The Commentaspamapocalypse Is Nigh!

I run a couple of blogs, and across them, I get about 50 spam comments per day. Here’s a sampling:

Fortunately, WordPress offers something called “Akismet Antispam” which takes care of all this noise. It lets a spam message through about once every two months, and I think I’ve seen one false positive over the past few years. So it’s very reliable, and without it, I would have to close down comments. (Which would be a shame, because sometimes these comments are much more interesting and informative than whatever I’m nattering on about.)

But the reason Akismet can do such a good job is that these comment spam bots post generic messages across millions of WordPress installations. And nothing in these texts refer to the content of the posts they are commenting on, so even if you’re going through these comments manually, you can easily tell that they’re all fake.

So I’ve been waiting for these creeps to start using AI: You ask ChatGPT (or whatever open sores AI engine you have running (it’s cheaper when doing millions of comments)) to give a polite response to the blog article (or a nasty response; that’s probably even more effective). Then you’ll 1) get a text that Akismet hasn’t seen before, so it won’t tag as spam, and 2) even if it gets stuck in a manual approval queue, perhaps the blog author will think it’s genuine.

It’s taken longer time to start than I expected, but! Behold! My first one:

That is an extremely flattering summary of this blog article, and only the lack of typos and the flat affect of the language gives it away. Oh, and that it links to some sort of… scam site, I guess?

(And that nobody would ever leave a comment like this on as vapid a blog post as that one, I guess.)

So there you go. The Commentaspamapocalypse (catchy name, I should trademark it and get fabulously rich) is nigh!

(And, of course, much of the “content” on the web is already AI-generated (to “optimise” the search on Google), so in a couple of years the web will be 97% LLM: AI spam posts with nothing but AI spam comments underneath.)

Comics Daze

Oops — I got so many new comics that I have to take a comics reading day again. Them’s the breaks. And since I’m feeling like a nostalgic Sunday, I’ll only be doing music from… let’s see… 1981.

New Order: Everything’s Gone Green

12:09: Abysmalation by Josh Bayer (Birdcage Bottom Books)

Eep. This is one of those books that has a “soft touch” cover. I think it’s a thin layer of plastic that’s been softified with tons of phthalates? That’s unfortunately not uncommon, but this is an extreme example. It feels so uncomfortable to touch. My fingers are saying “yuck”.

Heh heh heh. Brilliant.

This is a collection of pieces from various sketchbooks, I guess? There’s a few illustrations, but it’s mostly comics. It’s got a really good flow — some books that are sourced from sketchbooks can feel a bit inconsequential, but here it’s (mostly) all compelling stuff.

Kraftwerk: Computer World

And it’s hilarious.

Despite the phthalates, it’s a great book.

A Certain Ratio: To Each…

13:10: Commute by Erin William (Abrams Comics Arts)

Odd — the cover has a subtitle “An illustrated memoir of shame” while the title page has “… female shame”. Was the cover designer ashamed of the female bit?

This isn’t quite like anything else I’ve read, I think. It describes one single day in great detail, and uses this as the springboard to discuss the author’s life (especially as related to alcoholism, sex and sexual abuse).

It’s a really engrossing read. It’s not digressive — it all builds and builds and then sucker-punches you. It’s fantastic.

And it does remind me of I Love Dick (by Chris Kraus, which I read the other year). It’s namechecked in this book, but it has much of the same intellectual approach — they’re both very smart books.

Tuxedomoon: Desire

14:09: Cram #3 edited by Andrew Alexander

This issue is really varied — some of the stories look straightforward, but are really mysterious…

… and some are indeed very straightforward and fun.

This one was harrowing.

That’s life.

It’s a strong issue.

14:30: Crux #2 by Virgin Warren (Deadcrow Comics)

Love this linework. It’s like Richard Sala on meth.

The plot (something to do with a demon escaping hell?) doesn’t really grip me, though. The main problem is that not a lot happens over these pages — it feels like this is going to be a nine hundred page story…

The Human League: Dare

14:44: The Cliff by Manon Debaye (Drawn & Quarterly)

This is a really tense book — it’s about two 13-year-olds who have sworn a pact to kill themselves.

It’s told in a really brisk manner — it’s incredibly nerve wracking. *nine thumbs up*

15:00: Beyond Real #1 by Kaplan/Mascolo/etc (Vault Comics)

DCBS keeps including extra comics in their shipments… which is fine, but why two copies!? That makes no sense.

