Wednesday, April 2, 2008

You are all plebians

A while ago I began to notice a tendency for writing longer comments on other people's posts than the actual posts I was writing. So I vowed that next time I was inspired by someone else's blog, instead of plopping my long-windyness on their blog, I would pollute, ahem, fertlise my own.

On the thread for my last post, which received more comments
than things I post which contain actual words, Adam Y chortled knowingly at my threat to begin writing about internet comics in order extinguish the last remnants of my readers (Adam himself is an internet comictission). I don't use this threat lightly. I know what poison comics are to readerships and also the frustration of trying to explain how good they really are.

I used to write a shitload of articles for my uni newspaper, and they were mostly really well received - the editors would tell me what a good job I was doing, people would stop me and tell me they liked my article, girls w
ould offer me much sex in these elaborate fantasies I would concoct in between wanking and writing more articles for the paper ... except for the one week when I submitted an article giving a brief run-down on my favourite internet comics of the day.
Utter silence.
"Did you get my article?"



"Anything else?"

"Um ... did you like it? What did you think?"
"It was good."

People are boringly short-sighted when it comes to comics. I'm bloody serious when I say that they're bette
r than poetry, because they ARE poems, but they're illustrated, which makes them more difficult to do than simply being able to type and they're funny, which makes them much much more difficult than droning on about daffodils or broken hearts or the war. They're a fusion of two very difficult-to-master talents: art and comedy. Internet comics add another fortifying dimension to this duo that can be found in the mantra of every half-way successful internet comic: update regularly. In other words: keep working. Any artist experiencing any kind of success is doing so because they practise their art every single day. That's what makes them so good - just take a look at PhD or Penny Arcade. This is true art people!

But, I know I'm not preaching to the choir - I'm preaching to the frigging dust bins outside. I was so excited when my copy of the Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker turned up in the Amazon box the size of a microwave oven that I told everyone I saw. Blank stares. If I had bragged about receiving the Complete Collection of Type Faces I would have at least garnered a few interested questions, such as: "What's that?" and maybe "How did you get in here?"

Years ago,
a whole bunch of close friends and I were out to see a movie. We were a group who had grown up together - close-knit, caring, loving, sharing. We are at the ticket counter, deciding which picture to see. One is a ye olde period piece about knights'n'jousting made by Hollywood, the other is an animated feature film. That pack of morons were actually about to lay down cash to go into A Knight's Tale, simply because the other movie was a cartoon. You know - kiddy stuff? I literally had to barricade the Knight's Tale box office with my body and force those brainless boobs I call my closest allies to go and see Shrek. Was I wrong? Sadly, this is a trick question, because I was not wrong and if you answered "Yes, you were wrong, you should have let those poor dears in to see Heath Ledger smashing up other dandy's lances to modern rock music", then you are also a foolish person and are wrong.

Shrek brought subversive pop culture to the mainstream in a way that The Simpsons have done for years and that Disney never could or will. It was highly referential - everything from WWF to Indiana Jones to Eddie Murphy's Delerious made it in there. They called a main character Fuckwad in a movie rated for children and got away with it. And yet, cartoons are still seen as simple childish mush.
Cartoons and comics haven't been childish mush since 1990 when Homer first
throttled Bart, along any relevance Hanna-Barbara had to do with anything.

But back to my beloved comics. They shall be studied - mark my words - they shall be studied as microcosms of meaning and humour for many years to come.

- No one is losing any points for stabs in the dark. However - no one is gaining any points for guessing flags either. Adam Y takes away the points for his hilarious story about punching himself in the face.


  1. mele here--you forget that the muppet show was doing the this-is-not-really-for kids thing in the 70's, well before the simpson era. Look up "why can't we be friends/the muppets" on you tube if you don't believe me, people.

  2. I always find that if I tell people I'm working on a graphic novel they'll perk up and talk to me like I'm some sort of artist...

    If I tell people I make a comic strip for the interenet they generally consider me to be some sort of idiot.

    Still, it's early days, under two decades for the webcomic, it took the novel a couple of centuries to catch on and even then...

  3. I'm currently reading Schulz and Peanuts by David Michaelis, and it bears out, at great length, everything you're saying, except that it places the idea of comics as being for other-than-children quite a few decades earlier than the advent of the Simpsons. Comics have been for adults since their beginning: between the World Wars, before television, cartoonists were the US superstars. Pogo, Lil Abner, made sophisticated political and social commentary in the 50s. "We have seen the enemy and he is us" is not an infantile observation. And then there was Will Eisner and that whole strand. Have you seen The Contract with God Trilogy and Life, In Pictures? [Rest of long rave deleted: evidently I share your zeal!]

  4. I agree with Mele and Jonathan Shaw - loved Peanuts since reading it in the 1970s (Psychiatric help - 5c) and it still stands the test of time, even though Schulz is now dead.

    Agree with you re Shrek - brilliant stuff, as is no 2, but 3 is utter shite. For the best animated kids' movie since 1990, you can not go past Toy Story II (not the first, but the second): it is visually quite brilliant with so many little jokes that the adults enjoy it more than the kids do.

    As for comics, you are also right, but again it's a question of taste, no? (Using old lady voice): In my day, OnDit had a brilliant back page comic called 'Revenge of the Buttocks People'. It was so brilliant I kept every single copy and still have them today.

    How about installing your fave comic strip of the week.

    Geez, I'm catching your - write more in the comments than on your own blog - disease.... GTH - you at kindy? Wearing a vegemite t-shirt, the same version I had on my pillow and quilt set??

