Saturday, December 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
This gnarly (sometimes very gnarly) comic really delved into the post-apocalyptic setting with gusto, like a filthy EC Comic. It boasts some of the best UG artists around (Corben, Crumb, Irons, Holmes, to name but a few). Jaxon's contributions always unsettled me a bit (his style is so, well, ugly... but effective). Jaxon did introduce me to the term "bent-head" as a pejorative for mutants. I've always loved the cover by Richard Corben, who is one of my art gods.
Anyway, this book is highly recommended. Unfortunately it's long out of print and the cheapest copies online seem to be north of thirty bucks.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Recently ABC aired a special called “Earth 2100”, which featured a “graphic novel”‡ in which the protagonist—an old woman named Lucy—looks back on her life from 100 years in the future. In animatics bolstered by news footage and expert testimony (scientists, journalists and the like), we watch the world turn to shit over the course of the two-hour presentation. But at about the half-hour mark, any sympathy I might have mustered for fictional Lucy went down the drain. Why? Because at this point, after already witnessing the world spiraling into ruin for the first 18 years of her life, Lucy and her equally fictional boyfriend hook up, get married (after two months) and have a kid of their own. Yes, Lucy, eyewitness to humanity’s folly, decides it’s a good idea to bring another child into the world she’s watched deteriorate since her own birth precisely because there are already too many goddamned people on the planet.
One of the luxuries—if you could call it that—of not having kids is I don’t even have to pretend to be optimistic about the future. I marvel at people who have kids, because they either 1) actually believe everything is going to be all right for them and their offspring, or 2) don’t really think or care about the future as long as things are comfortable in the here and now, or 3) are totally freaking out about how bad the future looks while maintaining a brave front for their kids, or 4) have a healthy awareness of the present situation and hope for the best as they do what little they can to make the world a slightly better place.¥ By all evidence, things are not going to be getting better any time soon, if ever. As long as the greening of this planet is going to cost more green than it makes, it won’t be up for serious consideration. Sure, politicians make lip service to change while looking pinched and thoughtful, but really nothing is happening. Not at the speed that is needed.
So, what are these parents seeing that I’m not? Are their glasses that rose-colored or are do they just think if they clap hard enough Tinkerbell will live?
Bill Hicks once said, “I'm tired of this back-slapping ‘isn’t humanity neat?’ bullshit. We're a virus with shoes, okay? That's all we are.” The Matrix regurgitated that thought when Agent Smith contemptuously sneered, “Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with its surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply, and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet.” We all want to be Neo, but Agent Smith was the one with whom I found myself in agreement. In 1964, when I was born, the world population was 3.276 billion. It is now roughly 6.788 billion. It’s more than doubled in 45 years. That is horrifying and unsustainable. Too many being born, not enough dying.
Even Obama, with his two young daughters’ futures at stake, is proffering less than half-measures for a brighter tomorrow. He wants American cars by 2016 to get 35.5 miles a gallon. Big whoop. Average fuel consumption in Europe is 47% better than here. The Fiat 500 gets 50 mpg, and Fiat has the lowest carbon emissions of any manufacturer in Europe. Maybe they’ll bring some of that here with their partnership with Chrysler, but I won’t hold my breath (though that might not be a bad idea). The VW Jetta TDI gets 44.9 mpg. Those models aren’t for export to the USA. The technology exists, so why isn’t it mandated from on high that all new cars built/sold here get equal or better mileage? Since the government has already bailed out all of three US auto manufacturers shouldn’t we, as stockholders, demand that they do better? C’mon, Obama, have the audacity of audacity. Push them around; show them who’s boss. They shouldn’t even be making cars any more. Retool the factories and have them build wind turbines or some other green technology.
The thing that sickens me to my marrow is that there are solutions for all the world’s human-induced woes but none of them are being pursued with any vigor whatsoever. I read articles all the time about implementable ideas that could make life better. Vertical farming comes to mind. Build upward instead of outward. You could have farms in every major city, which would 1) create jobs (how cool would it be to have urban farmers?), 2) grow food in cities and thereby 3) cut back on truck farming? You cut back on having to deliver food to urban centers and that would cut back on gas usage and pollution.
As long as corporations put profit ahead of everything else, we are screwed. So, what I’m saying is screwed we are, because that tune ain’t apt to change. Nothing I’ve seen persuades me in the least that this course will be averted or (ha!) reversed. Humans, by and large, are greedy, willfully ignorant beasts with very little foresight. I’m not saying we’re doomed today or tomorrow or the day after that, but I’m glad I’ll [hopefully] be dead before it all becomes too unbearable.
But maybe I’m kidding myself. C’mon, everyone: clap harder for Tinkerbell. For fuck’s sake, clap as hard as you can!
‡Yeah, I know; Charlie Gibson could barely bring himself to say it, mumbling instead about it being a "graphics [sic] novel." Okay, ABC, way to embrace a "new" term, but let's call a spade a hoe, okay: it was a cartoon. That said, it was a very handsome cartoon designed by some very talented friends and acquaintances of mine, so kudos to them for getting a sweet gig and doing solid work.
