PX89: Corpsemeat 2

Corpsemeat 2 edited by Savage Pencil (300x405mm)

This is a huge, all-screenprinted 24 page extravaganza — the printing is really superb.

And since it’s screenprinted, they’ve helpfully included sheets of paper in between all the pages to keep the pages from melding into each other, as paint has a tendency to do.

About half the book is by Savage Pencil (and various writers, like Alan Moore under the Curt Vile name), and… it’s…. it’s Savage Pencil doing hyper-violent horror pastiches. It’s not quite Mike Diana territory, but it’s getting there.

But those are British people, and this is a blog series about US comics, and the reason I’m including it is because of this amazeballs centrespread by Gary Panter…

… and four fantastic pages by Mark Beyer. And one of the inks on these pages is bronze.

This was made in edition of 300, and it must have taken so much work to do — there’s so many screenprinting layers, and it’s so well printed. (Some of the Savage Pencil pages only have a couple of paints, though.)

There was apparently a different edition of Corpsemeat #2? With… Peter Bagge and Rory Hayes?

Very confusing. The cover is a similar idea, but it’s different (beyond being in black and white).

The inner pages look like they’re the same. Only in black and white.

This blog post is part of the Punk Comix series.

Facebook Continues Its War Against The Web

I just got jabbed again today, so I thought it was time to start going out to catch some concerts again. It’s been just a … year … since the last time, and meanwhile my Concerts in Oslo concert listing web scraper aggregation service hasn’t received a lot of love.

I mean — everything’s been shut down, so it’s been too depressing to contemplate.

So — CSID is based on web scraping, so naturally when people change the HTML of their sites, things need tweaking. (This happens less often than you’d think.) However, many venues have ditched their own web sites and just list stuff on Facebook…

And therein lies my tale.

Look at this event page:

It’s from my logged-in Firefox — it lists upcoming events as you’d expect. But my web scraper isn’t logged in, and wasn’t getting any data any more. Here’s why:

That snap is taken from an un-logged-in Firefox, and it only lists past events. It doesn’t even mention that there are any upcoming events. This apparently changed over the last few months?

Facebook wants to silo All The Information.

Well, I took that as a personal insult, so I wrote up a Selenium script which logs in, and then navigates to all the event pages, clicks “show more” until I get all the events, and then saves the DOM. The resulting script is on Microsoft Github. (Note: I don’t actually know Python, so I typed away randomly until I had something that vaguely worked.)

CSID also harvests little snippets to describe the events, and that bit of the script worked fine… if I ran it from Norway. The server it’s really running on is in Germany, and you can’t look at individual event pages there at all without logging in.

*sigh*

Well, for all I know, perhaps German law requires you to log in to Facebook before you can look at information about a concert? It’s possible!

And those snippets aren’t that useful, anyway, but… sure is annoying. Well, I could rewrite those bits to also use Selenium to log in, but… gah…

Anyway, CSID went from this sad state:

To this glory:

I didn’t know that apparently absolutely everything had opened again! PARTY!

Well, OK, I should probably wait a week until my 5G reception has gotten better.

PX87: Love is Hell

Love is Hell by Matt Groening (230x230mm)

This is so weird — I’ve got the British edition of the expanded Pantheon edition of the Caplan collection. What’s so weird about it is that it’s from 1987, when I was 19, and I could have sworn that I had this book when I was like 16. But I definitely didn’t buy two editions of this, so my recollection of reading Life in Hell in high school is false!

FAKE MEMORIES!

I know, very interesting for y’all, but perhaps there’s something about Life in Hell that gives an impression of having always been in your life…

Looks like the original (shorter) edition of this was in black and white, and only 32 pages. This one is 48 pages, so (according to some of my mathematician friends that I’ve consulted on this matter), that means that there’s 16 additional pages.

We start off with a thirteen part series from 1984 about lurve.

It’s a quite dense serial — very text heavy, with a number of different fun storytelling techniques. It’s a slightly odd commercial decision, perhaps, but it’s also kinda appealing to a more adult audience: One with patience to read all of this, which I kinda doubt an audience in 2021 would find attractive in the same way.

I love it, myself.

Flow charts!

Thinking about Life in Hell, the more simple pages come more readily to mind, but Groening also didn’t shy away from doing pretty intricate cartooning, either.

Groening could have become the Jordan Peterson of his time.

Finally, on page 26 (that’s over the half-way mark, for you mathematicians out there), we get the first strip with one of the continuing characters: The one-eared boy bunny. (His name is Bongo, we learn later.)

