Entertainment Weekly is running a three page preview of Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s forthcoming comic Nameless, which sounds a bit like a return to some of the themes explored in The Filth. Here’s Morrison’s description:
Nameless is my first collaboration with Chris Burnham since we wrapped up our run on Batman and it’s our first no-holds barred horror comic—a disturbing anti-human voyage to the hopeless outer limits of cosmic nihilism and cruelty, in the company of six doomed astronauts on a mission to save our planet from an approaching asteroid. Needless to say, they get far more than they bargained for.
In my superhero comics, I’ve tended to be a cheerleader for the human spirit, but Nameless gives me a rare opportunity to articulate a long-withheld sneering contempt for our miserable species, with its self-serving, sentimental, suicidal self-delusions and its greedy, willful ignorance.
Inspired by the dark side occultism of the Tunnels of Set, by pessimist philosophers like Thomas Ligotti and Ray Brassier, and by our culture’s unstoppable, almost erotic, obsession with its own destruction, Nameless is a light-hearted romp through the sunlit meadows of a baby unicorn’s daydreams!
The New York Times has a profile of Karen Berger, the editor of Vertigo Comics. Berger announced earlier this year that she is leaving Vertigo. The Times has no update on what she’s doing next.
For the roster of artists she leaves behind, Ms. Berger’s exit raises questions about the future of Vertigo and where its renegade spirit fits into an industry and a company that seem increasingly focused on superhero characters who can be spun off into movies and TV shows.
“It’s really hard to tell at this stage,” said Mr. Gaiman, a best-selling novelist and fiction writer who was scouted by Ms. Berger in the 1980s. “That was DC Comics, now we have DC Entertainment. It is a different beast, being run by different people.”
Sitting in a DC conference room a few days ago and surrounded by shelves of Vertigo titles that she published, Ms. Berger, a soft-spoken woman of 55, said she quit to pursue new challenges. “It’s time to ply my storytelling skills elsewhere,” she said. […]
Comic sales have fallen off substantially, Mr. Morrison said, and the qualities that defined Vertigo’s titles have become widely imitated. They have “bled into the mainstream in such a way that you almost didn’t need it anymore.”
Mr. Morrison said he could still remember when his Vertigo series “Sebastian O,” about an assassin in Victorian-era England, sold about 90,000 copies of its first issue in 1993 — a modest quantity that would make it a Top 10 best seller in 2013. (DC said it doesn’t provide sales figures.)
Cameron Stewart is known for his work with Grant Morrison on Batman and Robin, Seaguy, Seven Soldiers: The Manhattan Guardian and a few pages of The Invisibles, amongst other things. But he also wrote and drew a serialized online comic called Sin Titulo, a surreal mystery in the vein of Haruki Murakami or David Lynch that won an Eisner award. It will be released in print later this year by Dark Horse Comics, but you can read it online now for free.
Philip Sandifer wrote a sharp critique of The Invisibles. Here’s a bit about the role of chaos magic in the book and how it, although as he notes it has been around since the 70s, rose to prominence in the 90s:
Chaos magic is magic for libertarians. It sprung up, unsurprisingly, in the late nineties because it was a flavor particularly suitable for the techno-libertarians who disproportionately dominated the early Internet. And it was, in hindsight, a complete and utter bust. It’s just another flavor of the Heinlein-style science fiction that animated Babylon 5 and space opera in general. It amounts to Robert Heinlein in fetish gear, which is mostly just redundant.
I’m not sure if he’s referring to chaos magic or The Invisibles as “Robert Heinlein in fetish gear,” but either one seems appropriate. It hits on one of the paradox’s of Morrison’s work, which is that on the one hand he dismisses the idea of individuality as silly Western Thoughts, but simultaneously spouts individualist and libertarian rhetoric.
He adds in the comments:
I thought about dealing with Lord Fanny. But that involves getting into Grant Morrison’s frankly shameful engagement with transgender issues, and that’s really far afield. And just makes me angry. […]
It’s not even that Fanny herself is bad. It’s that she fits into a larger and virulently transphobic context on Morrison’s part in which he casually deploys offensive slurs and appropriates trans experiences. It’s really astonishingly vile, and gets at the almost sociopathic narcissism that I find so infuriating about him. I think it’s very rare that Morrison manages an ounce of humanity in his work.
Pavlov’s Dogs is an Invisibles fan film edited by Trevor Blake and starring Nabil Shaban as the voice of Mister Quimper.
Shaban is an actor and filmmaker who in addition to having appeared in several films has worked with the Crass Collective and appeared as a Doctor Who villain. Trevor wrote an essay on Skin Horse, Shaban’s documentary about the sex lives of the disabled here.
With his directorial debut, The Man With the Iron Fists, less than a month away, RZA is continuing his push into directing.
The former hip-hip producer and frontman for the Wu-Tang Clan is teaming up with comic book author Grant Morrison and producer Reginald Hudlin to adapt Morrison’s latest comic, Happy!, for the big screen.
RZA is attached to direct and would produce with Hudlin, a producer on Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. Morrison will write the script.
Invisibles author Grant Morrison has been officially inducted into the Outer Church:
Every year for her Birthday, Queen Elizabeth II names a bunch of people (well, it’s not her, but it’s done through her, she’s the middle man) to honour with various orders of chivalry, she basically dubs them with a sword and gives them a medal.
Comics Bulletin has published an English translation of a short article Alejandro Jodorowsky wrote for the Spanish science-fiction magazine Nueva in 1968 about Flash # 163 – which also happens to be Grant Morrison’s favorite comic of all time. I’ve never read it and had no idea the villain of the comic bore a remarkable resemblance to Gurdjieff.
