They howled for me at just the right time. I’ve been an evangelist for Brooklyn-Boston postpunk group the Beatings for several years now, as the band that distilled the anger and displacement I felt during the worst of the Bush years. Revisiting their mid-2000s discs this week the enthusiasm is unabated — but so are the wars, so is the suctioning of wealth from lowest to high, so is the whittling of constitutional freedoms. The scar’s still hot and raw, demanding a scratch.
Gerry Conway, writer: “We were just winging it, sort of like jazz riffing. And if you can think of the idiocy of trying to manage a jazz set, that’s kind of the idiocy, in my view, of trying to manage comics. Because comics, at their best, should be a jazz set.”
This was probably my favorite view of Seattle’s Emerald City Comicon 2013: Gerry Conway, who made the comics of my youth, in a concise and on-point interview with comics writer and journalist Blair Butler. The savvy interviewer and a series of esteemed creators carried on one-on-one talks (many archived for webstream) that got to the heart of their work and their business. Conway told his fair share of stories out of school, and critiqued the industry from his current outsider’s perspective. (“He’s got that Law & Order money,” one comics journalist told me in the hall, “so he can let fly.”)
There’s a moment in Terence Fisher’s The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) that seizes the eye. The film holds many small wonders of composition, but this one hides just beyond the shoulder of the actor holding the frame, and it suggests deep implications about the path Baron Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) pursues in his creation of life out of death.
This essay is a section of a book-length work in progress concerning the film, in which Frankenstein crafts his Creature with the reluctant help of his longtime tutor and friend Paul Krempe (Robert Urquhart), out of sight of his devoted but neglected fiancée Elizabeth (Hazel Court). “We’ve only just started — just opened the door,” Victor tells Paul at one point, urging their work on. “Now’s the time to go through that door, and find what lies beyond it.”
The scene in question begins about 34 minutes into the film, after Victor has horrified Paul by hinting at his plans to acquire a wise, experienced brain for his creation. Continue reading →
Somebody’s gotta keep these projects classy. DC Universe, the animated arm of the DC Comics empire, has carved out a niche by mining and exploiting classic comics storylines for direct-to-video product. How they manage that material is up for debate, but unquestionably, one of the biggest talents in their stable is composer Christopher Drake. Continue reading →
Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) represents a new element in the rebooted universe where Daniel Craig holds the James Bond role. Previously, this Bond has answered truculently to the stentorian MI6 director addressed only by the letter M (Dame Judi Dench). The appearance of Mallory, a British hero of the Troubles who’s as willing as Bond to leap into the line of fire, helps destabilize this relationship, endows Bond with a new mentor, and, by the conclusion of Skyfall (2012), reboots the reboot.
Too bad Mallory’s actually a backstabbing architect of murder in the name of democracy.
Lodged here mostly just because I want to post it: A 1994 edition of BBC’s Arena program, narrated by San Francisco comic and performer Greg Proops. With Terry Gilliam, Thomas M. Disch, Brian Aldiss, Elvis Costello, and an intimidating video camera.
"Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race."
— James Joyce
"Say, any of you boys smithies? Or, if not smithies per se, were you otherwise trained in the metallurgic arts before straitened circumstances forced you into a life of aimless wanderin'?"
— Ulysses Everett McGill