How will Brexit affect the comics industry in the UK?

As it stands, Boris Johnson will be leading the UK out the EU on Halloween, which is going to affect a load of industries, as well as every single one of us living in the UK. How it’ll affect comics is not something that’s headline news but it will be affected, and it will be something many dealers, con organisers and assorted parts of the industry will not be prepared for.

The most obvious affect is the state of the pound which right now is £1.00 gets you $1.21. It is basically, fucked for an industry which is reliant upon US imports so dealers will put up prices, which means people will cut back which means less money (and less sold books) in the market. A $3.99 import will have to sell around £3.6-80 to make any money, and believe me, the profit margin on new imports is thin as fuckity anyhow so a lot of dealers are going to work hard to make the business work. The likes of Forbidden Planet will be ok, but smaller dealers could well go bust.

But that isn’t the worst of it. Right now the entire scene is in an over-inflated bubble thanks to ‘geek’ culture, the Marvel films and the fact more people than before are interested in comics, or at least the characters. That bubble has been growing since 2008 and is due to pop so if you’re a comics dealer you may survive as there’s always going to be collectors, but we’re in new ground in regards much of the ancillary industries like cosplayers, artists, or pretty much any of the oddities that now populates the modern comic convention. Bluntly put, if you offer a shit product and you’ve been skimming by on the seat of your pants now, just wait til people choose between eating and whatever you offer them. I’ve been through at least three recessions as a dealer/publisher and there are always casualties even with businesses run well, but this recession promises to hurt and badly.  I made a deliberate choice to scale back the one day events in the last half of the year so I could concentrate on larger events or the really good one day shows because all the signs are there for the bubble bursting.

For con organisers this isn’t good. The less traders there are, the less money coming in. It then becomes hard to put on a show that isn’t a glorified mart with a few bleak looking cosplayers and someone selling bubble gum flavoured Deadpool shaped chews. The actual realities of Brexit means it will be harder and more expensive to ship in guests from Europe and America, assuming guests see the UK as an attractive place to come to.

It isn’t all bad. Bubbles need to pop to clear out the chaff but this will be more than that as the UK isolates itself from the world because some racist pricks heard Polish spoken on the bus once. This will be hard, and you’ll need to think hard what you want to do to survive and yet again, my only real hope is that Scotland becomes independent because otherwise I can see things being awful for years.

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The UK is utterly fucked.

A kakistocracy according to Wikipedia means…

A kakistocracy is a system of government that is run by the worst, least qualified, and/or most unscrupulous citizens

Yeah, that pretty much sums up where we are today. This week has shown how fucked we are, which isn’t to say we weren’t warned. We were warned by people three years ago that the EU referendum would end is carnage as the government would be faced by whatever deal the EU would give us thanks to the red lines of the UK, or walking away with no deal. Of course, the Brexiters (and Lexiters because they’re also sharing responsibility for this)  lied about a ‘Norway type deal‘ they had no intention of pushing for if the referendum had been won.

No, the referendum was forged on blood and soil nationalism mainly by the right, and the left leavers who in the end provided the thin majority Leave had. Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Michael Gove and all the other bastards drooling right now about getting the supreme power no government should have are in a good mood because they’re weeks away from getting what they want, and what comes after that will be a living hell for many of us.

True, opposition parties did finally get together this week only to be outplayed by Boris Johnson proroguing parliament to force through Brexit without any debate, which again, was on the cards according to many months before Johnson became PM. It is a massive gamble, but we know that the last time Johnson was involved in a massive gamble, he won. However had Jeremy Corbyn not been clearly pushing for Brexit for years before realising where it would actually lead (and he still clearly thinks it to be a good idea, just not done by the Tories)  under Johnson, and Jo Swinson not acted like head girl and demanded everything, we might have had some unity when other opposition parties have been struggling to unite the opposition against Brexit.

And there’s also the point that every single MP that voted for invoking Article 50 knew no deal was the default, as well as they knew the UK’s red lines were impossible for the EU to budge on and that we’d end up with a real chance of leaving with no deal. Every one of those MP’s are responsible in part for where we are but the main culprits are those behind the leave campaign who are benefiting from this. We know the referendum was corrupt and we know the UK’s electoral commission is an absolute bag of shite just as we should know by now the UK’s democratic systems aren’t fit for purpose in the 21st century. Leavers knew that, hence why they’re winning and we’re still making twee signs to wave at demonstrations in the hope the Guardian prints the picture.