Well, this looks pretty attractive…

You know how they say a commercial comic book should have an elevator pitch? This book seems to be designed for, say, an elevator that’s really fast and goes between two stories, because the pitch is “The Matrix, but as a Ted Talk”.

Soft Cell: Tainted Love

15:12: I Saw My Career Flash Before My Eyes by Ben Mendelewicz

This reminds me of early computer-assisted comics, like Mark Landman.

But instead of funny, this is unnerving.

15:27: You Are Here by err… I’m not sure

This starts off in one way…

… looking like it’s a straightforward parody of reality TV. But then it turns into something much weirder! I was going like “whu? whu? WHU!?” by the end. It’s good stuff.

Japan: Tin Drum (1)

15:39: Laura and other stories by Guillem March (Ablaze)

Erhm… “From the artist of DC’s The Jokes series”. Er.

The storytelling here is so choppy and the dialogue is so weird I find myself skipping back and forth between the panels and speech balloons to try to make sense of it all. But then it dawns on me: The translation is horrible! “A nail is removed with another nail”. What’s that even supposed to mean? You use the prongey things on back of a hammer (erudition’r’me) to remove nails, don’t you? Could it be some French saying? Yes, indeed — “un clou chasse l’autre”, which means “one nail drives out the other”, or something like that. Anyway, a translator should translate that into something idiomatic in English…

But it’s not just the bad translation — the storytelling is just bad. I mean, just look at these four figures (that we don’t really know well enough to separate). But in the first panel, the person with the white(?) long hair on the light orange shirt… is then on the other side of the woman in the grey coat in the third panel, and stays on that side. The same happens with the other couple — they shift sides from the first panel to the second page. And then you have the odd choice of having both women in grey coats and both men in orange… It’s just… badly done. And the story doesn’t seem very interested, even if I was invested enough to read this. Which I’m not, so I ditched the book.

16:07: Poem For The Girlies Sharing Toilet Paper In The AMC Restroom Before The Barbie Movie/Living Here on Borrowed Time by Sanika Phawde

This very small book (about going to the Barbie movie and stuff) is quite affecting.

The second booklet (slightly larger, and printed sideways) is even more so. I like both a lot.

Simple Minds: Sons and Fascination

16:17: Out on the Girl Farms #1 by Ana Woulfe

Very sharp artwork.

And it’s fun and it seems like it might be the first part of a quite long story. I’m in.

Hm… I guess this is this:

SOPHIE x QT - BABY BUBBLES (HQ)

Or is that the SOPHIE remix? Hm…

BABY BUBBLES (ID) - QT 10/02/16

Catchy! I only started listening to PC Music like four years ago, so I’ve been catching up.

16:41: Acid Nun by Carinne Halbert (Silver Sprocket)

Hm… have I read some of this before? Oh, there was an Acid Nun strip in Vacuum Decay.

I like the graphics — the black and psychedelic background gives this book visual cohesion. The storyline is very slight, though — we get some allusions towards the author’s childhood, and then there’s a rape/revenge thing with the nun, and there’s a demon or two, but it doesn’t really cohere as a book, I think? But it’s fine.

Simple Minds: Sister Feelings Call

16:59: Die Horny by Rebecca Mock (Bulgilhan Press)

A German book, eh?

Yes, very Japanesey…

I have a feeling that this is a very referential comic? But I don’t really know what it’s referencing. I mean, I read a lot of Japanese comics, but not really the ones with monsters and stuff. So perhaps it’s brilliant, but to me it was a bit opaque.

17:14: Miracleman: The Silver Age #7 by Gaiman/Buckingham (Marvel Comics)

OK, finally the final issue. I think this series has been a huge let-down. It’s been spinning its wheels.

And again, that’s what the final issue does, too. The entire series could have been the first four pages of:

If that series ever happens, that is. The series suffers from “middle trilogy book syndrome”, I guess: It’s all about setting up the final book when things are really going to start happening.

17:24: Maple Terrace by Noah Van Sciver (Uncivilized Books)

This issue is an odd one — it seems to start off as the previous issue ended…

… but then the rest of the issue seems to proceed as if written by a 12-year-old? Is this all meant to be a fantasy that Van Sciver had as a kid? Perhaps that explains why the issue is unnumbered, too?

I was mostly caught up in figuring out what I was reading to be enjoying it, really. It’s fun? But confusing.

Heaven 17: Penthouse And Pavement

17:36: Your Miserable Tea Angel Orchid by Krusty Wheatfield

Spiral-bound comics have become more of a thing lately, I think? I think I’ve gotten half a dozen the last few months. I approve of this trend.

