First tried to buy this in 1998; found a hardbound copy in Bobst Library (before it became a suicide magnet) after reading Christopher Hill’s The World Turned Upside Down and knew by instinct I needed my own. Aporia Press did some very admirable publication under the series rubric of Tracts & Rants of the Interregnum. I managed to collect ‘em all, except for the one that I wanted most. I tracked down the editor (Andrew Hopton) and asked if he had any copies of Theauraujohn left. (He hadn’t.)
Fast forward 12 years. It’s my birthday. I’m in an Anarchist bookshop, purely by random, rifling through ephemera. And what’s there looking up at me, but four (4) copies of the very same booklet. For once, words fails. There is no quantifiable measure of the shock and astonishment.
After all the long, long months. And to find it by accident.
22 years after publication.
Fresh from prison, freed on bail and making movies again. From the newly released Kajer Manush comes “Dole Dole,” the best song of the reformed, anti-vulgarity period:
A picture from some months ago– even in the worst of times, dear old Los Angeles isn’t normally this smoggy. Taken towards the tale end of the ’09 Station fire. From up top, it looked as though a grey semi-circle ringed the city, drifting in over the hills through the east, behind downtown, over the south and all the way out to the Pacific Ocean.
Dighton Rock– centuries old and covered in mysterious scrawls of unknown origin. Trapped beneath the Taunton River for most of existence, it was raised in the 1960s. The museum was built in the early 1970s. 18th and 19th Century drawings of the carvings depict a second figure on the far right with a very obvious erection, in part leading to a theory that the Phoenicians were responsible– but I couldn’t see it, nor could I really make out any of the supposed markings, beyond a few faces.
Way back in May of 2008, I wrote a bit about Dave Sim’s glamourpuss– as you’ll note, it’s a mostly complimentary review appreciative of the project’s complexity. More than a year later, I continue to collect the title– in fact, the only two books I buy are glamourpuss and Sim’s Cerebus Archive– and I still lack any grasp on what the hell is happening.
The book’s main conceit– a comics history of photorealism buried within a broad-stroke emulation of fashion magazines– is, prima facie, one of the most bizarre ideas for a creator owned title in the history of Western Comics. Dig deeper and one sees, kinda, sorta, the connection: there’s a subterranean link between the photorealism and fashion. The tradition’s artists spent an awful lot of time drawing women and their clothing; the fashion industry provided both.
When the first issue of glamourpuss was released, I described it as a parody of fashion magazines– the early issues certainly felt like one. Sim’s approach subsequently revealed itself as unfathomably weirder. Issue #8, for example, contains a deconstruction of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s book Influence. The humor is buried so completely beneath the glamourpuss (titular character) persona’s attempts at humor that it becomes impossible to claim glamourpuss contains parody or even satire. The laughs are wry and detached, deconstructionist but not. If there’s a word to describe this, I have no idea what it is.
I think the title is suggesting there’s something amiss with the influence afforded the Olsen twins (which is true), but its convoluted methodology obscures the point. All the layers of meta-commentary cancel each other out, leaving the reader wrestling with the Olsens’ ability to genuinely unsettle. The twins are creepy enough that one doesn’t need Sim, glamourpuss or glamourpuss. Meanwhile, Sim intersperses his analysis with stunning photorealist artwork and gossipy meditations on the scandalous early life of Margaret Mitchell, authoress of Gone With the Wind, and how she may have been blackmailed by the Hearst syndicate into writing a 30 page bible for Stan Drake’s “The Heart of Juliet Jones.” The book ends with what has become a trademark of the series– a caustic letters column in which fans write gushing letters to/about Sim, only to be ripped apart by the glamourpuss persona.
Best comic ever?
Agar Agar in “The Harem of Bacchus” by Albert Solsano. From Dracula Magazine, 1972.
Remarkably, even in context, it don’t make a lick more sense.
Collected in TPB by Warren Publishing. Whose offices were located at 145 East 32nd Street.
I worked in the same building for two years and had no idea. The things you learn with comics.
About two years ago– maybe a little longer– I devised a simple criteria to determine when it had become Real. I figured that on the day I wandered into Borders at the corner of Sunset & Vine, the worst individual store of all time, and found my writing therein, then I would know I had transcended.
It’s one thing to find yourself in independent bookstores across the nation, but it’s another entirely to be ground up in the crucible of capitalism and placed next to Good Housekeeping.
It behooves mentioning that ZYZZYVA, the literary journal of West Coast writers and artists, is celebrating its 25th Anniversary. Under the auspices of its editor, Howard Junker, the journal does the noble work of providing folks on the far side of America with the chance of appearing in a class outfit that is not, unlike almost every other West Coast journal, under the sway of pseudo-literary, pseudo-celebrity editorship.
Junker prides himself on finding previously unpublished writers, and as such the 25th Anniversary issue, just out now, is an overview of writers whose first fiction appeared in ZYZZYVA. This includes actual luminaries like F.X. Toole and Haruki Murakami. It also includes me.
One’s best bet is probably getting an issue directly from ZYZZYVA. You will also find it in better (and not so better) bookstores. But, really, good people everywhere would do right to and subscribe to ZYZZYVA. It’s worth it.
