Filthy Friday #2


Still not the cover to The Function of The Filth – maybe I could rob a bank and pay Carlos Segura to design my cover for me, eh?


Another week, another preview from my work in progress!  If you’ll forgive me a lapse of salesmanship, I have to admit that this is the excerpt I’m least confident of as a standalone piece – without the sections on either side it’s obvious that it has too much paraphrase and not enough analysis.

Plok has identified a strain of bloggy “and then the guy said a cool thing” narration running through The Function of The Filth, and while I don’t want to excise this completely – the shifts in register are very Filth-appropriate, and anyway, who needs yet another exciting adventure in comics pseudo-academia? – I want to provide more compelling account of the way so much of our fiction reduces sex to a mere box-ticking exercise in the finished book.

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Albums That Weren’t Total Shit in 2014 – First In a Series!

An incomplete list of new albums that I’ve enjoyed listening to this year, as prompted by the lad James Baker and as posted in instalments here to make it look like I’m actually doing some writing.

Please note that this isn’t a “best of” – if I do one of those I’ll do it properly and I’ll do once the year has actually ended.

Richard Dawson – Nothing Important

I saw this guy supporting R.M. Hubbert in Rutherglen a few months back with an audience who clearly didn’t know whether they were supposed to take his alternately wry and deranged tales of teenage debauchery and heroic quiltmakers seriously or not. I’m less interested in that question than I am in the effects he generates from moment to moment, the sudden lurches and explosions and passages of uneasy beauty, all of which conspire to make the acoustic guitar seem like it’s not just for readymade dickheads.

Helena Hauff – Shatter Cone/Return to Disorder/Helena Hauff Meets Andreas Gehm (with Andreas Gehm, obvs)


There are only one or two tracks here that come close to matching the title piece from 2013’s Actio Reaction, which sounded like the introduction to Whitney Houston’s ‘I Want To Dance With Somebody’ stuck on a loop until you listened to it with the bass up loud enough, but when I want music that makes me want to move I go to Hauff right now. Disgustingly crude and minimal, simple sounds battering away at you until you’re tender enough to become receptive to the groove.

YG – My Krazy Life


The structure makes it obvious that YG’s trying to do a Kendrick, but while he doesn’t quite have the stories or skills to make that work he does have beats you could lounge to for miles. There’s no hip-hop record I’ve enjoyed listening to more this year, except for mebbe RTJ2 (about which more in a later post).

Actress – Ghettoville

And this is the album I’ve enjoyed listening to most this year. It’s all about the hiss and static, the space between the beats, until it isn’t and all of a sudden you’re staggering out into the daylight with no idea where you’ve been and a chestful of amazing angelic tunes to show for it.

St Vincent – St Vincent


If I’m honest I was hoping that Annie Clarke was going to team up with Steve Albini and make her Steve Albini album, all distortion and grind, since that’s where her 2012 live show was obviously heading. Let’s just say that it took me a while to find my way into this lush, conceptual record. I got there in the end though, so fuck Gaga, this is artpop, and while I know you rolled your eyes at that line about TV’s looking like windows ‘Rattlesnake’ is contact with mortality with a guitar solo so I’m giving approximately zero fucks.

Independent Rhetoric #1: This and Other Scotlands

Being: the first in a series of posts looking back at the way both sides of the Scottish independence campaign talked past and about each other, and thinking about what this might mean for our post-referendum, post-“Vow”, Devo mini-maxed state.

The one slogan that really got to me during the campaign for Scottish Independence was Radical Independence’s “ANOTHER SCOTLAND IS POSSIBLE”, as seen over and over again in the image below:


Looking at it in the cold light of day, the objections are obvious: what, just one?  And only now?  Of course other Scotlands are still possible, have always been possible – to think otherwise is to find yourself agreeing that we live this way because we have no other options, and even at my most despondent you’d still be able to get me to admit that the society we live in now isn’t inevitable, that it has the potential to change for better or worse.  Against the claim that “It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism,” I would suggest that it is increasingly easy to imagine either, but that we must act in order to influence the outcome before it is chosen for us – this last part is easier said than done, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Still, as Ursula K. Le Guin said while accepting the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters: “We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings.”  Hence the appeal of “ANOTHER SCOTLAND IS POSSIBLE”, a statement which is as true as it is open to interpretation.

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Filthy Friday #1: The Carter Addendum

In an unusual bit of Filthy synchronicity, it appears that a new deluxe hardcover edition of The Filth is due to be released in April next year – in the very same month I’m aiming to release my book of criticism on this subject!  From now on I’m going to pretend that my plan was to release The Function of The Filth to coincide with this release, but you’ll all know that I’m just making it up as I go along.