Fuck that. The time for niceness is over. We have unfit people running the UK leading us into a very British form of fascism based upon nostolgia of a time, and of a people, that never existed. I’ve mentioned Umberto Eco’s essay, Ur-Fascism before  but now if you read it, and tick off Eco’s 14 signs of fascism, the UK ticks every single one. This is where we are.

It will get worse. Johnson isn’t a final destination. He’s more of a Moses figure to bring what comes next because we know Johnson fails often, and that his allies now will happily cricify him when needed. Nigel Farage talks of a forthcoming Tory/Brexit Party alliance, which of course would place Farage in a safe seat, then a place at the cabinet table. Where do you think we’ll go when the UK government is effectively a UKIP government having its strings pulled by disaster capitalists and the likes of Putin and Trump?

Which is why the time for polite protest is over. Fucking fight. Take to the streets. Shut stuff down. Make it uncomfortable for those in power. Don’t go into the night quietly because we know where this sort of thing leads and right now, where we end up will be something many of us won’t survive.

Scottish independence is coming, slowly…

For a while now supporters of Scottish independence have been a tad frustrated with the lack of any progress during the increasingly chaotic, not to mention insane, period that is Brexit and all the frothingly mad xenophobic English/British nationalism which comes with it.

Well at last there’s some movement with Nicola Sturgeon making it clear the mandate her party & the Scottish Parliament has for a second referendum will be used in the lifetime of this parliament, so by 2021. For some that’s waaaay too vague a timeline, but for a vote to be held we need to know what the status quo of the UK is. Right now that’s a choice between a deeply racist and xenophobic Brexit favouring disaster capitalists favoured by the likes of Rees-Mogg and Farage, not to mention Theresa May and most Tories, or a slightly less racist but still xenophobic Brexit favoured by disaster socialists like Jeremy Corbyn or George Galloway. Both offer Scotland nothing, and both involve closing Scotland off from Europe and the planet as both plans are structured round accepting the referendum result, racism and all, rather than fighting against what was only an advisory referendum.

There’s a lot which also needs to happen. Neither a Tory or Labour government are going to grant a Section 30 order (essentially transferring power to Holyrood making the referendum legal and binding) easily if at all, and the full force of the British establishment will rain down upon Scotland as it did in 2014. But make no mistake, win this and Scotland can make all its own successes and failures without clinging onto the coattails of the British state. Lose it, and Scotland faces a generation at least denied any sort of respite because it’ll be punished and asset stripped to pay for the failed promises of Brexit and for being pro-EU/immigrant. We can argue about what type of independent nation we can be once we win the ability to make that decision, plus we’ve also got to remember we’re not in a fair fight so some on the harder left of the movement need to realise this.

So sign the official petition. Show support. Vote for pro-indy parties in the EU elections, so that’s the SNP, Greens and SSP. All others are a vote for the British establishment & (barring the Lib Dems to be fair) are a vote for a party strongly supporting Brexit.

Good luck. We’re all going to need it but at the end of this we could be getting something special indeed…

Do we live in a terrible future dystopia?

The short answer is ‘yes’.  Works like Children of Men were meant to be fiction, not a roadmap for the future.

I think we can say recent government policy shows the UK is heading for a viciously anti-immigrant/asylum seeker policy dripping with racism, but this latest phase of British institutionalised racism goes back further and is even ingrained in British culture. This latest phase was riled up over a decade ago by the Tories when Michael Howard’s Tory Party ran an amazingly racist campaign in 2005, which was also thoroughly rejected by the electorate.

It didn’t help things that post-2005 politicians were less inclined to defend immigration and multiculturalism, so we end up with the Tories and Labour both chasing UKIP votes by swinging more and more right, which in doing so swung the political compass in England especially waaaay to the right.

And we come to Brexit which places the UK on the verge of a genuine dystopia where people will suffer because people hate the idea of immigrants. Also the idea that this is the fault of the working class (a line peddled by many on the right and left) is arguably, bollocks. Academic research shows in fact the white middle class were the midwives of Brexit. It does however suit the narrative of the far right, and left, to paint the working class as the culprit and the victim here.

So with less than 90 days we’re facing a no deal. Forget any fantasy bullshit from Tory or Labour the harsh legal reality is coming home to roost and the result of that is we’re on the verge of finishing the roadmap which started in the mid 2000s and enter this fucked up dystopia we’ve been building up to since then.

