Femtoreview: Grant Morrison – Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero

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When I read Kirby’s tales of shining contemporary gods walking the streets of Manhattan, I can even see beyond the Beats to Ginsberg’s solar sunflower muse, William Blake, whose titanic primal figures Orc and Urthona are given new dress as Kirby’s Mister Miracle and Mantis. The dark fires of Urizen burn again in the firepits of Darkseid’s death planet, Apololips. In Blake and Kirby both, we see the play of immense revolutionary forces that will not be chained or fettered, the Romantic revolution of the 1800s and the hip sixties.

This loose mashup of the history of American comics with Morrison’s potted autobiography just doesn’t add anything new.If you’re a fan of superhero comics or Morrison’s work you’ll have come across most of what he posits in interviews or other, better overviews and critiques of comic book history. Though his prose is poetic and evocative, Morrison skips over the interesting aspects of his own comics work and glides past the work of his contemporaries that would seem to contradict his (alleged) thesis that superheroes can teach us to be better people. He never makes a convincing case that we are living in “the age of the superhero” – aside from the rise of the superhero movie in Hollywood, superhero comics themselves are still a very niche aspect of popular culture. SuperGods just doesn’t hold together. You’d get much more out of reading one of Morrison’s actual comics (I’d recommend All-Star Superman, Flex Mentallo, Animal Man or The Invisibles).

Not Recommended.

Compare prices for Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery, All-Star Superman, The Invisibles and Animal Man graphic novels.

Compare prices for Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero here. 

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Links for Sunday: Academic publishing scams, pink cubes, Borges on Poetry & 💩

Hello. Has it really been a week? I guess it has! So here’s some links with which to fritter away the last hours of your weekend (that is, if you’re on the progressive side of the dateline – the rest of you have ages yet).

Get Me Off Your Fucking Mailing List
If there’s a way to fill a legitimate communication form with deceptive bullshit, you can bet the internet will find it. Here’s the story of one scientist who submitted a paper that consisted entirely of the phrase “get me off your fucking mailing list” (yes, even the graphs and figures) and still the content farm that was trying to scam him published the whole damn thing.

Cute Cube
Readers, I’d like you to meet the cutest pixellated pink cube on the interwebs. Cube, these are my readers. I’m sure you two will have a lot to talk about.

An Oral History of the Poop Emoji
I’m a bit get-off-my-lawn when it comes to emoji, but this article on the 💩 icon is a great example of how language is history and history is culture.

Borges’s Lectures on Poetry
via the always reliable Open Culture, 8 lectures on poetry (scroll down to “The Craft of Verse”) by Jorge Luis Borges (in English), for you to download and listen to whenever you want. I haven’t started listening myself, but the titles alone are exciting: “Thought and Poetry” (eeeee!); “The Poet’s Creed” (ooooohhhh….); “The Telling of the Tale” (huzzah!!) – do I gush? I guess I do!

 

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Posted in writing

Nanoreview: Lorrie Moore – Self-Help

LorrieMoore

When you were six you thought “mistress” meant to put your shoes on the wrong feet. Now you are older and know it can mean many things, but essentially it means to put your shoes on the wrong feet.

I always forget how god damn dark Lorrie Moore is, tending instead to think of her a humourist. The theme that runs through this short story collection is relationships that are broken or about to break. Moore’s characters are self-aware enough to know what they’re doing isn’t helping, but not confident enough to change. A woman is confounded by the realisation she’s become someone’s mistress. A woman chooses euthanasia over chemotherapy and throws a party to tell her friends at which she thinks she sees her husband making plans to date someone after she’s gone. A woman steals from her work to compensate for her anxiety about her young son’s happiness and her husband’s former (possibly ongoing) infidelities. It occurs to me that Moore’s humour is what I remember because it’s less discomforting than her depiction of her characters’ flaws and failings, and their paralysis in the face of oncoming tragedy, which is as sharp as her sense of humour (but jeez!). That said, she is funny, and smart, and a dab hand at a pun, too.

Recommended.

Compare second-hand prices for Self Help here.

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Picoreview: Ryan North – To Be or Not To Be

Tobe

You give up on your revenge plan and instead devote your (after)life to being a marine biologist and oceanic cartographer. And it turns out Ghost Marine Biology is pretty advanced compared to Alive Human Marine Biology, due in no small part to how you can hang around on the ocean floor for as long as you want and can’t die.

