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Of Godzilla, saline and other perversions

Crooked Little Vein'Crooked Little Vein' by Warren Ellis

Ellis, Warren

Harper Perennial

ISBN 978 0 06 125205 1

This book is just kind of beautiful.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s no classic of literature or anything, it’s not even really culty enough to be a cult classic.  But that’s almost part of the charm.  I mean, I only had an inkling that it might be good because of Ellis’ comic writing, and the fact that I read his blog and he had been banging on about his second novel, Gun Machine, for a while there.  Now, I know that being asked back to do another one is no guarantee of quality when it comes to writing… sometimes just the opposite.  But after reading this one, I can see why they asked him back.

It’s pretty compelling.  Okay, yes, I know, I have a weakness for the gross out, and there are bits in this book which are terminal gross out.  Weirdly, it’s been compared to the Chuck Palahniuk story Guts, but I can’t really see it.  I mean, Guts is almost medical-porn in its level of detail, and while there is a little of that in here, the whole motivation feels entirely different.  It’s almost like, Ellis is faking a world-weariness through the character of Michael McGill that is just a thin veneer over something romantically, comically unpleasant. Read the rest of this entry

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Burn this City

Transmetropolitan 1 – 10

Warren Ellis (writer), Darick Robertson (pencils), others

Vertigo Comics

You know what?  This post started as one about the series Transmetropolitan, which is a pithy, scary (if there is any premonition in the writing), sad, hilarious and downright brilliant series of graphic novels by renowned writer Warren Ellis (John Constantine: Hellblazer, FreakAngels, etcetera) and pencilled by Darick Robertson.  It actually turned out to be a post on how much I love comics.  But that’s alright, because not only is it my blog (so har-de-har, you’ve got to put up with it), all the reasons why I love Transmetropolitan are also the reasons I love comics.  So I’m going to stop blabbering now, and get on with the post.

I came to comics (or, more fancily, graphic novels, or more fancily still, sequential art) pretty late, and to the good ones even later.  It wasn’t until I was seventeen that I bought my first Amazing Spider-Man (although I can’t even remember which issue it was now… though I do remember that there was a full page piece of art in it which had Spidey and the Fantastic Four in a ticker-tape parade, which I subsequently ripped out and used for a theatresports poster – my priorities were different then).  A few years later, I met a boy at university who was pretty interested in them (he was a Judge Dredd fan from way back, with a bit of X-Men thrown in for chuckles, but he also wrote and drew his own).  After discovering the joys of indie and art comics (starting with Jhonen Vasquez’s Johnny the Homicidal Maniac; yes, yes, I know), and marrying said boy, I have become the thoroughly addicted person who stands before you today.  My name is Mama Wolf, and I love comics.  Even the StarJammers arc of Uncanny X-Men.

I first got to Warren Ellis’ writing through the John Constantine: Hellblazer series, which is really no surprise.  There is some damn good writing in there; for a side character from Swamp Thing, Constantine has a lot going for him.  These long running series can be really interesting from a writing perspective, as each writer brings elements of the character that they’re interested in to the fore.  They’re interesting from an art perspective too, I suppose, but all I know about art is ‘ooh pretty!’ or ‘ooh, weird-looking!’ (both of which have their charms, I ain’t judgin’), so I can tell you what I like, but not about the technical aspect.  I do admire comic book artists abilities to make a character completely recognisable from many different angles.  I guess you artists out there are going ‘der’, but from someone who really can’t even make her stick figures look the same, it’s pretty impressive.

Read the rest of this entry