The long lost days of the comic book exchange

I’ve spoken about the world of buying comics in those days before the direct market but I’ve only touched upon the glorious world of the comic book exchange which is outlined from an American viewpoint in this lovely piece here.

An exchange is exactly as it sounds. You’d take your comics there and exchange them for more comics. As a child in the 70s there were two I went to, one on Maryhill Road and the other tucked away near the entrance of Partick Subway station. Both were inhabited mainly by older men thumbing through the magazines I was never allowed to go near as a child but I was allowed to go through the boxes of comics on the floor which were a mixed bag to say the least. Made up of British and American comics, as well as new and older comics from the 1960s and earlier so I’m talking comics like this.

I remember picking up Silver Age comics in abundance for a few pence each, or if they had a stamp on them from that particular shop, you could exchange them for other comics. This is why you’ll find comics from that era with stamps of bookshops on them so you can pick up Silver and Bronze Age books which were once in shops ranging from Paisley to Poplar. True, the 5p (or whatever price) on them is nowhere near what these books are worth now but for years this was one of the main ways people could buy, and collect comics in the years before the direct market came together in the 1970s.

The direct market and gentrification were two of the main things which wiped out so many exchanges during the 80s as after all, why spend all that time raking through unsorted boxes of comics on the chance of getting a bargain when there was a speciality shop where you could get new and old comics at the same time? Sure, some collectors did that but hunting down comics is a tiresome job. Then there were the areas where these shops were being modernised, which often meant gentrified so these places were either knocked down or replaced by something appealing to an entirely different market. In the 21st Century the likes of eBay not to mention most people think any comic is worth a fortune (reality is most comics aren’t) the idea that one could walk into a strangely smelling shop and pick up anything for 10p or less is insane but for a few decades there we could do that and it was wonderful…

About that Jimmy Carr ‘joke’

Before I get stuck in properly with this let me make it clear that Carr isn’t especially funny to me, and his recent Netflix special is bloody awful. He’s trying hard to be Bob Monkhouse but doesn’t have the material to match his, so copes on ‘edgy’ comedy to give him his material and again, much of it sucks.

His Netflix special came out just before Christmas, but his line about Gypsies being murdered in the Holocaust was only picked up a week or so ago. Carr has rightfully been condemned, and his line isn’t funny unless you think the murder of thousands of Gypsies is funny. That’s where one can peel the humour off it. That’s it. Do I think that Carr should be canceled or as one SNP councilor says, the crowd laughing at the crowd should be prosecuted?

Image

Well, no. Condemning Carr for being a prick is enough, though that just feeds his ego and prolongs his career but going down the road to prosecute the audience leads us down the road to the sort of authoritarian regime that gave birth to the likes of the Nazis or Stalin. There’s also a lot of talk about how comedy should be only about ‘punching up’, which leaves comedy in a place where it essentially it picking on the usual easy targets for leftish performers and audiences and closes off so many subjects of comedy because anything can be the subject of comedy or satire.

Except Carr’s line was neither. It was just racist pandering to a core of his audience. In a free world Carr should take the criticism for this but at the same time we shouldn’t be calling for audience members to be prosecuted.

Some quick words about Miracleman

Marvel’s latest big one-shot that opens up the future of the Marvel Universe is Timeless #1.

OCT210773 - TIMELESS #1 - Previews World

Most of it is routine stuff but the big news is that it teases not just the return of Miracleman but his forthcoming entry to the 616 Marvel Universe.

Timeless' #1 Teases the Return of a Legendary Super Hero | Marvel

Miracleman is joining the 616 Marvel Universe, or at least that’s a pretty big assumption thanks to what Marvel are hinting from their promo material. This leaves some large questions but some answers are finally answered with this reveal. First up is the use of the Miracle/Marvelman logo which Gary Leach designed 40 years ago for Warrior #1. That’s been an issue for years yet there it is for all to see. The next answer is what Marvel intended to do with the character which is get him into the 616 universe, which I understand was something they wanted to do years ago but couldn’t.

We don’t know if the Neil Gaiman/Mark Buckingham story will finally be completed but again, the story is Mark’s been working away on it for over a year. It seems Gaiman has given him plots to work from so old Marvel method apparently. Neither are rumoured with the 616 version however Donny Cates is, mainly as he’s one of the few writers Marvel have left who can bring a huge readership of his own and drive commercial and critical successes. I can’t imagine Marvel giving this to one of the many writers they have who are borderline inept. There’s an omnibus edition of the Alan Moore material coming in the summer so at a guess, I’d put new material coming out later in the summer to the autumn.

What is depressing is that it is 40 years since Warrior #1 which means the Marvelman story we’ve been waiting on to finish has taken up most of my life which is just grim. 2022 may be the year where that story ends, but I do find it as grim that Marvelman will end up fighting, I dunno, Thor or something and just blends into Marvel’s vast catalogue of characters and be ultimately owned by Disney as they eat up all of fiction.

