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The sci-fi comic book story that inspired ‘They Live’
12.01.2017
08:52 am
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Ray Nelson’s short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning,” on which John Carpenter based They Live, was first published in the November 1963 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. But Carpenter first encountered the story 23 years later, in its comic book adaptation, “Nada.”

The seven-page story illustrated by Bill Wray ran in Alien Encounters #6. The comic follows Nelson’s story pretty closely, and there are strong resemblances between the stories of They Live and “Nada,” especially the “storming the reality studio” climax (of which Nelson’s acquaintance William S. Burroughs would surely have approved) common to all versions of the story. But there are differences. Only Wray’s includes a Circle Jerks poster.
 

The opening panels of ‘Nada’ (available in its entirety here)
 
More significantly, the famous Hofmann (i.e., LSD) sunglasses do not appear in Nelson’s story or in Wray’s comic. Nelson’s hero, George Nada, goes to the theater to watch a live hypnosis act, and when he hears the command to awake at the show’s end, he suddenly realizes that he’s surrounded by outer-space aliens. The Fascinators, “the rulers of Earth,” are reptilian beings with too many eyes who control human beings through suggestion. In Nelson’s story, Nada doesn’t just see their awful stomach-turning alien monstrosity after waking up from his trance, he hears the terrible croaking alien language they speak to one another, and a constant stream of subliminal commands delivered in “bird-like” voices. The aliens tell him to “obey,” “work,” and—now that he’s on to them—die:

Suddenly the phone rang.

George picked it up. It was one of the Fascinators.

“Hello,” it squawked. “This is your control, Chief of Police Robinson. You are an old man, George Nada. Tomorrow morning at eight o’clock, your heart will stop. Please repeat.”

“I am an old man,” said George. “Tomorrow morning at eight o’clock, my heart will stop.”

 

 
George Nada’s cruelty to his girlfriend (fiancee, in the comic), Lil, makes him an unsympathetic character and suggests that he might be seeing space reptiles everywhere because he is a delusional nutcase, not a possibility Carpenter’s movie entertains. When he sets out to “awaken” others, Nada first tries beating up the woman in his life. After violence doesn’t work, he steals her car, leaving her bound and gagged on the bed, alone in her apartment with a dead body, terrified. There is none of the comradely spirit or cheerful good-fellowship of the fight scene in They Live.

Ray Nelson’s bio is recommended reading. He claims to be the inventor of the propeller beanie and says that, as a young man, “he worked with Michael Moorcock smuggling Henry Miller books out of France.”

And John Carpenter still has some They Live sunglasses left over from his bubblegum-lacking, ass-withering Anthology tour. He forcefully repudiated anti-Semitic interpretations of They Live on Twitter earlier this year:

 
Read all of “Nada” at SAP Comics.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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12.01.2017
08:52 am
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The subversive world of Rock ‘N’ Roll Madness Funnies: Underground comic satirizes 70s rock
01.24.2017
03:10 pm
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Ahh, the endless subversive thrills of underground comix. It is hard to fathom in these everything-goes days of informational overload, but during their early 70’s heyday, they were a thumb in the eye to everything holy and sacred about American culture, including its worship of bland, morally-incorruptible superheroes. Instead of lame-os like Superman and Captain America we had pervy creeps like Fritz the Cat and weed-smoking slackers The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. Rife with drugs, violence, sex and sedition, these thoroughly adult “funnybooks” were counter-cultural timebombs. Once you’ve read an issue of Bizarre Sex, Death Rattle or Cocaine Funnies, Archie and Jughead just won’t do anymore.
 
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The underground comics (or “comix” as they were widely known) phenomenon sprouted from the fertile artistic well of San Francisco in the late 1960s. Some of its earliest practitioners/pioneers included Gilbert Shelton (Freak Brothers), S. Clay Wilson (The Checkered Demon), Bill Griffith (Zippy the Pinhead) and of course Robert Crumb (Zap Comix, Fritz the Cat, Mr. Natural). It took a few years for these gritty, greasy comics to slither across the pond, especially since Britain had a knack for banning this kind of hippy-dippy counter-culture stuff. In fact, the bible of British hippies, Oz magazine, was undergoing an obscenity trial in 1972 and was withering on the vine when it split off into its own short-lived underground comic offshoot, cOZmic Comics. The title combined strips borrowed from American comics with new British artists like Mike Weller, Ed Barker and Malcolm Livingstone and became the flagship for underground comics in the UK.
 
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Cozmic Comics ran for three years and eventually a handful of spin-offs were released, including Animal Weirdness, Half-Assed Funnies, and Rock ‘N’ Roll Madness Funnies. Rock ‘N’ Roll Madness Funnies only ran for two issues and then vanished, but it serves as a crucial snapshot of an era that treated its rock stars like untouchable gods. As is the job of any subversive, Rock ‘N’ Roll Madness Funnies turned that notion on its head, filling its pages with zonked out weirdos blowing their minds and millions on drugs and death trips. Many of the stories in both issues were written by musician/journalist Mick Farren and drawn by Dave Gibbons, who would later go on to fairly massive success with titles like 2000 AD and The Watchmen.
 
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None of the stories are particularly hard-hitting and everyone’s favorite, a tawdry descent into drugs and debauchery by a Crumb-ian rock n’ roll cat named “Dirty Pussy,” was never credited. But what makes these two comics so eminently cult-y are the stunning covers by American artist Greg Irons. Irons was a prolific poster artist from SF who had worked on the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine film and was also responsible for the frequently hair-raising underground horror comic Slow Death. He died in 1984 after getting hit by a bus in Thailand, which is a helluva time/place/way to go. The covers he created for Rock ‘N’ Roll Madness Funnies achieve what they’re supposed to—portray a slice of live, out-of-control, all-knobs-to-the-right rock action. But in his attempt to concoct the freakiest, wiggest-out cartoon bands imaginable, Irons managed to lampoon rock stars who didn’t even exist yet. Issue one’s skinny glam rocker is such a shoo-in for Antichrist Superstar-era Marilyn Manson that you would assume he was capable of time travel or ESP, and issue 2’s thoroughly amazing blood-splattered tableau seems to predict both hardcore punk and corpse-painty black metal in one-over-the top image.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Ken McIntyre
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01.24.2017
03:10 pm
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Boyd Rice and Douglas P. get busy in the new fan-fiction comic book ‘Love Holocaust’


 
Now there’s a Henry & Glenn Forever for the neofolk set.

The latest catalog from Soleilmoon Recordings (home of the affordable Dreamachine and much of the Legendary Pink Dots’ oeuvre) offers Love Holocaust, a new comic book about “an imaginary romantic encounter” between former collaborators Boyd Rice of NON and Douglas P. of Death in June:

The story, written by J. Guignol, draws inspiration from Death In June’s legendary songbook. Illustrator Tenebrous Kate turned the story into a comic book, and has lovingly hand-made each copy. The covers are hand-printed linocuts with gold ink on black paper. Limited numbered editions of 27 hard-bound and 50 soft-bound copies.

 

 
The glimpses of the book’s contents on the Soleilmoon website disclose runes, Gothic script, tiki mugs, and other totems of these men’s mythologies. I see that J. Guignol describes their assignation in the kind of prose Terry Southern used to call “brutally frank” and “frankly explicit”:

Boyd wanted to feel the tightness of Dougie’s anal swastika, he wanted to open the “brown book” of his love. Boyd began to pull Dougie’s pants down; his hot breath send [sic] shivers down Dougie’s spine as he whispered in his ear, “Put the mask on. You know I like it with the mask on.”

More fun after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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06.03.2016
09:03 am
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