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…

I’m soon going on vacation, this weird concept that you get when you have employment, where you spend some time not working at all. Employment is rare for me, so it still feels like some kind of novelty. And it won’t be completely without work since we have a CBA release/exhibition on July19 (work being defined as when you do things with a purpose other than pleasure/relaxation, not to be confused with employment where you also get paid).

So I thought I should make some small summation of what I’ve beem doing lately. I should say ‘we’ rather than ‘I’ since most of what I do is done in the context of one or more of the collectives I’m part of within the Hybriden constellation…

Let’s start at the chronological end, with this year’s CRACK! festival (June 20-23) where I was with Kinga Dukaj and Luddvig Melin to represent AltCom/Hybriden/Wormgod/CBK/Tusen Serier and ourselves as artists. If you don’t know, this is one that I’ve been going to every year for the last decade or so, except last year. Which was probably good, because this time it felt better than it has for a while. Less people than usual, but I got some of that magic back, where you meet new people who do interesting stuff, old friends that you only see once or a few times a year (depending on which festivals you go to) who also do interesting stuff, you see lots of cool art, you make some yourself, you’re in this small piece of a possible future/squat paradise on earth called Forte Prenestino to share in the evolution of the comics/printed art underground. It’s a source of inspiration for AltCom and for a lot of what I do and how I do it.

Idyllic breakfast with background reminder…

Our cell:

The theme for this year was APERTO (OPEN), similar to the NO BORDERS theme of AltCom 2012, so that fit us well considering what we’re usually publishing.

One of our neighboring cells

On June 22 there was also a huge demonstration against evictions of squats as well as against raised rents in general. CRACK! has a natural connection to this since Forte Prenestino is a squat since 1986. I didn’t go to the demo myself because I can’t handle being out in the Italian heat for that long, but rumor says it was a manifestation of around 100 000 people.

I was asked to make a sticker or something for the demo, but I found this and couldn’t imagine doing it any better.

I also have to say, without going into details, that the crisis management from the festival organizers is very commendable. They managed to turn an incident into an assembly of around a hundred artists to discuss what had happened. In the end some people disrupted the meeting and I’m not sure where they will go from where it ended, but I fully trust them to handle it in an intelligent way that is respectful to many different aspects of the whole situation.

A while ago, we opened a new permanent exhibition at Hybriden, with works that have been produced at Fanzineverkstaden by its members and/or workshop participants. It was also, finally, the official release event for Fosfor, our zine distribution system.

The Lore exhibition is still up, with material related to the theme of the latest issue of CBA. The best bet if you still haven’t seen it is to go this week (Wed-Fri 11-15 + Sun 12-15). After that, Hybriden will close for the summer except for the opening of the Qtopia exhibition on July 19 (at Hybriden). As I write this, we’re actually in the final stages of finishing to files for CBA vol 45: Qtopia to send off to the printer.

We’ll be back in August at Fanzineverkstaden, open weekdays between 15-21, with lots of new workshops coming up during the fall, so keep an eye open for that. And do use the place, because it’s a great opportunity to print stuff and try some new ways for self-publishing, and you never know how long it’ll last (except we know we’ll be here for at least another year). We also brought home some examples from CRACK! to use for inspiration.

And speaking of things that are being printed as we speak… My contributions to the upcoming Wormgod book, After the ends of the world 2 by me and Susanne Johansson, have largely been produced at Fanzineverkstaden in between my regular working hours. More on that later, but here are a few of the pages from the book that I also showed as prints at CRACK!

Captain Marvel!

March 11, 2019

Went to see Captain Marvel this weekend. It was a standard MCU movie, which is quite a good standard when it comes to mainstream superhero movies; it means it was good and enjoyable and probably works best when seen as part of the overarching story.

AND it managed to be a feminist movie in many ways that the somehow acclaimed Wonder Woman totally botched (which is something I will get into in a future post).

Captain marvel is of course its own movie, and I wasn’t comparing it to Wonder Woman while watching, but the comparison is valid since they’re both the first female-led solo superhero movie from Marvel/DC respectively.At least during the current generation of superhero movies since the genre is now almost synonymous with major blockbusters.

