Well Gentle-folk, this Blog has moved.
If you want to see a more structured version of this blog with intermittent nonsense, come follow me to my new website.
Stella Artois aren’t known for making really delicately flavored alcoholic beverages, but their Elderflower flavored Cidre is pretty nice.
This is the North Calling, can you read me?
I spent sometime dicking around in a cave on Holiday and came up with a spooky story about a cave. My cave experience was a pleasant one (I took a bunch of photos, drew some rock textures in pencil, climbed over some stone in my white white shoes) so I think its typical writer bollocks that you can turn that into something weird and unsettling.
Fun fact, writer James Dickey came up with the story to his 1970 novel Deliverance after suffering a canoeing accident in the American south. He was rescued by some locals, who looked after him, nursed him back to health and got him back on his way again. From that encounter he cooked up Deliverance. Presumably somewhere after that fortuitous encounter he thought to himself “hmm… what would have happened if these kindly southerners had anally raped me and I killed one with a bow and arrow?” and wrote a book about it.
Philip K Dick (second Dick anecdote in two blog posts) wrote his novel Confessions of a Crap Artist about a bitter marital feud in suburban California, whilst in a seemingly happy marriage in suburban California. I think its weird the way people can project, compute and reach catharsis through writing. His marriage didn’t last long after writing that book.
I wrote that on Saturday night immediately after coming in from seeing Captain America 3: LOOK AT BLACK PANTHER EVERYONE, and it was a fantastic movie that managed to balance having a million characters and giving them enough screen time and character development. Since then things have changed and I am less into the idea of writing a blog.
So, fun story, my country elected to leave the European Union the other day, which has left me in a really bad mood. I feel, not for the first time in my life, ashamed to be English, so I’m not in the right mind set to talk for very long.
I’ll probably get over it sometime next week.
There will be a day where I can devote the amount of time to comics that I want to. Currently I am renovating my bedroom, which is the most terrible experience. I’m a practical man, I like making and building things, but plastering makes such a fucking mess. Everything is filled with dust. EVERYTHING. My lungs are so filled with detritus that they could be used as flood defenses. If you’ve bought anything from the store, there may be a delay.
The Griff Gristle Kickstarter, the first Madius Comics kickstarter was launched last week, and it managed to meet its goal within 24 hours. Any doubts that it wouldn’t get funded have been annihilated and the only question I have is how long before Rob Jones gets all your money out of the bank and takes a bath in it.
Griff Gristle is a lot of fun, its a well crafted knock about adventure penned by alcoholic bin dwellers Robin Jones and Michael Sambrook, brought to life by the excellent visuals of Rory Donald. Donald’s art has the obvious Mike Mignola thing going on, but has enough personality and direction that makes it unique. One thing I love about this book, which I know from having read the script is all down to Rory, is the panel direction. Mike and Rob keep their scripts purposefully light when telling artists which angles and viewpoints so the artist does their own shit, and Rory knows how to compose a scene. He does a mean splash page.
Its worth your investment for a beautiful book that just happens to have a great story with it. If you want to review it then email email@example.com
Lance Reddick just turned up in an episode of Always Sunny in Philadelphia. What a weird world.
Finally got my hands on the first Octopus Pie collection. I used to read a shit tonne of Webcomics, and with time I just stopped. I find it difficult to find the time to sit at a computer and read loads of comics. I know, obviously this is a ridiculous statement because I spend loads of time sitting away from a computer reading comics. But this collection has got me right back into one of the greatest web-comics out there. Meredith Gran is a brilliant artist and writer and crafts great story lines out of a gag a day comic.
Its weird how I lost touch with web-comics. I opened up Questionable Content the other day, a comic I read DAILY only a few years ago, and one of the characters was in a relationship with another character and I couldn’t see that coming a mile off. I think I should get back into the comic. Do people still read web-comics the same way they did ten years ago? I wouldn’t consider doing one nowadays, though the urge is still there to do one. I started out in print zines in college, and then moved to web-comics, but print medium really is how people read all my comics these days. I am considering resurrecting Punk Rock Apocalypse, but it’d be done as a digital release for free. The hardest part of making web-comics was the schedule. Doing a page a day, or three a week or whatever your schedule is needs far closer attention to timing that working on a book to be published, primarily because you have to do them in some semblance of order. With a comic I can work in any order, and if a page bores me I can do something else and return to it.