Are Infantino and Broome aware that the strange gentleman is Gurdjieff? The resemblance is striking: the same bald head, the same features and moustache. The content of the parable could very well belong to the philosophy of this enigmatic being.
What does Flash signify? He is a man who possesses superspeed. Upon acquiring it, he can go around the world in less than a second, can walk through walls, can be in two places at once, etc. He is, in synthesis, the king of superficiality, always running from one place to the other, never being “AT THE THING”. Superspeed prevents him from anchoring himself to reality. Objects become inconsistent and human communication impossible. By walking through objects everything becomes superficial. People admire him because of “HIS DEEDS.” He is the perfect example of those who Gurdjieff described like this: “They are so lazy at helping themselves that they want to help others.”
[Note: The actual quote is “They are too lazy to work on themselves, and at the same time it is very pleasant for them to think that they can help others.”]
The teacher, wanting the character to be conscious of his inner emptiness, proves that his existence, by being so “from the skin outwards,” depends on others. If the others stop paying attention to him, he does not exist, the reason being that all his values are based on the opinions of the rest. Flash lives not for himself, but for others. He exists in those who see him.
By no longer being seen and admired, the artificial self behind which he hides evaporates. By becoming naked, depending on his own values, he realizes that he is nothing. Gurdjieff says that man is born without a soul and that through huge and systematic efforts he must create it for himself. Flash never made an effort to create himself. At that moment of crisis, instead of stopping to ponder, reflecting on himself and working on his inner being, he decides to go after the girl he had impressed with the classic miracle of walking on water.
I don’t have my copy of Supergods handy, but here’s what Morrison wrote about Flash # 163 for the Guardian:
This was from the time of pop art comics in the 1960s when DC Comics had go-go chicks, and almost Bridget Riley-style op-art across the top. It’s a great cover that shows the head and shoulders of The Flash, holding up his hand to the reader. He’s yelling out, “STOP! DON’T PASS UP THIS ISSUE – MY LIFE DEPENDS ON IT!” A supervillain sets up a machine whereby everyone forgets that The Flash ever existed, and his body begins to attenuate into this red mist; there’s a very odd, paranoid feel to the story. In the end he’s only saved because there’s this little girl sitting by the side of the docks who still believes in him.
I’m reading Grant Morrison’s Supergods right now, and I’ll probably have more to say on it in the future. But I’ve just passed a part in the book where he talks about the Sekhmet Hypothesis, and wanted to get some thoughts down right now.
The gist of the Sekhmet Hypothesis, as explained by Morrison, is that every 11 years culture shifts as sunspot activity waxes and wains. At one pole is “hippie” culture characterized by longer pop songs, longer hair baggy clothes, psychedelics and an emphasis on peace and love. At the other pole is punk culture, which is characterized by shorter pop songs, short hair, tight clothes, stimulants and an emphasis on anger and rebellion.
Update:Iain Spence, the originator of the Sekhmet Hypothesis and author of a book on the subject left a long comment that’s worth reading. It appears, first of all, that Morrison’s punk/hippie description of the hypothesis is much oversimplified (or perhaps I misunderstood his interpretation of it, this is like a game of telephone – if you want the real scoop on the hypothesis, go to the source). Second, Spence has updated the hypothesis having admitted that he was wrong about the solar cycle aspect of it, among other things.
So it would go:
1966: LSD, psychedelic rock, hippies, happenings, peace and love.
1977: Punk, new wave, shaved heads, cocaine, rock shows, nihilism.
1988: Rave, long electronic dance tracks, shoegaze, Brit pop, MDMA, “Peace, Love, Unity, Respect.”
1999: The Matrix, nu-metal, emo, screamo, cutting going mainstream, Red Bull, Starbucks, cocaine and meth making a come back, 9/11, Law & Order.
2010: Avatar, Alice in Wonderland and the “dandyishness” of the vampires of Twilight and True Blood (not sure I swallow that last part).
I could add the surge of mind fuck movies in the 90s, and their come back in the 10s, but as some readers pointed out in my earlier post on the subject, those types of movies didn’t entirely die out in the 00s. Also:
The 60s were also marked by outrage and protest, some of quite violent. A lot of hippies and mods wore tight clothes.
The late 70s and early 80s also had disco (and later house), psychedelic post-punk, butt rock, epic metal etc.
The 90s had the Rodney King riots, gangsta rap, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, plenty of metal, the militia movement, hyperviolent video games and movies.
Rave didn’t completely die out in the 90s, instead it turned into teknival with a strong emphasis on the hippie-ish psytrance wing. Burning Man grew larger than ever. Not to mention Massively multiplayer online role playing games and Second Life. Tool put Alex Grey’s art on their album cover and his career exploded. Daniel Pinchbeck sold a bazillion books. And what about the popularity of bands like Radiohead, Coldplay and Muse? A bit more underground, but what to make of doom metal, dubstep and BPitchControl, or the hipster cred of Arthur Magazine?
It’s really hard for me to accept that “punk” is the opposite of “hippie.” The 60s counterculture wasn’t always peaceful and non-violent, and the punks, with their love of Jamaican music, antiwar songs and their vegan and vegetarianism were a lot more hippie-ish than many gave them credit for.
It’s hard, given the number of exceptions to the formula, to swallow the idea that there’s a real, society-wide pull between punk and hippie every 11 years. Others have critiqued historicity before, and I don’t need to go there.
But there may be pattern of rising and falling tides of psychedelia, perhaps accompanied by a sense of optimism and energy that eventually dissipates. The 60s had acid, the 90s had ecstasy. And I’m hearing that DMT is becoming a common strong street drugs these days, and the new cool thing to listen to is apparently the sound of a modem slowed way down. We could be in for some weird times indeed.