2019 pt4/3: entertainment culture as escape culture: Watching

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!

2019 pt3/3: entertainment culture as escape culture: Reading

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…

2019 pt2/3: collectives

First, here’s a reminder that our big winter sale is still going on at Hybriden, where you can get lots of my stuff really cheap until Jan 1.

Fanzineverkstaden is still going strong. Lots of workshops, members using it for their own self-publishing (you can do it too), lots of administration, planning, meetings, day-to-day work and an ongoing exhibition at Hybriden which will soon be updated with some new stuff.

Managed to squeeze in some time to actually use the equipment myself a few times, as you can see in my last post.

 

Tusen Serier is still in a low-activity period if you don’t count Fanzineverkstaden. Mostly trying to get by, gearing up for some new projects in the future. But we managed to have an exhibition at the Gothenburg City Library in November, and some other stuff. No new books, though, which I know is what we all really want. But we have a few coming up as soon as we find some money for it, and we have a few exciting international exhibitions in the winter/spring of 2020 that we just got funding for. More on that in the post about the future, coming soon.

CBK is an interesting animal. It makes me tired because I can’t give it as much attention as I think it deserves. At the same time, I’m immensely proud of, and excited about, the upcoming CBA vol 47: Science / Fiction. It’s the last volume of 2019 but will be officially released in January.

I’m the main editor, probably for the last time, and it’s a mix of some returning classic CBA creators, along with some we haven’t published before. All great art, interesting stories etc.

More on this in a separate post, coming soon, but you read more about it and pre-order it here.

I also had some comics published in vol 44 and 46 and drew part of the cover for vol 45.

And we did some exhibitions: Lore, Qtopia and Deep.

Wormgod published one book this year, but it has some great stuff in it. After the ends of the world 2 is a stand-alone follow-up to the first book of the same name. This time, Susanne Johansson made 3 stories about women who were brutally murdered. She wanted to focus on the victims, try to imagine how they ended up where they did, what they might have been thinking. Gruesome stuff, but everything can’t be shallow and well-behaved all the time. This is also a big inspiration for her music as TRAUMA COMMAND.

My stuff in the book is a bit more up-beat. One-image short stories about the different ways the world might end, told from a future perspective after it’s too late. Like I said; up-beat. Because you can read them and remember that it’s not too late yet, as long as we get our shit together. So good luck, us! yaay.

There’s a magnificent soundtrack by SYSTEMET, NIMAM SPREGLEDA, FACTORY FARMING, TRAUMA COMMAND, FEBERDRÖM, KOEFF. If any of these names ring a noisy bell, you’ll have some idea of what to expect.

I also included my time machine story: Why you (maybe) shouldn’t kill Hitler. That’s also a fun story.

You’ve seen some of mine before, so here’s one of Suss‘ pages:

You can order it here.

Speaking of Wormgod and SYSTEMET, we were interviewd in COdA #15. Check it out!

No AltCom this year. No AltCom next year. AltCom the year after that. You’ll see.

I made a map of the whole Hybriden complex, which is where most of my life has taken place creatively for as long as I can remember. Because burn-out affects your memory, haha.

But I’ve also managed to have some time to play/read/watch stuff, as you’ll see in pt3 of my 2019 story. Coming right up…

2019 pt 1/3: personal works

Here’s my usual attempt to figure out what I’ve been doing this past year. Let’s start with my personal works. Is it less than usual? Feels like it should be, considering I’ve been working (almost) full time this year with Fanzineverkstaden. Somehow I seem to have still managed to do some stuff.

My processes differ a bit between working digitally and on paper. Here’s how it goes:

On paper:
I have something that needs drawing. I take out my tools, I sit down at the drawing table and draw the thing. When it’s good, I like the flow of it, the feel of steel nib on non-glossy paper, the random splotches of ink that can enhance or ruin (ruin, as in I have to do some postproduction in the compouter, which I always do anyway. However, there’s usually big risk that I stumble on the starting line and never even take out my tools, even less sit down at the table.

Digital:
I reach for the pad and start drawing. I miss the feel of pen on paper and the ability to see the whole page since I often zoom in while drawing. But it’s soo much easier to just get started, and so I’m more productive this way.
It’s a dilemma.