Oni Press have reprinted Sophie Campbell’s Wet Moon, which is an interesting book that combines realism with slight elements of Horror set in a Southern Gothic world: a swampy small town filled with crooked trees and a constant sense of uneasiness and creepiness to it. Its set very heavily in gothic subculture weaving in its fashion and music. Its great, but my favorite thing is all the characters exist within the confines of the real world. Its LGBTQ+ friendly, it has characters with disabilities, No one is idealized, no one has a perfect body and yet no one is shown as ugly or as a caricature. Its a real world with real people, with a permeating atmosphere of dread and a great story.
Look at that last panel. Look at that mouth with those teeth and that tongue. The art work is presented with such a staggering confidence that I live in envy of. I cannot instill the virtue of realistic characters in comics. Once, long ago, I read an article by Mark Millar in Sci-Fi magazine where he said that comics were the one true Rock and Roll medium because no one is watching it. Obviously his method of doing this is to put in as much rape and violence as his tiny heart desires, but hey, each to their own. He is right in that its a really indie, make it at home do it yourself focus. Explicitly because we were allowed to do whatever we wanted for years and are creating our own stories, comics is one of the rare mediums where people can be represented people.
Come for Iron Man, stay for great stories and real characters and that sort of shit.
I’ve been reading Scott Snyder and Gregg Capullo’s Batman which is ridiculously good. I loved the Death of the Family story line, bringing the Joker to a level of menace and cruelty I thought he was deserving of is a mean feat in a world where he is a much maligned and overused character. I thought for a few seconds about how in the name of God they’d follow that story line. Zero Year was incredible. An explosive rush of fun, actually making me care about the Batman origin again because we’ve seen it so many times before it is a struggle to give a flip. Gun shots in an alley way. String of broken pearls. Man in an opera mask punching criminals.
We know it.
My favorite part, after it covers the Red Hood and the Birth of Batman, it makes the Riddler cool. I’ve been a big fan of the Riddler, but I am all too aware that on occasion he is presented as a Joker knock off who tries to kill people with Rube Goldberg machines and robs banks leaving calling cards, but they make him calculating, arrogant and a grand foil to a young Batman.
I’ve also started watching Daredevil season 2, which is such a good follow-up to the first series, and the fight scene in the stairwell in the third episode is some Raid style choreography. I love choreography. One of the things most entertaining about drawing Funk Soul Samurai is working out how to do the backflips and the movements between punches and kicks that could lead to the next. If I ever make a movie, aside from having the sort of meticulous direction that would drive Stanley Kubrick insane, I’d have so much fun talking to the Choreographer and getting everything write to mke the craziest fight scene in the History of british Cinema. How do you do Choreography in comics? Heres a few really good examples of how to do fight scenes in comics:
I love this page, specifically this page, which is why I used this below quality scan to prove my point. This is from Karnak issue 2 by Warren Ellis and Gerardo Zaffino and that first panel sums up the rule of don’t show the punch hit, show the aftermath of the punch. Its simple, its brutal, it proves a point that Karnak is about breaking things not bending things.
Which is the exact opposite of the fluid movement that Shang-Chi is embodied with in this issue of the Secret Avengers, again written by Warren Ellis but this has the unmistakable touch of David Aja. This episode sums up why Shang-Chi is such a cool character, both in his mastery of Martial arts, understanding of life force and chi, and also the fact he is self aware that the Avengers basically use him as a cudgel to break peoples limbs. The creative team understand how the character works and mirror his liquid fighting style in the fluidity of the panels.
Here we have Jamie McKelvie drawing Kieron Gillen’s script for Young Avengers. Noh-Varr here being a slick, style obsessedhero type, it shows the Choregraphy IN his choreography if you will. Shows the planning, the precision, and the thought gone into looking like a bad ass hero type. All these examples don’t just present a fighting style in a set way, it reflects the character in the way they fight and shows that.
Guns are boring. Punching is where its at.
I’ve been experimenting a bit more in Manga Studio 5. I am going to be honest with you, when I first got it, I got it because it was on sale and cheap as chips. For the first… year I was totally afraid of it. I used it initially as a programme for coloring, all the tones in 50Signal 2 were added in Manga Studio 5 and even though I can see that its totally different to 50Signal 1 I’m not sure that the reader can. Its comfortable, easy to use (Especially with the touch sensitivity on the Surface Pro 2) but I found its brushes to be limited, but when you start getting in to more complicated stuff, it gets fiddly very quickly.
