It’s been 13 years since I last published anything in the Piracy is Liberation series. I made the two collections of books 1-11 in 2013. Since then, it’s always been my intention to continue the story directly in a third volume rather than conrinue with book 12. The problem is that, as it turns out, making one 400+ page book is much more difficult than making 5 smaller books. So now I’m going back to what I used to do; publish a chapter as a self-contained story, for example in an anthology such as CBA. Fittingly, this will be my contribution to CBA vol 50, a volume dedicated to comics by members of the past and current editorial collective of CBA. Especially since the first two stories connected to Piracy is Liberation were published back in C’est Bon #1 and 2 (in 2001).

It’s a bit like coming home now when I return to this world I haven’t visited for so long. Rumor has it that every cell in my body will have been exchanged by new ones during that time. Does that mean that I’m a copy of myself? And if so, what does that mean, since the structure of my brain or whatever it is that forms my consciousness is more or less the same?

This one will be a story of Purple, set during the fight for copy rights, probably a few chapters into vol 3. It should be no problem to read it as a stand-alone comic, but if you have read the old ones, you’ll have a much greater grasp of the context surrounding the events in this one. I think that’s all I can say about it at this point. The story is called ALGORHYTHM and CBA vol 50 is planned for release by the end of this year.

If you haven’t yet read the old ones, here’s where you’ll find them. Books 001 and 002 should also still be available for download via The Pirate Bay.

The Last Of Us part II

July 13, 2020

The Last Of Us part II
by Naughty Dog
Review/thoughts (no spoilers)

First, stay away from spoilers as much as possible if you plan to play the game, because it will affect your experience of it. Also, I wrote the first part of this before I had finished the game, so I had to add a second part afterwards to address some of what I said from a different perspective. Both the game itself and the discussions surroudning it have many layers and are a bit hard to condense. I had stayed away from leaks and spoilers but seen enough to know that some people seemed to really hate the game. So if it seems like I’m strawmanning a bit in the first part, it’s because I hadn’t looked too deeply into the criticism that I addressed, I just knew it was there.

The game was released a while ago by now, but I think that rushing through the game just to get an early review out would be a disservice to the experience. I wanted to give it time, take breaks now and then to process the story beats, and I’m glad I did. As I do these final revisions I’m close to finishing the game for the second time (NG+).

I’m not normally writing about games, but this one was special, so here’s my views on The Last Of Us part II:

This is an amazing game! Probably the best one on PS4, as far as I’m concerned. Gamers and reviewers have been divided. Almost everyone seem to agree that it looks amazing, that the controls and playability are improved from the first one. And the story is well told. Even the gay stuff looks like it works for most people, even if some feel oppressed by a love story that isn’t heterosexual. But most of the people who actually played the game do seem to like it. The main negativity seems to be about the feel-bad aspects of the game. And there are a lot of those. This game is an emotional horror story that hits harder than most movies trying to do the same thing. I don’t really know why people are surprised since the first The Last Of Us started with a real gut-punch, and ended with one as well, with a few more thrown in during the game. But I think people forgot that and only remembered how great the game was, just as they forgot the somewhat (comparatively) clunky gameplay because the story was so great. But if there’s one thing the developers were open with before releasing the sequel, it’s that if the first story was about love, then this one is about hate. And they weren’t kidding. This is definitely an exploration of hate and even more about revenge.

So of course this isn’t for everyone. Most players want their digital murdersprees to come without guilt or emotional consequenses, and this game denies them that. This is a rollercoaster with a few ascents but mostly descents into darker and deeper territories, a spiral of vengeance begetting vengeance. An eye for an eye for an eye, and in the end everyone is blind, clicking away in the darknes, flailing for someone to sink their teeth into to spread the disease of hatred. There are nice moments in this game, because how much worse isn’t Hell if you can still dream of Heaven (to paraphrase The Sandman)? You think it’s as dark as it can get, having played through one shocking turn of events after another, and then it hits you with something new. And then it stabs you with something that turns everything you’ve already done even darker. And then it twists the knife a few times extra just because. And I love it for it!