In any case, I’m very happy that they didn’t throw away all the feminist potential in the way that Wonder Woman did. I also hear it did well financially, which is of course important since our entertainment is in the hands of Capitalism and they need to make a profit if they are going to continue doing stuff that is anything other than the tried and safe. So I guess thanks to all the small-minded people who did their best to sink this one but probably only helped by drawing attention to it.

I have no idea what to expect from this year.

Me, shimmering…

I heard that human society has maybe two decades left before we’ve fucked things up too much to go back. But so far, let’s get on with things, business as usual:

CBK has one new CBA at the printer now and at least two upcoming volumes, with accompanying exhibitions, already planned out. First up is CBA vol 43: Corners, the last issue of 2018 which will be released at some point soon. Then we have CBA vol 44: Lore, still with a few days left before the deadline for submissions. The call for submissions for CBA vol 45: Qtopia will be announced soon. Hopefully I’ll have time to make some short story for at least one of them, but we’ll have to see about that.

It’s still a bit unclear how the budget will look for Tusen Serier, but with any luck we’ll be able to publish a book or two this year.

And I’m desperate to do some Wormgod stuff. I have plans that I’m excited about but it’s too early to talk about them so far. But it would be foolish not to use it now that I have access to Fanzineverkstaden, which will be my main focus in 2019, as it was last year.

Aand I guess that’s about it, unless something unexpected comes along. I’ll try to keep you posted on anything interesting…

2018 is over…

December 31, 2018

As I have somehow suddenly, I mean recently, reached the age of 40, I don’t seem able to keep up the same rythm that I used to. Combine that with an increasing hopelessness concerning the state of the world, with fascism and climate suicide-because-we-can’t-let-go-of-Capitalism, I’ve been needing more free time and escapism lately. Hopefully it will give me the energy and ideas to fight back somehow. It means that since I started to get paid I’ve been going down to only working 100% (which is kind of funny and complex and I’d like to go into it at some point). It also means that I seem to be spending more time in comics and Playstation…

So let’s get the work stuff out of the way. This year, we (me & Kinga, for Tusen Serier & CBK) started Fanzineverkstaden (the Zine Workshop). After working a lot with the preparations, we opened in July. It’s the start of a collective workshop for selfpublishing comic creators and we’re offering lots of workshops in different printing techniques and other useful things for making comics. This is now my main project and will be for (at least) 2 more years.

We (Tusen Serier & CBK) also made a new AltCom festival. Because of the depressing prognoses for the election in September, we chose the theme: HOW TO SURVIVE A DICTATORSHIP.

We (Wormgod) also arranged another TRAUMA noise festival in conjunction with AltCom, together with Noise Against Fascism. I know the connection between comics and noise isn’t obvious to everyone, but the whole thing felt really great as usual.

We also had a bunch of exhibitions: Fragments and Best of CBK by CBK. 4 Chilean satire artists and Homage to Afghan Women by Tusen Serier.

Especially the Best of CBK exhibition felt good for me personally. It was a retrospective over the 18 years since we started. Various material from many of our exhibitions, with presentations and anecdotes from the good old days, and all our almost 70 publications laid out on a table. Not so much nostalgia as recognition of all the things we did over the years. Even though I had a 5 year break, CBK really has been a big part of my life.

I did manage a few things but this year has been kind of slow when it comes to publishing my own works compared to other years.

A Subtle Fuck You vol 2 (Wormgod) came out in a glorious printrun of 10 copies, with individual linocut prints on the cover. I’ll probably make a properly printed run of it after I sell out of the first 10 copies.

I made a story for CBA vol 40|41 called Why you (maybe) shouldn’t kill Hitler. It’s a timetravel story that fits into the theme of Worst case scenario. As in: what’s the worst that could happen if you go back in time and kill Hitler. I quite like it. First complete comic I drew with a Wacom Intuos.

I also made a comic titled Fragments for CBA vol 38|39, and wrote a text about the Mandela effect and why I don’t believe in it even though I do like the multiverse theory. And for CBA vol 42: Subversive Superhero Stories I wrote a text about some interesting stuff that’s been made in the superhero genre since the 1980s. I wanted to make a comic for this issue as werll, but simply didn’t have the time. It’s always about time. I’ll probably do something in the genre in the future.