I started my first comic book project entirely in Manda Studio Late last year, the now as of untitled comic book formerly known as Flintlock, which I’ve been doing with up and coming writer Sam Head (Whose Twitter I am linking to here) first two panels here:
I had fun with that cow. I also had a lot of fun drawing as many different types of English flower as I could into this rural landscape. When I started I just used the ink pen function and didn’t venture much beyong that and using the watercolour pen for the grey tones. The more I drew though, the more I got to grips with the differences between working with the computer and working in physical mediums like inks and fine liners. The biggest difference is that you can make so many more mistakes with the computer and you can get away with it, because you can just keep deleting and chipping away. I do a blue pencil line, then an orange rough over the top, then a purple shading layer somewhere between blue and orange, and then I ink it. I didn’t know this when I started the comic formerly known as Flintlock, so as I am doing the book, I actually become more confident, and the art changes. Flintlock is weird then, looking back on what I’ve done so far because the art grows with the book and actually gets better. Visibly better.
It will be available some point in the future when I put the whole thing to bed. Probably before the end of this month. Bolstered by my work on this though, I went looking for some cool new brushes which were provided by Zombie Yeti, creator of the Go-To-Inker and the Rough Inker. I started to use these, and after reading P J Holden’s blog on Manga Studio, because that guy is a WIZARD and has started to share his Dark arts with the rest of us Mortals. He’s got great tips on how to improve your panel layouts, how to alter their size which is something pretty basic that I actually didn’t know how to do until he told me, and also how to use tone Layers. Its a wonderful resource and if you’re going to be playing with Manga Studio 5 his input is indispensable. Check it out here. Using these new tools, and my new knowledge I experimented on some punisher art, an the above First Order Stormtrooper.
This marks the first time I’ve drawn something and immediately after looking at it thought it was acceptable for a mainstream comic series. I want to experiment more with this style, these brushes and THESE BRUSHES.
Something I did learn was how to paint with the Tone layer. I made a small selection area and stuck the tone in. I used the biggest Dot size on the tone because I wanted it to have that old school materiality to it like when you look at Ashley Wood’s art. When I’d done this, if I selected that layer and painted with the brush outside of the selection area it’d paint with the tone dots. Thats how I did all the above tone areas.
I honestly bet if you haven’t thought about using Manga Studio before this wasn’t that much fun for you. Well, heres one of my favourite Miss America Chavez moments for you from Young Avengers:
Its has been a busy year for me so far, both in and out of comics, so its a real shame that the first thing that falls to the way side is my blog. Always the case. Look at any busy period in my life and you’ll notice a sharp decline in blogging. I think aside from the David Bowie eulogy I did last time I blogged was November. Lots happened since then. I got a new job, drew a bunch of comics, wrote quite a few, and attempted to get Madius registered as a Limited Liability Company.
Not to mention I have only done one blog post since Funk Soul Samurai got released.
Funk Soul Samurai has been a great experience for me. Its been a comic that’s got me the most fan art, the most fan appreciation and a cosplayer. An actual cosplayer. The below photographs were taken of @Shantianna66 in her get up, which made me very happy.
I could reel off reviews at you, or you could Google “Funk Soul Samurai Comic Reviews” and take a look. I don’t know whats good. Do people like links to reviews? Tell me.
So I went to Atomicon 2 in Hartlepool, where I was joined by THE SMITHS, aka Darren and Mike Smith who sat with me for the whole day making me look like a Charlatan by spitting out amazing art work in seconds, sometimes without looking, sometimes without pencils, they just willed art into existence. It was like watching that super computer convert that woman into Robot in Superman 3, only they were converting paper into artwork. Here’s me eating a Bacon Sandwich whilst the two professionals went totally shit house on some art work.
I would like to thank Scoobert Mills and the Atomic family for hosting a great event and I hope they have us back. I think they are having us back. I think we’re doing a signing there in July… more news on this as it develops.
So we now come to the part of the blog where I talk about books. Since we last spoke I bought the Warren Ellis documentary CAPTURED GHOSTS, and purchased the accompanying book that’s one gigantic conversation with the man himself. I’m always happy to hear the points of view of another artist who deals in things that interest me. I’d recommend it if you’re a fan of Ellis and his comics, as the surrounding philosophy and knowledge that he invests in his work is fascinating.
I reread GRAVITY’S RAINBOW, which is the perfect novel and a quick summer read at 760 pages, with enough characters to collapse a decent sized theater stage. Its a post-modern marvel, a book detailing the ridiculousness of war and ideology, and the ineptitude of fate and those involved in it, all in the shadow of the V2 rocket. The Rainbow of the title is the arc the missile makes as it falls to earth, and the contradiction of the bomb that can only be heard landing after its exploded is one of the many dualities of the book as Tyrone Slothrop explores the relationship he has with sex and death across a worn torn Europe.
