Saturday Waffling (May 10th, 2014)

(43 comments)

Hello all. Looking halfway decent for The Sarah Jane Adventures to go thrice weekly, so that's nice. I've been writing those this week. Finished the first four of the seven posts. And then straight on to A Christmas Carol.

So, I'm working on promoting the whole Kickstarter thing. For a variety of reasons, I'd like to have an interview about Last War in Albion I can link to. So I figure I'll lash together some reader questions into something or other and put that up on Tuesday so I can link to it.

So. Questions about Last War in Albion. From the very obvious and basic to strange and arcane points people wonder. Fire away, and I'll start off answering in comments before transferring the whole thing to a blogpost.

Comments

Anton B 3 years ago

If Alan Moore didn't exist would we have to invent him?

Is Grant Morrison just a glitch in Alan Moore's part of the Immateria?

Is Alan Moore a mad evil genius in Grant Morrison world in Hypertime.

Do you hate it as much as I do when

1.Alan Moore decides the best way to to express his ideas in a graphic narrative is to launch into a song?

2. Grant Morrison still thinks it's clever to break the fourth wall?

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elvwood 3 years ago

There's been less of the personal in TLWiA than in TARDIS Eruditorum, so:

When did you develop an interest in UK comics?

What's your most treasured comic?

Any interesting stories about how you discovered any of the players?

What brand of magic would you employ to join the War if you weren't doing so by writing this blog?

What does your family think of you engaging in magical workings online?

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jane 3 years ago

Why is this piece called "The Last War in Albion"?

Why do you think it's "The Last War"?

What do you expect TLWiA to tell us about magic?

You're obviously much more focused on the Alan Moore side of this war, both in content and in prejudice. What would you say to Morrison's side that would make it worth their while to read TLWiA?

Unlike the Eruditorum, TLWiA doesn't generate nearly as many comments on the blog. What do you plan to do to foster more "community" here for TLWiA posts?

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Unknown 3 years ago

If I love Doctor Who and TARDIS Eruditorum but haven't read the comics you're covering other than Watchmen, Sandman, and V for Vendetta, how do I try to get into Last War in Albion? At least before the big ones are covered?

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Daru 3 years ago

What were the first shots fired in The War and which spells, talismans, words of power or symbols do you think each side in The War used?

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Lewis Christian 3 years ago

Non-Albion: Can't wait for more Sarah Jane Adventures. Going to be sad when TARDIS Eruditorum ends.

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timber-munki 3 years ago

With Flex Mentallo readily available, beyond stroking Morrison's ego what's the point of Supergods?

How do you envisage the current Marvelman reprints affecting the war and the telling of it?

How much does hair/beards come into it?

Is Mark Millar the luckiest participant in the war?

And Peter Millagan the unluckiest?

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Simon Williams 3 years ago

Do you have an end-point in mind for The Last War in the same way that you decided some time ago that the Eruditorum would end with the 11th Doctor?

Related to the above: would it really, really help if Alan Moore finally got Jerusalem finished and published before The Last War catches up to the present day?

I'm a big fan of the diversions into influential and important texts that you take along the way - so much so that I've gone back to the start of The Last War and am reading each text brought up in sequence (so for Chapter One it's Near Myths, then 'The Day of Forever', Atrocity Exhibition, Naked Lunch and so on). Can you give us a preview into some of these influential texts you'll be covering from now until the end of Book One?

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reservoirdogs 3 years ago

Will the War get multiple posts a week once the Eruditorium is finished?

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Simon Simmons 3 years ago

Which writer is Blur and which is Oasis?

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Kit Power 3 years ago

Morrison = Blur, IMO.

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Eric Gimlin 3 years ago

Since somebody already asked the end point question...

You've already run into some difficulty with Captain Clyde. Are there any other works, major or minor, that you expect to have trouble tracking down?

To Jane: While Philip has admitted he's biased towards Moore if he has to make a choice, there just hasn't been the Morrison material to cover yet at this stage and one of his few major works just isn't out there for people to see. And there is miles of difference between favoring one creator if you have to pick one and enjoying both if you don't.

