Cursive’s latest video from the rather crassly titled Mama, I’m Swollen features a daintily, white frock-clad woman running from Tim Kasher all dressed for a wedding with a gun. Women in peril from male violence. Sigh…
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Kinship in Heroes
A unique feature of the TV series Heroes is a consistent sub narrative of family. Indeed, most characters in the show are developed through interactions across generations. Healing and suffering, defeat and care, are all demonstrated through family interactions through time and space. In later seasons, adults meet their kid selves and arrive at sense of peace with the loss of loved ones. Yet, it is intriguing that despite the closeness of kin, each heroine and hero is left to discover their own identity in a vacuum of guidance and care, again mimicking a common queer experience.
Hiro, the master of time and space came out to his father, played by original Star Trek bridge officer, and out-spoken gay activist George Takei. Claire the invincible girl comes out to her folks under several incidents of blood-n-gore and supreme duress. Flying man and his omnipotent little brother, come out to each other and their folks only to eventually find out that their parents belong to an entire generational cohort of heroes bent on domination and manipulation.
That older cohort faced trials similar to those of the present-day characters that likewise stumbled upon, clustered in groups, and then betrayed one another. In spite of the interaction, there are few instances where any generation is afforded the luxury of the experiences its elders. This, too, is an aspect of queer culture that is only recently receding to inter-generational mentorship.
Scott McCloud’s Reinventing Comics comes 7 years after 1993’s groundbreaking Understanding Comics. In the 2000 successor, McCloud offers readers a new agenda; rather than look inward at the mechanics of comics, Reinventing Comics would look outward. How are comics received by its audience, and more broadly by society? Why, perhaps more than other media, does comics struggle with institutional recognition? What would it take for comics to be accepted legitimately as literature, and legitimately as an artform? But more than simply speaking about comics’ 2000 present, McCloud goes on to speak about the future. At the start of the 21st century, McCloud begins to think about the roles of digital production and digital delivery. Two ‘revolutions’ that he believes will shape comics in the coming century.
Removed by nothing more than a decade, McCloud’s cries for great institutional acceptance, for comics’ greater recognition as art and literature already seem to have been answered. Over the past decade, comics has come to assume a more fitting place in the national consciousness of popular culture. The Smithsonian Institute’s Book of Comic-Book Stories has been hailed by long-time comics evangelist and legendary comics creator Will Eisner as “a necessary introduction to the maturity of the medium”.
While comics has come to find a broader validation in the popular culture over the course of the past decade, one ‘revolution’ identified by McCloud remains dangerously antiquated. In “Negativeland”, the second chapter of Reinventing Comics, McCloud turns his focus on direct marketing and distribution.
Writes McCloud, That combination of narrow purpose and the primacy of technical skills leads to the breakdown of the creative process into its assembly-line parts. Most American corporate comics feature separate “writers”, “pencilers”, “inkers”, “colorists” and “letterers”. Thus a young artist with a compelling unified vision for comics will encounter the same response again and again. “That’s not what we’re looking for”… The readers are just as abandoned by the corporate system as the creators, despite the importance supposedly given to their hard-earned dollars.
But rather than demonize the direct marketing system, McCloud ends the chapter hopeful that it can change to better reflect the needs of both creators and consumers. But the final closing sequence is a stern warning. If direct marketing cannot change, it could easily be replaced by digital delivery.
A how-to video on destroying a pretentious socialite gathering, Sonic Youth-style.
Adele performs a song about my favorite place on the planet (London) in unplugged fashion for MTV.