing a scalding 2006 critique by Gary Groth, whose name Chris raises in the background as we all bow our heads and sign the cross.

26:19: For more of Chris' Tardi preferences, you are directed to the most recent installment of his Comics College series.

27:35: Nestor Burma is the creation of crime writer Léo Malet, who detailed the detective's exploits in 33 novels and various short stories created from 1943 to 1983. There was also a tv show and some movies. Tardi's first two comics adaptations were Fog Over Tolbiac Bridge (1982), translated in Fantagraphics' Graphic Story Monthly #1-5 in 1990, and The Bloody Streets of Paris (1988), published in English by iBooks in 2003; the artist did three more in 1990, 1996 and 2000, although the '90 piece (Une gueule de bois en plomb) was actually a licensed fan fiction excursion that Tardi wrote himself in Malet's style.

30:24: Example:

Dig the blood squirt in panel one. No, the backgrounds aren't supposed to be solid black.

30:59: Monsieur Jean: The Singles Theory, by Philippe Dupuy & Charles Berberian. Humanoids' L'Association knockoff line was called Tohu Bohu. Regarding Tucker's question, Jean's specific in-story description of his own writing is "novels that draw from everyday life," although we might not want to take this as a particularly complete explanation, given that at this point in the story he has just accidentally killed a tiny dog to rib-tickling effect. Then again, I was just paging through Dark Horse's Creepy Presents: Richard Corben collection earlier, and there's this epically lame, overwritten, altogether flop sweat-drenched Doug Moench thing (The Slipped Mickey Click Flip) that not only humorously kills off a dog, but then stops the story and has the horror host narrator mock the reader for feeling bad over an animal getting killed, you ridiculous child; surely animal cruelty laffs have long been a punk rock staple of anxiously mainstream comic books. The interview to which Tucker refers is in The Comics Journal #260.

44:16: Gluyas Williams, Saul Steinberg.

45:02: That's Michel Rabagliati, also a Drawn and Quarterly veteran, and also now with a new publisher for his latest book-in-translation: The Song of Roland, via Conundrum Press.

45:28: Fallen Words, by Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Speak of the devil, and it doth publish something by some guy. Chris wrote a tiny bit more about it here. The Wikipedia entry for Rakugo utilizes the excellent descriptor "verbal entertainment," which is the standard we yearn for here at Comic Books Are Burning In Hell each and every week. Yonkoma manga is also known as "4-koma"; it's probably best known among NA readers as the format for Yotsuba&! creator Kiyohiko Azuma's Azumanga Daioh, although you can see examples in roughly every third back-of-the-book bonus section in manga.

54:27: Chris' review of Oji Suzuki's A Single Match is here. Be sure to read the comments for a valuable Ryan Holmberg post that further solidifies Shigeru Mizuki's position as a sort-of godfather to various early-ish Garo contributors, making his recent publication by Drawn and Quarterly all the more apropos.

56:24: Birdseye Bristoe, by Dan Zettwoch. For an alternate take, see Tom Spurgeon's mixed reaction. Matt has written a bit more about Zettwoch's style.

58:10: Holy shit, there's more than two dozen books in the Amelia's Notebook series, which has been going on since mid-'90s.

01:00:25: "...some pretty hardcore art comics...":

01:03:02: Tucker refers here to Amazing Facts... and Beyond!, which I don't believe any of us knew had posted its very last strip only four days prior to our recording. There's been five minicomics-format collections of the stuff, available here (look under "Dan Zettwoch" for easiest navigation).

01:04:39: Ha ha, joke's on me - A Prairie Home Companion is neither NPR nor PRI, but APM, American Public Media. Much of my perception of Garrison Keillor's unpopularity stems from his Good Poems series of poetry anthologies, which are quite widely popular among a casual readership as far as such things go, in addition to being absolutely loathed by literally every single dedicated poetry reader I have ever encountered with whom the subject has been somehow broached. Although I suppose another school of criticism hits at the very Midwestern feel (which Matt identifies) as a fundamentally noxious, elitist commodification of such, cutsied and filed smooth for bourgeois consumption with a sign of condescension. I'm pretty sure The Simpsons also made fun of him once, which basically the end as far as certain corners of the internet are concerned. I liked the Robert Altman movie. Lake Wobegon Days was 1985.

01:08:09: Tucker has AIDS.


