“It was half-past-one in the morning and I was sitting up with Dan Raspler, who was the JLA editor at the time, and we were talking about Superman, that whole idea of trying to revamp Superman in the year 2000 and deal with all the problems that had been created in the 1990s. Remember when all the imaginary stories became true stories and suddenly there was nowhere else to go? We were talking about how Superman couldn’t solve these problems and we went down into that little park that’s across from the convention hall, and as we look up there was a guy walking across the tracks with his friend, but this guy’s Superman. And he’s not just any costumed convention-goer, but he’s perfect. He was like Billy Zane-meets-Christopher Reeve and he really suited the costume. So I ran over him and said, “This is quite amazing, this is the perfect time for this to happen. Could you come over and speak with us?” He came right over and he started talking in the persona of Superman. So if I said to him, “How do you feel about Lois?” he’d say “Well, Lois doesn’t quite get that I’m an alien as well as a human.” He was so in the character, but what really got me was the way he was sitting. It was this absolutely relaxed pose with one knee up and the arm bent over, and that’s what broke Superman for me. Suddenly I realized that Superman wouldn’t be a poser, he wouldn’t be a Muscle Beach steroid guy; he’d actually be completely relaxed because nothing could hurt him. He could be so open and friendly to everyone because no one can punch him or hurt him. He can’t get a cold, or be damaged by anything you’re carrying or wearing. For me that was the power of that, whether you want to frame it as magical or not, it actually informed the stories I wanted to write. I felt I understood him in a way I hadn’t until that moment.”—Grant Morrison, in conversation with Neil Gaiman.
“You wouldn’t think to look at Dave [McKean]’s imagery. He was going to the San Diego Comic-Con and he got there late. He was coming over from the UK and his plane came in incredibly late. I asked what happened and a guy had died on the plane, and they had to land and get him taken away to a hospital. It was this whole big thing, a guy in the middle of a transatlantic flight just died. “But I could tell I was coming to Comic-Con,” Dave said, “because there was one of your fans on the plane.” I said, “Oh?” And he said, “Yeah, she was dressed as Death.” And I thought, you know, if it were me, I would have wondered, just for a moment, “What are we saying here?” Dave, of course, has that gloriously rational mind that never does that, whereas you and I are both slightly mad.”—Neil Gaiman, in conversation with Grant Morrison.
GM: I was really shy around new people, but I was in a band at the time. And when I did comics, it was also a performance. It’s like playing live. You don’t get much time to edit; we don’t really do second drafts in our business. I love that aspect of comics, where you could have a Sandman out and people would be talking about it immediately, and we could be responding to things that were happening all around us and it could be published three months later, or two months later, depending on how late we were. It’s not like writing a book, which is over a span of years like building a cathedral. The comic is so instant. That’s why it covers the seismic shifts of culture very, very accurately.
NG: The truth is, when I was doing Sandman — it may have changed by the end, when I knew it was being collected in hardbacks and stuff — but definitely for the first years of Sandman, I thought I was doing something disposable. And that was part of the joy of it. It’s here this month and it’ll get you excited, but in a month’s time it will be in the bargain bins, and in two months’ time, you’ll have to hunt for it.
“The big break for me was I got tired of looking at stuff like The Dark Knight and Watchmen, which are wonderful and beautiful works, but for me the idea of taking our problems into the superhero world is ultimately a dead-end. When I was 25 or 26 it occurred to me that trying to make superheroes seem real was insane. They were not real in that way, but what really hit me was, “Well, in what way are they real?” They’re absolutely real in the form of paper, and so I wanted to go beyond that spurious realism of here’s what would happen if Batman got a run in his tights, or, “How does he go to the bathroom?” “Where does he keep his change?” Which I think are very dumb questions. In the book, one of the things I say is that people always believe kids don’t understand the difference between fact and fiction. But they do! A child can watch The Little Mermaid and they know the singing crabs on TV are very different from the real crabs on the beach. You give an adult a piece of fiction, and the adult cannot handle it. The adult begins to ask, “How can Batman afford to run a business and be Batman at night?” “How do the lasers come out of Superman’s eyes?” “Why does he wear those clothes?” And all you want to say is, “Because it’s not real!” It’s made up, and only in the made-up world can these things happen. I find that, in the last 10 years particularly, there’s this idea of grounding Superman, which just seems insane to me. And that’s what you always get from studio executives, is, “How do we ground this?”—Grant Morrison, in conversation with Neil Gaiman.