I happened to be in town for the dramatization by actors of several of the pieces included in the issue. A few days before the event, Howard Junker suggested that I prepare five minutes to read. Somehow these five minutes exploded into a pre-game warm up, reading for thirty mad minutes in the Koret Auditorium at the San Francisco Public Library. Given that the piece is not one which lends itself easily to oratory, and given that I hadn’t looked at the material I was reading, it went about as well as possible. I was thrust into total delirium.
Union Square in 1905, looking towards 33 & 31 Union Square West. The block remains much unchanged. I lived in 31 for about a year, before leaving under a black cloud. SF writer Thomas M. Disch lived on the top floor– about a year ago, he killed himself in the building. 33 Union Square was the home of Andy Warhol’s second Factory. Also where Valerie Solanis shot him.
Well, well, looks as though I am running par for the course in my persistent inability to update my blog and/or complete a series of posts. I do have a final post from the Comic Con about 3/4ths written. I may post it later, but for the time being, I thought it might be useful to digitally host the Powerpoint from my presentation at the Comic Arts Conference 2009. It’s a slide presentation, so caveat emptor: you aren’t gonna get anything like nuance. But still. Also, the file is huge. So save-as.
Here it is, Introducing the New Teen Swinger: Romance Comics in the Summer of Love:
Incidentally, all good people should go here and download the amazing pamphlet that fellow Romance Comics presenter Jacque Nodell brought with her to the confernece. Highly recommended. (As is her blog, Sequential Crush.)
A thing to do:
Saturday, July 25th, 2009. San Diego Comic Con.
2:30-3:30 Comics Arts Conference Session #12: Poster Session — Want to go in depth with a comics scholar? On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday the PowerPoints of the poster presenters will be available to read in printed “poster books” and then the scholars will be available in this session to discuss their presentations in small-group and one-on-one discussions. Matthew J. Brown (University of California, San Diego) explains how psychologist William Moulton Marston used his creation Wonder Woman to enact his project of emotional re-education about female love-domination. Erica Ash (Henderson State University) explores the circumstances in the 1980s that lead to real world vigilantes and a violent breed of fictional heroes and anti-heroes. Jonathan Brewer (Henderson State University) demonstrates how comic books can assist students in the study of not only American history of the 1900s, but also helps them to understand political atmospheres and cultural trends. Thad Allen (Henderson State University) uses modern science and technology to examine whether some of the ways in which superheroes have gained their powers can actually occur. Marko Head (Marko’s Corner) explores the incorporation of cinematic storytelling techniques into sequential art. Thomas Sepe (Henderson State University) looks at the history of comic books being used as a venue to communicate political propaganda. Evan Moreno-Davis (University of California, San Diego) analyzes the implicit value system in hero narratives that valorize individual achievement as a force for good. Carly Cate (Henderson State University) examines how story-driven characters such as Batman have been usurped by commercial creations like Hello Kitty. Ariel Schudson (UCLA) focuses on the Jon Favreau Iron Man film as a palimpsest for the adaptation and re-adaptation of the Iron Man mythos. Law professors Jamie Cooper and William Aceves (California Western School of Law) show how comics are being used in legal education.
Trauma Poster Panel: Sabrina Starnaman (UCSD) draws on disability studies to see how the facial disfigurement of figures like the Joker, Two-Face, and Jonah Hex makes meaning beyond the stigmatized existence of the impairment. Richard Harrison (Mount Royal College) finds Bill Finger’s hand in the transformation of the destruction of Krypton and Superman’s origin. Fans Poster Panel: Nick Langley (Rocket Llama World Headquarters) examines which personality traits are needed in order to succeed at pursuing a “dream job” such as creating comics. Alex Langley (University of North Texas) assesses addictive behavior in gamers, comics lovers, and other pop culture fanatics. Batman Poster Panel: Tommy Cash (Henderson State Univeristy) asks why the Dark Knight needs a Boy Wonder and finds that the Dynamic Duo exemplify Aristotle’s ideal of the “Friendship of Virtue.” Geri Lawson (CSU-Long Beach) examines how The Dark Knight Returns subverted the dominant voices of 1980s patriotism and the normative rigidity of the superhero’s sexualized body. Romance Comics Poster Panel: Jarett Kobek (www.kobek.com) explores the effect of the counterculture on romance comics and the tendency of American commercial art to easily commodify even the least likely sources. Jacque Nodell (Super Human Resources) unearths the forgotten romance comics work of artists like Winslow Mortimer, Don Heck, and Jim Steranko who breathed life into the beautiful women that grace the pages of romance comics. Room 30AB
Returned to the Nazi Fortress, saw new things, saw familiar things, took some pictures:
Then we went to the House of the Seven Gables…
…and did you like it?
P.S. Yeah, I know. Don’t worry.
All right, I’m out– gone to the Middle East.
Assuming I won’t have a chance to update, but could be wrong.
Back in May.
Drudge in Hollywood
On Steve Ditko
From Sunset Blvd
Welcome to Kurdistan