If you told me I had to pick one or the other, I would go with Grant over Alan (and despise having to actually make the choice.) I think Moore is the technically better writer but I just enjoy Morrison more. But even as somebody on Team Bald, I don't see a bias in the writing yet and have actually learned more about Morrison's works than than Moore's from the project so far.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years ago

I think Alan Moore was wholly and utterly unnecessary, actually, and that nobody would have invented him in his absence. That is ultimately the appeal. There's no workable account of his career up through about Watchmen that doesn't ultimately hinge on the fact that he was *really fucking good* at what he did.

I think Morrison is a very skilled writer who noticed that the opportunity to do the sorts of things he wanted to do had been opened by Alan Moore, and who ruthlessly followed that opportunity. But I think it is unfair, ultimately, to treat Morrison primarily as a Moore imitator. Morrison is very much his own man, blessed and cursed by the fact that someone blazed a trail that he could walk upon.

As for song, I think Moore doesn't do it enough, frankly. It's the major failing of Watchmen #12 - no song and dance routine.

I'd complain about Morrison's fourth-wall breaking, but honestly, I thought doing it in 3-D for Superman Beyond was hilarious.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years ago

I discovered Sandman in the mid-90s, like you do. Not long at all after I fell out of love with Doctor Who - must have been 1997 or so. I came at Gaiman from three directions almost simultaneously, and didn't realize what I'd done until I'd already read a fair amount of his stuff. There was a glowing review of Neverwhere in Fantasy & Science Fiction one month, and so I asked my mother to track down a copy, which she had no trouble with because she still had loads of names of UK sci-fi distributors from my Doctor Who days. Separately, I picked up Good Omens because it was by Terry Pratchett. And separately yet again I was listening to a lot of Tori Amos, which of course led back to Neil Gaiman via "Tear in Your Hand."

Pretty much everything else extended from that. Discovered Moore through Watchmen based on excitedly talking comics with a gentleman named Jeff Morrow at summer camp in 1997, at which point I'd already read a bunch of Sandman. Ellis... would have been Transmet being recommended to me at the comic shop. Morrison was the latest of the bunch, and I honestly forget what my first Morrison comic was. First heard about him from Jeff again, via Doom Patrol, which Jeff was... not a fan of. That probably colored my impressions for years, actually. But my first actual Morrison comic... might have been New X-Men. Oh, wait, no, I had an issue of JLA - the one featuring Starro and Daniel.

And then Gillen would have been his Uncanny X-Men run.

As for magic, I'm very satisfied with my current magical work. The trick, incidentally, to handling family is to so profoundly disappoint them that they simply stop asking what you're up to or following your work in the slightest.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years ago

I'm not sure. I write it without the expectation that the reader has read any given text, especially with these earlier comics that are genuinely obscure at times. So I'd suggest, for better or for worse, diving in and seeing if you enjoy it.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years ago

It'll probably move to twice weekly, yeah.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years ago

I will be too - it's been continually occupying a large part of my brain for over three years now, and I'm going to miss it. And I've really been enjoying this stretch of Sarah Jane Adventures - I'm finally far enough into the series that I feel like I have some freedom in what perspectives I take. Explaining what the series is isn't quite so important. Monday's post is one of my favorite things I've written for the blog in a while.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years ago

The tagline for Volume 2 is going to be, in effect, that Watchmen is the first battle of the War, although there's an opening skirmish that pops up in the Captain Britain chapter called "I Belong to Glasgow."

I'm not sure I can answer the other part of the question well, just because the nature of what spells, talismans, and words of power or symbols are in the context of the War is one of the major topics.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years ago

Awwww. Poor Supergods. Such a misbegotten little work.

I think it's interesting that Miracleman's not really selling that well, although who knows if that's baked into the design to an extent. It's a very expensive way to republish it, certainly, given that one assumes the real goal is having some trades out when Gaiman starts doing new comics. Hopefully on a better production schedule than Sandman: Overture. I've got one eye on the reprint series as my ability to avoid doing Marvelman dwindles, although I'm still pretty committed to holding that back until Volume 2 as much as possible. I will say, I'm probably the one person who's glad that they cram every issue with crappy Mick Anglo reprints, since those suckers were impossible to find.

It's all about beards. Everything is about beards.

The obnoxious thing about Millar, to me, is that I think it really is skill, not luck. Equally, I seriously considered making him one of the principals, but ultimately decided that there just wasn't enough depth to be found in his work and that I'd instead just deal with him selectively.