¥There are actually a lot more eithers and ors, but I can't list them all. Suffice it to say that given my wiring, I don't see how I could bring a kid into a world this precarious. And I’m not even addressing religion, terrorism, nuclear weapons, etc. This would be an epic not an essay, then. We're Coming up on seven billion. That’s the amount in Harry Harrison’s nightmare overpopulation novel, Make Room! Make Room! Yeesh.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Recently I finally had the pleasure of seeing one of my Holy Grail movies, namely 1959’s The World, The Flesh And The Devil, starring Harry Belafonte, Inger Stevens and Mel Ferrer. It’s a post-apocalyptic movie loosely based on what is considered the first modern post-apocalyptic novel, M.P. Shiel’s The Purple Cloud (1901). It’s a very interesting meditation on race, relations between the sexes and the end of the world as we know it. Belafonte is a commanding presence as a Pennsylvania mining safety inspector who gets trapped in a mine during what appears, at first, to be a routine cave-in, only to emerge five days later to discover he’s the last man on earth. Or is he? He travels by stolen car to nearby New York City, having to walk through the Lincoln Tunnel because it’s too clogged with empty cars to drive into (one wonders if Stephen King’s The Stand was influenced by this powerful image).
As I watched, a frisson of familiarity tickled the back of my brain. I’ve seen some of this before, the tickle said. Recently, too.
Richard Matheson’s I am Legend is one of my all-time favorite novels. Ever. I reread it every few years and it’s always good. Three movies have been based on it: the most faithful, but low-budgeted Vincent Price vehicle The Last Man on Earth (1964), the groovy, Chuck Heston-driven, albino-afroed The Omega Man (1971) and most recently, the ironically least faithful, Will Smith-starrer I am Legend (2007). I won’t even get into the nitty gritty of why the Will Smith version falls the farthest from Matheson’s source material, because that’s not germane to this essay.
What is relevant is how much of The World, The Flesh And The Devil was plagiarized (or do I want to be open-minded and polite and say paid homage) in 2007’s I am Legend.
In The World, The Flesh And The Devil (heretofore to be referred to as TWTFATD), Belafonte, slowly going mad from loneliness, makes friends with mannequins:
In I am Legend (ibid. IAL), Smith, slowly going mad from loneliness, makes friends with mannequins:
In TWTFATD, Belafonte broadcasts to the world in hopes of finding other survivors:
In IAL, Smith broadcasts to the world in hopes of finding other survivors:
In TWTFATD, Belfonte runs through an impressive shot of a totally abandoned Times Square carrying a rifle:
In IAL, Smith runs through an impressive shot of a totally abandoned Times Square carrying a rifle:
In the book I am Legend, the lead character does none of the above (particularly not the final one because it's set in California), so the movie version seems to have cherry-picked this striking imagery from TWTFATD.
I’m just saying.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
The plot has something to do with air being a precious commodity and the control thereof is in the hands of “Dark One” and his flunkies (the buxom, lisping, Teutonic totty Valaria and her robot henchman who looks like a mash-up of a Roman centurion and a crawfish). A slave revolt is outsourced to bland nomadic hero, Neo (years before The Matrix) and his ad hoc unmerry band of misfits, including his robot sidekick, Torque, a bleating “homage” to C-3PO. There’s also a man-hating Amazon, a mute barbarian and Deeja, the busty daughter of the slave rebellion’s actual leader, Jorn.
Everyone in this movie seems sedated; bland, robotic and unemotional (except, ironically, the annoying robot). In the end, when Deeja encounters her father, Jorn, who has been turned into some avocado-like blob with just his head remaining, her emotional spectrum runs from bland horror to bland acceptance. But then again, even as he pleads for her to kill him, Jorn seems pretty sanguine about his vegetal predicament.
Made by gay porn auteur (no, I’m not kidding), Tim Kinkaid, Robot Holocaust takes place in the futuristic wastelands of New York City, which seem in rather good shape despite the ominous intonations of the narrator. The skyline, seen often in backgrounds, is pristine (as the Twin Towers were still standing, it’s actually in better shape than it is now). The “ruins” consist mainly of collapsed rusty structures along the Hudson River and the ubiquitous (at least in cheapjack PA movies) remains of the smallpox hospital on Roosevelt Island . Some of the wasteland sequence also takes place in verdant Central Park. They must have shot this entire movie without permits. Oh for a DVD with commentary track!
I love this movie. Some people will casually throw around the name Ed Wood when describing a bad movie, but few ever live up to that comparison. I’ve had several friends sit through this epic with me and all have been awed by its awesomeness. If you can track down a copy (sadly only on old VHS), treat yourself to some fine post-apocalyptic entertainment. Or watch some paint dry. Your choice.
BONUS: The brief nudity left out of the MST3K version: