Poplife: Issue #5

Thu, March 7th, 2002 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Matt Fraction, Columnist

Send This to a Friend

Separate multiple email address with commas.

You must state your name.

You must enter your email address.

Poplife 5

showercurtain promdress

Fraction

showercurtain promdress

I've been on a good work binge this week, so let's do a state of the union on everything, yeah? And to avoid getting too in-depth with the details, we'll play the Hollywood Short Pitch game. I kinda hate doing that, but we'll do it and put it out there so we can move on quickly. Besides, you still want to keep SOME cards close to your chest, yeah?

ANODYNE (NIGHT RADIO)

We'll say ANODYNE is... um... REPO MAN vs. THE GETAWAY.

Nemo Parsons is back from a long vacation. He's 17-going-on-dead and wants to vanish forever. His best friend Peregrine has just the plan for his pal to disappear completely and never be found: it starts with a robbery and just gets worse from there.

Once upon a time I said yes to a lot of things. I said no to a lot of other things. Sometimes I beat myself up for saying yes too much, other times for saying no too much. ANODYNE is me trying to figure out why, I think. After a while, I just don't have the words anymore. ANODYNE is a chemical teenage memoir, a letter I'm writing to myself ten years ago.

My, how terribly self-important that all sounds.

The first part of ANODYNE is done-done, tightened up, and turned in. Made a few superficial changes and one major change to a character, but otherwise the first part is wrapped. I'm about 3/4 done with the second part and I pretty much know what happens in three and four. I decided to go fancy in the middle of part two and to try my hand at a nine-panel grid, hopping between three different scenes, nine or ten different characters, and a few different timelines all at once to compress what would be about twenty pages of story into one page. I'm slowed a bit until I get a bit further ahead in the thing-- I'll sketch out the second half of the page and then finish the rest of the chapter; then I'll go back and flesh out the timehopping stuff.

Showed it to Darin who wanted to know how the Excavation Site was going to tie into the larger story-and to be honest, it's not. It's just there. Where I lived down south there were these... boulders. Someone once told me they were volcanic remnants, but they didn't look like volcanic rock to me. Regardless they were huge, perfectly smooth BOULDERS scattered hither and yon like God's marbles... a surreal detail from growing up. My grandmother has this huge rock in her front yard. On it, in tar, is the letter R. I guess a girl named Robin lived on the block decades ago and decided to immortalize her name in tar on the stone. I remember long summer days sitting on top of the rock, waiting for the spaceships to come, trying to melt the tar off with sparklers and roman candles.

The statues in ANODYNE aren't important. The idea of excavation is.

One of the gags was that both girls had the same name-it was a self-deprecating thing, really, because I sortakinda doubt my ability to write women well. Since one was out of the story quick, I just latched onto the idea of the two girls being named Becky (well, in the script, the other Becky is called OTHER BECKY). Six-Fisted Shithammer Editor Ellis called me on it.

Fucker.

So OTHER BECKY became JENNY, one of those weird writer moments where you surprise yourself. I thought the name "Jenny" was as generic as "Becky" so I went with it, not really thinking much deeper than that.

There was something familiar to the cadence of "Becky-and-Jenny" to me, though.

Then I remembered: I was writing about Becky and Jenny Wingnut, two girls I used to run with when I was about the age of the characters in ANODYNE. And the rest all fell into place.

I picked up Lucinda Williams' CAR WHEELS ON A GRAVEL ROAD and played around with the idea of changing the girls names to JUNEBUG and HURRICANE but scrapped it as too precious. I dunno, though, there's a certain ring to it. I'm dumb.

And once that stuff got rolling, the music changed, too. I made a rough draft soundtrack with stuff some Hives, Mika Bomb, Strokes, White Stripes, Detroit Cobras, Morphine, Beta Band, Neutral Milk Hotel. It's not quite right yet-the slow and low stuff are all really long tracks that sorta neutralize the energy, but when I have it done, I think I'll post the track list.

ARTBOMB

I've not done nearly enough reviews lately, so I'm working on a handful all at once. We got Memepooled recently, which saw a phenomenal traffic spike, and the response has been remarkable across the board.

Go to the site, check out the books, and spread the word.

BIG HAT, or, HOW THE WEST WAS WON AND WHAT IT GOT US

The western. Wrote an opening scene and YAWNED while I was doing it. That can't bode well for readers. Scrapped it, paced about, tried not to think of Sergio Leone.

What's it about? Um... SHANE meets STRAW DOGS.