Milligan does have a rough road in the US. Though, I mean... I'm hard-pressed to say his reputation didn't end up about where it belongs. He's done some marvelous stuff, but good lord he's phoned in some crap.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years ago

No end point in mind yet, no. I'll get there, but right now I've not really worked out much of anything in the structure of the war past the year 2000 or so. Which, given that I'm still writing about 1984, feels pretty far ahead.

I'd very much like both Jerusalem and The Moon and Serpent Bumper Book to make it out before I get to them. Also Providence. And Spirit Tracks. And Multiversity. And Phonogram 3.

Let's see. The Captain Britain chapter is really almost wall-to-wall comics, for better or for worse, although it's 23,000 words, so I'm hard-pressed to complain about what it doesn't cover. Biggest digressions there are probably the psychedelic character of late 60s Marvel comics and Frank Miller's Daredevil run. (Almost, *almost* did one on Laurie Anderson, but it was just too much.)

Swamp Thing is just coming together now, and will need some digging and research on my part, but there's going to have to be a lot about the history of American horror fiction and comics - obviously a chunk on the Wein/Wrightson Swamp Thing comics, but also looks at the entire genre. Crisis on Infinite Earths. But I'm still just shy of having specific texts picked out there.

I've got a corker of a section on Jeremy Seabrook's The Unprivileged that's due entirely to Lance Parkin finding that extraordinary little thread to pull on. That'll be in Chapter Ten. Chaykin's American Flagg will get a big chunk. But these are often some of the last things to snap into place for a chapter.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years ago

Some of the minor stuff is hard to track - especially stuff that appeared in fanzines. You may notice a bit in Chapter One where I delicately quote around a review of Luther Arkwright that Grant Morrison wrote because I don't have the review, I just have Morrison mentioning it in an interview. I don't think I'm missing much of anything by Moore at this point.

The single biggest hole I have right now is Lovely Biscuits, which I cannot find at a remotely affordable price. That's a huge problem that I will probably have to actually solve.

I'd love some of Ellis's early reviews of other comics, but have no leads on that.

Those are the big ones. Honestly, it's easier than 60s Doctor Who.

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Daru 3 years ago

That should be exciting reading about the first battle and I understand of course about not revealing all that is yet to come about your major lines of exploration. Just thought I would cheekily ask...

Don't know if you have covered Bryan talbot & his Luther Arkwright yet - have you / will you?

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Philip Sandifer 3 years ago

Oh, it's not even a matter of cheek. I'd answer, except I think it'll take tens of thousands of words to do well.

As for Arkwright, big chunk about it towards the end of Chapter One.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years ago

Because when those words came together in my head I thought "ooh, that's quite good." I knew I wanted to treat the Moore/Morrison rivalry as an occult war, because I think that's a cool hook. I liked "Albion" because it gave the whole thing a kind of mythic flavor - a sense that what they're fighting over isn't quite a real place at all.

And once you have that, the "last war" just feels appropriate. Like its a closed-off piece of history that one can write a dispassionate account of. Which, of course, I'm not actually doing, but which remains the underlying illusion or structure. In reality there will probably be more wars in Albion, but I think giving this one a bit of eschatology helps frame it.

Ideally TLWiA will tell you everything you could ever possibly want to know about magic.

I do personally like Moore more than Morrison as a figure, but I'm trying to remain scrupulously fair in the telling of the War. It's just that Moore did start it - he had a several year period where he was the only game in town. You've got Morrison's juvenilia from 1979-80 or so, and I covered that first in part to avoid giving the impression that this was mostly about Moore. But for the first half of the decade... I mean, in February of 1985, which might be the busiest month of Moore's career in terms of publication, you have him starting doing backup stories in American Flagg, starting Book Two of the Ballad of Halo Jones, writing some of his most acclaimed Swamp Thing stuff (he wraps The Nukeface Papers and introduces John Constantine the next month), publishing stuff in three other DC titles, and he's still got an installment of V for Vendetta that comes out in the last issue of Warrior.

The same month, Grant Morrison publishes one installment of The Liberators, also in the last issue of Warrior, which is thus his first and last work for that publisher. He doesn't get another significant byline for over a year.

So when you're telling that part of the story, it's hard not to focus heavily on Moore, because Moore was busy blazing the professional trail that Morrison and Gaiman would shortly be following. (And I mean professional - this isn't stylistic, this is "what magazines do you choose to write for.")

