June 14, 2006

Hold-up of service...

... due to:

- Drowned World-like* oppressive humidity in London inducing lizard lethargy


- World Cup (see coverage by Philip of It's all in Your Mind here)

- being evacuated from my flat for 24 hours because of an explosion (apparently accidental) in one of the garages behind our house.

One reader wrote asking if I have abandoned the second part of The Fall piece. I have written most of it but will probably not have the opportunity to finish it before the end of this week. Most of today will be taken up writing my presentation for the Cultural Fictions conference, and I will be at that event on Thursday and Friday, so realistically there won't be many chances to write much before the weekend. However, I have nearly completed a piece on the brilliant new instrumental John Foxx LP, Tiny Colour Movies, and may be able to post that later today if everything else goes to plan.

Off the back of the X-Men posts, Myles Sullivan has some interesting observations on the current state of American comics:

    I remember as a young Catholic boy reading an issue of Excalibur where the Phoenix fought Galactus the Devourer of Planets. It was revealed that the Phoenix force derives its cosmic power by stealing the life force of those entities that are yet to be born across the universe. You can imagine how that rocked my world as a good little Catholic boy who had a taste for redheads.
    Marvel comics of late are very reactionary, almost neo-conservative. Many of the stories seem to be derrived from the fantasies of cruise missile-liberals and even run analagous to the brutal foreign policies of the US. Many of the heroes now exhibit facist enjoyment of torture and brutalisin enemies. See Ultimates, Authority, Wolverine etc.
    Instead of Nazis and Communists the superheroes now fight terrorists and insurgents-some are Muslim many are not, but this is just to disguise the blatant simplicity at work in the stories themselves-which do nothing more than mimic current events and violently simplifying evenmore that mainstream US corporate news.
    In the recent Marvel summer crossover title Civil War, a playground is blown up by a villain named Nitro. The government uses this as a opportunity to create a Super Hero Registration Act, etc. What is missing is the heroism of those on the margins, the mutants and the outcasts. Instead we have Wolverine hunting down Nitro (the next issue even appears to have Wolverine torturing the villain) while Spider Man and Iron Man work for the government!
    The comics I grew up with had the government and corporations as the villains. I can remember Rockefeller knock offs and industiral magnates as repulsive villains. Now these pigs are heroes, or finance them. American comics have become cynical and humorless-there is no devils laughter and the heroes are rotten with the perfection of the status quo.
    In the US right now I feel as if all of my childhood forms of fantasy have been assimilated by the military industrial complex-video games are even worse than comics. All media is being swallowed into this soft-fascist military/capitalist ideology.
    Here are some "trailers" for the Civil War "event".
    Maybe I am too sentimental, but I believe that because comics companies have become multimedia firms (trying to sell their products to film and game companies) and since their main audience is white men in their thirties, theyve shit the bucket and gone ever rightward. I've been visiting the comic book fan websites which do not even engage the characters as such, but discuss things along the libnes of potential stories that would be allowed by the markweting departments...the imagination is gone even among the fans.
    ... The adolescent and youth markets have migrated from American comics (I'd say starting in the mid to late 90s) and moved over to Manga and Anime.
    Many comics retailers in the States resent this for nationalistic as well as misogynistic and heterosexist reasons. Anime and manga often showcase bi and gay relationships and cast gender bending characters, as well as male characters who cry and are very emotional, but contain an incredible will to power, or will to survive--American comics characters seem to have no will to power to speak of, but then they dont need it, they die and come back to life every other issue.

*Speaking of Ballard, as we often do here, check this out ...

Posted by mark at June 14, 2006 11:55 AM | TrackBack