A few things:

1. Directly below this post (right here) are the show notes for the official launch episode of Comic Books Are Burning In Hell, another 3000+ word testament to the legacy of childhood obsessive-compulsive symptoms. I think the show went pretty well - it's a huge discussion of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, with yelling and joking and everything. We're gonna be switching back to a multi-book format next week, though we're already planning future special episodes devoted to certain 'big' releases: Love and Rockets #5 and Building Stories, almost certainly. We hope you'll drop by every Thursday.

2. In case you're wondering what happened to the show notes for Episode 0.8, I wound up spending all of my scheduled show notes time working on this analysis of Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #1, thus inadvertently forming an Alan Moore trilogy with my weekly column last Tuesday. It's just now that I'm realizing the show notes are essentially a second weekly column that's insinuated itself upon my life. Sorta nice to be writing so much again, though. Anyway, I liked how the Ozy piece turned out a lot; it's a weird comic, in that the art proves to be far more sophisticated in its interfacing with the original than the completely awful script (see, however, the most recent Silence!, starting at 01:20:30, where bobsy takes issue with my generosity). I expect it might well prove to be this project's The Kingdom: Offspring - an uneasy dollar bin charmer that outlives its origins in a high-profile, high-grossing, entirely unnecessary and now-forgotten follow-up to a vaunted superhero favorite produced in spite of the abject disinterest of one member of the original team. "Nothing ever ends."

3. I also interviewed Richard Corben for The Comics Journal, as a sort of official launch point for a series of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations he's working on. One bit of info I never found a place for in my introduction or the interview itself is that Corben is actually still working in animation, having most recently created sequences for the 2010 Windows/Mac game Darkstar: The Interactive Movie, a throwback of sorts to the '90s heyday of full-motion video computer adventure games. Boy, it'd be something if I just up and started writing about computer games, eh?

4. Oh, right - did you know today is the eighth anniversary of this site? I apparently made a bunch of pony jokes in my first post, which is ironclad proof of my precognitive aptitude and impeccable taste. I also recall a bunch of early cracks about the futility of starting a new comics blog at a time when the scene seemed tipping past oversaturation; now I'm part of a podcast, and experiencing exactly the same feelings. Ask me what I think about kids in five years. I might propose.

CBABIH 1 - Show Notes

Being a Jess Nevens-like modular exegesis of Episode 1 of Comic Books Are Burning In Hell, a podcast by Matt Seneca, Tucker Stone, Chris Mautner and myself.

00:00: The goddess (or dæmoness) Smarra is the deity of choice for Oliver Haddo: W. Somerset Maugham creation, Aleister Crowley stand-in, and ultimately hapless primary antagonist of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century, a three-issue squarebound comic book miniseries (2009-12) by Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill, with colors by Ben Dimagmaliw and letters/design by Todd Klein. Note, however, that the character was actually introduced in the series' prelude, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier, a 2008 original graphic novel from the same team, with additional lettering by the late Bill Oakley; given that Oakley died in 2004, we can fairly say that this project has been building toward completion for nearly a decade.

In contrast, this podcast has been building toward its debut episode for nine weeks, which is slightly less time than Zalman King gave Mickey Rourke - an early release, by our passion for you.

This is not creepy.

This is comics.

00:08: A new launch deserves a new theme song, so once again we give you the excellent Miss Nina Stone. I kinda liked the jazzy inflections of the first one, but I also think this new jingle (CBABIH OP2) fits the "burning in hell" theme in a manner that doesn't tacitly impugn the metaphysical standing of record collectors across the mighty history of alternative comics. I'm also a huge fan of title songs where the lyrics are the title; I'm watching the 1971 Lupin the 3rd anime right now, and they do the same awesome thing. I just hope that one day I too can be considered a nice man.

00:40: This episode was recorded on Sunday, July 8, 2012, in all the usual places: Brooklyn, NY (Tucker & Matt) and Elizabethtown, PA (me & Chris). We did it (once again) as the first half of a block with next week's episode directly to follow, but we actually wound up going way over our self-imposed time limit. I think Tucker cut about 10-15 minutes of material out of the final release - mostly dead ends, vulgar speculations and bad jokes, which admittedly is the primary draw of this show, but you folks only got the gold.

01:25: The final fate of Big Numbers -- a England-set 'literary' comic by Moore, artist Bill Sienkiewicz and prominent art assistant/eventual aborted replacement artist Al Columbia, intended to run for twelve issues, though only two were published, in 1990 -- is a matter of some conjecture; Eddie Campbell provides perhaps the most memorable account in his book How to Be an Artist (presently collected in the Top Shelf omnibus Alec: The Years Have Pants), although interested parties are further directed to Sienkiewicz's take, posted after a photocopy of the unreleased issue #3 appeared online.

