Hello, its been a while. I could check the date on here and tell you when it was last time I wrote on here was, but it was a long time ago. I started to write something that was basically a treatise on the Nihilistic modern technology and the ghostly personality imprints we leave on the internet. I still have it as a draft, and its huge. I don’t know if I should serialize it in four parts, seeing as it took shape in four separate chapters, or if I should it it out of the way and dump it on you in its humongous majesty. Got an opinion, put it my way.
Still got a few copies of the ORIGINAL print run of 50Signal left, and if you’re adverse to buying it from the Internet you can still get it from Traveling Man Leeds and Inter-Comics in Huddersfield. I know for a fact that one or two of the ones in Inter-comics are defaced. I got bored and wrote in the back. Buy a comic and a secret message in one go!
And if you want to wait a while you can get a copy from me in Person at either Thought Bubble Sequential arts festival (Leeds) or Nottingham Comic Convention (erm… Nottingham) as they are my two con appearances this year. Already booking for next year. Next year I’m taking this shit on the road.
There is the first look at my new title Funk Soul Samurai. Its got an… 18 page comic in it from me and some pin-ups from the likes of The PXD, Vince Hunt, Matty Brown and Darkthes. It as going to be available for Nottingham, but due to a printing fuck up its been delayed until Thought Bubble. I am proud of it, and if you want to review it or have me on your podcasts or interview or whatever it is you people do, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In fact if you want anything email me at Nickgonzo@outlook.com
WARNING: If you have me on your podcast, I will talk about the representation of women in comics, philosophy, magic and possibly beard growth. If that incites you, fire away.
I’m going to stumble through this because I have some form of viral head-worms burrowed into my mind-meat. I went to the doctors and they suspect I have a sinus infection (due to my snot, my shortness of breath, my CRIPPLING migraines) and its leaking things into my lungs. I don’t like having things in my lungs. So I am ill and playing Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater in short bursts as moving objects are causing my psyche to disintegrate. Metal Gear Solid 3, is weird. Its in essence a really good game, when you get into it, its got the mechanics and the set pieces, it fixes the camera of Metal Gear Solid 2 and the camouflage/ self healing things are really cool, but it falls down with the curse all Metal Gear Solid games have (Bar the Phantom Pain which I haven’t played yet) which is that its trying to tell the story of a game using the language of a movie. (I’m going to talk about the mechanics of comic books, so if you hate my rambles, please skip this bit)
Hideo Kojima’s parents made him watch movies as a kid and it shows through his work. All story happens through cut scenes, all the most memorable parts of the game happen through cut scenes, the video game psychologist and Musical smoke machine Chris Moore said of MSG3 that the game doesn’t seem to trust you enough to do the cool bits of it. (Incidentally you can buy his bands EP through iTunes, not that I know how to do it, so please just like them on Facebook instead). Towards the beginning of the game you just seem to walk from cut scene to cut scene, with barely anything to interact with. Whenever anyone talks to you, you do it through a videomatic instead of to your face. Look to things like Half Life (which has no cut scenes) Assassin’s Creed (which have loads but you barely notice) and one of my favorite ever games Amnesia (preferably Machine For Pigs) which all tell stories in different ways but use the language of games to do it and that makes them engaging.
Movies are such a prevalent shadow that falls across all elements of our culture that it has effected them all. Cinema has effected Art, and Computer games and Comics too; especially with the Marvel Cinematic Universe attracting so many people to the world of comics. The other thing is that these people are looking to MAKE comics and that is fantastic. I want more comics, if anything. But I read a few comics, and read scripts and get the feeling that people are making them to be MOVIES not COMICS. I did a blog post a bit back about panel layouts and the things you can ONLY do in comics, so I’m not going to do that again, instead I’m going to talk about the unique language of comics, and the things you can do in them. First up I have to talk about a comic called Nowhere Men, which is a fantastic series about super science being the major crux of the 20th century’s development in the stead of Music. It tells the story in a non-chronological format moving throughout time and space, mirroring the plot and its theme in its structure, but as it is also telling the story of popular culture, it uses the tools of popular culture alongside the traditional format of a comic. It includes interviews, adverts and articles that add to the depth and lore of the surrounding world. Instead of just having the comic tell you of the impact these characters have had on the universe at large, it shows you through the way they’re impacted themselves into the world; Magazine covers and film posters (my favorite one being a film poster for a Stanley Kubrick movie starring Michael Caine about one of the main characters that is presented in such a way I’d believe if it existed) all show you the impact they’ve had on the world without actually showing you the world. The characters are all removed and isolated so we spend very little time on ground level, we don’t go into the cities and houses of the people they’ve changed, but we feel the effects they’ve had in the world. Comics can’t talk in the language of films in the same way a, you know, film can, but it can talk in the language of other printed mediums. Another comic that tells stories in a uniquely comic book way is Transmetropolitan. There is the issue where its main character (pro-ant-protagonist Spider Jerusalem the foul mouth Gonzo journalist this city deserves) just watches television all day, we whilst that would make a crap movie (or a great episode of Rick and Morty (though that did have an underlying plot throughout)) it makes for a great comic because the passage of time, the focus of what the reader/viewer is looking for is totally different. Transmet does a few things though, another great issue is one where the plot is furthered through nothing but interviews with strangers on the streets of THE CITY it takes place in and it does “Postcard episodes” which are just illustrations with words over the top that tell a story viewed together, a trick Ellis reused in his cop procedural cum haunted city story Fell. Warren Ellis is of course the hero of telling a grand story through small stories, as he did in Trees, a huge science fiction thesis told through the sociopolitical effects aliens have on Earth. A film has a set time to reach a point, comics don’t, not really and especially when you’re doing it on your own terms. As long as you’re holding the audience, you can take as much time as you like. I’ve had people us the word “pan” and “zoom” in comics scripts which is ludicrous because its a series of fixed images, and its a series of fixed images on one page that will make up a whole page of images, if you see what I mean. Whilst a panel tells a story a panel makes up a page and that page can tell its own story.
If you look to a title like The Wicked +The Divine the team of Gillen and McKelvie know without a doubt that panels make up a page and their comics always take into account what it is you’re seeing when you look at a whole object. Each panel has an intimate relationship with the others and the use of space and imagery, pace and direction can tell a story in and of itself. I mean look at this:
Look at the use of colour. Drab grey immediately moving into the bright day-glo that just screams Hollywood glitz, melting down into a morbid palette of blue and black, and then into the pastoral brightness in the last two panels. As a whole page it has clear divisions, sets a pace for itself and shows this through the switches of tone and focus. The car cutting straight into the comic divides the ordinary and the fantastical. I am also in awe of the triangle made by the character and her relationship with the panel below. The dip-dye colour of her hair and the green of her Parka all come down into the green and yellow of the speeding car to make a triangle of influence: the story is coming from this character. You can only do that in a comic. Also look at how whispering is portrayed in this scene:
As a finale to this section which has gone on a bit further than I expected, look at the way the split between the two sides is show by the negative space and panel bordering up there, with the intermediary negotiator splitting in and in the next row it shows the division between one set of historical Pre-enactors and the negotiator itself. This page is from the web-comic series Dresden Codak and it has some of the most beautiful page layouts of living memory and definitely worth checking out,
— Madius Comics (@madiuscomics) October 6, 2015
50Signal 2 now has a cover and will be released soon. I think I will do a blog post just about that cover soon and the people within it, but for now here it is, and thanks for reading. I was going to finish up with something but my head hurts and I need the toilet so I think I’ve said enough.