What I thought of The Walking Dead

After 16 years, 193 issues (And various specials) Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead (drawn for the majority of the run by Charlie Adlard, the person you’d least have expected in the 90s to have become one of the major, and richest, people in comics) is over as a comic.

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KIrkman has been saying for some time that he has an end in place, but the feeling is he was after Dave Sim’s record of publishing 300 issues of Cerebus, though 193 issues for an independent comic is pretty good going for something which in 2003 was a risk, and anyhow, Aircel had already published a comic called The Walking Dead in the late 80s and it barely set things on fire. However Kirkman and Image were publishing this one at the start of the zombie revival of the early 21st century. It came at the right time and found an audience quickly as the zombie bubble expanded to the point where it became an amazingly popular TV series in 2010.

The comic still drove the TV series but by 2010 the comic was hitting a certain pattern; Rick and his crew would find somewhere safe. It’d be full of crazies or/and cannibals. Rick and crew would fight them. For the first 100 or so issues KIrkman tells a tale of survival horror intermingled with soap opera elements but on the whole the comic pushes forward with a relentless tale of survival and how one deals with their humanity, or lack of, in such a situation.

Then issue 100 happens. Glenn is brutally murdered by Negan, the latest  badguy protagonist  who although less comic booky than The Governor (whose TV version was much better than the comic) and like many villains becomes a fan favourite.

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Negan is a great character but the problem is once Negan is defeated, Kirkman keeps him around and although the scenes between Negan and Rick act as two philosophical viewpoints however we’re then into fighting the Whisperers, and onwards to the point where the comic seems to be building to another quiet phase.

And then it ended.

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I applaud Kirkman, Adlard and Image for ending this now. It isn’t an ending that closes things off as Kirkman smartly leaves it open just in case there’s a massive tax bill in the future.

Instead of years and years of following the same cycle we have an ending, and it works well. As a run, The Walking Dead never really captured the quality of the first decade but to maintain that level of quality for so long is an admirable task beaten only by Kirby and Lee’s run on the Fantastic Four.

The Walking Dead changed modern comics, saved Image Comics (who were floundering at the time in 2003), made rich men of the creators and has been at the front of the current ‘Geek’ bubble for nearly a decade. Kirkman continues to make comics as well as count his money, but nothing he’s done will ever match what he’s done with The Walking Dead.

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Rutger Hauer RIP

utger Hauer has died at the age of 75 and it’s a damned pity. Hauer in another reality would be laden with Oscars, BAFTA’s and be lauded as one of the greatest actors, and leading men of his generation. Instead he forged a solid career but never got the acclaim, or often the roles, he deserved.

Like most people outwith of The Netherlands, I first saw Hauer in Blade Runner and was blown away by him and one scene in particular.

It was when I was older that I discovered his earlier work with Paul Verhoeven, with Turkish Delight

And the still extraordinary Soldier of Orange. Apart from Blade Runner this is the best film he ever made and contains this amazing scene of Nazi homoeroticism.

Then there’s the glorious joy of Ladyhawke

And the barking mad insanity of Flesh and Blood.

The ceeeping dread of The Hitcher. His opening scene is just fucking scary as anything.

The Legend of the Holy Drinker should have cemented his reputation as a true great of acting.

But instead genre fare came his way with the 1990’s being somewhat of a barren wasteland creatively, unless you count his mysterious Guinness ads from the time as a high, which compared to some of the crap he was in, they certainly were.

And yes, I’ll admit these ads shaped my dress sense for the late 80’s with lots of collarless shirts and long black coats.

In 2005 a couple of cameos in big Hollywood films came coming with Sin City and Batman Begins. These should have kick started a revival but sadly no, and Hauer stayed working constantly with his last role of real note being the title character of Hobo With A Shotgun.

Hauer leaves behind a huge CV. Most of it isn’t worth paying attention to but dear god, some of the highlights shine and there’s so many highlights. He’ll be missed for what he did and what he could have done as well.

Apocalypse Now

This..creature, is now the UK’s Prime Minister at the start (if you think the last three years have been bad you ain’t seen nothing yet) of the worst peacetime crisis in UK history.

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Of course the Germans have him nailed.

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In short; we’re fucked. There is no way out. The Tory Party are closing ranks much to the pain of middle class liberals who thought Rory Stewart would lead a revolt, and Johnson will make any deal he can with Nigel Farage’s lot of dangerous arseholes (I fully expect Farage in government within the year) to keep Labour (who are more interested in some fucked up campaign of political purity anyhow) and other opposition parties out. An election will be held an barring some miracle, Boris Johnson will keep his job.

We’re fucked. Really fucked and we’re not even at rock bottom yet.

50 years of a man on the Moon

50 years ago Neil Armstrong and Buzz Adrin walked on the Moon making them the first human beings to ever set foot on a body other than the Earth. Since the end of the Apollo programme there’s been occasional teases that maybe we’ll go back and beyond but til now humanity has been having to deal with the fact manned space travel is not a politically popular thing due to the cost. But with private companies moving in, not to mention a genuine international move towards working together to push us off Earth to the Moon it looks as if this time we may actually go back.