  5. This is exactly my point! Back in ye olde goode daeis ofe yore comics were all the hip rage. The Muppets were subversive and laugh-behind-the-hand naughty.
    Those days are over.
    Peanuts makes me snore. I have never laughed at Peanuts as much as I have at the Perry Bible Fellowship, Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side, Toothpaste For Dinner, Buttersafe or any of the other fine comic strips you will find listed at the bottom of this blog. Humour is the thing, and such a difficult thing to do in this post-modern, TV-infested world.

    Kath - I agree that Toy Story II was amazing, although I'm not such a big fan of the other Shrek franchises. I feel that Shrek II held it together and I knew Shrek III would stink stink stink from the smart-arsed movie poster and the attempt to draw in its young fans with a baby-based narrative more suited to a sequel coming out some twenty years down the track.

    No points for header guess! You are in the ballpark, but I would like creative speculation about what it has to do with the post!

  6. So you're writing on an web log proselytising the virtues of web comics and you claim you aren't preaching to the choir?

    The people who don't "get" webcomics only reside in meatspace, they aren't reading this, trust me. If you want to spread the word, try and get that uni paper article published in print somewhere.

    I find that one of the best things about webcomics is that they can cater to a more narrow audience, rather than having to be generic enough to entertain everyone. That's why you can have such gems as Penny Arcade (video games) and The Order of the Stick (dungeons and dragons).

  7. I just had to go back and read Adam's comment. The image in my mind from that is just as funny as your picture.
    I don't know why people dismiss comics the way they do. It's bloody hard work getting the message across that way. Yours today are funny. Hey to Mele, I love the Muppets, i'm thinking of buying some of the dvd sets so I can laugh at them all over again. I even bought Fraggle Rock for my grandchildren. Remember Fraggle Rock? Easy for kids to watch with nice little messages buried in them.
    Loved Shrek, but 2&3? Not so much. The Christmas episode on tv recently was good though.

  8. Ahhh LEGO. Can't wait till I have kids so I have an excuse to play with it again without looking like a sad loner...

  9. Agree with you re Calvin and Hobbes (how could I have forgotten them in my comment yesterday?). My all time classic shows Calvin about to sneeze, frantically searching for a tissue. Finding none, he atishoos into his shirt, saying to himself, 'Of my limited options, this was probably the worst.' His parents are classics as well.

  10. Dear Franzy/River/(Brocky),

    hahaha the irony...

    When life imitates art imitates life imitates art imitates life imitates art imitates life...

    Ow - my head hurts.

  11. yeah man we're all plebeans and we're all "posh"... because who were the original "aristocrats" if not Adam and Eve?

  12. What on earth are you talking about?
    I just do not get it.
    Plus, I think you might have spelled plebian wrong.


An explanation of The Joy Division Litmus Test

Although it may now be lost in the mysts of thyme, the poll below is still relevant to this blog. In the winter of 2008, Mele and I went to live in Queensland. In order to survive, I bluffed my way into a job at a Coffee Club.
It was quite a reasonable place to work: the hours were regular, the staff were quite nice, it wasn't particularly taxing on my brain.
There were a few downsides: In the six weeks or so that I worked there, there was about a 90% staff turnover (contributed to by my leaving). This wasn't seen as a result of the low pay, the laughability of staff prices or the practice of not distributing tips to staff, rather it was blamed on the lack of work ethic among Bribie Island's youth.
However, one of the stranger aspects of the cultural isolation that touched our lives during our time "up there" was the fact that nobody at my work had heard of the band Joy Division.
The full explanation is available here.
But please, interact a little further and vote in my ongoing poll. The results are slowly mounting up, proving one thing: people read this blog are more well-informed about Joy Division than anyone who works at the Coffee Club on Bribie Island.

Have you heard of the band Joy Division?

Chinese food, not Chinese Internet!

Champions of Guess The Header

  • What is Guess The Header about? Let’s ask regular “Writing” reader, Shippy: "Anyway, after Franzy's stunning September, and having a crack at 'Guess The Header' for the first time - without truly knowing what I was doing mind you - I think I finally understand what 'GTH' is all about. At first I thought you needed to actually know what it was. Don't get me wrong — if you know what it is, it may help you. I now realise that it's more Franzy's way of invoking thought around an image or, more often than not, part of an image. If you dissect slightly the GTH explanatory sentence at the bottom of his blog you come up with this: “The photo is always taken by me and always connects in some way to the topic of the blog entry it heads up.” When the header is put up, the blog below it will in some obscure way have something to do with it. “Interesting comments are judged and scored arbitrarily and the process is open to corruption and bribery with all correspondence being entered into after the fact and on into eternity, ad infinitum amen.” Franzy judges it, but it's not always the GTH that describes the place perfectly that gets it. “The frequent commenters, the wits, the wags and the outright smartarses who, each entry, engage to both guess the origin and relevance of the strip of photo at the top (or “head”) of each new blog and also who leave what I deem the most interesting comment.” It generally helps if you're a complete smartarse and can twist things to mean whatever you feel they should mean - exactly the way Franzy would like things to be twisted." - Shippy Blogger and GTH point scorer.
  • Nai - 1
  • Lion Kinsman - 2
  • Will - 2
  • Brocky - 2
  • Andy Pants - 2
  • The 327th Male - 3
  • Mad Cat Lady - 3
  • Miles McClagen - 4
  • Myninjacockle - 4
  • Asheligh - 5
  • Neil - 5
  • Third Cat - 5
  • Adam Y - 6
  • Squib - 6
  • Mele - 6
  • Moifey - 7
  • Jono - 8
  • The Other, other Sam - 14
  • Kath Lockett - 15
  • Shippy - 19
  • River - 32