All the animals, the plants, the minerals, even other kinds of men, are being broken and reassembled every day, to preserve an elite few, who are the loudest to theorize on freedom, but the least free of all.”
― Thomas Pynchon,
Also Thomas Pynchon is a funny guy. Comedy is a big part of the joy of his novels.
“The hand of Providence creeps among the stars, giving Slothrop the finger.”
― Thomas Pynchon,
We went to Doncaster for Digicon 2 (Lots of twos, a sign?) and had the weirdest fucking comic con experience imaginable. So here we are, let me set the scene:
Truly Mike is the handsome one. Anyway, after the convention is open and people are milling about the center, the doors fly open and men carrying scaffolding and matting come marching in and assemble a Wrestling ring 3 feet away from us.
Later people proceeded to Wrestle in it.
It was really odd. Two men, slapping around one another theatrically, whilst an angry teenager shouts sexually explicit insults at a Vampire themed wrestler who used to be on the WWE. It exploded my mind. This is the same convention with a leaky gunge tank on stage with very few people willing to be gunged, and a compere who brought two prepubescent girls on stage in school uniforms to perform the longest synchronized dance routine in history. It was the craziest, most entertaining day I’ve had in a long time.
Is that us caught up? I think it is. When I return, I will talk about comics.
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.
***Blog Post, blog post, its a blog post, you can read it to me when I need you come along***
I’m back from my self-imposed internet reduction cycle, only to leave again on a weeks holiday on Saturday when I will bury my phone in the ground and then be mass communication free for a whole seven days. Eight days probably.
Why did I reduce my presence? Because I was fed up of being argued with. The internet is the biggest gang fight imaginable and everyone is shouting all the time that they know best even when they don’t. Lord knows I’ve contributed to this in my youth but as I grow older I see the importance of peace and harmony in our actions.
Why didn’t I disappear at all? Because if you disappear from the internet, you’re giving up your presence on this grand futuristic web, and then I’d be kissing good bye to a large slice of my business.
You people are amazing by the way. I did a comic in a sketch book on shitty paper and someone read it over my shoulder and said you should publish it, and I did after Rob had had a good look at it and decided it wasn’t total cow dung, and you know what; you fucking bought it.
Never forget that, sure critics have liked it, and sure we’ve got a bunch of likes on Facebook or followers on Twitter or whatever, but let me tell you, right now, that 50 Signal would be nothing without you people who bought it, and who elected to pay more than the asking price with the sketch editions, or in some cases, just paid MORE.
So this is my thanks to you, and if you haven’t bought it, please order one from the web link above, or email me at email@example.com and I can provide a sketch edition for you at £5 with the Postage included in that price if you live in the UK.
Read some reviews too, the A Place To Hang Your Cape review is located Here.
If you want a copy to review, email me at the aforementioned firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s my picture of Immortan Joe from Mad Max: Fury Road.
Its an amazing picture and I’d recommend it to everyone, its an excellent picture with wonderful design, story and action. The soundtrack is stunning too, and I have pre-ordered the limited edition vinyl version of the soundtrack. The art work for that ALONE is worth your money and you can check it out here.
My vinyl collection took a hit a while back, someone split a drink into the storage box at a party when it was in the custody of a friend, and it got left and it warped and mouldered and the majority of my collection became a write-off. Even if it was just the sleeve destroyed, the water got to the plastic and just warped the SHIT out of it, making it play like balls when it gets to the deck. So I’m starting to rebuild my vinyl empire from the ground up. Luckily things like my Lydia Lunch/ Nick Cave double album was elsewhere, but my White Stripes bootleg got fucked up and for that my heart weeps.
Having a LOT of fun collecting again. Got a bunch of The National albums on vinyl including High Violet an Alligator at the weekend, and the high point of my purchases was the Drive sound track on two disc pink vinyl. Its beautiful. I’m going to share with you now my favorite song from High Violet and the Drive soundtrack.
I don’t blame anyone by the way, shit happens and only things got damaged. Things are unimportant. We are not things.
I sort of look around my life and I realize I have a series of collections. A music collection (both vinyl and CD), a comic collection (both trade paper back and single issues), a DVD collection, an art collection. Simon Pegg said some easily quotable vox populi verse about how adult obsession with nerd stuff is drowning out important issues. I believe he is right and ultimately our preoccupation with disposable fiction is muffling the really important things in the world. Lots of people are up in arms about this, but I see his point which is that in the past media used to make important points, and now fantasy and sci-fi IS the major media and is no longer making those important points. Things like Mad Max, Ex Machina, they have made important points, but however entertaining Age Of Ultron is, it is disposable media and ultimately contributes little to the culture of Earth History. What Simon Pegg and I are saying is please, make clever and interesting sci-fi and fantasy, and say something, make a point. If you don’t agree, that’s fine. Shouting at me won’t make me agree with you. That’s not how things work.
