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.
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…
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).
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.
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.
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…
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…