Viewing posts tagged chapter one

Not Born So Much As Ground Like Pigment From His Times (The Last War in Albion Part 5: Luther Arkwright and William Blake)

“Not born so such as ground like pigment from his times”
- Alan Moore, Angel Passage, 2001

[previously] The text becomes a cut-up invocation that puts Burroughs to shame, describing how “in the garden of Gethesemene Kali becomes Miranda take this my ankh the egyptian sign of life renounce the ways of violence Luther the tabla beat faster the star changes to a distant Balalaika Siberian winds howl” against a backdrop of copulating demons drawn in sinewy shadow.” This is all, however, too late to have influenced Morrison’s work directly - The Adventures of Luther Arkwright #6 contains only material prepared after Near Myths. Rather this demonstrates the extent to which Morrison’s early strips firmly belong in an existent literary and artistic tradition. 

Figure 30: Grant Morrison spending
five minutes scribbling Luther Arkwright
for Valkyrie Press in 1989
Even still, for all that Morrison insists, admittedly with self-depricating panache, that he dismissed Talbot because “I was a punk, and I didn’t need things to be slick as long as they had conviction and personality,” the direct influence is compelling. Morrison’s artwork evolves over his time on Near Myths, adopting a heavier shadow and thicker line that owes ...

This Zen-Crazed Aerial Madman Just Won’t Take No For An Answer (The Last War in Albion Part 4: Michael Moorcock, Luther Arkwright)

“This Zen-crazed aerial madman just won’t take no for an answer”
-Grant Morrison, The Invisibles #18, 1996

[previously] The Cornelius books are characterized by large quantities of philosophical dialogue in amidst the action set pieces, which often fade towards the background. A few chapters after the yowling passenger Cornelius recalls a conversation where “a girl had once asked him, stroking the muscles of his stomach, ‘what do you achieve by the destruction of the odd library? There are so many. How much can one man do?’ ‘What he can,’ Cornelius had told her, rolling on her. ‘It’s History that’s caused all the trouble in the past.’” Moorcock has commented that the Cornelius books are populated by “characters who are aware of the psychological implications of their statements and actions. That is they are as aware of the unconscious as the conscious. In that sense it was a rejection of modernist techniques as found in Joyce, Woolf and so on. My view was that we had moved on from needing to make that sort of observation.” Instead Moorcock’s characters, as he describes it, “tend to anticipate one another's statements and short-cut their own,” engaging in an ...

This Dread World and the Rolling of Wheels (The Last War in Albion Part 3: William S. Burroughs, Michael Moorcock)

“This dread world and the rolling of wheels” -William Blake, The Book of Urizen, 1794

Figure 17: The working class neighborhood of Northampton
Alan Moore grew up in was called The Boroughs
[previously] Burroughs provides no such easy access route, and is beloved less by the academic consensus than by generations of committed counterculture figures who, like Ballard and Moorcock, “weren’t so much influenced by him as inspired by him.” At times not so much a writer than a stunningly competent criminal, Burroughs effectively hit on the brilliant scheme of supporting a drug habit by writing about it. Famed for shooting his wife to death in an ill-advised drunken William Tell impression, Burroughs’s style is an obvious antecedent for Ballard’s harshly visceral lists in The Atrocity Exhibition. His masterpiece is Naked Lunch, an unstructured ramble of a book that was the subject of several landmark obscenity trials, all of which it won. It wanders from misadventure to misadventure, steadily dissolving reality into a paranoid dreamscape that seems to have been Burroughs’s drugfucked experience channeled onto the page, a world where “One Friday Fats siphoned himself into The Plaza, a transulcent-grey foetal monkey, suckers on his ...

Mary Sticks to the Alleyways, Where the Light and Noise of the City is Screened Out A Little (The Last War in Albion Part 2: Near Myths, J.G. Ballard, William S. Burroughs)

“Mary sticks to the alleyways, where the light and noise of the city is screened out a little”
-Warren Ellis, Transmetropolitan #8, 1998

Figure 12: "The Checkmate Man" features more marital
strife than high-concept assassination antics - Near
 #5, 1980 (Click to enlarge)
[previously] It is in some ways very much like the Gideon Stargrave stories and “Time is a Four Letter Word” - full of jumps across time and space and an ever-shifting universe. But where those stories focus on the action, “The Checkmate Man” takes an entirely different approach. The only part of it that could be described as an action scene takes place on the first page, and the remaining nine pages consist of Conrad, the eponymous assassin, reflecting on the stress and horror of his job. It’s a surprisingly intimate character piece, miles from Morrison’s other Near Myths work. There’s also a degree of thought that’s been put into the setting that isn’t present in Morrison’s other Near Myths work - a throwaway bit about attempting to prevent the Lincoln assassination only to have him die in an accident the next day speaks volumes about the world of “The Checkmate Man ...

To Leap From One Universe To Another, Unafraid! That's Sorcerer's Work! (The Last War in Albion Part 1: Near Myths, Gideon Stargrave)

“To leap from one universe to another, unafraid! That’s sorcerer’s work!” - Grant Morrison, Zatanna #1, 2005

Figure 5: A particular story from the slush pile, from
Watchmen #12, 1987
[previously] The remaining nature of the war will be revealed in the telling. All that remains is the task of selecting a beginning point and commencing the narrative proper. By virtue of one of the major figures being extremely invested in it, that beginning point will be the publication of Grant Morrison’s first paid comics work, a five-page story entitled “Time is a Four Letter Word.” This is a decision with consequences. The nature of the war, as previously stated, is that its effects span much of history. “Time is a Four Letter Word” is akin to an outcrop of rock. In truth it stands upon tens of miles of buried rock - a geologic strata spanning in every direction. The visible layer is a mere fraction of the whole, apparent only due to chance events: the scouring of a glacier, the cleaving of a river valley, the picking of a particular story from the slush pile. These fleeting circumstances determine how the underlying tectonics ...

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