A fun, clever, metatextual choose-your-own-adventure retelling of The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark in which you can play Hamlet, Ophelia or Hamlet’s Dad. Among the multitude of options available, the choices that follow the plot of the original play are marked with a skull-and-crossbones, but where’s the fun in not messing around with a classic of Western literature? I really enjoyed the extended thank you page that thanks the whole universe and the sequence of events that led up to the book’s creation, going right back to the big bang, illustrated as is only right by diagrammer extraordinaire Randall Munroe of xkcd fame. I also enjoyed Ophelia’s depiction as a tempering voice of reason and the inventor of the thermometer (and, by association, central heating). Oh, and the story thread that sees Hamlet’s dad become a ghost marine biologist, using his ghostly powers to explore the depths of the ocean. Beats the hell out of whining and moaning and talking to skulls, amiright? The book’s illustrations are a bonus: a delightful sample of some of the best artists working in webcomics.

Recommended.

Choose your own path to purchasing To Be Or Not To Be – your adventure starts here!

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Posted in i would like to recommend these people's writing, reviews

Jutchy Ya Ya #48: Though Their Eyes of Flame May Sometimes Prove Searchlights…

JutchyBanner48

And here comes another issue of my Jutchy Ya Ya zine, #48 to be exact, hot off the presses and just champing at the bit to get into your hands/on your screens so you can:

  • Read all about JRR Tolkien’s take on Beowulf
  • Find out more about the story behind the naming of the city of Bendigo
  • Enjoy tangential references to various godly scribes from a range of mythologies
  • Revel in pun-based definitions of children’s mispronounciations
  • Soak up a long list of neopulp mashups of literary classics

All for free.

I’ve been getting proactive about distribution of my Jutchies of late, so if you’re looking to track one down you could do worse than try:

Or, if you want, you can contact me through this site and I could arrange for me to mail one to you. I’m good like that.

And if you want to check out some older issues, don’t say we never did nothin’. Check out the Jutchy Ya Ya page over here or the plethora of Jutchies on issuu.

The choice, as they say, is yours.

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Posted in jutchy ya ya, zines

Links for Sunday: Raining money, novel tips, comets, Adam Goodes & sorceresses

Being your weekly guide to things embedded in the interwebs that have awed, intrigued and inspired yours truly.

Physical Salary
The redoubtable Randall Munroe answers the question, “What if people’s incomes appeared around them as cash in real time? How much would you need to make to be in real trouble?” Short version: Zuckerberg has a new first-world problem.

9 Things You Need to Write a Novel
Toby Litt’s advice is more realistic, more compassionate and less “if you don’t do it then you don’t want it bad enough” than a lot of these “advice from writers” things that I’ve seen lately. I particularly like his de-emphasis on wordcount.

Flowers of the Sky
To celebrate the Rosetta landing of the Philae probe on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, The always-excellent Public Domain Review posted a gallery of illustrations of comets spanning 1000 years. Some of them have knives and faces in them.

A Punter’s Guide to Not Getting Defensive about Adam Goodes’s Truth Bombs
This is  an excellent and easy to follow overview of the major myths that keep surfacing in the ongoing debate about whether Australia is a racist country or not (short version: it is, but it doesn’t have to be). Read along, memorise the major points and use them liberally to debunk anyone who claims otherwise.

The Sorceress Next Door
This is a dearly sweet  comic with slick, smooth, colourful, fluid art by the never-not-compelling Chad Sell, a heartbreakingly, inspirationally optimistic short story about children’s play and gender identity. Also available in print, so you know what to do (hint: buy it).

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Posted in links, new ways to procrastinate

Zeptoreview: Carla Speed McNeil – Finder Library vol. 2

Finder

Carla Speed McNeil describes her work as “indigenous science fiction”, which I take to mean both “science fiction that looks at the place of indigeneity within a high-tech society” and “science fiction that considers people’s working and living relationship to their environment”. This volume collects four stories that were published over 15 issues of the monthly Finder comic, featuring concepts like virtual reality environments that exist inside a man’s head, college professors who are sentient feathered dinosaurs, and techno-weeds that grow into ever-broadcasting televisions. These high-sci-fi elements blend into plots that range from romcom to murder mystery. It’s a testament to McNeil’s storytelling that she pulls off both of these genres without breaking the boundaries of the world she’s created. Her art’s  masterful depiction of body language and facial expression adds convincing layers to her characters’ dialogue. There’s no ambiguity about what’s being said (or what’s going unsaid), even in panels with no dialogue. Finder is smart, insightful, playful, fun and sexy. If you’re not reading it, you damn well should be.

Highly Recommended.

Follow Carla Speed McNeil on Twitter or Tumblr. Read her comics for free on her site.  Buy her books from Dark Horse.

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Posted in comic reviews, comics, i would like to recommend these people's writing
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Is this one of yours @jtranquille ? Look for Jutchy Ya Ya in the comics rack at stoneman's bookroom in Castlemaine! #zines Maybe the local community noticeboard isn't the best zine distro spot after all... Look for the latest issue of Jutchy Ya Ya at your local Chewton post office. #Chewton #zines

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