That said, this year I’ve worked almost exclusively in digital form, with the exception of some linocut and silkscreen prints.

Some of these were made for the CBK: LORE exhibition, and were also used for my only proper book project this year, After the Ends of the World 2, which I did with Susanne Johansson, my partner in Wormgod:

 

Order it here.

I know I’ve posted this one before, so if you’ve seen it you can just scroll past it. Posting it here again because it was included in Asylkalendern 2019, this year published by Asylgruppen Malmö:

Buy it to support them and the immensely important work they do.

I thought the theme of genocide and how we deal with some of them in our history would work well for the occasion.

Linocut and silkscreen, made at Fanzineverkstaden:

I’ve also made a couple of zines this year.

Hungr I made half asleep at the pre-party for Seriefest 2019:

Encounter in the Woods I’ve written about earlier. It feels good to finally have something from that project in print, and in exhibition form:

Sleep Paralysis, a cooperation with Kinga Dukaj, a remaster of the comic we made for CBA vol 47 (more on that in a later post). She had a dream that I put into writing and embellished a bit, using one of her photo manipulations to turn it into a visually abstract comic. I’m really happy with it, especially how it looks which I didn’t even make myself. It’s always nice to work with great art (which brings me back to the upcoming post about CBA vol 47, but more on that later as i said).


I’ll end this post with one of the year’s last projects, which was a cassette tape cover I made for a split by Noise Against Fascism and Legion of Swine. It’ll be released January 9 in Copenhagen and in Malmö the day after. Only in 17 copies though, so it’ll be very exclusive…

 

2018 is over…

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

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…

Death to 2016…

2016 ends and it’s time for a summation. I could comment on the new migration laws, on the ongoing/invigorated persecution of undocumented as well as beggars, the seeming rise of general stupidity, the steady decline of hope as species are going extinct at a rate we haven’t seen since the last ice age, various mad-people in power, abuses perpetrated by various states etc etc (I could also talk about celebrity deaths but why?). But I’m probably going to keep this personal and up-beat(?).

So here are some things I made/was involved in during the year. Mostly unpaid work as usual, which I’m getting increasingly tired of, but what are you going to do? Up-beat, was it? Right. Ok. This is me when I’m unemployed:

COMICS:
The Troll actually came out in the end of 2015, but it was still new when this year started, and it was also my only solo book, so I still feel that it counts.
I had some other plans for upcoming solo books, but none of them have turned into reality. Yet…

wormgodbook027thetroll

Publication-wise when it comes to my own comics, this has been more of an anthology year, with some comics being published in several places:
Viral was drawn in 2015 but published this year in CBAvol30.
Medication, published in CBAvol35: BLEED, Komikaze #42 (web) and #15 (paper) and possibly Alkom’x #9
Idle hands & recreation in CBAvol34: Re: Creation and idleness  and possibly Alkom’x #9
Fragments will be in CBAvol37 and possibly Alkom’x #9
Arg Kanin om Samma gamla visa in Asylkalendern 2017.

viralv2-2 medication-1xrpt idlehands01smpl vasta-aine-2

I sent some of these stories to some other places as well so they may turn up in more places in the future…

ASSOCIATIONS:
Some big steps forward were taken for both Tusen Serier and CBK. Both associations broke some ties with the Swedish Comics Association this year, which feels nice for various reasons that shall remain untold for now. It meant that CBK left the Comics Centre in the Mazetti building where we had been since 2005. Tusen Serier also finished the last project period that was run through the Comics Association. Both of these things lead up to both groups moving together and starting our new exhibition/store/studio/library/storage space Hybriden. We officially opened in March but it definitely feels like we’ve been there for more than a year… The new space also brought a brand-new webshop with it into existence.

cbk_logo 1000logo hybriden-logo

CBK also started to get its shit together with the release of CBAvol30: A new hope, which was the first volume made/compiled completely by the new editorial crew. We also published our last graphic novel issue, CBAvol33: Repeat Offenders by Julia Scott, and 3 more anthologies.

cbavol30covercbavol32cvr cbavol33cvr cbavol34cvrcbavol35cvr

FESTIVALS:
There was of course the AltCom 2016 festival, themed WORK. In many ways it felt like it was the best AltCom so far. We managed to create our own pocket universe during those few days in the end of July.

altcom2016zombies

Also visited some other festivals/events (not as many as planned, but enough):
SIS, CRACK!, Oulu art night, Novo Doba, Örebro.