Don’t just make comics, make comics that say something.
Reading a lot of books on hauntology at the moment and seriously entertaining that the childishly named noughties never existed. They were/are some form of cultural nexus of all points in history, a Star Gate between times that are disparate and scattered but somehow all exist now. All peoples of all interests can find someone to share their fetish thanks to the power of the internet. Punks, Goths, New Romantics, everyone; we are all here, and we all simultaneously reflect places that existed but no longer hold any depth beyond nostalgia.
For people playing along at home, please read: Ghosts of my Life: writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures by Mark Fisher.
I just finished writing a very complex and taxing comic for me that should be complex and entertaining for you. Writing things like this cannot be done all at once and so the comic existing in six word documents that hold each story fragment that all collide in one plane. Its called No Love and it has the fasted, most violent scene I have ever written. I hope you’ll look forward to that.
Until next time this has been a ramble from me.
This blog post will be a very short section on today’s business, then a long rambling speech on consciousness and the human centric universe. So if you don’t want to read that, I totally understand.
So comics are flying off the shelves, and I’ve been getting some lovely fan mail from you via my email address which I will reply to individually, so direct messages there. Please do not send anything to the “return to sender address” on the parcels, the office folk will not enjoy that. To the man who sent me the suspicious cigarette I have to apologise but I was forced to destroy it with a series of small controlled fires.
That’s a lie, but it reminds me of this story I was told about a guy who insured his cigars and tried to claim in his insurance after he smoked them saying they were destroyed in a series of small fires. He couldn’t claim because it would be classed as arson. Don’t know how true it is but it makes me smile to think of it.
If you want a copy of 50 Signal they are still available from the above address or by sending me an email at the below address with the title “50 Signal Sketch edition”. They cost £5 which includes postage if you live in the UK. Email is as follows:
Papercuts and Inkstains is also a groovy anthology and well worth your time. If you’ve already got 50Signal I’d recommend getting Papercuts and Inkstains. They compliment one another.
Someone described my art in Papercuts as too out there and if anything they’re spot on. I wanted to do something out there and I succeeded.
We live in a world with a very human centric view point. George Carlin puts into perspective in one of his routines where he talks about ‘ending the world’ and I paraphrase now because I don’t have access to the Internet, but he talks about how we go on about the Ice caps melting and how it’s going to be the end of the world and it really isn’t. Sure we all die, but give it a few million years and it’ll have corrected itself, the temperature will have dropped, the air will be purified and all the little animals will have their paradise back. All of history is put into perspective in comparison to humanity.
I illustrate this with dinosaurs. If you think about it then there were dinosaurs for a while, then there was people. Which is true, but there wasn’t just one short age of thunder lizards; there was a longer period of time separating the Stegosaurus and the Tyrannosarus Rex than the T-Rex and the appearance of humanity. The entirety of humanity’s time on earth has been a relatively small part of Earth’s total time line, and the likelihood could be that it’s total time, beginning to end could be just as relatively brief.
And yet it is a human game to place the species of people above the other species out there. Christianity teaches us that Animals have no souls and that Mankind is the jewel in God’s creation. We are the best, forever, no take backs. What separates us is consciousness, it seems, and how we perceive the information and what we do with it. The need to change and alter the world around us, and the tools we use is what sets up apart.
I’ve been reading a bit about perception, consciousness, and phenomenology recently, as well as the concept of Weak and Strong AI. Strong AI is your artificial intelligence that attempts to to have the skill and cognitive ability of a human being, whilst Weak AI is the sort of computer system that can make choices and informed decisions based around a central task, it’s intelligent and processes information and decides things up it has no awareness of self. It’s not the robot that sits and has debates the philosophy of the universe, it’s the sort that controls a system in a reactive and intelligent way. But the thing is its still AI, both are forms of artificial intelligence, even if one would be more impressive than the other. So if we take this yardstick and apply it to the world around us, then we could see plants and animals as a Weak AI, and humans as Strong AI.
(I think that a whole different ramble could be written about how if intelligence is the processing of information then no intelligence is artificial as it’s just working within its predesigned system, but that’s another day.)
For instance a sunflower grows towards the light. It uses chemical tools at its disposal to alter it’s world around it by filtering the atmosphere and light energy into food. It reacts with intelligence, rotating it’s head with the path of the sun. Growing and adapting to the stimulus put at it. A plant does exactly what a human does to set itself aside from its animal counterparts but on a much smaller scale, on a less interactive scale. It won’t flinch if you go to punch it. But it will grow towards an area with more light.