And that’s also a surprising decision (to me) — readers love continuing characters. They can identify with them, or sympathise, or whatever… but on the other hand, the book is called “Love is Hell”, so concentrating one subject also makes sense. Perhaps this is part of the additional pages added for the Pantheon edition?

This one is, at least — it’s created the year after the original edition, and things become a lot more streamlined in these newer cartoons, and we start seeing templates that Groening would use with small variations for the next few decades.

Here’s the most iconic of them all — this one was on everybody’s fridge in the 80s, right? It’s visually very striking, it’s funny, and it’s unnerving.

Heidi MacDonald writes in The Comics Journal #102, page 56:

I guess I was saving the best for last. For
those not fortunate enough to live where
Matt Groening’s syndicated Life in Hell is
availablea should explain that it’s a strip
which appears ‘in alternative newspapers
around the United States, and Love in Hell
is a trade paperback reprinting some of the
best episodes from its five-year run, in.
cluding the 13-part series “Love in Hell,” an
in-depth examination of humankind’sofaüo-
rite sport.
The only «:omic which matches Life in
Hell for the acutenessof its observations is
Love and Rockets and I guess I can’t think
of any higher praise than that. Purposely
text heavy, the drawings are simple but clean
more than adequate. Groening leaves
stones unturned as he presents a richly
comic guide to modern romance. “Watch
these early warning signs of love:”
advises . the first installment of the Love
Stoppers Textbook, “Bouncy step, goo-goo
eyes, babbling, bored friends.” From the
same strip we learn “What the-great philo-
sophers have said Vis-a-vis Love” including
Nietzsche: “Love is a snowmobile racing
across the tundra and then suddenly it flips
over, pinning you underneath. At nighc, the
ice weasels come.”

[…]

But the book’s finest moment comes on
the very last page/ wherein Binky, the rab-
bit hero, takes on The Meaning Of Life itself.
That inner voice repeats those nagging
messages of doom “You’ll never make it, give
up now, youll be sorry, itk all meaningless,”
Meanwhile, Binky.. .well Binky lives, going
to school, getting married, raising a family,
climbing-the highest mountain. In the last
panel Binky has died, after living a full, rich
life. “Aha. Told you so,” says the voice.
Heavy, man, heavy. This single Comic
strip captures the awesome paradox that fills
every moment of life, the knowledge of
death, and the fact that we only realize what
happiness is ‘hen we’reunhappy. .unless
we’re lucky.
Groening’s work is a triumph of content
over form. AS much as I love isilliness and
manic absurdism (God knows I’ve used
those •veéy words enough Fimes in this
review), Love in Hell makes you think while
you laugh,- too. Not bad for a simple comic
strip ,about a silly looking rabbit.

This blog post is part of the Punk Comix series.

PX Stuff: Gary Panter in Slash

Somebody has scanned and uploaded the entire run of Slash Magazine to the Internet Archive.

So I thought it might be fun to pick out the Panter pages from that huge PDF and see whether there were any differences between the various editions of Jimbo (in Paradise) and the first printing here… and there is, indeed, but it’s mostly faithfully reprinted.

After doing that, I wondered whether I should just post these pages to the blog here… which I recognise that I have no right to do. But on the other hand, it’s already on archive.org, so…

In any case: If this is excessive and the rights-holders to this work doesn’t think this is at all cool, just drop me a note and I’ll remove it.

This blog post is part of the Punk Comix series.

PX04: Jimbo in Purgatory

Jimbo in Purgatory by Gary Panter (314x445mm)

This huge book took Panter a few years to make — started in 1997, and the introduction was written in 2001:

And it’s obvious that Panter’s put a lot of work into this.

It’s Panter’s most intricate work, certainly…

But it’s totally not my kind of thing?

Panter apparently took all these references and distilled them into one single page, and … it kinda reads that way? It’s very dense.

Might just be me, though.

Craig Fisher writes in The Comics Journal #266, page 89:

While I was gearing up to write about
Gary Panter’s epic Jimbo in Purgatory,
the critic Andrew D. Arnold posted his
2004 “Best and Worst” comics list at
Time.com. purgatory was Arnold’s choice
for the year’s worst, primarily because
the book is “so impossibly dense I doubt
anyone with less than a Ph.D. in classical
literature Will be able to parse it. NO fun.”
Has Arnold ever read an Archie di-
gest? Or one Of those vanity projects that
advertise in this very magazine? Purgatory
is leaps and bounds better than these, and
I can only assume that Andrew misses
its virtues because he prefers comics that
have easily-digestible stories. Purgatory
is anything but immediately accessible.
Almost all of its text, and many of its
Images, allude to sources as diverse as
Dante, The Decameron, Raquel Welch
in One Million Years B.C. and the ‘zine
Ben is Dead. In his introduction, Panter
cites Joyce’s Finnegans Wake (!) as a pri-
mary inspiration for Purgatorys referen-
till thicket. This is not a comic for
casual readers or those looking for con—
ventional “fun.”
For me, the joys Of Purgatory have
nothing to do with story. Purgatory is
instead the culmination of Panter’s shift
away from narrative and towards the
sensuality Of the eye. In his first Journal
interview (issue #100), Pancer rhapsodi-
cally philosophizes about the mark— the
smudge on the page Without representa-
tional or narrative meaning — and his
medieval high culture and 20th-century
low culture collide as Jimbo meets Alice
Cooper, Boy George and (most stunning-
ly, in a full-page portrait) Eve-as-pun-
kette; but the margins create stable back-
grounds and symmetrical designs that
anchor Panter’s postmodern pastiche. Art
this ambitious and ornate shouldn’t be
dismissed with a U worst” label.

I certainly agree with that, but if I’m to sum up that review, I think it’s “Philistines! Philistines!”

And I note that he doesn’t really have anything interesting to say about it either other than “nice art, dude”. (I’m paraphrasing again.)

The Philestine writes in The Comics Journal #270, page 11:

REDUCTION OF THE INCOHERENT
TO the Editors:
TO answer Craig Fischer’s implied question (“Honorable
Mentions,” T CJ #266) — DO I really think that Gary Panter’sJimbo
in Purgatory is the “worst” comic/graphic novel of 2004? — Cer-
tainly not. Clearly every year sees innumerable books Of so little
ambition and merit that even calling them the “worst” would be
giving them too much attention. A work Of art that strives and fails
to achieve greatness, as I believe Mr. Panter’s does, has far more
integrity than any of those. Calling it the “worst” is just a function Of
the editorial mandate ofa “Best and Worst” list “Best and Biggest
Failure” doesn’t sound as good.
I think-Jimbo in Purgatory fails because it denies its audience a
key function of its form: readability. Note that by “readable” I do not
mean “easy to read.” A challenging narrative can be fun and reward-
ing, but here Panterhas crossed a threshold and created something
more appropriate to exegesis than entertainment. Jimbo in Purg
cannot be read in any involving way. It can Only be looked at.
Noticeably M r. Fischer’s review concentrates almost exclusively on
the visual aspects Of the book. WereJimbO in Purgatory presented
on the walls Of a gallery, rather than a book, it would be inarguably
remarkable. But in its chosen form, with the pretense of a story and
characters but no reasonable entrée into them, the book fails in
spectacular fashion.
Sincerely,
Andrew’ D. Arnold
TIME.comix
http://www.time.com/comix

Heh heh.

Panter is interviewed in The Comics Journal #250, page 241:

KELLY: Who be printing the
Purgatory book?
PANTER: I think Fantagraphics is going
to publish it. I hope. NO progress has
been made toward actualizing it, but I
think it was planned for next year.
KELLY: HOW long it be?
PANTER: a 32-page story basically,
but with end papers and stuff like that. I
drew it big, and it was a really hard comic;
it was a willful folly, With the idea that
really my comics come just as much out
of painting activity as they do out of the
practice of comics. The thousand or so
people who like my stuff are really intefr
ested in what it is I’m to do next,
and I am interested in ‘changing things
around, trying Something else, ‘ taking
some system and applying it to a comic
book or a story and see what happens.
peQPIe could argue that your Stuff
is Willfully unclear at times, and that’s Part
ofpgr . Iin nor going to say “charm, ”
but —
PANTER: Yeah, that’s one thing do.
That’s more what I do, in a way, is
change, surprise you, do something else.
But I think the thing is, I’m not trying to
fool people. I’ll change stations on you to
get your attention again. Most people are
very consistent and they have white space
in comics, and they have heavy outlines,
clear and smooth. I’m spazzier than that.
can be pretty controlled, but there are
limits in my ability to tighten up.
Anyway, the Purgamry comic was a
project that was very systematic. It had
this crazy system that I employed to
determine what was going to happen
where in the comic — like a game theo-
ry. I could explain that, but it sounds
really high-flown.

True:

It’s an ambitious failure. And in the last ten years since its publication, there has been nothing like it.

Hm:

Here Jimbo encounters Frank Zappa, John and Yoko, robots and dragons, among others, and each character is a stand-in for a personage in Dante’s Divine Comedy . They each quote a fragment of text (cited at the bottom of each page) that furthers the plot. It’s a complicated, often hilarious method of dialogue, combining poetic allusiveness with surreal game playing.

This blog post is part of the Punk Comix series.