Thursday, 19 January 2012

On "Absalom: Ghosts Of London"

       
I admire the fact that the creators of Absalom haven't left their readers a great deal of choice about whether they're going to pay attention or not. If, like me, you're really not in the market for yet another dark fantasy structured around the policing of paranormal activity, then my advice is to scrupulously avoid reading rather than just skimming Ghosts Of London. I was fine as long as I was glancing at the story's pages, although "glancing" may well be over-exaggerating the amount of attention I was paying. But writer Gordon Rennie and artist Tiernen Trevallion have adopted a strategy which so many of their fellow creators appear to regularly forget to, and in doing so, they've crafted their work in order to ensure that each and every side of their story is both eye-catching and compelling. In short, they've worked hard to ensure that Absalom stands a good chance of being interesting even to those who aren't predisposed to enjoy either their style or the strip's subject matter. It's a strategy that's falling more and more out of favour on the other side of the pond, where matters such as value for money and transparent storytelling are often treated as being less terminally old-fashioned and more terra incognita. All the easier for the casual reader to stay disengaged, of course, but where Ghosts Of London is concerned, the reader who thinks they've already got more than enough to consume already really ought to beware; there's barbs and snares in place here which will likely keep you reading despite yourself.

         
There's a markedly individual and effective fusion of craft and inventiveness at play in Ghosts Of London. Of course, neither quality is of any use in isolation from the other where the uncommitted reader is concerned. Inventiveness on its own relies upon the reader being willing to step in and lend a hand with the storytelling on the page, while an undue focus on nothing but craft produces, of course, a stale if efficiently-told tale. Yet Ghosts Of London is constructed so carefully that it's hard for the reader to disengage with it. It can certainly offer the reader a surprise or two, but that's never a trick that's pulled off at the expense of the story at hand. Instead, as you'd imagine would always surely be the case, and is so often sadly not, every single page, with one notable exception, begins with an arresting image matched to an unresolved situation. I didn't notice that at first, because the storytelling was so energetic that I simply read on without being concerned about technique.

 
Even the quieter panels carry aspects which insist that the reader pay attention, such as the quietly macabre scene showing Absalom pulling worms from a decapitated head. The fact that novelty and spectacle has been woven so productively together with plot means that even impossibly cramped panels such as that depicting the Battle Of Cable Street grab the attention and propel the eye onwards. Because of all that care that's been paid to how each page begins, the single entirely restrained side-opening frame, which concerns a meeting at the London Stone, stands out by contrast as a strangely contemplative moment. Simply by not insisting that the reader be fascinated to a lesser or greater degree, an entirely static and purposefully mundane scene carries a quiet touch of magic. It's an untypical stillness which encourages us to focus upon the relationship between the characters involved as much as the exposition that's being delivered, and it does so because the creators have carved out a space for such a moment to be shown. For although Rennie and Trevallion are careful to ensure that there's a variety of moods and events in each chapter, the central business of writing to the demands of the page as a unit of storytelling is always attended to. Threatening Fascist thugs, the pursuit of Spring-Heeled Jack, the Thames washing thousands of corpse's heads ashore; these are the moments which open and close each side, and it's hard even for the doubtful not to wonder what happens next?

            
None of this is to suggest that technique is all there is to see in Ghosts Of London to any degree at all. As yet, it's a story of ideas and action rather than of character, and beyond its grizzled old lead, there's little of individual personality that's as yet on show. But both the ideas and the action are undoubtedly extremely enjoyable. While I'm hardly enthused at the idea of another strip concerned with psycho-geography and other Forteana, the tropes that have been chosen and put into play are unexpectedly compelling. I've never been able to understand why more attention hasn't been paid to the British Fascists of the Thirties in comics, and if Spring Heeled Jack is more of a familiar business, then the Iceni-led massacre of Londinium certainly isn't. The dialogue's smart and sharp, there's mysteries galore, and any character who can use the names of historians to show playful contempt for his colleagues is definitely worth paying attention to.

