WEEKEND OPEN BAR: consult your medium

consult your medium

[WEEKEND OPEN BAR: The one-stop ramble-about-anything weekend post at OL. Comment on the topic at hand. Tell us how drunk you are. Describe a comic you bought. This is your chance to bring the party.]

I want you to consult your medium.

And I’m not talkin’ about that gargantuan-racked Gypsy babe you met at the bus stop. Do I think it’s righteous that she wore a revealing shawl and was jambox-blastin’ an Among the Living cassette? Yes. Do I think that she actually has psychic powers? No. Unless you like waking up in another state to find that you’ve been drugged, robbed, and’re wanted on an arson charge, you’re goin’ to want to stay away from her.

Trust me, I know from experience.

Anyways, the sort of medium we’re dealin’ with today ain’t of the supernatural variety. Well, not literally (we’ll come back to that). See, the word “medium” comes from the old-tyme Ancients’ expression for “in the middle.” As such, there’re a whole mess of ways to apply the term. Yes, that’s why when you go to Dunkin Donuts, the serving size of hot dirt-water that’s larger than the small but smaller than the large is called medium!


When takin’ a stroll across the Arts & Entertainment Dance Hall, we need to look at media as the ways in which creators express themselves. In a sense, any given medium is the means by which a transfer occurs from the mind of the Creator to the mind of the Viewer. It’s actually an alarmingly simple process: an idea is in the Creator’s mind, the Creator shapes some sort of artifact, the Viewer experiences said artifact, and now the same idea is in the Viewer’s mind! Voila!

Stephen King describes the process in On Writing:

Look — here’s a table covered with a red cloth. On it is a cage the size of a small fish aquarium. In the cage is a white rabbit with a pink nose and pink-rimmed eyes. In its front paws is a carrot-stub upon which it is contentedly munching. On its back, clearly marked in blue ink, is the numeral 8.

Do we see the same thing? We’d have to get together and compare notes to make absolutely sure, but I think we do. There will be necessary variations, of course…

I sent you a table with a red cloth on it, a cage, a rabbit, and the number eight in blue ink. You got them all, especially that blue eight. We’ve engaged in an act of telepathy. No mythy-mountain shit; real telepathy.

That’s right, you degenerate broads and bastard boozers clinging to the railing of Spaceship OL — every time you read a book or listen to an album or play a video game, you’re on the receiving end of some genuine telepathy! And when you find it in your soul to create some art? When you show someone the landscape you painted or the sonnet you penned? Yeah, you’ve got it — you’re on the transmitting end of the thought-transfer!

So what’s this all gettin’ at? Well, simply put, I want every goddamn one of you to declare your medium-allegiance. At the end of the day, in which art form are you most invested? Which mode of expression sweep-picks your heartstrings? What is it about this medium that gets your blood pumpin’ and spirit swirlin’?

[What is your medium of choice?]

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Jack Kirby: Storyteller

Today I watched a sick Jack Kirby documentary by Paul G Baker. Some of comics most well-known creators weigh in on the man who far too often resides in the shadow of Stan Lee. If you have any interest in the history of comics, superheroes, or the far-reaching effects one man can have on a medium, watch this feature.

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Moore Wisdom

Alan Moore

The people at some website called Mania.com have just put out the second installment of an interview with Alan Moore, acclaimed writer of every fucking comic book taken seriously. So far, it is a really interesting read – checking out the perspectives of a man who has done more to alter the course of the comic book medium while simultaneously lambasting its industry.

While I’m not going to regurgitate the entire article, I am going to present one of my favorite excerpts. In this bit, Moore discusses the perversion that is comic book fandom’s loyalty to static, well-worn properties over the creators striving to do something unique and  challenge the limits of imagination.

I remember somebody in one of the fanzines over here saying, “Well, why don’t we just not buy any Marvel comics until they give Jack Kirby what he deserves.” I thought, “Yeah, that sounds good. I’ll do that.” And, that was when I stopped buying Marvel comics. I think in the next issue of the fanzine, someone said, “Uh, yeah, but fans are never going to do that, are they?” And, as it turns out, he was right. But, they could’ve done it, if they’d really cared–not if they’d cared for the Hulk, but for the person who created the Hulk; not if they cared for Spider-Man, but if they’d cared for Steve Ditko. They could’ve protested, just once–even if that was only by not buying comics that were substandard or had got ugly practices with how their creators were handled. The whole of the industry, from top to bottom, does have a certain amount of responsibility for its decline.

This is the voice of a man who knows what is truly good for comics. People read Warren Ellis’ Do Anything  and discard it as half-baked philosophy. These same folks  write off The Dark Knight Strikes Again  as Frank Miller’s failed attempt to recapture greatness (anyone who’s read Eisner/Miller understands that FM was deliberately refuting his past work). And I’m sure that Alan Moore’s most recent comments will be shrugged off, explained away as the “semi-coherent musing of a fucked up snake-deity worshipping old man.”

Actually, that explanation isn’t wrong. But neither is Alan Moore.