And I designed the final book in Möller/Krantz‘ Creation trilogy from CBK; Creation of a Myth. I’ve liked working on those books.

The only things that came out this year from Tusen Serier was Every Girl Is A Hero, which I had nothing to do with except proofreading. And of course the AltCom anthology, where I was editor (along with the Tusen Serier and CBK crews), designer and made the comic Angry Animal on How to Avoid a Dictatorship.

So how did the election go? Badly, but not as badly as feared. We haven’t had a government for the last months because they’ve been negotiating. For some reason everyone seem to want to be in the government even though the ones in power are pretty sure to loose the next election. Best case scenario is probably a mix of center/liberal/socialdemocrat/left, which is going to be really hard because they all kind of hate each other and won’t have it easy trying to compromise. Worst case? Conservatives/christians/fascists who seem to get along just fine, the evil motherfuckers. The conservative/christian budget was voted through, with the support of the fascists and the center (in Sweden the center is the old farmers’ party), which doesn’t exactly bode well for class equality, environment or culture.
To be continued…

Sooner or later I’m going to have to do a thing on Christianity. I have pretty good insight since I was raisd a christian, but I’m increasingly convinced that God is evil, Jesus is pretty ok and the relgion itself is more into God than Jesus, ideology-wise. Not saying that all christians are evil, mind you. We’ll see when this happens and what I arrive at. Ok, I did the Deicide story in Piracy is Liberation book 009 (which is included in v02) where Jehovah is pretty much a monstrous asshole. That was fun.

But enough about work and politics, let’s talk about comics and games and the occasional movie and TV show! Before I begin listing stuff I should say that everything mentioned here also comes highly recommended, unless otherwise stated.

First, YouTube – the new television, but with the added pleasure of being able to click past the ads. I’ve discovered leftist youtube this year, which was a relief. I’m just going to namedrop some stuff that I recommend, then it’s up to you to check it out: Contrapoints, Some more news, Zero books, Shaun, some more that I can’t think of now…

—COMICS—

So yeah, I’ve been reading lots of comics this year. I guess it’s one of the main ways for me to escape… Oh wait. Escaping reality seems like a bad thing. I meant: to get inspiration and a will to live through these times of unrest and stupidity and global suicidism. I’m exaggerating of course. We may yet survive. Maybe. We’ll see…

The way I choose what comics to read is usually that I go by writers whose works I know, secondarily by artists I like. At the same time I’m trying to also keep an open mind to writers/artists that seem interesting.

Warren Ellis, for example, is a writer I mostly follow. And you should probably do the same. The thing I’m currently reading by him is his reboot of the WildStorm universe (called The Wild Storm). Which gives me a weird feeling of familiarity, kind of like when I started reading X-men again a few years ago. It was like revisiting family or old friends. This is similar, but weird because I was never really into the WildStorm books, other than some samples now and then. Seems it was enough for me to recognize almost all the characters included in the reboot series. Another thing that’s interesting about it is that it’s still kind of a superhero story, except it’s more like spy fiction. No tights, lots of espionage but still superpowers. More like Planetary than old-school WildCATs/Stormwatch…

Brian Wood’s The Massive is something I’ve been aware of since it came but never read until now. Highly enjoyable environmentalist/postapocalypse story.

I once sent my first Piracy is Liberation books to Ho Che Anderson, because I wanted some quotes from artists I admired to put on my books. One of the things he remarked was that the first few pages of Piracy book 001 reminded him of the first pages of a story he’d started working on, but then he took a long break from comics so I had to wait years to see his Godhead in print. Until now. Hopefully it won’t take as long until the second part comes out.

Another artist I sent my books to is Danijel Zezelj, who recently came out with the first part of Days of Hate, written by Ales Kot. Very promising near-future dystopia kind of story…

I’ve recently been re-reading Ann Nocenti’s Daredevil run from the 80s. I’d read most of it before but never all of it. And I also read for the first time her Typhoid Mary stories from the 90s (collected in Typhoid’s Kiss). With all the talk from internet idiots about the SJWfication of Marvel and all that bullshit, it was refreshing to see how much feminism she put into the Daredevil stories all that time ago.