         
This isn't intended as qualified praise. In fact, I suspect that it's the exact opposite of a polite but essentially dishonest pat on the head and half-whispered "well done". To be arguing that I'm becoming a fan of a strip despite my reservations is surely anything but qualified. Any half-competent fool can play out their work for an audience which is already of a mind to pay attention to it. But it takes a great deal of hard work as well as talent and ambition to convince the cynical. It's something that's as true for Trevallion's art as it for his colleague's scripting. Trevallion's style often relies upon a great deal of shadow and linework, for example, and that tends to be particularly true where the faces of his characters are concerned. To a reader such as myself, who carries a preference for form rather than an accumulation of such details, it's something which can serve as a distraction. Yet that's a question of my own taste rather than any pseudo-objective judgement, and, as is typical with Absalom, Trevallion's skills succeed in quite outflanking my personal doubts. In truth, he repeatedly chooses strategies for depicting his scenes which are unexpected, unorthodox and effective.

          
Several of a string of notably well-staged examples of Trevallion's art come to mind. The shift from a longshot of Absalom looking upwards into a stairwell to a mid-shot of Hopkins behind a driving wheel, which so misdirects the reader's attention that the landing of Spring Heeled Jack on her car's bonnet comes as a jarring surprise. The quite wonderfully witty panel in which Absalom hangs by his fingertips from a window-ledge while the silhouette of Jack bounds away. The way in which chapter one's penultimate frame is cropped so that we feel that we're part of a mass of gawpers who can't quite see what it is that's floating in the river. The fleeing dog that's stolen a head and the policeman chasing it in the background of a shot of Absalom and Hopkins talking. That's an awful lot to admire in a story that's only seen ten pages published so far.

    
I'm certainly not a member of the core audience for the high concept of The Sweeney meets The X-Files which has been used by 2000AD to describe Absalom. In the terms of my own preferences - or is that prejudices?- it's not even a story which at first registered as being either written or drawn in a style which would likely appeal to me. But it's a thoroughly good read, and I've a great deal of respect for Rennie and Trevallion's achievements here. By the time the mundane reality of today's London, all Tesco and number 7 buses, has been juxtaposed with burning horses and property-clasping citizens fleeing the Great Fire Of London at chapter two's conclusion, I was sold. To any who find themselves at something of a distance from Absalom and feeling as disinclined as I was, I'd suggest a measure of caution. This is a comic strip which will insist that you read on if you give it even the slightest of chances.


"Absalom; Ghosts Of London" is currently running in 2000AD, which is continuing to provide week-upon-week of excellant fare. The strip began in prog 1764, and Amazon.co.uk states there'll be a collection of it out in this coming June.


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16 comments:

  1. Hi Colin, you're a victim of your own success here - you intrigued me so much with your first par that I decided to order the book, for June. Now I can't read on ...

    See you then!

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  2. Hello Martin:- That's good to hear! The least I can do is recommend material that I genuinely enjoy, and I do think Absalom is well worth a body's time and readies! Do let me know what you think come the middle of the year. Your opinion is always interesting to me, though I do feel uncomfortable about the fact that you've recently made such a compelling case for my giving Legionnaire's Lost a second chance. And I was so grumpy about it ...

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  3. Excellent review as always. I am also not in the core audience for Absalom, but it has quality that is hard to ignore. There's a fair debt to Mignola as well, in my opinion, which is probably what dragged me in. The Sweeney meets the X-Files meets BPRD?

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  4. Hello donalfall:- I was thinking as I wrote the above that BPRD is probably my favourite example of the paranormal policeforce convention. So, yes, I agree entirely. And there certainly is a Mignolaesque flavour to Absalom. Unlike so many other books which follow in MM's slipstream, it's an influence rather than a determining factor, thankfully.

    I'm glad to note that there are other good folk who've found the pull of this strip despite their own personal tastes. I do like to believe that good storytelling counts for a far more than a great deal of the industry appears to believe.

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  5. I guess I'm on the fringe of being the core audience, and this looks superb. I don't really want to get 2000AD all the time, so I'm glad there's a trade coming out. Because I'm so sure I need to read more comics! Thanks for the review, sir.

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  6. Hello Greg:- Well, given that I KNOW something of how many comics you read, and how many you influence me into reading, I'd say that you're probably on the cusp of not-needing-any-more-ever. As are so many of us. But Absalom is a cool read, and I think you'd like it, based on alot of your other choices.

    I find myself thinking it again; if only more comics paid attention to more than their core readership, how much stronger the market would be. There's a way to reach out without diluting the product into homogenous sludge, as books such as Chew and Walking Dead and Fables show.

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  7. Sorry to see it different, but I didn´t like Absalom much. It didn´t even qualify as a disappointment, a weak by-the-numbers spin-off. Absalom in Caballistics was a not very original Ellis parody, but he was okay. But as a character to carry his own series there is just not enough meat on the bones.