This book is extremely digressive, but it’s got a nice flow, and it’s plenty interesting.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: Architecture and Morality

18:03: Portrait of a Body by Julie Delporte (Drawn & Quarterly)

Hey! Spoilers!

So this is a long text with very pretty illustrations. It flows nicely.

And it’s depressing that psychoanalysis is still a thing after all these years.

Grace Jones: Nightclubbing

18:27: A Man’s Skin by Hubert & Zanzim (Ablaze)

Like the Laura book, this is also printed on super-reflective shiny, thin paper in a size that’s presumably smaller than it originally was (it’s a bit larger than US comics size). And it was presumably also in a wider form factor? This leaves you with very large top/bottom margins. It’s odd is what I’m saying, and not very pleasing to the eye.

And this is the concept of the book. I had worried that it was going to be more like a fairy tale thing, but instead it’s er science fiction. JUST KIDDING

The book is… it’s OK? There are parts that are really entertaining, and then there are parts that seem overly didactic, as if I’m doing homework. It’s a frustrating read.

The artwork’s OK but isn’t exactly exciting, and the storytelling’s fine, and it’s not exactly too long, either, but it was just not as good as it could have been? It feels like it could have been much better than it is, in a weird way?

Oh, the book is indeed meant as homework? Oh, well, fine.

And now I should make something to eat, I guess? Yes.

The Cure: Faith (1)

19:38: Maharajah Donald by Carl Barks (Fantagraphics)

And while eating, I read the first two stories in this volume. Fantagraphics started publishing this series with er I think 1948? And now (I think) they’ve gotten to the end (late 60s), so they’re starting on the older stories. It’s an understandable tactic, because they wanted to start with the absolute biggest classic stories. But it also makes it clearer how good Barks was in 1946, when this volume starts, because by the late 60s his stories had gotten a bit er less great than they used to be.

It’s also fun to be reminded just what an asshole Donald was in the early years — he not only steals a valuable ticket to India from his nephews, but he also doesn’t lift a finger when they’re being put into forced labour for being stowaways.

And the main plot — which is about a Maharajah who swindles a neighbouring country — ends with the Maharajah getting away with it. Barks would mellow out a bit after this. And perhaps that’s why Fantagraphics didn’t want to kick off their reprint series with this material?

But it’s wonderful, and a fondly remembered story from my childhood.

I’m not reading the entire book now, because I’m saving the rest for later.

Eurythmics: In The Garden

20:22: Stages of Rot by Linnea Sterte (Peow)

Didn’t Peow announce that they were shutting down? And then they announced that they were just doing some reprints? But now they seemed to have restarted totally — perhaps they changed their minds when the saw how many people missed them…

Ooh gorgeous.

This is a book without many words, and most of them are in captions — which reminds me a bit of the storytelling in the Prophet reboot from 2012. But the story here is something totally different, of course: It’s about the life cycle of some beings. It’s engrossing.

And so beautiful. Wonderful book.

20:39: Rodeo Comics #3 by Evan Salazar

I don’t actually remember the storyline from this…

… which perhaps makes it even more intriguing? Makes you wonder what it’s all about. But it’s good.

20:50: WWREC by Max Burglingame/Angela Fanche

Very sharp artwork.

The story in this slim book is all metaphorical (but not really). It’s good.

And I’m fading now, so I think I should stop reading comics soon, but just one. more. book.

Marianne Faithfull: Dangerous Acquaintances

20:55: Bark Bark Girl by Michael Furler (Peow)

Very modern.

But man, this book brought it all back — those days as a teenager when you absolutely had to do one thing at another at school, and if you didn’t, your life was going to be over forever. It Was The Most Important Thing Ever. (In this case, it’s a maths test.)

The endless procrastinating, the bargaining, trying to find a way out… The powerlessness of being a kid: This book captures this perfectly. It’s a tense, gripping read. And very inventively told. Great book.

Kjøtt: Op

21:38: The End

And on yet another high note (it’s been almost all good or extremely good books today, hasn’t it? Except for a couple), I think I’m calling it a night, because reading comic books is exhausting.

Comics Daze

I’ve been doing French on Duolingo for half a year now, so I can’t read French yet. But it’s becoming harder and harder to hold back on shopping French comic, because soon… soon! Well, in half a year, perhaps? I’ll be able to read them!

Oops! Look what I did.

I’ve actually been reading Modeste et Pompon by Franquin — it’s for kids, so the language isn’t very complicated. I’m about halfway through, but even comics for kids are too hard for me, really, so I definitely shouldn’t be buying comics for adults.