As in most of the best zombie stories, the threat of the zombielike infected in The Last Of Us are secondary, almost an environmental obstacle. It’s the human individuals and groupings in the postapocalypse that are the main actors.

And mixed in with all this is a love story (more than one, actually) that works really well, at least narratively. But it’s a world full of death and it’s a story full of hate and both of those things make it hard for lovers to just lean back together and enjoy each other. Any nice moment is weighed up by a bunch of horrible counterparts, and it takes its toll on the characters. As it should. This isn’t a game about Nathan Drake (the Indiana Jones/Lara Croft-like protagonist from Uncharted, another game series from Naughty Dog) running around killing hundreds of people and then living happily ever after with his family. The murders in this game have consequences. In fact, even the consequences have consequences. Don’t do this at home, kids!

And why shouldn’t there be games like this? And why shouldn’t they be acknowledged as the masterpieces they are, as is often the case with movies or literature that break new ground while showing us things in a new light?

In short: my experience with this game has been great at times, horrible at times, and I’m loving every bit of it.

And now that I’ve finished the game, I have some things to add: When I wrote the above, I still had a few hours left to play. I still stand by everything I wrote about what I liked about it, but I hadn’t actually seen a lot of what people were saying about the game since I didn’t want to spoil it for mayself. Which means that while I had picked up that some people didn’t like the game, I wasn’t completely clear on why. Now I know better and it seems to be mainly two or three points. First, some of the people who like almost everything about it have some issues with the story structure or some elements in the storytelling, which I’m not going to get into because it really comes down to a question of personal taste. For me it works perfectly. It managed to play all of my heartstrings like a guitar, and even more so now that I’m playing it for a second time. Because now I know things I didn’t on my first playthrough which makes me notice a few extra heartbreaking details that went over my head the first time. If it didn’t work for some people that’s fine, nothing to do about that.

Otherwise it seems to be about an event in the beginning of the game and one at the very end. I’m not going to get into details about any of them, but it seems to me that people had such an attachment to the first game that they just took this one too personally. It’s not so much about the game being shocking or emotionally brutal in general, but about what’s happening to certain characters and the way it happens. Which is maybe understandable but also a bit too reminiscent of that old Stephen King story, Misery, about a writer who is kidnapped by his biggest fan who tortures him to get him to rewrite a book so that the main character doesn’t die. Sometimes you just have to accept that fictional characters don’t always get to live the lives you think they deserve.

Some of the negative feedback also came from people who hadn’t played it at all but based their opinions on leaked details which didn’t give the whole picture, which is just bullshit and not really worthy of comment.

It is noteworthy, however, that about 45% of the people who played it have now finished the story (according to the trophy list). 30-40% is a pretty normal number for similar games. And considering how many copies they’ve sold, that speaks to the fact that a lot of people seem to enjoy it enough to go through all the heartache.

As usual, it’s good to remember that the voices that can be seen/heard online may not be representative of the general view of the thing, it may just be that some people are very vocal about it and the proponents of certain views (the so-called anti-SJW people, in this case particularly the homophobes, that were most active before the game was even released) are quite good at taking up a disproportionate amount of bandwidth in order to try to seem like the voice of the mainstream.

Speaking of whom, I’d also like to change what I said at first about this game being about hate, because that isn’t exactly true, it just feels that way during most of it, and it is a feeling that’s being explored. But there are more layers to it, which I’m reluctant to go into here (because spoilers)…

For me, I like both the ending and the rest of the game more and more the more I think about it, and some of the discussions I’ve seen about it just make me more convinced that this is something truly special. It’s more emotionally advanced and engaging than most movies on a level that I’ve never seen before in games. It’s not the first game to go that route. Both Hellblade: Senua’s sacrifice, God of War and the first The Last Of Us come to mind as examples of psychological storytelling, but this one just goes further with it. And it’s amazing.

If you did play it and need something to help sort out your traumas, I’d suggest watching some interviews with the creators and actors of the game. They do care deeply about the characters and there are reasons for everything that happens in the game. And stop sending death threats to the actors just because they did such a good job of making you care.

The Police

June 18, 2020

Reposting this as kind of a contribution to the current discussion about racism and police violence.

It’s a chapter from my graphic novel Me & my Daddy & Zlatan. I started working on this story back in 2009, trying to capture the feeling in some parts of Sweden (which is NOT a perfect country where Police are great and serviceminded to everyone and racism is a thing of the past if it ever even existed here, no matter what some people seem to think). Hope you enjoy it. I really wish it would have been outdated by now, but sadly it isn’t.

Click images to make them bigger/more readable:

zlatan-eng_a5-58 zlatan-eng_a5-59 zlatan-eng_a5-60 zlatan-eng_a5-61 zlatan-eng_a5-62 zlatan-eng_a5-63 zlatan-eng_a5-64 zlatan-eng_a5-65 zlatan-eng_a5-66You can order the book, ins Swedish or English version, from the Hybriden webshop.

#SixFanarts

April 16, 2020

Decided to join the #SixFanarts thing, so I asked Facebook to give me suggestions.The condition was that it could be characters from comics/games/movies/etc, but only stuff I know/like…

Of course I couldn’t do just 6. These are some of what came out:

Me and Kinga were invited to represent Fanzineverkstaden at a workshop at MaU (Malmö University) today, as part of their Comics Research Lab project.

First time I tried risoprinting and it went much better than expected. I had thought, based on most risoprinted books etc I’ve seen that the colors would be really pale, but it turned out really nicely. Especially since the print I had prepared was 2 colors on top of each other which created a nice effect and much deeper colors.

I made a variation on my tape cover for Noise Against Fascism / Legion of Swine.

Testprint:

First color:

Second color + combination:

Also made a few copies where I printed yellow as the second color:

This is the one Kinga made:

In case you haven’t seen my original image, this is what it looks like:

75 years…

January 27, 2020

75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz. Will we make it to 100 without a repetition of the Holocaust? This year, for some reason, someone somehow allowed the Sweden Democrats (our biggest racist party) be in charge of a remembrance ceremony. Oh, did I call them racist? I’m not sure that’s allowed anymore, because it would mean that a great segment of the Swedish population would also be racist for supporting them. And we can’t have that, can we? They did use to be nazis, and they do blame every bad thing they can think of on immigrants, muslims, leftists, descendants of immigrants, feminists etc. But that’s not enough anymore, it seems, as long as they don’t openly call themselves racist.

Anyway, I made these two comics (I only have Swedish versions, sorry for that) for the exhibition Mus, Mouse, Maus in 2010/2011, an exhibition to honor Art Spiegelman’s excellent comic Maus, and also in remembramce of the Holocaust:

And the follow-up, since they asked for a new, less provocative version for a later edition of the exhibition:

I really should translate these, shouldn’t I? I’ll try to do that at some point…

CBA vol 47 release: Jan 24

January 14, 2020

January 24 (17-22) is the opening of the release exhibition for CBA vol 47: Science/Fiction at Hybriden (Mitt Möllan, Bangatan 5, Malmö).

The latest volume of CBA where I am the main editor, and one that I am extra proud of.

A while ago I was updating the list of creators who have been published in CBA over the years, and there are some truly great creators in that list. Some of which are also participating in this issue, which is probably my last as main editor of CBA, because I’m tired and need to focus on other things for the forseeable future.

So if you’re in the vicinity, drop by the exhibition opening at Hybriden and I’ll see you there for an evening of comics and drunk in celebration of the Future and the ongoing fictionalization of our reality. Check out comic samples on the walls, featuring these great artists:

Danijel Žeželj [HR/US], Radovan Popović [RS], Korina Hunjak [HR], Ivana Filipović [RS/CA], Avi Heikkinen [FI], Francisco Sousa Lobo [PT], Oskar Aspman [SE], Kinga Dukaj [SE] and me

About CBA vol 47:
Science/Fiction

Science and fiction rule our lives. The laws of physics seem set in stone while the laws of man are arbitrary mirrors of the morality of the times. Gods and spirits are creations of the mind but also the explanation when comprehension fails. What lies beyond our understanding? Is it more science or something else? What dark forces lurk outside our field of vision? What machineries of death and destruction are we yet to invent in the name of money (which used to be metal and paper but is now to a great extent nothing but speculation and expectations)? What (or who) else meet in the intersection between science fiction and real science? What came first? The egg or the hatching machine?