EXHIBITIONS:
Vasta-Aine was an exhibition at the Oulu Comics Centre, featuring 3 of my recent comics, Medication, Fragments and Happiness.
-I had an exhibition at the CUK Imago in Belgrade during Novo Doba, with some of my old Wormgod prints and some original paintings.
-And, also during Novo Doba, I painted a mural at the Zemun-based cultural centre Matrijaršija.
-The BLEED group exhibition at Hybriden, organized by CBK and Kinga Dukaj, was the coolest exhibition I’ve been a part of for a long while. I made three paintings for this exhibition that took place in the midst of a seriel killer’s murder scene, walls and ceiling covered with plastic sheets, blood (most of it fake) spattered everywhere, special music by Feberdröm

vasta-aine-posterfb_img_1478720950157 nuskull

matrijarsija-wall2

MORE BOOKS:
Tusen Serier released a batch of new books this year:
Fem historier om prostituerande by Amalia Alvarez
Myling by Amanda Casanellas & Yossra El Said
Mapuche by Jorge Varas Varilla
Void by Susanne Johansson (published in cooperation with Wormgod)
Cool Cykel by Tanja Komadina

prostituerande-1 mapuchecvr voidcover myling-1coolcykelcvr

THE ANGERED THING:
In November I took over from Amanda Casanellas who was there in October as the Tusen Serier residence artist at Konstepidemin in Gothenburg, a special residency that they had in cooperation with Blå Stället in Angered. During one month I could (mostly) concentrate on one thing instead of a hundred, which was probably quite healthy. I took some breaks to be at the BLEED exhibition and the Örebro festival, but still managed to draw 55 pages based on Amanda’s ideas, which were based on stories from Angered. Urban legends, folk tales, local mythology which we will work into a story to be published at some point during 2017…

screenshot_2016-11-22-01-45-2101

LIKE TEARS IN RAIN:
There were probably some more things that might be worth mentioning, some short comics, illustrations, book covers, maybe some project or other, but I simply can’t remember everything and I’m too lazy to look it up.

hdjul201601 crackland_fulbaileys strejkomslag

So I’m going to leave you with a (surprisingly long) list of stuff I’ve watched/played/read in the sessions of downtime squeezed in between all the rest. It’s not all from this year, because only idiots think that there’s no past. And yes, these are just from the top of my head, things I recommend that happened to not slip my mind:

PS3/4:
DMC | Beyond: Two Souls | Enslaved | Alice 2 | The Last Guardian (finally!) | Shadow of the Beast (worthy remake of childhood nostalgia) | Life is strange (just started but seems promising)

TV SERIES (the most noteworthy new discoveries / steady classics):
South ParkRick & MortyWestworld | Crazy Head | The OA | Orphan Black | Preacher | Daredevil | Jessica Jones | Luke Cage | Doctor Who (even if there was only one new episodes)

FILMS:
Ryuzo and the Seven Henchmen (Kitano is back!) | Sausage Party(!) | Maps to the stars | Lamerica | He never died | Extracted | Mr Six | Batman v Superman (Martha?!) | May Allah bless France | M. Butterfly | Borgman | The Lobster | High-Rise | Schizopolis | Kontroll | The Witch | Urge | Upstream Color | GhostbustersVanishing Waves (ok, I saw this in 2015, but still worth mentioning) | + of course the MCU stuff…

COMICS:
Low | The Wicked + the Divine | Supreme Blue Rose | Starve | Punk Rock Jesus | Empty Zone | Monstress | (all of) Hellblazer | Deadenders | Bitch Planet | Velvet | New Lone Wolf & Cub | Lazarus | Saga | Nameless | Injection | Caliban | Blackgas | Stormwatch (Ellis) | Animal Man (finally caught up on Morrison’s run)| Trees | Deadly Class | Miracleman | Annihilator | + caught up on the X-books up until Secret Wars

BOOKS:
Woman on the edge of time by Marge Piercy | The Dispossessed by Ursula K LeGuin

Yeah, regular books take me a long time, so 2 in one year is unusually good.

LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH:
Hope you found something interesting that you might have otherwise missed in these lists, and enjoy the last few hours of the year…

Memories of 2016…

As we have seen in The Troll. memories work both backwards and forwards in what we usually see as the linear flow of time.

thetroll-memories

They’re not always exactly corresponding to what actually happens when it actually happens, so bear that in mind when reading these recollections from the future:

SPACE

CBK and Tusen Serier will move into a new space together at Mitt Möllan. It will work as a combined exhibition space and studio, with the possibility for workshops and a store for buying our books, as well as stuff from Wormgod, Ritualen and others that are connected to CBK or Tusen Serier in some way.

BOOKS

Personally, I really really want to get started on the next Piracy is Liberation book. I also have ideas for The Troll 2, but I promised myself I would make another Piracy book first. It’s been far too long…

gdpiracy-vollogo

I wrote the script for a book that is now being drawn by Shko Askari, to be published by Tusen Serier pretty soon, I hope. I have a preliminary title for it, but I’m trying to think of a better one, so I won’t tell you what it is.

I didn’t manage to make the Transgressions 2 book last year, which would have a soundtrack by Brazilian band Anarcho Vomit Noise, but with any luck that could also happen this year.

gdtransgressionslogo

PUBLISHING

Apart from the Askari book, there are several more books planned from Tusen Serier. Here are a few of them:

Myling by Amanda Casanellas & Yossra El Said:

myling-1

Five stories about prostituters by Amalia Alvarez:

prostituerande-1

Void by Susanne Johansson (published as a collaboration between Wormgod & Tusen Serier):

voidcover

Mapuche – Jordens folk by Jorge Varilla

mapuchecvr.jpg

 

From CBK, CBA vol 30 already came from the printer but hasn’t been officially released yet, so that will happen when we get the new space up and running:

cbavol30cover

This is actually the last issue from last year, so there will be 4 more in 2016. But more on those later. We’re right now in the process of finishing the selection for vol 32, which has been a far more complicated process that expected, then there’s a graphic novel issue by Julia Scott (some time around May) and two more anthology issues before the year is over. We’re right now preparing the call for submissions for those books.

I will be the main editor of vol 37, but that’s not until 2018. No hurry…

EXHIBITIONS

The Troll exhibition is still up at the old Tusen Serier place, but it’s not really open for the public any longer…

We also have some other stuff planned for the new place, but it’s all very vague so far, so I can’t say any more about it yet…

I’ve been asked to have an exhibition at the comics centre in Oulu in August. That’s gonna be fun, especially if I’ll be able to go there to see it myself. Tommi Musturi will have an exhibition there at the same time, so that could turn out really nice.

FESTIVALS

So the AltCom festival will happen in August, after all (for a while we thought we would have no budget for it at all, but then we got some so now everything is ok). We will try to figure out the last details in the coming few months, and then there will be some kind of announcement about it.

AltCom2016promo

Not sure yet which other festivals I’m going to, but here’s a preliminary plan for the tour of 2016:

Uppsala Comix
Fumetto
SIS
CRACK!
Helsinki
Novo Doba

Maybe also Å-fest and possibly something else. It all depends on funding, mostly. Anyway, see you there, hopefully!

MORE

Oh, and did I mention that I am currently unemployed? Luckily, there should be no problem with the unemployment insurance, so it’s ok, but I will need to spend some time looking for new paid jobs. Some of the above will come with some money, but most of it is pure creativity and lack of self-preservation skills.

As you may have noticed, I didn’t include any links here, so for more information you can go to www.elftorp.com and find your way to most of what I’ve mentioned here.

Anyway. The future is coming towards us and not all of it is bright. As usual. So let’s just do our best and I’ll see you when it arrives.