01:32: I am no doubt simplifying Moore's motives here; the 'official' line, as it goes, can be best experienced through George Khoury's The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore, which is basically a book-length interview spanning Moore's entire career through 2008 (as of the latest edition). It was actually Moore's old The Saga of the Swamp Thing cohorts Stephen R. Bissette & Rick Veitch that established his relationship with Image through the six-issue miniseries 1963 ('93) (an added, concluding special issue was never completed), the production of which led, per Moore, to his writing Spawn #8 (also '93), and eventually a long attempt at writing for an audience concerned with "almost no story, just lots of big, full-page pin-up sort of pieces of artwork." Some of these comics were quite good, and some of them were Spawn/WildC.A.T.s or the notorious event miniseries Fire from Heaven, half of which, according to Khoury, was actually written by an unknown party working under Moore's name.

01:52: The ghosts of my childhood favorites demand I specify Moore's guest-dialogued issue of The Maxx as #21 (Jan. '96), and his Shadowhawk thing as a story in the Shadowhawks of Legend anthology ('95). I wrote a bit about Moore's Vampirella story here. The internet connection is a little weird for the first 1/3 of the episode, so I sound pretty metal at times, though I don't know why I'm slurring my words so much - I wasn't nearly as drunk as I get writing these notes.

03:05: The first six-issue The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen miniseries ran from March of 1999 through September of 2000; the second six-issue miniseries ran from September of 2002 through November of 2003; somewhat unsurprisingly, the Century miniseries adopted what's essentially the Franco-Belgian album schedule (if not the album format), seeing new 80-page issues released at greater-than one year intervals.

04:32: Of course, Paul Verhoeven fans know that biological warfare dates back to the dark ages, when you'd just launch a plague-ridden carcass over the walls and boom. It just occurs to me now, though, that Nemo is the thematically unifying force concerning the first two series' take on violence - he goes from ruthless and gleeful in vol.1 to utterly disgusted and horrified by the end of vol. 2, leading to his divorce from even nominally friendly contact with England. A descendant also shows up at the end of Century (elsewhere too, bear with me), but mostly to drop a potential Watchmen teetering-the-world-toward-collapse-for-its-own-good reference. Supposedly the next LoEG project is Nemo - Heart of Ice, a 48-page side-story set in the 1920s (due Feb. '13), so maybe a bit more connecting fiber will be offered.

05:01: Note, however, that the America's Best Comics line was maintained irregularly in Moore's absence, most recently via the 2010-11 Peter Hogan/Chris Sprouse miniseries Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom. Now that Wildstorm itself has folded, we can presume it's dead, and that forthcoming Top Ten sequels can be expected under the DC banner after the Watchmen cast is folded into continuity in a couple of years. Yeah, you're laughing, but you don't sell half a million comic books in five weeks and expect things to just end, do you? "Nothing ever ends." Here's Tilda Swinton.

05:49: In fact, Crowley's own stand-in creation was Cyril Grey, a bit character in the initial 1910 chapter of Century, although the conception of a "moonchild," Haddo's aim, is central to the plot of Crowley's 1917 novel Moonchild, in which Grey featured. Tucker helpfully edited out the part where I shout "I HATE MYSELF I HATE MYSELF" for 45 consecutive seconds.

08:11: Regrettably, that's not Chris' wife and children, that's a sound effect. Regarding Poppins, amypoodle of the Mindless Ones suggests that she might actually be Haddo's Smarra, or at least Smarra might be an aspect of her... omnibus divinity? Anyway, it's reductive to refer to Mary Poppins as God from the Bible, but I do try to keep up the mainline Abrahamic appearances suggested by this show's title.

08:48: Supportive of this point is Moore's 2010 minicomic Astounding Weird Penises, a pack-in with issue #2 of Dodgem Logic magazine (which Matt explains later) and the first longform comic in decades which Moore both wrote and drew; it's a far-out pastiche of vintage EC stuff, basically in line with a '70s second-wave underground comix rag.