If you can’t make it to Hybriden, you can order the book at the Hybriden webshop.

Feel free to invite people to the Facebook event.

Enough about comics and movies, I’ve played games!

METAL GEAR SOLID V & 4
This year, I’ve finished Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, in that order because I guessed (correctly, imo) that MGS4 was more of an ending to the whole series. While The Phantom Pain was technically the better game and I was enjoying it a lot, I think story-wise I liked MGS4: Guns of the Patriots better. The themes of PTSD and peace vs war and governments vs nation-free armies have been present through all of the Metal Gear series, but in this one they were taken to the next level. Not to mention the question of nuclear weapons that’s always been part of these games. Something I can relate to, having grown up in the 80s. I was never really into most of the specifically 80s culture, but the threat of mass extinction in a nuclear war was kind of looming a lot in the background.
Are there still un-unravelled (ravelled?) conspiracy threads left over after all these games? Probably, but I feel satisfied. Are there still game functions I haven’t explored, and reasons to go back and play them some more? Definitely.

DEATH STRANDING
Death Stranding – best walking simulator/multiplayer/building sim I’ve played. Yet also none of the above and also foremost a massive fetch-quest with an increasingly engaging story. If that’s what you need in your life, this may be your thing. If that sounds horrible, this still might be your thing. Or not. In any case, it’s the best short description of the game I can come up with.
The way I played it, I spent maybe 10% of the time on the story and the rest on travelling around, delivering orders and building structures, which I have a feeling is a good way of doing it, because it gives you more of a connection to the game world which makes the story more engaging. But how you play it is pretty optional.
It’s also a deconstruction of videogame concepts that we’ve taken for granted for the last 30+ years, like carrying stuff, or killing/dying/getting extra lives. Also how you watch the final credits. Since inventing stealth mechanics in the first Metal Gear game, Hideo Kojima has always been innovative in his games, and he doesn’t disappoint in that area.

SEKIRO: SHADOWS DIE TWICE
I died more than twice, I can tell you that. But yes, this is another game that came out this year which deals with dying and being resurrected within the game’s internal logic. Being a sucker for meta stuff, this of course appealed to me. It’s also visually beautiful and the fighting mechanics are perfect and traversal feels really great and it has that typical From Software worldbuilding and I already look forward to a replay after I’ve finished it.
I’ve worked my way up to the final boss (in one of several possible storylines), and I still have a bunch of minibosses to deal with, so I will probably finish it next year.

MAD MAX
After finishing Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, I got into this game which I had tried a bit earlier but kind of underestimated. I more or less wrote it off as one of those cash-grabs relying too much on a brand name instead of delivering something original. But it was much better than expected and I spent quite some time thoroughly exploring its postapocalyptic world.

CATHERINE
How do I enjoy this game? The whole premise is based on gender stereotypes in a story of moral dilemmas I’m having a hard time identifyig with, but still! It’s a game about relationships, where you go through characterization episodes and puzzle episodes which all take you through a drama and I just find it interesting even though I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone other than for curiosity reasons.
Another point is that it’s a game from Studio 4°C who also gave the Tekkonkinkreet anime (based on Taiyo Matsumoto‘s excellent manga Black and White) and a bunch of other stuff, so there’s that…

Illustration for CBA vol 44

WOLFENSTEIN II
Probably half-way through this nazi-killing, alternate-timeline, political comment/gore-fest. I think that sums it up. Light-hearted entertainment.