Ours is a nation built on the work of Bad Men doing Terrible Things, terrible enough that they cannot be forgotten, nor forgiven. Instead, we choose simply to ignore it. To beat back the savagery of the American Dream, we became animals in the name of Manifest Destiny, beasts as horrible as anything encountered from sea to shining sea. And now, in our cities, our towns, our homes, we let neither animal nor beast sit at the dinner table, especially those that walk like men. Sometimes doing the right thing means killing a whole lot or people, sure-but does that make us bad men? Can we escape the sins of the past, committed in the name of a greater good? What makes a man a man? And how can you ever hope to explain it to your son? Your family?

Ours is a nation built on blood. So in the end... how do you sleep?

Jericho, Montana. 1878.

Ten years have passed since the town of Jericho took its last bloody leap forward out of the savage wilderness of the Wild West and into the civilization of the American dream.

At the heart of it all, the town's heroes were just two men (who, at best, thought of themselves as survivors): One a gunslinger, settled down and forced once again into the breach; the other a nomad and killer, searching the plains for peace, for rest.

One man did it for his family and for what was right; the other did it so he'd never have to do it again. It was through bloodshed that James Pleasants built a life for himself; the man called Big Hat built a death.

And as the sun rose that morning and the weight and meaning of that one terrible night sank in across all of Jericho, Big Hat rode off into the sunrise bleeding, dying, knowing a killer can never truly find peace.

He did not die.

Ten years later, Big Hat returns to Jericho. And James is waiting.

(I'm not quite done with my research; the date of 1878 might have to change.)

Brian Eno, the musician and producer, kept a fishbowl full of index cards, suggestions for new ways of thinking written on them for when he got stuck in his work. Some of them are completely straightforward (Is it the right instrument?) while others are totally oblique (like the first one I drew, LOST IN USELESS TERRITORY). Xtop and I were shown this stuff and it occurred to me that, hey, these work as writing suggestions as well.

So LOST IN USELESS TERRITORY was banging around in my head when Xtop retold me a story from GANGS OF NEW YORK over lunch one day. Once upon a time, there was this ferocious killer whom was slipped a proverbial mickey, dumped on a fishing vessel, and sent out to sea.

A few days later, the boat was found.

Covered in blood.

Devoid of crew, save for the odd bit of finger or thumb.

The killer was gone.

So between THAT little bit of terrific and the Eno card I drew, I think I have the BIG HAT opening in my head. I'm hoping to get it written tonight or tomorrow, and after that the rest should just roll right along. I'm doing this for Larry Young, and it's about a month later than expected at this point. But with the opening nailed down...

STUFF THAT'S ON MY HANDS OR WRISTS:

Ink, red (URL to check out).


Ink, black (Eno quote, partially washed out.)


Blood, right pointer finger.


Scab, left ring finger.


Scrape, left pinky finger.


Glitter, right ring fingertip.


Coffeesmudge, inside left pointer finger.


Watch, right wrist.


Black band, right wrist.


Rubber band, right wrist.


Random wounds in various states of healing.

RED

The short pitch is RIO BRAVO meets WITNESS on Mars.

I can't call it RED, because Bastard Shitfuck Ellis has a thing cooking with Cully Hamner called RED and he's first to market with it. But I don't know what else to call it at this point. I'm about 3/4 of the way done with the second part; the first part is all done and being drawn by The Ungodly Talented Steven Sanders.

I met with Steve today; we'd not spoken about the project since before Xmas and he's been cranking out pages the best his schedule can muster. Between the fulltime job and producing work for a few gallery shows around here, THE COMIC FORMERLY KNOWN AS RED hasn't been able to take his full attention until recently. He's gotten 19 pages done or near-done in all of the first segment's 26-pages.

It's Un. Fucking. Real.

He's been working as fast as he can, and I've been staggering getting pages to him because he feels terrible because it's taking so long but...

CHRIST.

It's worth the wait. I can't post any images yet, but I will as soon as I can. It's superb work, utterly fantastic. Whenever I get stuck on the writing, I just pull the pages out and stare at them; the block just fixes itself. I love hooking up with Steve to see what he's been up to, because it ignites me to write more fantastic shit for him to draw. He's like a cross between the DRUUNA dude and Guy Davis.

I decided a while back to stagger what I gave him so he didn't feel like he was drowning in being behind... but seeing these fucking pages make me want to holler. I'll probably tear through some more of that this week.

There's been some preliminary talks with a publisher; premature at this point as it's taking a while to get done.

I wish I had a rich old uncle who'd kick off so I could pay Steve to do nothing but draw my freaky Mars comic.

MANTOOTH

Should be over and done with. There could be a trade announcement soon. There's a clever publisher who figured out how to turn 39 pages into 78 or so. There'll be a ton of extra stuff in the trade, too. Moo hoo, ha ha. Whatever. It's done. Done. DONE!