Beavers build dams. Monkeys use projectiles, even if sometimes this is their own shit. Otters use stones to smash open the shelves of crabs. Tool use is around, on a much smaller scale. A beaver will never construct an Ipad no matter how many night school lessons you give it in computer technology. But it will alter and change its environment and sometimes to the detriment of this environment. If damage to the world around it is a yard stick for dominance over other species then beavers are doing okay. Animals are the Weak AI in this system.
Humans are the Strong AI then because even though they spend their time with the same concerns as a beaver: survival and procreation and success of the species, we have this big concern over why we are doing these things. People spend their days doing systems of tasks in order to sustain life and then can sit back at the end and wonder “But why do I exist?”.
It’s what we do with our consciousness, right?
The weird thing being is that Consciousness is seen as a hindrance quite a lot of the time. (Whether it’s consciousness of actions as worries over if we are good people are not are what makes us unhappy or consciousness of the self because there is nothing more damaging than self conciousness)) Anyway.
There’s a bit in the first episode of Dan Harmon’s community where disbarred lawyer Jeff Winger. is giving a speech about what makes people great. He picks up a pencil, tells the study group it’s name is Steve and then snaps it. The group gasp. Humanise something and we care about it far more than if we just have it lying around. People run over rabbits in their cars in the middle of the night and they are upset understandably but with time that fades. Introduce the rabbit, give it a name and an identity and a tiny smoking jacket and you’ll lose sleep over it for years to come. What we do with our conciousness is project it. We empathise. We draw links from ourselves to others, and other things with our minds, and we do this in order to better understand them.
Something I like about the robots in Judge Dredd is that they all come equipped with names. The main villain in the incredibly early Robot War story is called “Call Me Kenneth” and has the words emblazoned on his chest. The past designers of the future city of Mega City 1 know that robots will integrate better in society of we can stick a meaty human face on it. And they are doing. They are amongst us. The iPad for example, it’s advertising campaign of recent years focused on the hideously malformed grammatical statement “iPad is…”
And why you may ask… well look at this way, the iPad is an inanimate object. It’s like a chair or a desk, it’s fancy office equipment within which you can play angry birds. Therefore it should be referred to as ‘the ipad’ in the same way it’s ‘the chair’ or ‘the desk’. Instead they made it into a name, a designation of personality, and referred to it as such. The advert says don’t think of the ipad as an object, relate to it as a person, so it becomes a part of your life.
The most pervasive example of this is Cortana, Siri, and most recently the Google omnivoice ™. The software people now want you to talk to the Weak AI within your phone so it becomes part of your social circle. “Okay Google” “Cortana remind me to say hello to my girlfriend when I see her” “Siri Where’s the nearest meat processing plant”. We are being actively encouraged to fall in love with objects so that when our contracts refresh we stick with them. Talking to something, surely makes you more inclined to empathise with it.
That’s why history is human centric, because we need that input to empathise with it. A world without humans seems to be outside of our consideration. A world without humans is unrelatable to other humans.
But what about the Internet? That’s a world without humans. Twitter has a huge reliance on the chemical connection in your brain that the little box you’re chatting with or too is actually a person and not a configuration of data. I know many great people on twitter who I have never met and might not be who they are and yet because I believe they are people I relate to them. Same with Facebook and the same with Destiny or World of Warcraft. Because there is a person controlling that Orc you can have a conversation with it, but the only word you have that there is a person in there is from the orc itself. The orc is a questionable narrator. It just wants you to think that.
I’ve watched people have arguments with Aggregater twitter bots that formulate tweets from a myriad other tweets into new statements. That person is engaging that computer programme in discourse because twitter has the general promise that the people you are talking to is real. (As an aside that twitter bot is actually passing the Turning test by successfully arguing with the man, whether this reflects well on the bot or badly on humanity is up for debate.)
Similarly people are far more inhumane to one another on the Internet because the anonymity allows you to get away with it, but also the barrier of the screen removes another level of reality. It distances you from the person you are attacking because you can imagine them not being real.
We live in a human centric world but the future is pressing more and more doubt on that. One of the biggest changes we are going to have to acclimatise to is the future of the Object. The future is one of unreal things. The cognitive dissonance of distance versus humanity is one I can see a lot of struggle with as we have more and more of an online presence humans themselves are becoming more distant and yet due to the same process objects are becoming more human.
