When I first read about Punk Rock Jesus in Comic Shop Insider I was intrigued. I’m not one to fall in for the tropes of ‘punk’ – I’m pretty much of the opinion that nothing has really been ‘punk’ since about 1979. HOWEVER – I’ve always thought the real-world, over-used visual stylings of safety pins, liberty spikes and tattoes can still be used to great effect in fictional realms. There’s something about having grown up in the late 70’s, early 80’s, when movies and comics were using the left over punk imagery to shape very nihilistic and often destitute characters and tableaus for their visions of the future. Think about Chris Claremont’s early-eighties Uncanny X-men and his Morlocks, or cinema wise think Mad Max*, as well as pretty much every cop movie or show at the time, where the hoods often had mohawks, chains, spiked wristbands and of course, switchblades.
I’ll admit that if you had told me a year ago that I would be reading ANYTHING from DC’s New 52 Reboot/Relaunch except for the Grant Morrison helmed books I probably would have laughed in your face. Then you would have downed the rest of your pint in one long, arrogant gulp and smashed me in the face with the glass. Then I would have invoked the power of Garth Ennis and kicked your arse.
But color me surprised, none of that happened and I am indeed following several of the *ahem* New 52.
When I was in fourth grade a bought a copy of Larry Hama’s GIJOE comic book – specifically #49, the birth of Serpentor – and ever since I have been an AVID comic book geek. Sure my interest has waxed and waned over the years – more due to the state of the industry and the quality of books coming out during the 90’s than any age issues – but I’ve always had constants. Sandman, Preacher, Lucifer, Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, The Walking Dead – there has always been at least one book that I HAVE to read the minute I get it every month. I feel fortunate for this – I’ve known a lot of folks whose enthusiasm for the medium has waned at various points and this has never happened to me. Part of the reason was discovering the non-superhero stuff and then ironically enough part of it has been, in recent years, re-discovering a lot of the superhero stuff now that those non-superhero writers are changing it from the spandex muscle fest they were in the 90’s into the (in some cases) intricate works of art and plot they have become in the last ten or so years. I’m telling you – there’s a veritable TON of great books out there right now and I’m going to make this an ongoing column to kind of clue people in to that. What people? Well, I guess I’m writing this for mainly two main groups: those who have never read a comic but are curious after being wooed by the simply awesome influx of high profile movies in recent years and those who at some point turned away from ‘funny books’ thinking they’d outgrown them. Believe me, in the case of the nineties readers you DID outgrow them – but the industry has finally (for the most part) had a growth spurt and caught up to you. And what a spurt it’s been…
I discovered Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s mouth-watering prose while working at a book store in the mid-2000’s. My boss at the time regularly touted Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind as one of the best books she’d ever read. We had somewhat similar taste, and I pride myself on having an open mind and a slightly ravenous hunger for literature, yet somehow I never really moved on this one. Then in 2008 Zafon published The Angel’s Game, a prequel to Shadow, and I just happened to walk into the room while my boss was describing the opening chapters of the novel to another co-worker. For the purposes of explaining my IMMEDIATE interest in the book I will now try to recreate what I heard that day. I don’t have the best memory, but I believe it will be fairly accurate, as her words at the time made quite the impact on me:
With Skagboys Irvine Welsh – prolific Scottish author, playwright and underground taste-maker has once again returned to the world of his beloved Leith boys to give us a prequel to his 1992 novel Trainspotting.
Now, two years ago or so when I read that another of my favorite authors, Bret Easton Ellis, was returning to do a sequel novel to his debut Less Than Zero, I was slightly suspicious. Don’t get me wrong – I read Imperial Bedrooms and loved it, thus squashing my suspicions (as I knew Ellis would). However, in a world where almost everything has been based on pre-existing material for what feels like aeons* the unfortunate fact is that any return to pre-existing material is suspect, regardless of perceived good faith. That’s just the way it goes. Fortunately, much like Ellis, what Irvine Welsh has done is to strengthen my resolve to continue to have faith in the authors that I love.