But when Morrison becomes a major figure again, I'm going to be as sympathetic to him as it's possible to be while remaining fair. Everybody gets the most redemptive reading I can muster for their actions. Which I think will work - I understand why people like Morrison. Hell, I like Morrison, just not quite as much as some of the other writers I'm dealing with. I can give a very good description of the pleasures of Morrison's work, and I will do so. Just, you know, not until we get to the point in the timeline where he's writing some.

As for community, my plan is to be patient. The discussions for Eruditorum didn't have that many comments at this stage of the game either.

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Daru 3 years ago

Aye - looking forwards to the enjoyment of those words - one thing I will say that TLWIA is doing for me (or the anticipation of reading it all) is that it's fuelling my interest to re-read the graphic works of the 80's/90's again. Lots of nostalgia for me.

Thanks re: Arkwright.

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Dan Abel 3 years ago

I have a copy of Lovely Biscuits gathering dust. Perhaps we can trade? I hear you write books :)

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Daibhid C 3 years ago

My favourite comics podcast, House to Astonish, once started a review with "Now, was this written by the good Peter Milligan or the bad Peter Milligan?"

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storiteller 3 years ago

I have to say, I enjoy it and I haven't read a single thing covered yet. In fact, I haven't read anything by Alan Moore except Watchmen and I've only read All-Star Superman by Morrison. But then, I liked the Eruditorium entries that covered Old Who episodes I hadn't seen either.

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mengu 3 years ago

Why don't Americans pay attention to Eurovision, and how is this related to TLWiA?

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Anton B 3 years ago

Thank you for treating my questions with the gravitas they deserved.

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Anton B 3 years ago

Ooh sorry to butt into this dialogue but... Laurie Anderson! Yes. Please reconsider at least giving her work a side entry. I assume Oh! Superman/Big Science would be the link. BTW, this might be apocryphal, but I understand that in the week Oh! Superman got to no.1 in the UK charts it became the only chart topping record that Top of the Pops refused to play as it was considered too 'weird'.

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elvwood 3 years ago

Thanks. I haven't quite managed the disappointment trick with the family; my wife and children are still quite interested - even encouraging me to be more adventurous - and I've simply outlived most of the rest (well, the ones that I'm (or were) in touch with more often than every few years, anyway). Perhaps my own magical working would change that, but I wouldn't know where to start.

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What Happened To Robbie? 3 years ago

This comment has been removed by the author.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years ago

Oh, very yes - I would happily send you a full set of my books thus far in exchange for a copy of Lovely Biscuits.

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What Happened To Robbie? 3 years ago

I'd be interested to know with 2 male protagonists in the war and (so far, correct me if I'm wrong, I know you're dealing with a male dominated industry during the era you've been writing about) a narrative that has mostly seen male writers/artists covered - what female players can we expect to see cropping up later and also I'm interested if there will be much on "outsider" (for want of a better term) contributors, eg Queer writers/artists and writers from countries outside the UK/US to take 2 semi-random examples.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years ago

None of the five principals of the War constitute a massive blow for diversity, I fear - the wave of British creators who jumped over to the US all ultimately came out of the "Boys Magazine" tradition of Battle Picture Weekly and 2000 AD and the like. The nature of the project makes it hard to move too far from the UK, and annoyingly, the writers following the broad path Moore opened are all straight to boot. It is a very white male project, unfortunately.

That's not to say that minority concerns (of various sorts) aren't a big part of it. The issue of feminism is going to be a recurring one, queer issues will play a huge part... race will certainly pop up, though of the three is probably the one that will get the least direct coverage. But the white straight maleness of the protagonists is not going to be ignored.

But ultimately, yes, this is the story of a bunch of white guys.

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What Happened To Robbie? 3 years ago

Then in that case I'd love for you to write an essay or two (the more the merrier) on the more marginal, Queer/feminist/non UK writers/artists.