Ultimately the sick irony to this is that even though we are going to be best friends with our computers, have our mobile phones as best man at our wedding, we probably will still see animals as far less important than people, and whilst people my care for animals, it’s unlikely that they will ever give them an equal footing in the universe. There will never be a balance between human and animal centricity in the world, even though in the future there may be human/object balance. An AI could feasibly go to university but I would never sit next to a beaver during classes. Which is probably down the fact AI were built by us, human endeavour made them so and we worked hard to get them, whilst in many world views animals and plants were given to us. We didn’t craft them so we are less likely to give them an equal viewpoint on the world.
Sorry it didn’t go up on Sunday, I have had a busy week, what with the launch of 50Signal and me working on the sequel and redecorating the house and eating lots of chinese food and drinking wine.
I’ve been out a lot recently actually.
And I think we should all take a moment to appreciate the fact that despite my constant consumption of food and alcohol over the past few weeks for the first time in a while j can confidently fit into a 36 inch waisted trouser. Before I could wiggle my way in but preferred the 38 because I for some reason thought it was a legal requirement to have at least a thumbs width of space all around the edge of my waist band, but now I’ve conquer the trouser… beast? No wait that sounds wrong. Moving on…
The lovely people over at Starburst
Magazine, a science fiction and cult entertainment magazine forever doomed to be autocorrected to Starbucks by my corporate whore of a phone, has included a very favourable review of Papercuts and Inkstains, the very splendid and worthwhile comic anthology put together by Rob Jones as part of the first wave of Madius releases.
(I’m sure by now you’re all aware of what it is and that I did some art for it so I’m not going to labour the point. Buy it if you want, if not wait for the DVD release with the directors commentary or illegally download it from Napster.)
Thing being, and the reason I bring this up, is that it’s really surreal to see something YOU made in a magazine that PEOPLE can BUY from newsagents and the like. The only reason we know it was in there at all is that Jones was in a WH Smiths and took a courteous look through an errant copy and found our comic in its review section.
There’s one thing about seeing a review on a website and the seeing it in print. In my head the website is still the place where the “see: other” content is stored. When I was younger I’d hoover up copies of Empire whenever our paths would cross, and after the cinema reviews there would be the reviewed-on-the-website list and it’d be a cinematic grease trap of all the guff people who hate films would go and see. For example whilst purile money engines like Grown Ups would get a begrudging review in the magazine, Big Mommas House 2: Like Father Like Son would be relegated to the website, where I wouldn’t read it. Having a review in the actual comic near the reprint of Grant Morrison’s Zenith and the latest volume of Sex Criminals makes me feel like one of the big kids. Like what we are doing is very Splendid and Worthwhile.
The first of you people to contact me telling me what the phrase “Very splendid and worthwhile” comes from, who said it and in front of which building I will send you a nice little prize.
Back to that Forbidden Planet review, it’s staggering how nice people have been about 50Signal, and I know people aren’t being ‘nice’ they like it and are reviewing it as such, but I’m always worried about my art work and how people will see it. I started drawing 50Signal in response to a suggestion by my sister. After looking at the art I’d done for hourly comic book day she suggested that I draw more simplistic things. Sure I do the overly complex line art on Harvey Spig and more recently on NO where people actually commented that it was hard to tell what was going on in some of the more creative panel layouts, and they were right. Took a gamble and whilst visually attractive it wasn’t the greatest way to tell a story.
(I can talk about this its fine. *sobs*)
So, 50Signal is an attempt at more simplicity in telling a story, and I think people are getting that and I’m managing to do it without sacrificing content.
If you want a sketch edition of 50Signal please drop me a line at email@example.com and there is a little delay at the moment getting them sent out due to the volume of requests I’m getting. If you want one and are patient send me an email they cost £5 if you live in England that’s including postage, elsewhere we will have to come to some sort of arrangement.
“Hey Nick, you haven’t written an extended piece of Bum Hattery lately, why don’t you indulge us by talking about Cyborgs and creeping futurism” says no one, ever.
“Good idea,” I shout back hearing no reply but the sound of my own voice.
This will be just a long stream of thoughts, so if you are into comics and art and don’t like my ramblings, see you next time.
My friend recently had brain surgery. They did a bit of drilling into her skull to implant an antennae as part of treatment for Dystonia. Now as well as the antennae she has wires, a junction box and a battery pack all powering this electrical unit under her skin. She’s a cyborg, and you can say that without a hint of irony as she is modified with the power of technology to function better.
Which makes me think of this lecture by Amber Case where in she discusses the new definition of a cyborg. In the simplest of terms I have been a cyborg since I had to put glasses on, and used technology to augment my sight.