In other news, I couldn’t get the introductory quote from the print version of chapter one of The Function of The Filth to sit nicely in that Mindless Ones post, so I’m whacking it up here in order to provide context for some interpolations that will appear throughout these excerpts:

What are the butcherly delights of meat? These are not sensual but analytical. The satisfaction of scientific curiosity in dissection. A clinical pleasure in the precision with which the process of reducing the living, moving, vivid object to the dead status of thing is accomplished. The pleasure of watching the spectacle of the slaughter that derives from the knowledge one is disassociated from the spectacle; the bloody excitation of the audience in the abattoir, who watch the dramatic transformation act, from living flesh to dead meat, derives from the knowledge they are safe from the knife themselves. There is the technical pleasure of carving and the anticipatory pleasure of the prospect of eating the meat, of the assimilation of the dead stuff, after which it will be humanly transformed into flesh.

Angela Carter, The Sadeian Woman: An Ideology of Pornography

Filthy Friday #1

COMING IN SPRING 2015 – THE FUNCTION OF THE FILTH!! Alas, this isn't the cover for my book but an unused cover design for The Filth itself!

I’ve spent far too much time writing about Morrison and Weston’s toxic anti-fantasy The Filth – if you include comments left on the Barbelith message board, I’ve been doing this since 2002! – but despite several previous attempts in this direction, I’ve never quite managed to write the book length treatment of the comic I’ve been threatening since… 2010, at least. Another unused cover design, combining Carlos Segura's clinical design skills with Chris Weston's interior artwork. The optimal time for writing this book has passed, and the comics internet has developed a more complicated/exasperated relationship with one of the book’s primary authors, Grant Morrison.  These difficulties have fed back into the work, and I’ve finally found a method of writing about the series that does justice to its mix of the puerile and the tragic, and which allows for both immersive readings of the comic and criticism of the culture in which it grew and festered.

Sequart’s terrible book on this subject (Curing the Postmodern Blues: Reading The Filth in the 21st Century) is upfront about the fact that it’s going to give Filth-penciller Chris Weston a short shrift,  and I’m determined not to repeat this error in my book – I can imagine a version of this story written by John Smith, but I can’t imagine one drawn by anyone other than Chris Weston. Future Filthy Friday posts will give more details of this method, but for now you can CLICK HERE to read an excerpt from the first chapter, the castle made of flesh that was exploded. Fuck me but these unused covers are good! Click here to see the lot. I hope you enjoy it.  All feedback is welcome – Plok has already provided several suggestions that I’m hoping to implement before the book goes to print, but I’m sure there’s some stuff in there that even his eyes will have missed!

Adventures in Retail

Elsewhere: I had a hilariously awful experience trying to buy The Best of Milligan and McCarthy in my local comic shop and I wrote about it for Mindless Ones dot com.


While you’re thinking about Brendan McCarthy, you might want to read this piece by me on why he’s a plonker, and this piece by Sarah Horrocks on why he’s a genius.

Bubble Pop

I really should have written something here this week, given that I distributed the address with previews of my book-in-progress at Thought Bubble 2014, but I’m lucky if I’ve scraped together a night’s worth of sleep in the past week and between working my day job, talking nonsense with a sickly Canadian visitor (the mighty Plok!), and helping my girlfriend through last-minute essay panic I’ve not really had the opportunity to finish off any of the posts in my “drafts” folder.

I’ll be posting the first excerpt from my book of comics criticism The Function of The Filth tomorrow…


…so for now I’ll leave you with two links, one for the comics people and one for those who care about everything else!

ITEM! — SILENCE! #122, live from Thought Bubble Comics Convention in Leeds

For the second year running my fellow Mindless Ones Gary Lactus and The Beast Must Die hosted a live version of their popular comics podcast at Thought Bubble.  I wasn’t able to make it along this year as I was too busy covering the table, so I’ll be listening along with you for the first time when I download it later.

Comics writers Kieron Gillen, Al Ewing and Si Spurrier were in attendance, along with someone who I believe may qualify as The Most Special Guest.

A representative picture:



ITEM! — My pal doesn’t want to be part of any club that would have her, let’s all hang around with her until she agrees we’re the coolest! 


Like many people, my friend Jessica found the movement for Scottish independence to offer a political space in which she could actually live and operate as a human being and (importantly) a woman.  Take away that last detail and I was right there with her.

There were arseheids on both sides, of course – I knew a Labour For Indy bod who was going out with a guy who ran a Facebook quiz that predicted a NO vote back in 2011, and they were pilloried as tricksters and phantoms by the NO and YES camps respectively, their whole lives dismissed as a cunning ruse, their whole YES-friendly relationship presumably an elaborate cover conceived by an idiot.  Still, it was easy to ignore that sort of nonsense when you were watching people debate what sort of society they wanted to live in from the broad strokes to the fine details, and when people were finding new ways to get people involved in that process on a weekly basis.

Now that the sense of possibility has bled out of the situation, it makes sense that some folk are desperately trying to replace it, but one of the easiest ways to do this is to give in to your inner arseheid – that way, you’ve got plenty of gas to spare.  Anyway, Jessica’s far funnier and more insightful on this situation than I am, and you should probably go read what she has to say about it now.