CONTROL
This was a great surprise. At first glance it seemed vaguely interesting but I decided to skip it. Then I got it as a birthday present and it turned out to be amazing! I know it’s been divisive and for some reason some people don’t seem to like it, but I couldn’t say why. The controls are well-balanced (not sure what I exactly mean by that but sure, why not?), the setting and mood are intriguing, the story is cool and there is this Finnish(/Scandinavian?) humor here and there which is hilarious and probably the thing that sold me. And you get superpowers and, maybe the most important part, you get Threshold Kids, the children’s TV show to end all children’s TV shows!

At some point I’ll have to finish Dark Souls III and Bloodborne. Even though I like From Software’s game design and Lovecraftian themes and world-building, I still haven’t finished any of them…

Speaking of interesting game development studios, I replayed Ninja Theory‘s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice recently in order to get the platinum, and I have to mention it again because you should really play it. It’s great, and has psychological depth, and looks really great, and the fighting is occsionally epic, and the sound design is amazing!

Evaluation from MGS4…

Some movies/TV shows I’ve watched this year… These are the ones I have something to say about, if only sometimes short comments.

Killing (Zan)
This one is easily up there with my favourite samurai movies, like Seppuku, Samurai Rebellion and Twilight Samurai… The thing they have in common is probably that they don’t glorify Japan’s past feudal society but rather are critical towards them, or at least come at them from a different angle. This one is no exception, and does it brilliantly. I’ve followed Shinya Tsukamoto as a director since I saw Tetsuo: The Iron Man and I would say that this gave me just what I was hoping for when I heard he was going to do something in this genre. This one is closer to some of his later works, though, probably closest to Fires on the Plain if I’m to compare it to another one of his.

Gemini Man
Ang Lee
making a Will Smith action movie with sci fi elements. While the action is very well executed, the focus is more on the emotional aspects of the situation.

Joker
Best DC movie so far. The only good one since the DCEU started and it completely exceeded my expectations. Between this and the Doom Patrol TV series, it looks like some gold can be found after all in that pile of mud.

John Wick 1-3
I liked the first one when it came as a competent action movie, but didn’t think much of it. Kind of disappointed with the second one so when I saw the third I didn’t expect much more than a nice-looking action film. It didn’t catch my attention at first, I thought some details were a bit dumb, some fights were well-made but kind of boring, but then something happened and I started to re-evaluate the whole series. Not sure if this is intentional, but when I started to watch them as some variation of angel movies (God’s Army is probably the best example for comparison), they suddenly worked much better. It suddenly made sense that they could kill people in a crowded station and no one would really notice, because these assassins aren’t operating quite on the same level of existence as the rest of us. And then, somewhere in the middle, there’s this fight that is a total homage to John Woo when he was at his peak (The Killer, Hardboiled) and I was all in.

Parasite
The latest one from Bong Joon-Ho. It seems to have been hyped quite a lot lately, which it deserves. Kind of in the same genre as Borgman, Kynodontas, and Funny Games, except they’re not really in the same genre and they doesn’t even have the same feel to them. Anyway, nice one about class and class consciousness.

Midsommar
Pretty much a Swedish version of The Wicker Man (the original one, that is), but not actually Swedish. Not sure what else to say about it, it’s probably best to go into it with no preconceptions. I’ve already said too much already.

Ad Astra
Heart of Darkness in space, but without the colonialism. I’ve seen some criticism of this movie. Sometimes from people whuo had seen the trailer and were disappointed because they got something more slow-paced. Some (a lot) of the sciemce is also wrong, but it doesn’t bother me this time, and most of it can be explained away by pointing out that they’re using future tech that is obviously way more advanced than what we have now, amd their in-movie explanations of things are nvague enough that you can claim that when they call something “laser”, that’s obviously just what they call something that is completely different from a laser. And anyway, the point is the trip into the dark loneliness, not the scientific accuracy. It’s not Gravity, where what they get wrong is the point, and even the title, of the movie. Or Passengers, where the entire plot hinges on science and logic that doesn’t work.
Does it miss some point by not including the colonialism of the original? Maybe. Apocalypse Now used the Vietnam war as a stand-in for the Belgian Congo of the original book that both movies are new takes on, while Ad Astra seems to skip out on that aspect. On the other hand, you should be able to see Ad Astra as its own thing and then it should also be judged on its own terms. Would I still think like this if I’d read the original? I’m not sure. I did read Catherine Anyango Grünewald‘s/David Zane Mairowitz‘s comic adaptation, but that also has its own take on the story. So maybe I just don’t know enough to make this call.
In any case, I really liked this one.