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  8. Hello Andy:- No problem with your seeing it differently. I had no idea that Absalom had been an Ellis parody. It's always useful to have different opinions in the comments, just to help temper anyone who might be in a suggestible space and need a tempering voice to listen to.

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  9. "If, like me, you're really not in the market for yet another dark fantasy structured around the policing of paranormal activity

    ...

    While I'm hardly enthused at the idea of another strip concerned with psycho-geography and other Forteana"

    As a commited Fortean (or one who should be, perhaps...) and a lover of weird media, even I have had my fill of such matters and in other hands I could have been quite turned off (I wrote a story involving psychogeography and the London Stone years ago, and was worried at the time about the topic being too heavily mined), but Gordon Rennie is rather an old hand at this and never fails to come up with something new and interesting (if this had turned up on Vertigo under the stewardship of a less skilled hand I'd have not given it the time of day). I'm a big fan of Necronauts and Cabs, Abasalom is working out very nicely and there is his Monsterology series with PJ Holden around that corner that I am looking forward to, so Rennie knows his stuff and can avoid the pitfalls that come with playing in this field. As you note, bringing in British fascism (in both the past and present) was an inspired move that gives everything a lot more depth and breadth, the psychogeography then just becomes a stepping stone (no pun intended) to the bigger story, as well as a nice excuse to get some historical nastiness in as misdirection (and something for Double T to get his teeth into).

    I'm not sure I buy the Ellis parallels, granted wicked uncle Warren's trademark hero is bitter and twisted, but that doesn't mean he invented it or copyright such figures. He and Rennie are contemporaries and Gordon has been writing tough, and often cynical, characters for nearly 2 decades now. He has said, apprently, that his public persona is that of "a grumpy Scottish git," so I suspect Absalom isn't a huge stretch for him ;)

    Then there is the art:

    "as is typical with Absalom, Trevallion's skills succeed in quite outflanking my personal doubts. In truth, he repeatedly chooses strategies for depicting his scenes which are unexpected, unorthodox and effective"

    As I'm sure I've said here before, Double T (a nickname that has utterly failed to catch on) is going to be a big star. I suppose there is a Mignola-ish feel (it helps give a feeling of continuity with Dom Reardon's Cabs style) but he lays on the detail where Mignola would go for a more Expressionistic look and swathe everything in light and shadow. The closest comparison to his art here is probably Kev Walker's more angular style (although some have pointed out a Mingola-like quality to his work so...).

    Anyway, although this story hasn't been quite up my Jack the Ripper haunted alley as the first one, it is still pretty damn good and I'm sure Martin will enjoy the collected volume. I don't "double dip" much with 2000AD but I can already see this volume snuggling up next the the two Cabs ones on my shelf.

    It is also a nice coincidence that I saw this while checking to see what I'd missed, as I thought of you the other day when trying to figure out how to make a story idea work. It kept turning into a poor man's John Constantine until I thought of one of the many themes on here and I realised the main character didn't have to be a man, in fact very few occult detectives are female (and, as we've discussed before, too many are fops ;) ). After that touch of TBTAC-style inspiration all sorts of things started slotting into place and, while still embryonic, the story now has a great richness and diversity, as well as a solid story engine. It needs to go on the back burner for more cogitating, but it has now got a new lease of life and seems a lot more viable.

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    1. Hello Emperor:-“ As a commited Fortean (or one who should be, perhaps...) and a lover of weird media, even I have had my fill of such matters and in other hands I could have been quite turned off (I wrote a story involving psychogeography and the London Stone years ago, and was worried at the time about the topic being too heavily mined), but Gordon Rennie is rather an old hand at this and never fails to come up with something new and interesting (if this had turned up on Vertigo under the stewardship of a less skilled hand I'd have not given it the time of day)”.

      I’m a subscriber of the Fortean Times, so I hope my love of the weird and wonderfully in the context of a smart and open-minded debate was obvious :) But your hypothetical Vertigo book sums up my feelings too. It’s just not what I’d be interested in, though I have had a few satires of those well-trod narratives in mind for months now.