But what! Oops.

Yeah, I can’t read that. I’m getting like every other word… Duolingo is more into doing grammar and stuff, which makes sense — if you can’t even tell what a construction like “tu ne manges que des pommes” is supposed to be parsed (“you only eat apples”), it doesn’t help to learn three thousand verbs and nouns. But I’m hoping the next few months will give me a larger vocabulary.

But these French books sure look nice.

Like this huge, heavy Comès book.

So gorgeous.

Hm… hey! I can actually read most of what’s on these two pages! Perhaps I should just start reading? Or perhaps not, because I got a whole bunch of non-French language comics the past couple of weeks, so let’s start reading.

Emma Tricca: Aspirin Sun

13:39: Oglaf Book Four by Doug Bayne and Trudy Cooper

I started reading this a couple days ago, so I just have the last quarter left to read. Oglaf can get a bit exhausting to read in book form.

As usually, it’s totally hilarious.

It’s exquisitely stupid — it’s just amazing. Get it from here.

14:01: We Will No Longer Have To Cover Each Other’s Wounds by Siyuan Wen (Fieldmouse Press)

I’m guessing this will be less funny than Oglaf. Just going by the title.

Yes, I was right. Instead this goes way, way into deep grief — it’s about a guy coming to terms with the death of his mother.

Everything is pretty vague and there’s symbolic things here that I’m not quite sure I totally get, but it’s a fascinating book. And quite affecting.

Oneohtrix Point Never: Again

14:20: Their Use Continues, Little Visitor and A Cordial Invitation by Adam Szym

I got these from here

Heh heh. The first one is a very sly satire on Hollywood — it’s not clear at all what’s going on at first, what with the wobbly tenses and fractured storytelling and all — but then everything snaps into focus at the end. Great fun! (And biting satire, as they say.)

The second book is also about movies, and has a similar storytelling approach — that is, it’s not quite clear what’s going on, and there’s a reveal, but it’s a bit more straightforward. It’s spooky and it’s thrilling.

The final book, A Cordial Invitation, is properly scary.

In addition to being all mysterious and scary, it manages to stake the landing, which is really unusual for this kind of stuff. Great stuff.

15:11: Convoy by Molly Stocks (Breakdown Press)

Oh, gorgeous.

This story is both very sweet and deeply unnerving. Fantastic — absolutely original and riveting.

Nihiloxica: Source of Denial

15:20: Mauretania Comics #4, 5 & 11 by Chris Reynolds and others

Much (most?) in this series has been reprinted in various collections, but I’ve still been doing periodical ebay searches for the series. And this time around, I managed to score three issues! (One from the US and two from the Netherlands!)

The stories here have such a vibe… everything is mysterious and little is explained.

And the series isn’t just Chris Reynolds — here’s Paul Harvey, who’s doing scratchier art, but just as mysterious little vignettes. (Funny, though.)

And Trevs Phoenix doing the artwork on this thing…

And of course Carol Swain, who’s in most of the issues, I think.

Like I said, much has been reprinted, but reading the original issues is really satisfying — they have such an unique mood. Everything fits together, but in a playful way. Somebody should just reprint the series as it was instead of picking bits from it. (But that’ll never happen.)

So now I only have three more issues to go before I’ve read all the issues. I still haven’t found #1-3. I guess I’ll check back with ebay next year.

Wow, I’ve been really lucky with the comics today — everything so far has been fantastic. To avoid getting over excited, I should read some mainstream book now.

Pale Saints: In Ribbons (1)

16:06: Monstress vol 8 by Marjorie Liu/Sana Takeda (Image Comics)

Such large heads…

Anyway, this volume isn’t as confusing as most of them have been, even though it’s been years since the last one? Hasn’t it? Or am I even more confused than normally? I mean, the plot until now has mostly been that huge war with a gazillion characters, which I think ended a couple years ago? But now we’re on a different planet and there’s less than a dozen characters, so it’s all much simpler.

Pale Saints: In Ribbons (2)

There’s a reason this series keeps on winning all the mainstream rewards — it’s really full on intense 100% of the time, and it’s pretty entertaining. The main storytelling schtick is to have something weird happen for a couple of pages, and then the characters stand around explaining what happened for twenty pages. It shouldn’t work, but it does. It the power of confusion.

Emma Anderson: Pearlies

17:26: Stories from Zoo by Anand (Bubbles)

The art style here doesn’t really do much for me, but some of these stories are really fascinating.