As I grew up in the wake of the landing and pushed on by things like Booke Bond’s Race into Space card set as well as science fiction made me think that by the time I turned into a teenager in the 80’s that we’d have bases on the Moon, maybe Mars, and pushing into the solar system. We didn’t.

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So here we are looking back at what three men (Mike Collins being the man who went to the Moon but never set foot on it) and tens of thousands of scientists, astronomers, engineers, and just about every profession you can imagine did to  put man on the Moon.

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One major memory of my childhood wasn’t the landing itself as I was too young, though I do remember some other landings. No, it was 1979’s The Space Movie which I adored.

We now have YouTube and the enormous resource that it has become so we get access to glorious documentaries like this.

Or the great James Burke presenting this tenth anniversary programme.

Life and history changed then. We should have become an outward, space-faring race that cared for its home planet instead of what we did become however there’s a spark of hope with the genuine joy and awe of this 50th anniversary.

I won’t be alive by the 100th anniversary but I hope humanity looks back at this one as a turning point as we reached to the Moon and beyond.

The second greatest thing Buzz Aldrin has ever done.

Buzz Adrin is rightfully famous for being the second person to step foot on the Moon. For years though he’s had to suffer various conspiracy wankers trying to deny him, and indeed humanity, the nature of his feat.

With the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing coming, here’s a reminder of the second greatest thing Buzz ever did. Confronted by yet another Moon landing denier he acts like most of us would act if we’d had most of our lives dealing with these type of people.

Good on you Buzz!

Remember when San Diego Comic Con was about comics?

 

This year and 2020 sees a load of significant 50th anniversaries with next year being the 50th anniversary of San Diego Comic Con which started with a bunch of fans getting to gether with a shared love of comics. Today, I’ll bet you there’s people going this week who give a total of zero fucks about comics, the medium or what it can do. For these people the con is about cosplay, buying toys or meeting XXXX from whatever TV/film they like.

Things change of course and the thrust of late capitalism absorbs all but it seems a shame that in all that will come over the next five days, very little reported in the mainstream will be not about comics. But at one point it was all comics as far as you can see. Well, not quite, as it had a crossover with films but it was still rooted in comics.

Look at these back issues!

EC Comics sitting in piles. Carl Barks Disney comics going for $150. Oh for a time machine.

Oh so many comics!

By the 90’s things were diversifying but the core was still comics.

Also, ‘Green Jello’ in that last clip sounds awfully like a foetal Gorillaz.

This aside I’d still love to go as it, like Glastonbury, is one of these Meccas which fans will always hold in a special place but for one year I’d like to see more talk about comics and how the medium beats anything Hollywood can come up with, or is able to come up with but the money lies in film and TV hence they’ll always get the headlines.

Shame. I’d still like the first headline coming out the show to be ‘man buys mint copy of Fantastic Four #50’.

The state of British politics

Watching the Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt debate on Sky it strikes me how utterly and totally fucked we are, and by ‘we’ I mean those of us who aren’t political zealots, careerists, white supremacists, disaster capitalist/socialists, antisemites, Islamophobes or just generally arseholes.

By the end of this month Boris Johnson will be Prime Minister. A man totally out of his depth and unable to do anything that isn’t for his benefit, or the benefit of those who he’s in the pocket of like Steve Bannon and Donald Trump. Meanwhile the Conservative Party will hope Johnson provides the aid they need against Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party who are soaking up support mainly from the Tories and anyhow, Johnson will do a deal with Farage to ensure the Tories remain in power and Farage gets that top job he’s been after for decades.

Good thing we’ve got an effective official opposition then! Oh wait, we don’t. Labour aren’tfit for purpose trapped in an antisemitism scandal that could have been stopped by chucking out some of the SWP types who’ve got back in the party years ago, but they’re now trapped. Anyhow, the leadership and a chunk of Corbyn followers are more interested in political purity than power or any actual concern for people who’ll be fucked over by Brexit.

Hey, there’s the Lib Dems! Well, no. The party has fine remain credentials but otherwise is a swamp of what Thatcher used to call ‘wets’, which basically means the likes of Jo Swinson (potential leader) is happy supporting things like the bedroom tax and imposing austerity upon people because she doesn’t give a fuck about the poor.

Here in Scotland there’s the SNP who have discovered the art of saying much and doing little to progress the fight for a second independence referendum beyond vague rhetoric. The suspicion is that many in the middle and higher reaches of the party are happy with the power and influence they have, and knowing fine well the only way we’re getting independence is via the SNP, are happy stringing things along. After all as soon as we’re independent the political landscape is literally up for grabs and people like their advisor jobs or seats in Holyrood or Westminster or having the ear of Nicola Sturgeon.

Then there’s the Greens, but they’re clogged in identity politics  (which to be fair, the SNP and Labour are too) while seeming happy to sit in the SNP’s slipstream.

With a no deal Brexit coming on Halloween, we seem to be stuck with a mess and nobody with the spine to make a break for sanity. Because we are leaving and it will be with no deal. Johnson’s career hinges on it and he won’t let his career fail even if it means a recession to make 2009’s seem like a blip, plus with the Labour leadership convinced their form of Brexit will be better (kind of like saying AIDS is better than cancer) we really are in a state.

But hey, the sun’s out for now.