      “I'm a big fan of Necronauts and Cabs, Abasalom is working out very nicely and there is his Monsterology series with PJ Holden around that corner that I am looking forward to, so Rennie knows his stuff and can avoid the pitfalls that come with playing in this field. As you note, bringing in British fascism (in both the past and present) was an inspired move that gives everything a lot more depth and breadth, the psychogeography then just becomes a stepping stone (no pun intended) to the bigger story, as well as a nice excuse to get some historical nastiness in as misdirection (and something for Double T to get his teeth into).”

      If you’re going to play with the familiar, you have to bring those unfamiliar aspects in too. And that’s exactly what Rennie does. I can understand why any script would want a familiar air to it, but starting the comic off with the Battle Of Cable Street – which I wish we’d seen more of, to be honest – was a smart strategy.

      “I'm not sure I buy the Ellis parallels, granted wicked uncle Warren's trademark hero is bitter and twisted, but that doesn't mean he invented it or copyright such figures. He and Rennie are contemporaries and Gordon has been writing tough, and often cynical, characters for nearly 2 decades now. He has said, apprently, that his public persona is that of "a grumpy Scottish git," so I suspect Absalom isn't a huge stretch for him ;)”

      I’m grateful for the alternative reading of where the title character’s personality came from. I don’t know nearly enough about Mr Rennie’s work. As always, your knowledge of this is very much appreciated.

      “As I'm sure I've said here before, Double T (a nickname that has utterly failed to catch on) is going to be a big star. I suppose there is a Mignola-ish feel (it helps give a feeling of continuity with Dom Reardon's Cabs style) but he lays on the detail where Mignola would go for a more Expressionistic look and swathe everything in light and shadow. The closest comparison to his art here is probably Kev Walker's more angular style (although some have pointed out a Mingola-like quality to his work so...).”

      One of the delights about trying to learn something from comics is realising time and time again how the skills of creators can over-ride judgments based on personal taste. And the great thing about that is the personal taste which would’ve stayed static actually starts incorporating the “new” material. I can certainly see his art being something which writers would be relieved to have bringing their words to life.

      Cont;

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    2. Cont;

      “Anyway, although this story hasn't been quite up my Jack the Ripper haunted alley as the first one, it is still pretty damn good and I'm sure Martin will enjoy the collected volume. I don't "double dip" much with 2000AD but I can already see this volume snuggling up next the the two Cabs ones on my shelf.”

      It’s always a pleasure to share good work, isn’t it? And now you’ve reminded me that there are previous volumes to track down, you’re encouraging me to start digging deeper into the history of that property. I can’t tell you how much I’ve read as a result of the comments on this blog. It’s one of those things which I’ll miss when I put up the “blog closed” sign, I really will.

      “It is also a nice coincidence that I saw this while checking to see what I'd missed, as I thought of you the other day when trying to figure out how to make a story idea work. It kept turning into a poor man's John Constantine until I thought of one of the many themes on here and I realised the main character didn't have to be a man, in fact very few occult detectives are female (and, as we've discussed before, too many are fops ;) ). After that touch of TBTAC-style inspiration all sorts of things started slotting into place and, while still embryonic, the story now has a great richness and diversity, as well as a solid story engine. It needs to go on the back burner for more cogitating, but it has now got a new lease of life and seems a lot more viable.”

      That’s very generous of you to say so, Emperor. Thank you. In my turn, I’ve just bought the most recent Zarjaz and Dogbreath fanzines, and one of my motivations was to find a story by your good self. Where ought I to be looking? And, once again, where’s that space archaeologist story?!!!

      I've enjoyed writing positive things about 2000ad over the past few months. Having things like Dante, Dredd and Low-Life in the best-of-2011, and being able to discuss Absalom too. I got so weary of finding myself saying grumpy things that I just stopped. The turnaround in the comic's quality has been marked and it's continued month after month too. It's been great to be able to cheer a touch, and there's more cheering to come!

      I hope you're well, Mr E. Good to hear from you.

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  10. "though I have had a few satires of those well-trod narratives in mind for months now."

    Well consider me provisionally very intrigued. ;)

    "And now you’ve reminded me that there are previous volumes to track down, you’re encouraging me to start digging deeper into the history of that property."

    Definitely track these down (I think they are both in the 2000AD sale) as it is one of Tharg's recent greats. You'll probably spot a few parallels, like power and how the characters are pawns in a much larger game who are fighting those making the moves, with variable success. Seems like a very British approach with civil servants, the landed gentry and other forces at work making sure we can't live our lives as we wish.