Still, we shall see…

I’m tired of the Antivax movement

I’m now past the end of my tether with anti-vaxxers/maskers. Sure, at one point when they first erupted like herpes it was fun to laugh at their idiocy, but now we’ve got them taking up beds in hospital because they refuse to take something which may stop that, not to mention threatening MP’s and others with death. Thankfully the arrest of Piers Corbyn may help curb some of the more extremist types for now but only for now as already he’s being turned into a martyr for his throwing out of death threats.

But I’m done with their childish whining. I’m done with them accusing the rest of us who have sacrificed so much ‘cowards’ when they shite themselves over an injection and wearing a mask. I’m done with them doing their best to wreck the NHS and destroy the lives of staff and patients. I’m especially done with them mocking people dying of a virus that’s killed hundreds of thousands.

Now I do agree about the limits of governmental power, freedom of speech and civil liberties, but where were these arseholes over the last 30 years when successive governments whittled away at rights. Oh yeah, that’s right, it didn’t affect them and they didn’t care. Now they’re required to do the absolute bare minium society asks of them, they’re acting like, well, cunts.

I have no idea when this pandemic will end. Nobody does. What won’t end it sooner are entitled arseholes making it worse.

The Internet is dead

Have a watch of this video.

The short version of this video is that the internet today in 2021 is dominated by bots, corporations and vested political influences within those organisations to shape and nurture how you experience the internet, also at the same time ensuring you don’t deviate from whatever the most popular view within your circle is. Any opposing view or alternative idea is purged dismissed by whatever ‘ist’ your peer group finds a negative. ‘Content’ is shaped to reinforce one’s own opinions even if those opinions are repellant and/or wrong. All art has become shaped by algorithms

And the video has a point. Sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter encourage you down paths, so you end up subtly being shaped by what you consume. Once you find that negativity drives the algorithm it might explain why you’re being bombarded by stories and ‘content’ to reinforce your view. Nothing is allowed to cross the line into your worldview and next thing you know we’re a decade or so into a massive reshaping of society where everything seems, and often is, polarised.

Now the video is flawed. Manga and anime can be just as soulless and manufactured as anything else. In fact, much of it is pretty poor, and even the Golden Age of the internet saw attempts to shape the world like it is now but the Internet from around 1999 to 2006 or so was a fine time. Social media was not around, discussion was mainly on moderated groups and extremism from all sides of the political spectrum was consigned to the dark corners. Compared to those early days when the internet wasn’t controlled as it is now, creativity was incredible though today still sees some of that creativity much of today’s internet is just ‘content’; a bland shapeless mass of things to click on. Things won’t be improving either as the corporate giants close their grip.

There are things though that help screw with the algorithm. Following people from a variety of political viewpoints fucks with its head, so there’s a wee trick to help break down the echo chamber you may not even realise social media has locked you in. Fact is though things will get worse as people polarise even further which makes me even more pessimistic of the future than I am at the minute.

I still love David Lynch’s Dune

The new film version of Dune has been out a while now and it is a success which I’m glad of as slow-moving, big proper science fiction needs to have big budgets thrown at it as most big screen SF now has either been absorbed into the superhero genre or is just shite. Or indeed, both. Denis Villeneuve though seems to be on a one-man mission to make things better.

My Dune though will always be David Lynch’s batshit crazy version of the book which made little or no sense to anyone not paying attention to the masses of exposition various characters had to spout to help make sense of trying to cram all of Frank Herbert’s book into two and a half hours.

It isn’t Lynch’s best film. The direction is poor in places and some of the performances are iffy, but the thing looks glorious and Lynch is still early in his career so he’s finding his feet, but with all these faults bits of it hit spectacularly well. Even Sting works in his role which isn’t something I’ll say everyday.

As a film it needs to be seen on the biggest screen possible which is why I think some of the negativity over the film stems from the fact that most people will have seen it on a TV screen. I saw it when it came out in 70mm so everything was huge, and I suppose Imax is the format today but the 70mm print was sharp. I wish it’d get a rerelease.

So remember the original Dune and its lunacy. There’s no other SF blockbuster out there like it and thank the lordy for it too.

In the frontline of COP26

Right now tens of thousands of people are marching through a wet, sunny Glasgow in favour of climate justice and we’ve got all the celebs from Greta Thurberg to Idris Elba apparently, all getting soaked. The last week has been chaotic where I live which is ten minutes away from the COP26 location which hasn’t exactly helped my recuperation after last week’s hospitalisation.

But this is important. The planet is becoming harder to support humanity as we know it today but at best all we’ll get from those in charge is a few policies, some minor commitments and all the while the likes of Russia, China, etc won’t give a fuck and carry on polluting. Will any of today’s protests do anything to change this? Probably not. I marched in the 80’s and 90’s against nuclear weapons and things like the Criminal Justice Bill, but nuclear weapons are still around, and successive governments have made civil liberties a thing under threat since those heady days of the early 90s. I marched with millions against the Iraq War, but that still happened.