Don’t know how much I have to say about these, but here’s a list of comics from Image that are being published now: Bitch Planet, The Wicked + The Divine, Black Hammer, Saga, Paper Girls, Lazarus, Days of Hate, Deadly Class, Death or Glory, Monstress. By wtiters such as Rick Remender, Brian K Vaughn and Marjorie Liu. Check them out.

After reading Fatale, Velvet, Kill or be Killed and some other stuff by Ed Brubaker, I decided it was time to catch up on his stuff, often in collaboration with Sean Philips: Scene of the Crime, Sleeper, Incognito and Criminal. It’s mostly crime stories, sometimes with superpowers thrown in. All very well-written and engaging.

Wonder Woman Earth One vol 2: Grant Morrison continues doing Wonder Woman right, almost exactly the way the film version did it wrong. Re-reading the first book made me angry again at how the film failed on so many points.

Berliac was a guest at this year’s Stockholm Inernational Comics festival, where I got his Sadboi, a story dealing with alienation, migration, the art world and criminality, which it mixes together into something that was much more interesting than I expected. Not that my expectations were low, it was more that I didn’t know anything about it before I read it.

Some Manga: Sunny by Taiyo Matsumoto and Uzumaki by Junji Ito. I’m alway interested in Matsumoto’s stuff, and Uzumaki is an old one that I just hadn’t got around to reading. It’s much better as comics than the movie version was…

Then there’s the comics adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness by Catherine Anyango and Yvan Alagbe’s Yellow Negroes and Other Imaginary Creatures, both dealing with the relationship between Europe and Africa but in completely different ways.

Only read two books without pictures this year: Killing Gravity by Corey J White, a pretty short sci fi story, reminiscent of Firefly, for lack of better descriptions… And then there was De kommer att drunkna i sina mödrars tårar (The will drown in their mothers’ tears) by Johannes Anyuru. Swedish sci fi, a time travel story that fit very well into the Swedish political narrative leading up to the AltCom festival (and also the election).

—GAMES—

What a year it has been for the PS4!

God of War was a great reinvention of the series and an interesting development with the theme of fatherhood/regret. Amazing in its combat system and how it seemlessly goes from gameplay to cut scene to gameplay throughout the whole story.

Spider-man captures much of the feeling from the comics (which I admittedly haven’t really followed since the early 90s) and also does a great job with the web-slinging.

Detroit Become Human: another interesting game from Quantic Dreams (my favorite along with Beyond Two Souls). Three characters in a web of multiple choice-based timelines. You play as a cop, a household slave and a revolutionary, all thre of which are androids who gain self-awareness.

I’ve been catching up on Metal Gear Solid. Watched walkthoughs of 1-2, played 3, Peace walker and Ground Zeroes. Now I’m just waiting to get the time to get into The Phantom Pain. I really like this series and am excited about the upcoming Death Stranding to see what Hideo Kojima will do when he’s completely free since leaving Konami. He’s always been on the forefront of pushing the envelope of video games and Death Stranding doesn’t seem to be an exception to that.

Call of Cthulhu: not a massive game, but a nice adaptation of the old role-playing game that was one of the very best back in my table-top RPG days. Caught the Lovecraft feeling quite well and I even played through it twice…

I also enjoyed Vampyr, even if I’m probably not going to go back to it anytime soon. And Shadow of the Tomb Raider was a bit of a disappointment, though I did manage to finish it anyway.

Yup, sometimes it’s easier to play if the screen is turned over on its side…

And I’m still ranked 16 in the world at Eptatron (Android, not PS4), which is kind of cool…

Lately it’s been mostly Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, after finishing Assassin’s Creed: Origins. While I like both of them, Odyssey somehow manages to be more or less the same but also a much better game. Probably because they handle the story elements better…

Oh! I also got my hands on enough Rage cards (the Werewolf the Apocalypse collectible card game) for at least 2-3 players. It was the best of the collectible card games we played back in the days (mid-90s) and it’s still quite enjoyable.

