PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Comics

The Past Is No Refuge: Watching Project Black Sky Unfold

For their Project Black Sky superhero line, publisher Dark Horse engineers one of the most formidable social media campaigns ever.

I return to "What Lured Hemingway to Ketchum?" in the same way that Father of Gonzo, Hunter Stockton Thompson, returns to Ketchum. Which is to say that I return to "What Lured Hemingway to Ketchum?" frequently and diligently and in a way answers a distant, intractable and ever-demanding call and in a way that makes me want to cry each time that I do return.

HST wrote "Ketchum" as a kind of nothing piece, only insofar as he did write nothing pieces (which he didn't; nothing HST wrote was "nothing" but there were pieces that appear as less imposing than others in his oeuvre, and if we can concede that then we at least ought to be able to concede that "Ketchum" is one such), that appears in a take-out-the-trash section of The Great Shark Hunt

The frequency and the diligence are work-product of the intractability and the great distance (not to understanding but to resolving) and the ever-demanding nature of the thing that sits on my chest like that (disclaimer: please note, the following link is not for you, please don't click on it as it will load an image you'd rather have not seen) kanashibari woman who wakes me each morning. HST found something in Ketchum. An answer maybe, or a way of looking at Hemingway that seemed to reframe Hemingway's life as a problem or as him perennially wrestling with a problem, and like the emotional core of a Tom Waits song, where you can reach a point where the bad things begin to make you feel better, HST seems to have found something in that formulation of Hemingway as on a perennial quest that seems to approximate an answer to that quest.

And I cry each time I reread "Ketchum" because I realize that HST is there in Ketchum, at the dawn of his career, because the past is no refuge (but HST hasn't figured that out yet) and because he's following in the footsteps of a murderer, and even if his only victim was himself, that means I need to think of Hemingway as a murderer and because I know where it ends. For Hunter, it ends in February 2005, with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Let me emphasize that second to last point again. Hemingway's life wasn't a perpetual quest to find a way to "see the world clear" or to "write truly" or whatever else HST accuses Hemingway of ("From such a vantage point," HST writes in the second-to-last paragraph of "Ketchum," "a man tends to feel, it is not so difficult, after all, to see the world clear and as a whole. Like many another writer, Hemingway did his best work when he felt he was standing on something solid--like an Idaho mountainside, or a sense of conviction."). The fact that we can wrestle with Hemingway and his literary and personal legacies in this way is due in no small part to writers like HST who have machined such a mode of wrestling with Hemingway for us.

HST's genius lies in the fertile soil of the verum factum of it all--the idea that he makes accessible to us the prefabricated notion (prefabricated by HST himself) that Hemingway's writing was the way in which he wrestled down the nightmare-demons that plagued him during his lifetime.

But of course it wasn't.

The first lesson of literature is that things aren't what they appear to be. That there is no meaning, except the meaning we can make. And that ultimately, ultimately…

Immortal Game: You'll have to Accept that Nothing Can Prepare You

Is it any wonder that both The Matrix and The Blair Witch Project drop in the same year? And that that's the year just before the Millennium (culturally the Millennium and not the actual turning of the calendar millennium)? There was a story-of-a-people-climbing-to-the-light fire that blazed in the dying days of the 20th century, one that scorched everyone, and if you look for it now you can still find the embers.

However, dig around in those embers long enough and you'll find as well that 1999 was a year that cultivated a very different kind of rising spirit. It was the year when Hellboy began to creep around the edges of our collective imagination. The year when Sin City and 300 firmly took root. The year when we began crawling out from the grand spell of illusion we've been living under--that if comics as a medium, as a practice was growing more and more legitimate, then we as creators, then we as critics, then we as readers, can no longer afford the safer, easier, lazier option of simply rallying around creative rights as if it were still the issue it once was. 1999 was coming up in eight years later for Image, was one year shy of the legendary Will Eisner saying in a web-published interview that he was working with Dark Horse because ad far as he could see, they were the staunchest defenders of creative rights (which he said around the time DH released his hauntingly majestic Last Day in Vietnam.

No, Dear Reader, in 1999, what was on the table wasn't creative rights, but creative freedom. In Eisner/Miller, his book-long conversation with Will Eisner, Frank Miller would speak in low tones about how he'd already convincingly cracked the twin codes of sustainable creative rights and viable business models. "It felt like I walked out rom a cave and into the light," Miller would say in 2005's Eisner/Miller, when he spoke about Sin City: Family Values, the first Sin City book to not appear serialized. The struggle could no longer be for creative rights, but for creative freedoms. Not whether creators can go indie, but how the traditional modes of comics production can be transformed and remodeled and ultimately blown apart.

The stakes weren't the creatives themselves any more, couldn't be, but the creative product.

1999, was also a year that postmodernism took hold. We hadn't yet seen a two-year long marketing campaign the presented itself as searching for missing film students. We hadn't yet seen the conceptual frame of a high production values scifi action thriller that treated the real world as both a cage and optional.

To say a new mindset set in 1999 wouldn't be unfair, nor would it be unfair to say that that mindset ultimately turned out to be very different from the simultaneity of Bill Gibson's Bridge Trilogy and Jennifer Lopez's "Waiting for Tonight" that we all envisioned.

It was a heady time. Product was being redefined from within and without the industry. And it's a heady time now.

Earlier this week we published a fictional interview with the fictional @WhoIfNotUs, EIC of the fictional blog SkyWatchers. This fictive interview seemed the only rational way of dealing with the metafictional treatment of a fictional world slowly bleeding into our own.

Why do the campaign this way? Why now? For myriad reasons. But focusing on the why deletes the possibility of answering to the how. The how, however, refocuses on method and structure, and returns us to the way in which themes of individual books (say, the way in which Captain Midnight just disappeared for decades), tie in with broader objectives of not only postmodernism but of social media and transmedia as well.

In the space of a few short months, Dark Horse Editorial has put into play the evolution of 1999, has answered the where-do-we-go-next of both The Matrix and The Blair Witch Project.

And this is one of the more important campaigns that needs to be analyzed, over and again. But this is not the analysis you were looking for. That must come later, and come as the the product of being haunted by time and love in the same way HST was haunted by Ketchum and Hemingway himself by whatever was standing over him in the moment he pulled that trigger.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.