In short; we’re fucked. Until we unfuck things nothing will change which is one of many reasons to support Scottish independence as we’d no longer be dragged along with the likes of Boris Johnson’s increasingly insane and criminal government, My pessimism might be tempered with being pissed off with being ill, but I do fear the worst. I wish I’m wrong but good luck to those hundreds of thousands on the street protesting today. Hopefully change will come.

Do MCU fans like the comics their favourite films are baed on?

We’re a few weeks away from The Eternals coming out. Now The Eternals was not one of Jack Kirby’s greatest creations but it was a great attempt to forge a science fiction epic which was typical late era Kirby in that it was big, bold, colourful and directly influenced by the Chariots of the Gods stuff which was a huge thing in the mid 70’s. It has improved incredibly well over the years as one of Kirby’s works.

Slings & Arrows

But the first clips paint this huge world of Kirby’s shit grey, or brown and what colour there is has been muted as The Eternals become a low rent Justice League fighting ultra generic CGI monsters.

It just looks dreary compared to the source material yet for a generation the source material is ‘too loud’, ‘blocky’, and worse as if they’d rather have blandness over celebrating the source material. and it isn’t as if Marvel haven’t completely embraced Kirby like they did with Thor: Ragnarok, which as we know was a massive financial and critical success for a studio becoming increasingly obsessed with the larger plot over individual stories.

Now it could be because these people grew up on sparsely drawn manga, or they’re not used to the multiple languages of comics, or even if they’re away that Kirby created or co-created 90% of the characters they obsess over but to see so many dismiss Kirby’s work is depressing as without that work they’d have nothing to obsess over unless Kevin Fiege had decided to create a multi-billon dollar Rawhide Kid film.

A quick word about Dave Chappelle’s final Netflix special

I’ve always had an odd relationship with Chappelle’s work. At times he’s a stone-cold fucking genius, others he makes me cringe from either piss-poor material or just a terrible construction of a routine. In this final special, The Closer, Chappelle does something else which is to genuinely tell a touching, affecting story in the more offensive way possible while at the same time landing blows on parts and people of the age we’re living in.

By now some of the content of the special has made it out into the world with it being labelled ‘transphobic’, which to be fair, some of it certainly is depending on whatever one’s definition of ‘transphobia’ is as Chappelle goes headfirst into the debate and mentions the issues with the Trans movement as we’ve known it over the last six or seven years. He crosses boundries, which is good, and make you uncomfortable which is agin, good as a good comic should be able to make you question your beliefs. Like Chappelle I tend to beleive in basic science in that one can’t change sex, (though Chappelle fucks up and calls sex ‘gender’ which is something entirely different) but thaat gender is a social construct designed to keep women, and men, from never actually breaking down barriers. Gender is something which should be ripped down, not expanded into 157 varieties making the issue even worse and it essentially turns identity into a commodity you can just pick off a shelf without all that making it up yourself as you develop as a person.

Chappelle though has a point in all this in the last 15 minutes where he outlines the story of a trans-woman who was a fan of his that he helped nurture even to the point of getting them to open for him. By the time we get to the punchline we get why Chappelle is so angry with a certain type of ‘Trans’ person who would rather tear down one of their own tribe than engage with the points raised. In this case there’s a tragic result. I won’t spoil it all as it’s tragic, melancholy and angry all at the same time so those damning this sight unseen, or crying out to cancel Chappelle (which makes part of the point of this special) as those deserving of the venom thrown at them near the end of this show.

Work past some of the flat jokes here (the ‘Space Jews’ skit was funnier when Mel Brooks cracked it) for some biting commentary on one of the big subjects of the day, but that last 15 minutes elevates this. The Closer isn’t the funniest of his Netflix specials, but it may just be his most important.

Giving Steve Ditko credit.

The family of Steve Ditko is pressing Disney to terminate the rights for Doctor Strange and Spider Man, both characters who are worth billions to Disney/Marvel. In return Marvel/Disney are fighting to ensure things stay with them, so the logical outcome will be it ends up like the Jack Kirby case where they came to an agreement with the family which is why Kirby now gets a very promenent credit on the Marvel film and TV series. Disney also have the original writers of Predator doing the same but at a more advanced phase.

Steve Ditko obituary | Comics and graphic novels | The Guardian

Of course Ditko’s heirs should be recompensed, and Ditko’s credit should be made more important, and of course Disney will fight to keep every last penny they can. What shouldn’t be depressing in all of this are fans leaping to the defence of Disney/Marvel, both companies which have refused creators payment and credit for nearly a century and partially got away with it because fans put ‘product’ ahead of people or art. Even the thought the Ditko estate might deny ‘fans’ their fix has sent people into a feral rage.

Spider-Man will continue at Marvel, hopefully with the Ditko family a bit better off and Steve Ditko gets a better credit for his co-creation, and as for Doctor Strange, well, that one was pure Ditko so hopefully that gets more publicity than it does now. In the meantime ‘fans’ will shill for billion dollar industries who see them purely as breathing cash machines…