—TV—

Not a lot of new discoveries this year. These are the ones I have something to say about.

South Park: From school shootings to the return of the Man-bear-pig, South Park stays relevant. The last few seasons have been great.

Doctor Who: Sure, the Doctor’s personality has changed a bit, from “I am the oncoming storm” and “I’m The Doctor and you’re in the biggest library in the Universe. Look me up” to a more modest approach. Which could make sense as simply an evolution of the character, I mean she is recently regenerated and (as far as I can tell) hasn’t really travelled on her own between episodes. I just hope it isn’t a change that has to do with the gender thing and that she will grow in future episodes. Both the stories and Jodie Whitaker feel very Doctor Who otherwise so I’m enjoying it…

Castlevania: Second season came out [on Netflix], and if you didn’t watch the first one, now is a good time to see both in one sitting. It feels more Warren Ellis now. Has been deservedly extended for a third season.

Speaking of Netflix… I don’t know why they seem to be cancelling all the Marvel Netflix series. I can understand it with Iron Fist, but Luke Cage and Daredevil? Hopefully it doesn’t mean the end for them, whatever happens.

And even though the Marvel Netflix series are great (except Iron Fist), Legion is still going strong as the best Marvel TV series.

Speaking of Marvel…

—FILMS—

I’m not going to talk too much about the MCU movies. They keep not disappointing me but at the same time they’re a little bit like a high-budget TV series. I look forward to the next part and I do think they’ve made something remarkable with their shared universe storytelling (Marvel succeds almost as much as DC continues to fail with their movies). But they mostly don’t manage to reach that greatness that really great films can do. The best Marvel films are probably Deadpool and Logan, though Logan could actually do with a lot more gore which I think it would have needed. And both of those are outside of the MCU.

So here are a few I enjoyed that had something special on their own:

Mayhem: Maybe not the best in the list, but it has something…

The shape of water: Nice, semi-Lovecraftian, probably the most Guillermo del Toro film of all the Guillermo del Toro films in a long time.

The girl with all the gifts: The Last Of Us – the movie, or at least the closest thing I’ve seen. But with its own sense and sensibilities.

Three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri: Oscar winners don’t always impress me, but I really liked this one.

You were never really here and A quiet place: Both low-tempo genre-ish (assassnin/alien invasion) movies.

Mandy: I think I watched this in exactly the right mindset. It hit the spot.

And finally, Baywatch. I was a bit of a sceptic at first, but I was in the right mood and after the first few minutes of over-the-top life-guarding I couldn’t help myself but like it.

Sooo. That was 2018. Now to figure out what to do about 2019…

2017

January 6, 2018

I recently made a post about 2018 and the increasing fictionalization of the world.
Here’s the prequel, the story of some of the fiction I’ve been living in during the past year.

First, a list of things I’ve done or been part of publishing, and links to where to buy them:

En Andra Chans (Tusen Serier) by me and Shko Askari. A bilingual story, or rather a mix of several stories, intertwined and read in different directions to create a complex story in Swedish and Arabic.

CBAvol36|37: In the pits of madness (CBK) with me as main editor and stories from some great artists from Greece and Italy. This is more or less the ultimate volume of CBA for me, probably the one that’s most aligned with my personal taste so far.

I also had a few stories in Alkom’x #9 (NEIN) from Alkbazz/Le Garage L.

There may have been more that I’ve forgotten (like perhaps some book cover or noise video backdrop), but it actually has been quite a slow year creation-wise for me. Though I should also mention that I’m part of the Dubbelmoral v2.0 group exhibition from Tusen Serier that’s still going on until next week at Hybriden.

But enough about me. There’s so much else to be interested in. Feel free to take everything mentioned in this blog post as recommended reading/playing/watching, because it’s all great!

PS4:
There are games that you really fall for because they’re beautiful or engaging or just great stories or gaming experiences, like the Uncharted series or the new generation of Tomb Raider games, or RiME for that matter. As you can see from this list, I’ve ben catching up on a lot of games this year.