You must have room in your schedule sometime around 2024? ;) In the meantime I look forward to your writings on the recurring feminist and queer issues. I've been enjoying Last War in Albion immensely and I really appreciate the dialogue you have with your readers.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years ago

For $125, I have my schedule open a lot sooner than that. ;)

More seriously, yeah. It's stuff I'd love to grapple with - anything in particular you'd be interested in my take on? I do periodically need side content. You might luck out and find me deciding to do it without a commission. :)

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What Happened To Robbie? 3 years ago

I think the next time I will have a spare $125 is going to be around 2024 anyway. But if I think of a half decent topic I will email you in case it's ever useful for content. I just realised while I was thinking about this that I discovered Ursula Vernon's Digger because of your recommendation many blog posts ago. So thanks for that too.

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John Nor 3 years ago

The scale of this is mind-boggling.

Considering the size of the chapters on what are, essentially, not-that-many pages of comics, (when the later epics of Morrison & Moore are considered), I was wondering if you're going to slightly "condense" later chapters, comparatively?

Will Watchmen swamp Zenith, when some consider both equally interesting? (When I say "some" I mean me.)

Will the Ballad of Halo Jones be considered as one thing or three things?

How the heck will the Grant Morrison Batman run be covered - how many "things" is that?

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Alex 3 years ago

Straight, white and male they may be, but its worth noting that not many (or indeed any) of the major British comics writers went to university. There's strong representation of working class characters in the work of writers like Moore, Morrison and Ellis. To this (non-white) council estate lad, I always found that kind of inspiring.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years ago

Condensing... well, we'll see. I'm going to learn a lot about that over the next few weeks as I write Swamp Thing. Some works will get multiple chapters, certainly. Swamp Thing could justify multiple chapters without trouble, but I'm trying to give it one chapter just to get a sense of what that decision means.

Watchmen is going to swamp Zenith, yes. There's no way around it - Watchmen *did* swamp Zenith. Sure, the fact that Zenith is tangled in a copyright hell to rival Marvelman didn't help with that, but there's still, for me, no way to look at that 1986-87 period without having everything be a reaction to Watchmen. Zenith exists in Watchmen's orbit. It exists because IPC decided the next thing to rip off was Watchmen, and it takes the form it does because Morrison reacted against that brief.

Equally, it's not like the Watchmen book is (or can) be 100,000 words of close-reading of Watchmen.

Halo Jones will be one chapter - the last chapter of Volume One, in fact.

And the Batman run... no idea yet. I have essentially nothing from the 21st century plotted out yet. A lot of plotting out volumes, as I learned sketching out Volumes 3-5, is figuring out how to cover the same stretch of time from multiple perspectives and have it all make sense. (Last War in Albion gives me enormous sympathy for George R.R. Martin sometimes.)

Here - just for fun, and with no guarantee whatsoever that this will make it to the final version of the interview, I'll at least figure out the broad strokes in a tentative way. Less because this is probably how it will work and more to try to illustrate how thinking about this works, at least.

So, we have a run that goes from 2006-2013. With five active players at this point in the War, I can tell you right off that there's next to no way I'm going to tackle seven years in a single volume. So Batman, like The Invisibles, is going to have to get broken into pieces.

So let's first see where everyone is in 2006 or so.

Moore: Has just finished Promethea, has Lost Girls coming out.
Ellis: Starting a big run of stuff at Marvel - his Iron Man, Ultimate Galactus and Nextwave all go around here.
Morrison: In full DC Superhero mode, taking on Batman and 52 around the same time.
Gillen: Phonogram
Gaiman: In a kind of fallow period, but has some minor superhero work.

So almost immediately I'm seeing that there's an Alan Moore-centric volume that wraps around this time. That inclines me to take Moore off the table for a bit and to put Lost Girls in its own volume coming after this one. I've also got to cut this one off before the end of Batman, so I'm liking Final Crisis as the endpoint. Notably, that gives me a neat transition with Neil Gaiman - I can use Final Crisis and Batman RIP as a transition into "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader" and then have an easy transition to his career in the period.

So we're looking at basically 2006-09, centered mainly on the American superhero industry. That'll be a mainly Morrison and Ellis book. I think I can transition well into a Gaiman/Moore book after it, using Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader as an in and then flashing back to just post-Anansi Boys and working through that and Moore in parallel.

The only question is where to throw Gillen in, and I think he has to come out of Warren Ellis, so he's probably in the Morrison/Ellis book there. Use Ellis's Avatar stuff, and then go to the point where several of the people who grew up on his forum break out.

And then the second half of Batman after the Moore/Gaiman focused book.

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Dave 3 years ago

Damn, lookit them use values being exchanged.

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