Keep your eyes on the FUNK-O-TRON press listing in PREVIEWS as a DOUBLE TAKE three-pack that collects all of the issues MANTOOTH! inside one attractive poly-bag will be solicited soon. It'll be called MNAGE A TOOTH.

REVISITOR

I talked about that last column and realize that I didn't really say anything about it other than I realize I forgot a scene... didn't actually talk about the book itself.

It's, um... THE CONVERSATION meets THE FERMATA.

REVISITOR is the story of Remote Viewer Alex Downing, a twenty-nothing loser with a psychic knack for spying and low morals for rent. Capable of truly remarkable achievements, Alex manages to do nothing with them other than Creep for Cash.

Shuttled in and out of homes and institutes his whole life, Alex remote views for money professionally, and for sex privately. Unable to maintain even the most vague semblance of a normal human relationship, Alex is a 21st century voyeur about to creep into the life of the wrong woman.

During a typical viewing on a cheating-spouse job, Alex is assaulted uncontrollably with visions of blood, terror, and murder. As he tries frantically to figure out what's happening to him, he feels a small pang of conscience where his heart used to be.

And that's all anyone ever needs to take advantage of you.

Anyway. There's REVISITOR, or at least as much as I'm comfortable talking about. There's a lot of bad sex and heavy paranoia in it. It's tough to write. Awkward. There's no publisher lined up for REVISITOR, but as it's not even done, I don't see why that should surprise anyone. I've gotten about a quarter of it complete and the rest mapped out in my head; it's just a matter of overcoming my stupid human weakness for sleep as that's all that stands in the way of wrapping it up.

STUFF THAT'S ON MY BOOTS

Dust (moving).


Mud (from walk with Kel in NC)


Scrape (from moving MK12 last summer)


Salt water (post-ice storm wear and tear)


Ink, black (work)


White paint splatter (painting MK12 last summer? Unknown.)


Possible spot of blood. (god only knows)


Rock (imbedded in left sole; large chunk missing)


White goo (right sole; butter? Cream? Gravy?)


Lint (wrapped around laces)

Fort Eviction:

We got the new place we wanted. Two bedrooms, all refurbished, four-fifty a month (which is only twenty-five bucks more than what I'm paying now for my just-bigger-than-a-studio-piece-of-shit-busted-holes-in-the-floor-bad-plumbing-falling-apart-ghetto-shithole).

So I've started packing. Yesterday I just about wrapped up all of the living room. I was working at it all day and didn't feel like I was accomplishing anything, because all I was packing were books, basically. Triple-stacked and piled-up books. I packed about 16 boxes but it wasn't until those last few that it started looking like I was actually doing anything. It occurs to me that I don't own much other than a couch, a bed, and books. How sad.

I'd finally worked my way to the back of the shelves. And I threw out a bunch of old crap, too. Papers, pictures, old bad history that I was holding onto apparently for no other reason than It Made Me Feel Bad When I Looked At It.

Fuck that noise.

Lose the baggage, but not the memory of the weight. So away it all went in glorious fistfuls, dumpster and landfill bound once and for all. Goodbye, farewell, amen you sad little boozer.

As of this writing, I've got 18 days to get out. Since the management company of Ft. Eviction has given us until the last day of February to vacate-a Thursday-I don't know that I'm going to be able to actually MOVE my own shit... gotta call about that tomorrow I guess.

I dunno, we used movers when MK12 moved offices. They had to PACK us and move in one day; not only did they do it with great swiftness but it was really affordable for all the shit we had. So I'll call those movers, I reckon. There's something appealing to me about leaving Ft. Eviction in the morning, going to work, and returning to Pee Wee's Western Budoir in Space where all my stuff will be waiting, magically.

It might feel like time travel.

There are two things I can't talk about, and haven't started writing them anyway. And stuff sent to people, waiting on replies and all. Typical no-news-but-I'm-tryin' stuff.

MK12

We're...

Um.

We're up for Something Big.

Like, "It's An Honor To Be Nominated" Big.

And we're fucking around with ninjas and astronauts, too.

What a strange life.

And, on a final LAST OF THE INDEPENDENTS note (available this fall from AiT/Planet Lar), LOTI artist and child pornographer Kieron Dwyer writes to us here at POPLIFE World HQ to say:

"I think it should be called 'Raspberry Beret' instead."

No, for real, though-order you some MANTOOTH!

DOUBLE TAKE #6 (Kick Splode Robot) -- SEP012027


DOUBLE TAKE #7 (Kick Splode Lesbian) -- OCT012494


DOUBLE TAKE #8 (Kick Splode Zombie) -- NOV012389

Thank you.

Discuss this column on the Poplife Forum.

Poplife Home | Poplife Archives

 
Poplife