Mafia III

Then there are the game worlds that really drew me in. I’m not saying that these are better than the other ones I’m mentioning, but I have special feelings for them. When I start playing them there’s a certain anticipation, maybe because they are open worlds where you really feel that you are going away for a while to spend some time in another place. Like Mafia III, Horizon Zero Dawn and, to some extent, Bloodborne (which I recently started and haven’t gotten that far into).

Horizon Zero Dawn

Bloodborne

There are also the simpler experiences, more reminiscent of the old platformers from my youth but updated with stunning graphics and intriguing stories in all their simple complexities, like Inside, Little Nightmares, Limbo, Black the Fall, Unravel and the remake of my childhood classic Shadow of the Beast.

Shadow of the Beast

And there are some games that deserve a special mention: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, with its soundscape, intense fight scenes and psychological ambitions, Journey, with its non-story story of travelling through magic landscapes and The Last of Us which is another classic that I hadn’t played until now and which surprised me with its depths of emotion and suspense.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Also Bound, which was kind of simple but worked great in VR, as did Superhot.

I also played Wolfenstein: the new order in preparation for Wolfenstein II: the new colossus which I didn’t get around to yet. FPS aren’t normally my thing, but I’m making an exception for these. Speaking of games for letting off steam, Danger Zone was a nice find for some healthy demolition fun.

RiME

I could go on but I have other things to talk about…

TV:
I don’t have a TV, but still manage to follow some TV series. Here are some of the most noteworthy new discoveries and steady classics (I think I’ll just namedrop some stuff here that you’ve probably already seen or heard of, other wise check them out):
South Park | Rick & Morty | Preacher | Defenders | Punisher | The Gifted (Little-talked-about X-men spin-off that’s actually really good) | Legion (More talked-about X-men spin-off that’s even better) | Doctor Who | Twin Peaks (of course) | Orphan Black | Agents of SHIELD | Runaways | Archer | Killjoys | The OrvilleStar Trek: Discovery | Black Mirror | Show Pieces (mini series written by Alan Moore some years back that I just discovered)

FILMS:
Some films that stood out from the background noise of MCU (that I do enjoy) and… Is there anything else in the background noise anymore? Not necessarily released, but watched, in 2017:
Nobi/Fires on the plain (finally managed to see Tsukamoto’s new one, 3 years after it was first released) | Why don’t you play in Hell (one of those that make me want to watch everything by Sion Sono because they are such a delight) | Arrival (but how come they didn’t try to show them pictures?) | Get Out | Dope | Locke | Colossal.
I also caught up on some of Akira Kurosawa‘s old samurai movies, but though I liked most of them, none managed to reach the heights of Masaki Kobayashi at his best (ok, I’ve only sen two of his, but still)…

COMICS:
Some of these are one-shots, but most are stories that I’m following regularly as the collections are released, a few are old ones that I didn’t read until now:
Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash (Dave McKean) | Enhistoria (Unastoria by Gipi) | Fatale | Kill or be Killed | The Fade Out | Jessica Jones | Low | The Wicked + the Divine | Monstress | Bitch Planet | Lazarus | Saga | Injection | Trees | Deadly Class | Velvet | Starve | Jupiter’s Circle & Jupiter’s Legacy | New Lone Wolf and Cub | Seven to Eternity | Trigrammaton | Mellom Planeter | Osynliga händer | Pop Gun War 2 | Conditioner | Paper Girls | Civil War II | Inhumans vs X-men | Action Comics (new 52) | Wonder Woman: Earth One | Multiversity | All-new Wolverine | Miracleman | Frostbite | Tract | and I’m just now re-reading Claremont’s Sovereign Seven from the mid-90s.

BOOKS:
I’ve read more books (you know, the kind without pictures in them) in 2017 than I’ve managed to do in 20 years…
Kallskänken by Jenny Wrangborg | Normal by Warren Ellis | The Blizzard by Vladimir Sorokin | Consumed by David Cronenberg | Vurt by Jeff Noon (and I really wish I could find the sequels, Pollen and Automated Alice, but it seems hard…)

So I guess that’s it. The whole long list of things, worlds and entertainment worth indulging in last year. Kind of wondering how all of that could fit into one year…

So I came back from CRACK! a couple days ago and tomorrow is the first day with no meeting or things I have to do, so I will set the phone to silent and stay away from any other means of contact with the outside world.

