Tag Archives | Comic Books

Op-Ed: When it comes to comics, let’s put literary criticism back on the shelf

Tim McFarlane/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

Tim McFarlane/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
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By David Sweeney, Glasgow School of Art

For the second year running, the Edinburgh International Book Festival returns with Stripped 2014; a strand dedicated exclusively to comics and graphic novels. It has even commissioned its own graphic novel – a dystopian vision of Scotland’s future called IDP:2043 – as a centrepiece. But this absorption of comic books into a culturally highbrow setting should not go unquestioned.

A few years ago I attended a public interview featuring David Simon, creator of the critically acclaimed HBO television series The Wire. Simon’s questioner, a seemingly beleaguered broadsheet journalist, started off by comparing the series to “a novel”; Simon seemed puzzled by the comparison and asked the journalist to elaborate. The Wire was like a novel, the journalist explained, because it was a text of “high quality”.… Read the rest

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Torture Okayed Through Pop Culture

Diverse torture instruments.

Diverse torture instruments.

Noah Berlatsky analyzes how pop culture (movies, comic books, television) makes torture “ok.” He writes that “Torture, pop culture says, is effective, fun, and even funny.”

Noah Berlatsky writes at Splice Today:

In Frank Miller’s influential 1986 series The Dark Knight Returns, Batman drags an unconscious perpetrator up to a rooftop, and hangs him upside down with his eyes covered. When the bad guy wakes up, Batman begins to question him, and then uncovers the guy’s eyes. Hundreds of feet above the city, the bad guy starts to scream in terror, prompting our hero to ruminate smugly about how much fun he’s having.

Last year, in the film Olympus Has Fallen, the American agent played by Gerard Butler stabbed a North Korean bad guy in the knee to get him to talk. The audience at the preview I attended cheered enthusiastically.

Last weekend at the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association, Sarah Palin declared to an enthusiastic audience that the current administration is too nice to jihadists.

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Betrayal, Freedom and Justice: Forces of Order, Why V Embraced Anarchy (excerpts from Alan Moore and David LLoyd’s ‘V for Vendetta’)

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Without a doubt, if you were to ask any comic book aficionado to put together a top five comic book creators list, Alan Moore would be in every list. Some even consider him to be the greatest comic book writer of all time.

“When waiting for a train at London’s Victoria Station in 1984, Gaiman noticed a copy of Swamp Thing written by Alan Moore, and carefully read it. Moore’s fresh and vigorous approach to comics had such an impact on Gaiman that he would later write; ‘that was the final straw, what was left of my resistance crumbled. I proceeded to make regular and frequent visits to London’s Forbidden Planet shop to buy comics’.” – Neil Gaiman: Journalism, early writings, and literary influences

Neil Gaiman – 3 books that have changed my life

Alan Moore has touched many hearts, and his creation that has influenced more people than any other is his masterpiece ‘V for Vendetta’, which he co-created with David LLoyd.… Read the rest

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Jack Kirby and Comic Book Mysticism

Jack KirbyYou may not recognize the name Jack Kirby, but if you’ve ever argued with your friends over who gets to be Cyclops when you were playing X-Men in your backyard, then you’ve been touched by his creations.

Jack “King” Kirby was a comic book artist/writer/creator between the 30s and the 70s, whose work is arguably the most influential in the medium.  He created and co-created some of the most recognizable superheroes: Captain America, Thor, the Silver Surfer, the Hulk, the X-men, the Fantastic Four, the New Gods, and on and on.

His era of the comic industry is marred by poor pay-rates and draconian business models, where more often than not, artists were handing over their creations for pennies, and were happy just to get their name in the credits.  To make any money at it, Kirby would sit at his drawing board for twelve to fourteen hours a day, pushing out four or five comics a month.  And we’re not talking about hack junkers.  His books were vital, exciting, and changed the face of comic books.… Read the rest

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May I Recommend a Post-Apocalyptic Movie, a Brilliant Thesis about Society: Joon-ho Bong’s ‘Snowpiercer’, Based on the French Graphic Novel ‘le Transperceneige’

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Note: If you are a post-apocalyptic movie aficionado and appreciate the ones that provide an in-depth critique of our civilization and the problems that we face, then you should skip the write-up below and just watch Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Snowpiercer’, especially if you enjoy accessible Korean movies – the dialogue in the movie is mainly in English.

If you do plan on reading what’s below, please keep in mind that I don’t like providing spoilers, so I’ve refrained from discussing too many details, but instead have approached this write-up as a recommendation. The write-up will probably make more sense post-viewing.