    "It’s one of those things which I’ll miss when I put up the “blog closed” sign, I really will."

    Oh you'll find ways to get your "fix" ;)

    "That’s very generous of you to say so, Emperor. Thank you."

    No, thank you. As a white (they don't get much pastier) male (although I haven't done anything too manly recently) I do need to be constantly on my guard, as it is very easy to slip into writing the main character as another white make, when there is no reason they have to be in the majority of cases. What Would Colin Smith Say? WWCSS? is always lurking there at the back of my mind nudging me out of my rut, and every time the story benefits from it because it opens up new and interesting angles. Of course, I am still being speciesist as most of them are human, but that is often not something I can change too easily. Then again perhaps that needs changing. ;)

    "In my turn, I’ve just bought the most recent Zarjaz and Dogbreath fanzines, and one of my motivations was to find a story by your good self. Where ought I to be looking?"

    Unfortunately, Sun & Moon wasn't in the recent Dogbreath, but "Dirty Frank: Holy Wrong" should be in Zarjaz. I also have a story in the most recent Something Wicked from the same chaps.

    "And, once again, where’s that space archaeologist story?!!!"

    LOL. That is returned to the backburner for more simmering while I crack on with a number of other projects. I always find it is good to have a number of things at different stages, so there is something gestating while you are doing the equivalent of changing nappies and breastfeeding the new born before releasing them into the world (like Spartans you leave them young on the mountains at the mercy of wolves).

    "The turnaround in the comic's quality has been marked and it's continued month after month too. It's been great to be able to cheer a touch, and there's more cheering to come!"

    Thing is it can have ups and downs as different stories come and go, you might get a couple of weaker stories synching up to give a weaker stretch. I was looking at the latest prog and am very impressed by the strength of the title at the moment - a real mix of the old and new, both stories and talent: John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra are still at work in the title on classics like Dredd and SD, mixed in with those creators who were around when 2000AD was coming out of its slump (Dan Abnnet, Robbie Morrison, Simon Fraser, Henry Flint, Gordon Rennie) and the more recent generation (like Double T). I think this mix is really important and it is perhaps telling that the early 90s slump came when they threw out all the old and embraced the new, but without the talent to live up to the hype. There are also good upcoming stories, Al Ewing is back with Brendan McCarthy on Zaucer of Zilk (Brendan being one of the "missing generation" that followed on from first wave but largely no longer appear in the prog) and there will be more Damnation Station (I asked Al about it at the 35th birthday party and he is getting the momentum back there). So lots of promise, even if I don't like everything on the cards.

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  11. Hello Emperor:- "though I have had a few satires of those well-trod narratives in mind for months now." / Well consider me provisionally very intrigued. ;)”

    Ah, well, I was curious as to whether satire was possible in a genre which has become so close to satirising itself. When “Fortean” worlds always contain absolutely every aspect of Fortean concerns, it’s hard to use many of the usual satirical tricks of exaggeration …

    "Seems like a very British approach with civil servants, the landed gentry and other forces at work making sure we can't live our lives as we wish.”

    That makes me realise how much of the British social and cultural tradition of the past century or so has disappeared. Post-Industrial Britain, for want of a better world, has seen so much disappear from the landscape which could be useful. That whole world of ‘I’m Alright Jack’ for example has gone.

    “...as a white (they don't get much pastier) male (although I haven't done anything too manly recently) I do need to be constantly on my guard, as it is very easy to slip into writing the main character as another white make, when there is no reason they have to be in the majority of case …. Of course, I am still being speciesist as most of them are human, but that is often not something I can change too easily. Then again perhaps that needs changing. ;)”

    It’s that bias against other life-forms that most infuriates me, Emperor. Oh, there’s going to be months and months of raging going on about that social ill, I can tell you.

    Thank you for the kind words. I too inhabit that pasty white identity, and yet it’s remarkably easy to shift a point-of-view, as you say, by swapping whitebread blokeness for any other identity. It’s astonishing how just changing a character’s home from one street to another, one town to its local rival, can kick a story further down the line. And I say that while admitting that the stories themselves on my part never become any good. But a little better always helps me.

    "Unfortunately, Sun & Moon wasn't in the recent Dogbreath, but "Dirty Frank: Holy Wrong" should be in Zarjaz. I also have a story in the most recent Something Wicked from the same chaps.
    Thank you! I shall hunt it down. By which I mean, my side of the bedroom may well have a great many books, comics and so piled up and pushed deep beneath the bed-s frame.