Antiporno
Sion Sono is doing some interesting movies in general. This is probably the most interesting one I’ve seen since Strange Circus. Meta film about a woman in a yellow room with lots of sexual and violent tension? That doesn’t cover it but I don’t think I should say anything else. If you like Sono, this is probably for you.

MCU and other superhero movies…
Captain Marvel managed to do feminist superhero much better than Wonder Woman was even close to doing, while Avengers: Endgame completely failed on that front, in ways that could maybe have been justified by internal logic, but weren’t. I don’t even need to consider gender to be disappointed. Sure, I liked some things they did, but why the focus on the original Avengers team when there are so many other characters that could have had bigger roles? We know the Russos could have handled it. And after all that build-up…
Glass was ok, but had some weird comments that make me think that Shyamalan tries to seem like someone who knows and cares about comics and wants to do something original with the genre. But he only almost succeeds because he doesn’t really know what he’s doing with it. Other than that, if we disregard comics and see it as part of a movie genre, it manages to be a bit different and unexpected and a quite ok movie.
Brightburn had some potential that it didn’t deliver on, but if you want to watch Superman told as a horror story, this is just what you want to see.

Some more movies I don’t have a lot to say about but that I watched and found worthy of mentioning here:
Velvet Buzzsaw, Sorry to Bother You, Us, BlacKkKlansman.
Just watch them and see what you think, I’d say…
I mean, I could also probably go on and have some thoughts about TV series like Russian Doll, Killjoys, Futureman, all of them great sci fi series with different approaches, but I’m sure others have already said stuff on the internets and I’m tired at the moment and need to make some food before finishing Death Stranding, so…

How to use this lists (and the other entertainment culture as escape culture posts):
If you see me liking some things you also like, and if I seem to like them for similar reasons, then see the rest as recommendations. If you hate all the things I like, then maybe see the rest as warnings. It’s not a fool-proof method, but it’s a good start. There are always intersections between what we like or hate and what other people like or hate, you just need to learn to navigate the cultural landscapes in order to find the stuff that speak to you.

Coming up next: games!

Entertainment culture is escape culture but do we break free?

I guess the answer is: “yes, temporarily”(?). It’s nice to have somewhere interesting to hide while the monsters of Fascism and Capitalism eat the world around us, and it’s a great privilege to have this escape hatch.

I learned in school that privileges are meant to be used. Whenever us kids didn’t like the school food, the grown-ups told us to “think of the children in Africa”. Because as we know, all the children in Africa are starving (this was the 1980s, but I guess this image more or less prevails). I did think about them, but I could never figure out how they would be helped by me forcing myself to eat food I didn’t like. It should be the other way around. I’d gladly share my food, which I figured would help more. Maybe they meant that our food would taste better if we were thinking about someone else suffering while we ate? That doesn’t seem right either.

What I think now is that they meant that growing up in a rich country made us privileged, and it was somehow our duty to enjoy those privileges (even if we didn’t find them that enjoyable). I’m still not sure what to take away from that experience, but there’s probably a lesson about subconscious(?) racism in there somewhere.

Anyway, I’ve read books!

Some of them (a few) were even without pictures…

Considering how long it takes me to read a book, maybe I shouldn’t re-read old stuff, but I figured it was time to see if Frank Herbert‘s Dune series was still as good as I thought half a life ago. Maybe treat it lika ritual ayahuasca trip that you should do once in your youth, once as an adult and once when you’re old? Anyway, I got through Dune and Dune Messiah, which was a good start. And they are still that good. I’m planning to also read some other stories by Herbert in the near future, so I started on Eye, a collection of some of his short stories.