13:44: Not that there's an exact correlation between the two writers' styles, but the presence of Iain Sinclair's Norton, Prisoner of London -- from his 1997 book Slow Chocolate Autopsy, composed in part with illustrations by Dave McKean, for a ready-made comics connection -- as a bridge between the time periods of Century perhaps gestures toward Moore's allusive intent; Sinclair was also a midwife of sorts to Moore's Unearthing project though his London: City of Disappearances anthology, and of course inspired all the really fun bits of From Hell through his 1975 work Lud Heat (reissued by Skylight Press just two months ago). And yes - as Matt notes later on, I did come to Sinclair through Moore, and I suspect I'm far from alone.  

14:40: Naturally, this morning I got an email explaining something I'd never even considered - the Harry Potter movies are a gigantic cash cow for Warner Brothers, of which DC Comics is a subsidiary, suggesting a certain potential for specific investment in the satire Moore is slinging. Mary Poppins, on the other hand, is popularly associated with Disney - you can see where this is going.           

18:37: Dickish as this sounds given how many errors I tend to make in a given show, I do believe Ben Dimagmaliw is from the Philippines, and resides in the United States.

20:04: This implicates the notion of widespread success/recognition/influence vs. general acclaim, I think; certainly there are a lot of hugely respected and honored prose/poetry figures in the UK today, although talk of this tends to bring me back to Tucker's suggestion a few shows back that the modern League should be comprised solely of uninspiring protagonists from contemporary literary novels. The type of comics Moore is making begs a certain breed of reference, although I guess a modern genre commentary like (say) Lev Grossman's The Magicians would suffice; but does it have the reach a man who's shrugged off millions upon millions in movie fees -- as rude and blunt a validation of mass cultural 'worth' as our times can summon -- must know he's got?

22:08: Indeed, if you take the well-bearded Allan Quatermain of Century's end as a stand-in for Moore himself, the series' ending can be read as an acknowledgement of the writer's irrelevance as a white male in directing the present cultural discussion in a beneficial way, his legacy of colonialism and paternalistic attitudes left dead and buried under the African sky. However, this potential is intermingled with a romantic appreciation for the value of right proper old-time heroics; query whether its offenses don't appear to dim before the overwhelming, purposeless banality of the contemporary age the women have inherited. As with Moore's superhero works, there's appreciation ground in with the devastation...

24:31: To expand on this marvelously succinct and crystal-clear lecture I have just somersaulted through, the "self-contained literary mechanism" I describe is probably what best separates Moore's usage of appropriated/analogized or corporate-owned characters from the typical continued serializations of characters that have outlived their creators, so that when Moore uses IPs from all over the DCU in The Saga of the Swamp Thing, it's to build up a literary statement on the absurdities and horrors and surprises of vastly different extra-normal entities occupying the same world. Likewise, 1963 is about the legacy of the early Marvel comics, Supreme is about the history of Superman, and Spawn/WildC.A.T.s is about 35 minutes you'll beg to have again while dying. I mean, it doesn't happen every time, but the general thrust of Moore's work is different than something like Before Watchmen, which not only acts as a simple adjunct to an earlier work, but actually paraphrases and quotes from the original extensively, so as to insinuate itself into the very fabric of the original, and thus become it.  

Shit, you can even call Moore a die-hard classicist on these grounds, since he's concerned with the agency of the author, while the windows-unto-virtual-reality setup of superhero continuity, per Grant Morrison, can be taken as a distinctly applicable means of navigating-by-analogy the extra-personal media sprawl of our wired age. It's also undoubtedly the wave of the future in terms of guaranteeing audience recognition in a time of massive blockbuster films and lackluster disposable cash flow among the potential audience.

Do note that when I say feminism in 'geek culture' has acted as a signatory to corporate-dictated terms, I'm not attempting to denigrate a very necessary discussion; I'm merely describing the shape of things in a scene where discussion itself -- even in the form of outrage -- is kept rolling by the steady flow of superhero comics released every week, so that even basic discussions of representation and femininity in comics are now typically couched in terms that emphasize the inspirational value of heroic figures, vis-à-vis their empowered and de-powered states. Such discussion affirms the cultural reach of owner corporations, insofar as decades-old, company-maintained superheroes are inevitably the most recognizable. Even if the outer parameters of comic book reading in North America encompasses only half a million people, these characters are licensed, packaged and disseminated at a level of visibility that alternative images can't hope to match.  In other words, superheroes 'matter,' not because comics are a thing of mass culture, but because they can, in this form, potentially expand into mass media. Alan Moore, while cognizant of of the extra-textual implications of stories and characters, no doubt sees himself in opposition to such machinations, and thus we have his problem.