    " Thing is it can have ups and downs as different stories come and go, you might get a couple of “So lots of promise, even if I don't like everything on the cards.”

    I agree with everything you say about the blog. It makes me realise that I don’t mind at all if some of the stories aren’t to my taste as long as the comic as a whole is avoiding those ethical and storytelling shortfalls which we’ve discussed before. I’ve got a good few months of the Megazine to read later this week and I’m looking forward to finding it’s the same!

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  12. "Ah, well, I was curious as to whether satire was possible in a genre which has become so close to satirising itself. When “Fortean” worlds always contain absolutely every aspect of Fortean concerns, it’s hard to use many of the usual satirical tricks of exaggeration … "

    It is a good point, although little is actually beyond parody.

    "That makes me realise how much of the British social and cultural tradition of the past century or so has disappeared. Post-Industrial Britain, for want of a better world, has seen so much disappear from the landscape which could be useful."

    However, what this recession has shown us is that there is still one law for them and another for us (most recently people have said it is communism for the rich and ruthless capitalism for the poor ;) ), the kind of dynamic that is one of the underlying layers beneath Cabs/Absalom.

    "It’s that bias against other life-forms that most infuriates me, Emperor. Oh, there’s going to be months and months of raging going on about that social ill, I can tell you."

    Right then, I will keep in mind this "humanist" agenda (which doesn't work - "homoist"? Nope). Although now I think about it my Ganesh series is rather lacking in humans if that helps right the balance. I also have a vague story idea in the planning stages in which one of a duo is an alien (and the other is a black woman).

    Of course, the flip side to writing so far from your comfort zone is that you leave yourself open to accusations of a lack of authenticity. Then again, this is fiction - I am neither a dentist or a policeman but I could write a story about one (or an unlikely partnership "Plod and Roots, solving cavity-related crime since 2012").

    "Thank you! I shall hunt it down. By which I mean, my side of the bedroom may well have a great many books, comics and so piled up and pushed deep beneath the bed-s frame."

    Super. The Something Wicked story is a jab at colonialism (both old school and neo) and is part of a much larger set of stories that could be set in the same fictional universe (I have the next one greenlit by an editor who has given me 20 pages to play with, so I'm aiming to try something different - a kind of old and new approach, that might not work but I'm giving it a shot. I also have another editor interested in more so we'll see how things progress). Of course, I should add that all FQP's publications are worth getting whether I have something in them or not ;)

    "I’ve got a good few months of the Megazine to read later this week and I’m looking forward to finding it’s the same!"

    I'm also behind on my Meg reading (thanks to patchy availability in a usually reliable newsagent) but will be using the 2000AD sale to catch up, so I have a nice stack of Megs to go through myself - I'm looking forward to John Smith and Colin MacNeil's Strange & Darke, partly because John and Colin often discuss the terrible things they are planning in the story on the Wednesday Night chat ;)

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    1. Hello Emperor:- You're quite right to say that nothing's beyond parody. I guess I meant that the most obvious satires of the post-X-Files/Fortean tale are going to be too close to what's become of the tradition itself. I suppose what we need is a Scooby Do - or is it "Doo"? - to chase down these vampires etc etc (Sound of mental wheels starting to grind.)

      I wasn't meaning to suggest that the power elites weren't legitimate targets, and I hope that's not how I came across. What I meant to say was that a great deal of the counter-weights to them re: the rest of us have become something else, something less powerful and oppositional. The old Labour Party, the Unions, and so on. Not that I thought that any of them were going to save us, and I very much love how "I'm Alright Jack" skewers all sides. But it feels wrong that the various stratas of the rich should still be there and so much of the opposition to them isn't.

      Yeah, I agree on the authenticity issue. Authenticity is, of course, always artiface. Where the write-what-you-know principle is concerned, I always prefer to remove the "what-you-know" and leave "write". Mind you, considering how little I know about the matter, and how little success I've had, what I think isn't really important ...

      "Something Wicked" was the one recent publication I didn't pick up. Never mind, always happy to run to Paypal for a good cause. Well, occasionally happy if I get a comicbook out of it.

      I didn't know there was a new John Smith story in recent Megs. That's a splendid thing. I'm about 5 issues behind, which is of course scandalous, but I'm going to enjoy splurging on them later this week.

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