Maybe spend the day in New Bordeaux or in space or the future.

But before I go into my 24h hibernation, here are some things from recent times that you may find interesting:

New books:

En Andra Chans (Tusen Serier) was written by me and drawn by Shko Askari. It’s written in Swedish & Arabic and consists of two interconnected stories, read in different directions, that meet in the middle. About war, racism, integrity and migration.
You can order it here.

CBA vol 36|37 (CBK) was edited by me, with stories by Akab, Spyros Verykios, Elena Guidolin and Serena Schinaia, with a cover by Radovan Popovic. I’m very happy with this latest volume of the international art comics anthology. This one is all in English.
You can order it here. Here’s another pic of the cover, this one modified during CRACK!:

Speaking of CRACK!… One of the things that happened there was a gig with Noise Against Fascism, for which I made this backdrop (which turned into a kind of cape during the gig):

And while I’m writing this I’m answering Facebook comments on this text. Some people seem to be unable to think outside the boundaries of the law, even if the law is immoral, which is kind of worrying. Others seem to have problems with texts longer than a tweet, so here’s a short summary:

When I grew up, in the 1980s/90s in a small town in Sweden, anything out of the “normal” was weird and something to stay away from (reading comics/listening to techno/being gay/being born somewhere else/watching foreign movies/being female etc).
Parallel to this, it was hard for immigrants to get asylum here (and it’s worse now, no matter what right-wing propaganda you hear). And anarchism was unheard of as a viable ideology. The mainstream ruled.
It’s all connected so what we do in CBK/CBA is antiracist by providing a printed space for what isn’t seen as normal.

Of course, it’s more elaborate in the blog post, so maybe read that…

Here’s an excerpt, which I think may be the most controversial part:

Once, a bunch of years ago, I was with a large group of people outside the refugee detention centre in Malmö. We were there to stop a deportation of a man from… I don’t even remember from where. The police came to get him. We stood in the way, blocking all entrances. After a while, the cops said: “All right, now you’ve made your statement. You’ve expressed your opinion. Now stand aside and let us do our job”. That hit me on a deep level. We were there to save someone’s life, and they thought we just wanted to express out opinion and then things could go back to repressive normality. Of course we didn’t move. We stayed there all day, hungry, getting burned by the sun, until the guy managed to break a window from the outside and get out. Within minutes he was in a car being driven away from there, to a life in hiding. Maybe eight months later, he got his permit of residency, proving us right.

People here seem to think that opinions is something everyone can have, as long as they don’t interfere with reality. Conversely, they also see them as something harmless, which is why we’re supposed to be so lenient towards racism. Because it’s just an opinion, which anyone is entitled to, and it has nothing to do with real life (and, incidentally, they won’t hurt you as long as you belong to the white mainstream (but who worth considering isn’t white mainstream?)). Except it does. Anything that today is ‘just an opinion’, may tomorrow be the new mainstream, with real-life consequences.

In other news… A while ago I made this book cover for Malvarma Bufedo (SLEA) the Esperanto version of Jenny Wrangborg‘s Kallskänken. Got my copies of the book the other day (and you can (soon anyway) order it here):

Also, if you drop by Hybriden these days (it’ll probably be closed but if you’re lucky or look through the window), you can see the Berättelser från Yunnan (Tusen Serier) exhibition by Emei Burell. Or you can order the book here.

And you will also see our banner in support of the XM24 squat in Bologna:

I’ll finish this off with two pages from Transgressions (Wormgod) that I think illustrate part of the point I wanted to make in that CBK blog post (click for bigger version):

You can, of course, order it here

I don’t want to dream

April 26, 2017

Here’s something you should go see at Hybriden if you’re in Malmö between May 5-25 (read more about it here):


And if you feel the need for some new books to read, here are a few tips:
CBA vol 36|37: IN THE PITS OF MADNESS
Berättelser om Yunnan by Emei Burell
En Andra Chans by me & Shko Askari