I got hold of Jeff Noon‘s Pollen, the sequel to Vurt, but it wasn’t as good as the first part and now I’m not looking forward as much to when I find Automated Alice, even if I do like the concept of these books as sci-fi sequels to Alice in Wonderland and if I find it I’ll probably read it.

Also decided to give Stephenie Meyer a chance with The Host. It did have some nice concepts, but also some elements I wasn’t as fond of, or rather there was some untapped potential that I would have liked to see further explored. In any case, I’m glad Kinga got me to read it.

That’s it for the lesser kind (text only) of books. Here’s some comics:

I borrowed and tried out some of Jeff Lemire‘s books (Sweet Tooth, Underwater Welder, Royal City, etc), but the ones I like most are the ones with, in my opinion, the best art, like Black Hammer (Dean Ormston) and Gideon Falls (Andrea Sorrentino). Both of which actually turned out to tackle the same subject in a way, but from different angles.

Also borrowed and read some of the new Ms Marvel by G Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, etc. Kind of feel-good fun superhero story. I can understand why it got all that attention when it came.

A Walk through Hell is one of the few horror comic that work quite well. Psychological, religion-inspired horror set in a socio-political context, by Garth Ennis. He treats identity politics quite interestingly here, kind of making fun of it while simultaneously validating it in the story.

Speaking of well-written stuff… I finished Paper Girls by Vaughan/Chiang and The Wicked + the Divine by Gillen/McKelvie. I recommend both of these books from Image Comics, especially… No, I’ll just recommend both. Paper Girls for the time travel, The Wicked + the Divine for the recurring gods (it’ll make sense if you read it).

I read the Secret Avengers run by Brubaker/Ellis/Remender. When it comes to Marvel, I was never as much into Avengers as I was into X-men. But I follow where the good writers take me, so now I ended up here. And with the exception of X-men Red, what recent X-comics I’ve read were really not that great. They finished the storyline with the young time-displaced X-men a few years late, because that story never made sense, and what they did with the Uncanny X-men: Wolverine & Cyclops (Matthew Rosenberg) was just stupid. Killing important and not-so-important characters off-panel just because they could, then pretending that it had any kind of emotional impact didn’t work for me at all. There were also all these references to previous events, but the characters seemed to be written as if there had been no character development at all since the early 80s. I’m well aware that I’m picky when it comes to this stuff.
On the other hand, I felt that X-men Red, written by Tom Taylor, tried to do something new. Updated conflict-resolution that was less about Heroes punching the Bad Guys and more about finding new ways to break that pattern and build a better world. Too bad they didn’t let that one go on for longer.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m too old for this shit, but I am part of a generation that never really grew up, after all. And I can also blame it on my line of work. Anyway, I’m looking forward to Jonathan Hickman‘s run on the X-titles, which I haven’t started reading yet.

Instead, I read Hickman’s run on Fantastic Four/FF and I’m thinking of returning to his Avengers/New Avengers/Secret Wars before I get to the Dawn of X stuff. See if there is a thread to follow through all of it, since he’s working himself through all the major Marvel group titles. Fantastic Four is another titles that I’ve hardly read. After John Byrne‘s run, I’ve basically only read the one by Millar/Hitch and a miniseries by Grant Morrison. Which was all good, I’m just not that interested in the characters themselves as much as I am in well-written stories.

Speaking of going back to well-written stories… I hadn’t realised how good some of the things were that I missed in the 00s/early 10s. I knew there was some potential in the Marvel Knights line, for example, but I had missed the whole Daredevil storyline by (mainly) Bendis/Brubaker/Diggle. It’s actually one long story that took them something like 10 years to get through to the end. Admittedly, the Bendis/Brubaker parts of it were better than the finish, but those were really good. Also of course the David Mack installments, but that was never a surprise.

Speaking of Brubaker and Marvel comics of that era, I’ve also started reading his Captain America, and am not disappointed. It’s kind of weird how it took me so long to discover Brubaker, but on the other hand I could never afford getting everything I wanted, so I had to ignore some stuff I would potentially have liked. It worries me a little that some of the titles I’d like to catch up on now are starting to be hard to find.