This is not the only sort of conversation going on, I hasten to add, nor is concern with such levels of visibility irrelevant or unnecessary. Yet, a crucial aspect of today's superhero fandom in general seems to be the assumed validation that comes from the success of these properties in high-profile, record-breaking movies, so that the reader -- aware, of course, that his or her reading material is willingly accessed by 0.1% of the U.S. public at absolute best -- can imagine their idle activity as explosive experimentation at ground zero of tomorrow's thrills, riding shotgun in the cockpit of the giant robot that is American popular culture.

29:16: Cruelly, we are robbed of another exciting Comic Books Are Burning In Hell live reading (don't worry, we'll pick it up later), so, in two parts:


There's also a part earlier where Norton mentions that the above-pictured train "runs on sloppily-defined magical principles," although his subsequent "I'm sure you two can handle it" might be taken as either a reassurance as to the magical superiority of Orlando & Mina or a crack at their own suspect makeup. Less equivocal is Haddo's later condemnation of Harry as "a tremendous disappointment" and thrice "banal," although one might suspect the book's antagonist to be a bit of a dick and Aleister Crowley to be slightly elitist with the magic thing. Circumstantial evidence, though.

30:53: Oh god, Matt reminds me here that we didn't even get into the fucking Golliwog and fucking Alan Moore's attempt to do Django (fucking) Unchained in the text sections. This is a whole different issue, if again related to a Moore/O'Neill lack of due diligence in contextualizing their usage of the character. Instead, it's a facile attempt at reclamation, isolating the racist iconography inherent to the character and re-framing it in a positive manner, which is to say attempting to strip away the racist signal: he looks like that now because he's a way-cool (uh, escaped slave) from beyond the stars! And he's quite sexually virile too, but that's because sex is a good thing! The other heroes like to have sex too! (Not with the Golliwog.) Hooray!

Granted, Moore does at least try and present the character as the most unabashedly heroic force in the entire series, but the learned comics scholars among us know this to be The Ebony White Excuse. Frankly -- and this ties in with Tucker's awesome rant starting at 34:26 -- there's a bratty quality to the character's continued presence in the series that speaks more of a privileged amusement than anything else. What would probably be necessary is what I expect is in store with the actual Django Unchained: a construct that acknowledges the pervasive racism from which such tropes and images emerged at every turn. 

31:44: This is another connection between Black Dossier and Century, as the former was initially promoted as including a disc of 'period' songs, actually written and performed by Moore & co.; I believe it was nixed as overly expensive. Is now the time to plug Top Shelf's upcoming reissue of Moore's The Bojeffries Saga with Steve Parkhouse? Musical interludes in that, yes.

Y'know, Moore's own track was one of the better things on the Dodgem Logic mixtape... probably right behind this, which twisted me into an fetal position from praying so hard that Moore would drop a guest verse...

37:20: Overall I'd say the Kickstarter joke was by far the most current reference in 2009, enough so that I went scrambling to Wikipedia to affirm that the site even existed in some form three years ago (A: yes). Also: tank-top.

54:29: Here's Plok's take - much more eloquent than my summary, so please read it through!

58:12: LIVE READING. Chris' interview with Moore is online, although he's reading here from its anthologized printing in Alan Moore: Conversations (ed. Eric L. Berlatsky). Here's a slightly longer excerpt:

"What I was trying to say in my muddled, roundabout fashion was that of course the material that is purely in the mind, how can it be anything other than innocent? Especially when contrasted with the stuff that we’re seeing on our televisions every day of children being carried limp and bloody out of rubble. These are real children in a real world.

"With 'Lost Girls' we hoped to have a sense of perspective on this. There is nothing as terrible as war. And whatever our current moral panics might say, even child molesting is not as terrible as war. And the imagery and the concept of child molesting is certainly not as terrible as war.

"That is not to say the abuse of children is not terrible. Of course it is. The abuse of anybody is terrible. I don’t know if sexual abuse is more terrible than any other kind or whether it’s because we seem to apply a huge amount of power to the sexual realm. Like the whole idea of rape as a fate worth than death.

"I remember talking to Kathy Acker, the late, lamented Kathy Acker about that issue. I remember her saying that she had been raped and she says 'You go home, you have a wash, you feel kind of messed up for awhile but you’re glad that you weren’t killed.' There is no fate worse than death."       

01:01:53: Aww, there's my darlin'! That cry at the end was joy.

"Not creepy. Comics."