About a third of them don’t really go anywhere, but the rest are really good.

Various: In The Light Of Time

18:29: Cartoonshow by Derek M Balland (Oni Press)

This is about a single parent of three and his travails, and it’s sorta kinda structured around an imaginary laugh track — that is, you see the “ha ha ha” in the background sometimes, and there’s generally some kind of punchline.

That’s works well in many of these strips, but it sometimes leaves you wondering whether the thing that’s depicted really happened — like this woman taking “kafkaesque” for a swear word…

… or this er happening? I mean, I don’t doubt that it could have happened, but I’m not totally sure whether Ballard is saying it happened or that he’s exaggerating for comedic effect.

Anyway, I think the first half of this book is really good — there’s generally pretty short strips, but there’s longer strips to break up that rhythm, and there’s also a general feeling of things building up to a greater story. And then the last half is just random short strips, which is a let-down. It could just be a sequencing problem? Perhaps the strips could have been distributed in a different way? For instance, ending on the strip where he got the restraining order or something. OK, OK, I’m being oddly excessively nit-picky here, and I’m not sure why. It’s a good book.

Vanishing Twin: Afternoon X

19:31: Pigall, 1950 by Arroyo / Christin (Forlaget Zoom)

What? A French comic? Yes, but in a Danish translation. And… I’ve started thinking “but I’ll be able to read this in the original Greek in just a year! so why buy it translated!”, but then I come to my senses and thing “but if you buy this now, you’ll be able to read it now”. Which makes more sense.

Well, this is a very French(ey) book… I mean, the art style is the “standard French serious drama” style. And they’ve even gone all sepia in the colouring to underline that it’s a serious drama. I find this style to be stupefyingly dull.

Which makes this a chore to read, but the story isn’t that exciting, either. I guess you could say that it’s pretty untypical, at least — the viewpoint character doesn’t really do much, and while the events are dramatic, they don’t really add up to much.

Co-Pilot: Rotate

20:25: Cicadas edited by Riley Gale

Wow, these colours really pop. This is printed on pleasant, matte paper, but the colours are really vibrant, and the linework is so accurate. I don’t know who printed this, but publishers should hire them to print more comics.

(This is by Stathis Tsemberlidis.)

This anthology is a bit uneven — apparently the editor died in the middle, so it was put together by his friends. Many of the pieces are really inconsequential — brief vignettes that don’t go anywhere. This Josh Bayer strip (discussing S. Clay Wilson) is wonderful, though.

Ooo! Marc Bell! My favourite. Unfortunately, it’s just three pages.

See what I said about the printing? (Anya Davidson.)

And then it gets really creepy! By Josh Simmons, of course.

The good stuff in here outweighs the bad stuff, but it makes for choppy reading.

Irreversible Entanglements: Protect Your Light

20:59: Shelter for Lost Dreams by Alfonso Font (Dark Horse Comics)

Oh, is this some kind of Harry Potter ripoff?

Well, perhaps not, but it’s kinda really totally boring, so I’m ditching it.

21:06: The Hard Switch by Owen D. Pomery (Avery Hill)

Wow, this artwork is really attractive. It gives me early 80s vibes… like… Wininger line work and… Matt Howarth’s designs?

And it’s a really interesting science fiction book. It’s got a well-developed world, the characters are interesting, and the plot is exciting. It’s just a really, really solid book.

Kristin Hersh: Clear Pond Road

21:42: Threshold by R. R. Gladnick (Bulgilhan Press)

Oh yeah, I bought a handful of books from Bilgilhan.

This is a very metaphorical little book.

It’s inventively told.

21:47: Faster by Jesse Lonegan (Bulgilhan Press)

This is a lot of fun.

Lonegan has really nailed how to do a comic book about race cars. This is even more exciting than Michel Vaillant!

OK, I’m fading, but one more.

Robbie Avenaim, Chris Abrahams, Oren Ambarchi: Placelessness

21:54: Rubine: Midway by Mythic/Sano/Walthéry (Forlaget Zoom)

This is pretty standard stuff..

… but it’s mildly entertaining.

Radian: Distorted Rooms

22:37: The End

And now it’s time to call it a night.

January Music

Music I’ve bought in January.

I didn’t really buy much stuff this month, but I bought several box sets, so there’s a lot of entries below…

Sleaford Mods - West End Girls (Official Video)

I guess the most fun thing this month was the Sleaford Mods cover of West End Girls.

And the Andrew Poppy box set seems very fine…

Er… and other stuff.