One of those hard-to-find comics seems to be Alan Moore‘s Providence, which disturbs me like an unnamable thing lurking in the doorway. Hopefully I’ll find them some day.
What I did recently read by Moore, however, is Whatever happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, his “final” Superman story from around the time of Crisis on Infinite Earths (mid-80s). This was also the first Superman story I ever read as a kid (first superhero story, even). It truly scared me as an 8(?)-year-old, though it didn’t scare me off from the whole genre, and I had these vivid recollections of it when I read it now. I even destroyed my copy back then, so this was the first time I re-read it since maybe 1987…

Did you know that DC started an imprint in the 1990s called Milestone, with Black superheroes, by Black creators (or at least non-White)? It’s another one of those things I was aware of and curious about, but couldn’t afford to explore back then. I recently found one of the miniseries from that era, Wise Son: the White Wolf, by Ho Che Anderson. It was obvious that I missed some context since it was about a character connected to the other Milestone titles that I hadn’t read, but you can’t really go wrong with HCA, and it still felt like he brought some of his own stuff to the story.

On the subject of CBA-connected creators… One of the artists of the upcoming CBA vol 47 is Francisco Sousa Lobo, whose The Care of Birds (published by Chili Com Carne) I got at CRACK! this summer. It’s about a bird-watcher who “is to paedophiles what bird-watchers are to hunters”. A slow-paced story that I’m not entirely sure how to describe, but that I enjoyed in all its mundanity.

Also at CRACK!, I got André Coelho‘s Acedia (also from CCC). We never published Coelho in CBA, but he did a piece of fan art for one of my Piracy is Liberation books, and we’ve collaborated on some projects without ever meeting (unless I’m forgetting something). Anyway, I’ve always liked his art, and this was no exception, in a darkly hallucinatory story of sex and mental states.

Speaking of CRACK! and Novo Doba and European underground comics… Penis Tutorial is a book made in silk screen in several colors by Bernharda Xilko, printed at Matrijaršija in Belgrade.
I got it at Novo Doba and it was probably what pushed us over the edge to make us actually do a book in silk screen (mine and Kinga’s Sleep Paralysis, which we admittedly haven’t printed yet, but we plan to, I promise!). Beautiful book, lots of over-sized dicks. Very colorful.

At some point I think I need to find a way to edit/publish an anthology of antifascist comics. But I want it to be fictional stories with antifa sensibilities rather than yet another “this is what Fascism is about”. So I went and got The Antifa Comic Book: 100 Years of Fascism and Antifa Movements by Gord Hill, which is a very informative book about what Fascism, and Anti-Fascism, is about. So exactly the thing I didn’t want for my planned anthology, but apart from that it was good. Really focusing on the antifascist movements in a way that you don’t see much of in the mainstream, where the only acceptable antifascism basically ended with Hitler in 1945 and everything since then has been too violent or deemed unnecessary. This book shows pretty clearly that it’s far from unnecessary, and it shows what happens when antifa movements (of any kind) fail.

By the way: Did you ever think about how lucky we are that Hitler invaded Poland and that the second world war happened? Because it wasn’t the Holocaust or persecution of Jews and others that made the Allies fight against Nazi Germany. The only problem they had with Hitler was his territorial aspirations, so if it wasn’t for that, the racism and the Holocaust wouldn’t have been seen as such a big problem. After all, that stuff was in part inspired by the segregation politics in the US, which we of course know is the Greatest Democracy ever. I think that’s an important thing to remember when trying to understand our current Liberal/Capitalist democracies and how they deal with (or don’t deal with) today’s Fascist (and related) movements.

See now what happened. Here I am, trying to speak about comics and it ends up on the subject of Fascists again. Fucking Hell, they’re everywhere these days.


I know this is part 3/3, but there still are 2 more to come. Watching tomorrow and Playing after that. So stay tuned if you’re interested in what I have to say about some films/TV/games…