Ultimately that’s really lame, because by that logic we’ve been cyborgs since we decided that we could use a big bone to smash up a tapir instead of chasing after it and hitting it wirh out hands (then again if you are really lucky one day I’ll go off on one on my theory that Hal 9000 is the logical result of the bone at the beginning of 2001) but recently our dependence on technology has become more and more apparent.
For example: take away my glasses and I can still ‘see’ but just not very well. Take away my phone and you are removing a whole spectrum of my functionality. By removing my phone I am being diminished as a person, and that’s something that will apply to a lot of people on Earth if they are really honest with themselves. I use my phone to communicate with people I have never met, I use it to talk across the planet. The Internet is one of the few reasons I still have friends from University and have a career in comics because I have networked my way to this position. Remove my connection to the Internet and my connection to the world around me goes away.
How many times a day do you Google a song or a news story, fact check a piece of trivia?
You are connected to the world through your screen, and it’s portrayed as a negative thing increasingly, but what if it’s a massive positive? What if it’s the logical merger between human and data? Dan Harmon talks a lot about this in an episode of his podcast where he posits that we are just the evolution of Data storage, the ultimate word in biological data capture and therefore, to further the evolutionary process of the data that has formed our life they require us to build better computers. Imagine that, humans as meat prosthetics for information.
I also read an essay recently that suggested that we are just technology developed by bacteria as vehicles. Bacteria has moulded our growth as a species so they can live within us.
Humans as technology is something that really interests me and I would love to write something extended on this. Might do when I get home. Right now, see you later.
First up some shameless promotion.
50Signal is on sale tomorrow… or at least Wednesday the 25th of March via the Madius Comics shop.
But if you want a copy of the comic with a thank you and a sketch in the back the you will have to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can get that sorted out for you for the tiny price if £5 which includes shipping within the UK.
Title your email “50 Signal sketch edition”
That great fleshen lump at the bottom of that picture is my ankle, just so you know it’s now some squamous horror I have lurking around. Just me and my grotesque body.
If you have any questions or insight or statements to make concerning 50Signal or anything else in this beautiful world of ours, then direct your emails to the same place:
And if you are okay with them appearing in here please note them “fit for print” and that’ll be cool won’t it.
People have been talking to me about the comic a lot. It fills me with a warm sense of pride that this comic, whether you enjoy it or not, is worth talking about. I’ve had a few wild speculations in what exactly is going on during the comic, one of which more or less got everything right.
I have been listening to a lot of podcasts recently. But which I mean I have been listening to two podcasts recently in a highly concentrated volume. The first is Harmontown, a podcast that completely bypassed me for some reason, or more accurately I bypassed it because it just didn’t seem like it was for me.
Weird considering I’ve been a fan of Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab for years and channel 101 inspired some terrible videos from me over the years. But I’ve probably heard Dan Harmon’s voice more than anyone else’s over the past few days. It has inspired the sort of surprise laughs in me that make you seem like a psychotic in public. A guy avoided me by circumnavigating a whole store instead of passing me in one aisle because I was laughing my tits off to a solid gold harmon anecdote. I’d recommend it if you like rambling humour.
I know Harmon is a bone of contention because he spends a lot of time in the public eye for being loud and shouting and being hard to work with. That doesn’t bother me too much because I know how these things can boil out of control, but if you put aside those thoughts and remember that American national treasure Chevy Chase is a mammoth rape joke making dong and that Season Four of community DID SUCK then you’ll be fine.
The other thing I’m listening to is The Beat Bee Sessions which is a radio show style music podcast hosted by Jane Dope and Food One, aka Jim Mahfood the comic book and funk artist extraordinaire. I love a good music show, when I used to work late nights at university and such I would listen to all sorts of radio shows like God’s Jukebox with Mark Lamar. BBC6 music is my favourite thing on earth and listen to the catch up shows on an evening, but until the BBC let me download shows for offline listening then podcasts will be the groove for me. The Beat Bee delivers all ranges of music: funk, soul, hip – hop, rock and electric. Not having the tyranny of a self curated play list breathing down your throat is strangely liberating. Because I have no option but to listen to someone else’s music choice and having no option to fast forward means I will put up with stuff I’d usually skip and develop an like for stuff I’d usually hate. Also, the conversations between the tracks are charming and chill and it adds to the shows overall relaxing vibe.
I also like Spektor module curated by Warren Ellis because he has basically produced a podcast of music I love because the music hates me.
The word press app is bugging out so this is the end to today’s edition.
Thank you and good night.