Brexit enters the world of Papers Please

There’s a game called Papers Please. It’s a great game set in a totalitarian country which forces you as the player to challenge your own morality as you start trying to fight the system, but soon end up sending people to labour mines because they’re immigrants.

During the Christmas holidays the UK government decided to release plans to charge, screen and classify EU immigrants living in the UK after Brexit next March 

Of course the idea to charge people £65 who’ve lived here in some cases since they were a baby is going down with EU27 nationals as well as one would expect, with many online just going ‘fuck it’ and deciding to move out the UK. Many aren’t able to so they face having to pay for themselves, and their children because the UK is now a country that classifies and screens children for ‘criminality’

We’ve crossed a line. Even The Sun realises that. Of course The Sun is one of many reasons we’ve got such a poisonous debate on immigration but they grasp where things go from here.

The problem is that for all those speaking out there’s more sitting on their hands doing nothing or who support this because Brexit unleashed all this ethnic English/British nationalism which is leading to what is a purge of immigrants. Of course anyone that’s followed Theresa May’s career will not be surprised as for eight years she’s made it clear she despises immigrants and immigration, though obviously not of the wealthy oligarchs we see still coming into the UK.

What happens next lies in our hands. There’s talk of civil disobedience as people refuse to be put through this screening but the issue is a government and official opposition so locked into the idea of Brexit that properly challenging one aspect like this is challenging the entire fucked up process. The Tories are leading us into a dark, terrible place and every single MP who voted to invoke Article 50 helped enable them even attempt to create this neo-fascist state they’re trying to build.

A word about the People’s Vote March

As I write this the People’s Vote march is snaking its very crowded way round London’s streets.

On the whole I support the march and with massive bloody caveats, support the aim of a second vote but here in Scotland I feel we’re being ignored, or at least patronised by a big chunk of the People’s Vote. This is something I’ve said before, and nothing has changed my mind that for a chunk on the ‘progressive’ left in England, Scotland is only useful for votes because deep down they know that realistically England will vote to leave the EU again in a second vote.

The problems are many. Kev McKenna goes through some of them in this article at The Herald, this paragraph being especially damning.

Yet, like their manufactured concerns for the future of Ireland I’ve rarely heard any of the metropolitan elites previously profess to be overly-vexed by the challenges faced by working-class communities in England’s north-west or north-east. Where were they when the fishing fleets on Humberside disappeared, sacrificed to enable the US to spy on Soviet submarines from the Icelandic coast? And beyond some hand-wringing and anti-Thatcher sloganising what did they actually do when the mines all shut and the car factories fell silent? Each time I see Gordon Brown wade into Brexit on his white charger I can still hear him say: “British jobs for British workers”. You also contributed to this, big man.

I rarely heard any concern for Northern Ireland prior to June 2016, and as McKenna says, while traditional working class jobs and communities were being ripped apart many of these folk sat on their hands, and yeah, Gordon Brown massively contributed to where we are today.

But the problem is that there were aspects of the English left that did raise their hands in protest, but today they’re as likely to be supportive of Brexit for vague, outdated ideology which is why there’s no Jeremy Corbyn or any of the Labour leadership near the march today. From here it looks as if the left and right have a common cause (and both rely on some level on nostalgia tinged with xenophobia about ‘foreigners’) to win the Brexit fight so they can install their rose-tinted vision of Albion.

Meanwhile in Scotland although you’ll find plenty like me who support today’s march and would appreciate some reciprocal support  for a second independence referendum, with the caveat that any second EU vote would need all countries of the UK to support it, or if the result mirrors last time  then that triggers a second Scottish referendum and a border poll in Ireland.

It is hard however not to see the march as anything but positive when it shows the weight of support against the what should be now, clearly obvious far-right coup of the UK. When you’ve got various Brexiters, right and left, talking up a ‘civil war’ and wanking on boringly about taking the fight to the streets, they should remember the tens of thousands who are out on the streets now so even though I don’t think it’ll change anything politically it does help in reminding the elites fighting tooth and nail for Brexit there’s a large number of people who will oppose it.

How a Douglas Adams quote explains modern society

Confused, puzzled and angered by things like Brexit, the ongoing nightmare of Donald Trump, the various strains of nostalgia politics and the rise of gammon-faced people from the right and left, and just generally everything?

Well, the late, great Douglas Adams has a quote from the Salmon of Doubt that explains everything!

1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

So there you go, the modern world explained!