“This, by the way, is considered the ultimate sign of quality CCM, even amongst Christians: the ability to pass as secular. Every band’s goal was to have teenagers stop their grooving mid-song and exclaim, like a soda commercial actress who’s just realized she’s been drinking diet, “Wait, this is Christian?”—Megan O’Gieblyn, on growing up on Christian Contemporary.
“Is there anything I can do, as a cartoonist? I wish there was a drawing that made people think “Hatred doesn’t work?! Shit, what do I do now? Ten years down the toilet…” It would turn terrorists into meek accountants. There is no such drawing. The crying superheros, the Statue of Liberty with a tear in her eye, drawn after 9/11, I don’t think they achieved that much. So these are just words. They’re nothing, they’re not even on paper. But I felt the need to write something down - it doesn’t make me feel any better, but there it is.”—Norwegian cartoonist Jason, reacting to last week’s terrorist attacks in Norway
“A healthy portion of iTunes sales come from Glee, a television show that tries to devour every era of American pop at the same time. Lady Gaga is just an amalgam of old Madonna, old-ish Madonna, and a well-funded drag masquerade. Pop music is now just a boring version of Girl Talk.”—Jay Caspian Kang, remembering Amy Winehouse.
“The phonograph killed the player piano; radio, newspapers, and TV happily co-existed for generations. When did you last think fondly on the DuMont television network, or smile in recall of Friendster? This moment of anxiety and fear will pass; future generations (there’s now one every three or four years) will have no idea what they missed, and yet they will go on, marry, divorce, and own pets.”—Paul Ford, declaring that we are not living in the media end-time.
Την μια μονότονην ημέραν άλλη
μονότονη, απαράλλακτη ακολουθεί. Θα γίνουν
τα ίδια πράγματα, θα ξαναγίνουν πάλι —
η όμοιες στιγμές μας βρίσκουνε και μας αφίνουν.
Μήνας περνά και φέρνει άλλον μήνα.
Aυτά που έρχονται κανείς εύκολα τα εικάζει·
είναι τα χθεσινά τα βαρετά εκείνα.
Και καταντά το αύριο πια σαν αύριο να μη μοιάζει.
On one monotone day one more
monotone, indistinct day follows. The same
things will happen, then recur—
moments all alike come upon us, and go away.
One month passes bringing one month more.
What comes next is easy enough to know:
the boredom from the day before.
And tomorrow’s got to where it seems like no tomorrow.
C.P. Cavafy - ”Monotony,” translated by Daniel Mendelsohn
Cavafy influenced Seferis— you remember Seferis, “Wherever I travel Greece wounds me” — and although I thought about picking up a book in Greece, I never got around to it. Seeing the O’Reilly show got me thinking about him again, and then I discovered this poem, which must be about the summer.
Above the fresh ruffles of the surf
Bright striped urchins flay each other with sand.
They have contrived a conquest for shell shucks,
And their fingers crumble fragments of baked weed
Gaily digging and scattering.
And in answer to their treble interjections
The sun beats lightning on the waves,
The waves fold thunder on the sand;
And could they hear me I would tell them:
O brilliant kids, frisk with your dog,
Fondle your shells and sticks, bleached
By time and the elements; but there is a line
You must not cross nor ever trust beyond it
Spry cordage of your bodies to caresses
Too lichen-faithful from too wide a breast.
The bottom of the sea is cruel.
“History without myth is surely a wasteland; but myths are compelling only when they are at odds with history. When they replace the need to make history, they too are a dead end and merely smug.”—Greil Marcus, Mystery Train
“I’ve seen you, beauty, and you belong to me now, whoever you are waiting for and if I never see you again, I thought. You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil.”—Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast (via scribnerbooks)
Secretly remoderate into studio art. Pretend to work furiously on a senior project for the whole of senior year, taking vast amounts of sympathy and time from everyone I know. Present artifacts of these encounters and a bound 100 sheet book made up entirely of blank pages as finished product.