Eruditorum Press

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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

4 Comments

  1. LovecraftInBrooklyn
    May 18, 2021 @ 4:00 am

    The Borges connection vindicates my choice to write a college essay comparing Doom Patrol’s first arc to Tlon Uqbar Orbis Tertius.

    I once saw someone adapt the end of Animal Man into a short play, it was very unexpected when I realised what it was.

    Reply

  2. Douglas Muir
    May 19, 2021 @ 2:30 pm

    These last few issues are such a hot mess. They shouldn’t be as good as they are. Half the stuff that happens makes no sense at all even in the context of the metafiction — why do five years pass? What was the monkey, why did it die? What’s the point of the graveyard of extinction?

    (Actually, we know the answer to that last one: it’s because Truog did a few pages of art for the written-but-then-cancelled script for the “lost issue” that would have been #7 or #8. Those pages included the graveyard, so they got recycled. Perhaps they made more sense originally? Or maybe not.)

    Trivia: Comic Book Limbo was created as a throwaway gag a few years earlier by Keith Giffen for Ambush Bug. But Morrison dramatically expanded it, and afaik nobody but Morrison has dared to use it since.

    Trivia2: apparently this is the absolute last appearance of Binkie Biggs, DC’s attempt at an Archie knockoff.

    You’re right that Morrison was flexing here. Other comics creators had done occasional cameo self-inserts — Stan Lee and Jack Kirby did it any number of times. But they were Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and they certainly didn’t devote an entire issue to it.

    (There is that one issue of Fantastic Four where the Four meet God — straight-up God — and He looks just like Jack Kirby. And it currently seems to be canon in the Marvel Universe that there is a God, and at least some people perceive him that way. But Kirby was long dead by the time this became a thing.)

    Coming back to why this final double-arc is so good… from the mesa issue onwards, it has a propulsive dream / nightmare logic to it. One thing comes after another and it doesn’t make sense but it does.

    Also, the kitchen sink madness of leaning hard into the superhero universe is already brain-fizzing even before Animal Man reaches the asylum: time travel! teleportation surfers! Mirror Master! Tea with the Phantom Stranger! Rip Hunter and the Time Masters! Binky freaking Biggs! And then when we do get there… whoo. You don’t have to know who any of these characters are to appreciate (and be horrified by) what’s happened to them.

    One last thought: Morrison created their own micro-Crisis. The last six issues of his run on Animal Man.. never happened. They’re not part of any continuity, and never will be. Alternately, the whole thing can be retconned as a peyote dream — the last seven issues take place in Buddy’s head, up on that mesa. Bad trip, man.

    Doug M.

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  3. Douglas Muir
    May 19, 2021 @ 3:28 pm

    One… no, two other thoughts, looping this back to the War. Yeah, I have a lot of thoughts about these 30 year old comic books. But if Watchmen was the first opening blast of the War, then Animal Man — and especially these final seven issues — represents the first counter-salvo. This is where the challenger first strides forth, armed and clad.

    FIrst, Moore as SF New Wave / Moore as modernist. Yes! Someone once defined the New Wave as SF belatedly acknowledging modernism, 40 years after the fact. And Morrison as pomo works too.

    (Has SF had its pomo moment yet? Unclear.)

    Second, I said earlier that Morrison liked their creation, Mirror Master. Going a bit further: Morrison likes a lot of the characters they write. There’s often a… warmth, there. Not all the characters, by any means. But Morrison likes Buddy Baker (though they write him as a bit of a doofus) and they definitely likes Mirror Master. They like Robotman and Crazy Jane and Flex Mentallo. Even when putting them through literal Hell, you feel that Morrison feels sympathy for them.

    That’s not really true with Moore. Moore’s attitude towards his creations feels cooler and more distant. It’s not that he’s any crueler to them than Morrison, or that they’re any less nuanced or complex. But one feels that much of the time, they’re complex little wind-up mechanisms of narrative.

    Drilling down: the bit where Morrison says “Maybe for once we could try to be kind”? One can’t imagine Moore saying this in that context. (Well: one can’t easily imagine Moore in that context to begin with. An entire issue of, say, Swamp Thing with Moore talking about himself? No.)

    The “try to be kind” line is about five things at once. It’s a criticism of fans, it’s a criticism of the state of the art in 1991, it’s part of Morrison’s flex. But it’s also, I think, sincere — and it’s sincere both generally and very specifically. As a general exhortation to niceness, it’s sentimental, bathetic, almost treacly. But in the specific context of the comic — meaning, let’s undo the last six issues and give Buddy back his family, dog and all — it packs real punch.

    (And can we just pause here and note that Morrison retcons those six issues out of existence and makes us like it? Normally “it was all a dream” is greeted with eye-rolls. Morrison has us misting up and punching the air!)

    This is not to say that Morrison liking their characters is “better”. Morrison’s warmth can sometimes become bathetic or silly, and Moore’s detachment lets him land some very powerful emotional beats. But it does give a noticeably different feel to the whole thing. And I do feel it connects to Morrison’s concept of a “fiction suit”. After all, if you can /like/ a fictional character, then doesn’t that open you to the idea of in some sense interacting with or even becoming a fictional character?

    Finally, emotional connection to a fictional character — what does that lead you to? Well, lots of places. Sometimes it leads you to cosplay… and sometimes it leads you to fanfic.

    But peace, enough. Carry on, please! Reading with great interest.

    Doug M.

    Reply

  4. (Not that) Jack
    May 20, 2021 @ 12:50 pm

    I was hoping the ending sequence of #26 would be covered and I’m pleased that it was. Because that’s one of the best written things in comics I’ve ever read, especially the gut punch of the last panel. To this day it still moves me, perhaps even more now, decades later, when the imaginary friends have turned into characters I use for role playing or writing (pretend for a moment I actually accomplish the latter.) Buddy got his happy ending; Morrison, in the end, didn’t get theirs. It’s always those moving, emotional scenes I remember about Morrison’s run on Animal Man; the metafictional gags faded away, but I can remember that last part of #26 with my eyes closed.

    Those pages made Grant Morrison my favorite comic book writer until Jonathan Hickman came along, and I still have a great fondness for their work today.

    Reply

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