There is a certain intensity about Koreans. I realized this during the early 1990’s while attending university. One of my roommates was Korean and he was kind enough to introduce me to his world. We became very close and he and his friends welcomed me into their midst.… Read the rest

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From the Pages of Barry Ween: What We Would All Like to Do and Say to the Minions of the Surveillance State

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Barry Ween is a fictional “10-year-old boy who secretly possesses the most powerful intellect on Earth”. His escapades are brilliantly depicted by Judd Winick in the pages of “The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius”.

Barry is a genius, and we’re not talking about the regular Einstein type of genius, or beyond belief Tesla genius, we’re talking about 350 I.Q. “by far the smartest organism on the planet” genius. We’re talking about “self-awareness-in-the-womb-smart” (click images to enlarge).

Being the smartest creature to ever walk this earth, he realizes early on that for his safety and the safety of those that he loves, he would have to remain hidden. After all, we all know what humanity is capable of once fear of the incomprehensible and the unknown takes hold.

His first few years were long and arduous but he withstood them, and at the age of 10 he acquired enough freedom to explore the limits of science and understanding, albeit, still in secret.

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Immortal Technique to Mainstream Media’s War Profiteering Pundits: “Shut the Fuck Up You Mindless Drone!”

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In light of the latest revelations from The Public Accountability Initiative that “the media continues to present former military and government officials as venerated experts without informing the public of their industry ties – the personal financial interests that may be shaping their opinions of what is in the national interest”, I thought it would be worthwhile sharing a few choice words from one of the greatest rappers to ever grace the mic, Immortal Technique.

The following are the final words on Immortal Technique’s “The 4th Branch” from his 2003 album Revolutionary Vol. 2.

The fourth branch of the government AKA the media
Seems to now have a retirement plan for ex-military officials
As if their opinion was at all unbiased
A machine shouldn’t speak for men
So shut the fuck up you mindless drone!
And you know it’s serious
When these same media outfits are spending millions of dollars on a PR campaign
To try to convince you they’re fair and balanced
When they’re some of the most ignorant, and racist people
Giving that type of mentality a safe haven
We act like we share in the spoils of war that they do
We die in wars, we don’t get the contracts to make money off ‘em afterwards!

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Pretending One Can Dissociate Torture From War is the Lie of the Powerful

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larcenet_6One of the most amazing aspects of the resource wars is that within their own countries, most western powers have been able to stifle opposition for their participation, not to mention being able to suppress any real criticism of how they conduct themselves based on the laws of war.

“Everyone must be entitled to benefit from fundamental judicial guarantees. No one must be sentenced without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court. No one must be held responsible for an act he has not committed. No one must be subjected to physical or mental torture, corporal punishment or cruel or degrading treatment.”

Let’s take France as an example since it appears to have the backing of its citizens in taking the lead role in the recent wars which are set to determine the future of Africa.

To have a full appreciation for the magnitude of the folly of France’s decision to attempt a “total reconquest of Mali” by getting involved in what David Cameron has predicted to be a multi-decade conflict, all we need to do is recap a little history and extrapolate to the present.… Read the rest

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Grant Morrison’s ‘Doom Patrol’: Mr. Nobody: a Savior, a Monster, an Act of Sacrilege, Dada

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One of the major players in the realm of comic books has been the United Kingdom, and one of its most important periods occurred in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s with the British Invasion of American comics. This period saw the influx of British creators, most of whom initially worked for DC Comics, creators such as Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Simon Bisley, Dave McKean, Peter Milligan, and Scottish writer Grant Morrison. It is Morrison and his work that we will be sampling in this post, specifically, the brilliant and explosive introduction of Mr. Nobody - “the spirit of the twenty-first century” – which occurred in Doom Patrol #26. The issue was published in 1989 during the beginning stages of Morrison’s epic run in the series (#19-63).
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Schooling Superman on Totalitarianism: Superman and The Flash have a discussion about gun control while playing chess

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I. Introduction to Inverted Totalitarianism

As Chris Hedges has pointed out on numerous occasions, referring to Sheldon Wolin’s work in ‘Democracy Incorporated’ (article, book), the system that best describes the ideology that the government of the United States functions as is inverted totalitarianism. In his book “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt”, which Hedges co-authored with Joe Sacco, he describes this system as:

“The political philosopher Sheldon Wolin uses the term inverted totalitarianism in his book Democracy Incorporated to describe our political system. In inverted totalitarianism, the sophisticated technologies of corporate control, intimidation, and mass manipulation, which far surpass those employed by previous totalitarian states, are effectively masked by the glitter, noise, and abundance of a consumer society. Political participation and civil liberties are gradually surrendered. Corporations, hiding behind this smokescreen, devour us from the inside out….

“Corporations, who hire attractive and eloquent spokespeople like Barack Obama, control the uses of science, technology, education, and mass communication….

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