This week was, to be frank, a struggle. The demands of the day gig were more intense than ever, pushing up against the other parts of our lives with increasing insistence. We had trouble getting links for the issue in the face of an stream of negativity and all-round ugliness.
And yet. On Wednesday a joint meetup between the staff of The Cut and our pals at Reading Writers, the first face-to-face gathering in eighteen months, was a balm and a boozy joy. At the last minute, we found our quota of linkertainment… with a little help from our friends. And here we are, early on a Saturday morning, glue and scissors in hand, patching together the issue you’re reading now. Life may get in the way, but it will also find a way.
A comics-heavy episode this week. Suck it up, it’s good for you.
Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.
This little slice of reportage from the working day of a 1970s private detective feels like a despatch from a distant, near-forgotten place. Who remembers faxes, or CB radios, or the days when phone booths were not homes to community libraries or defibrillators? Man, it must have been tough on the streets back then!
The Ninth Art Desk is open! We are aware that our wibbling about the minutiae and politics of the comics world is tangential to the central pleasure of the medium—reading the darn things! Where do you start if you want to get into comics and don’t have a clue what to pick up first? Luckily, we Brits have a Comics Laureate who’s job is to advocate for funny books. Stephen L. Holland, the latest appointee to the role, has come up with a useful list and set of reviews to get you on the right path. We are happy to see a lot of our personal favourites made the grade. Go on, dig in!
This interview with Daniela Melchior, one of the breakout stars of James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad (polarising opinion across the board but highly praised by comics professionals as a decent cover version of the books) gave us the smiles. She seems like the sort of girl that would thrive in the surreal environment of the wildest comic book movie to date, and just a lot of fun to hang out with.
OK, let’s have some more wibbling about the minutiae and politics of the comics world. We have talked quite a bit lately about the poor levels of recompense comics creators get from the big publishers—a problem which is leading to a second wave of indie and solo imprints sprouting up. An interesting sidebar is the move by some high-profile names to Substack, the newsletter platform. This isn’t just a subscription deal—many of these big noises have been paid by Substack to join.
Now, we’ve mentioned Substack before as well, and how it’s first tranche of paid writers skewed not just to the right but anti-LGBTI. The question at the time—is it ever acceptable to take the dollar on offer when you’re sharing a stage with homophobes—isn’t going away. Interesting to note the case of Chip Zdarsky, writer on big titles like Daredevil, who says he’s using the platform to get away from Twitter and regain a level of control. He also states he’ll be donating his subscription fees to an LGBTI charity. Some voices remain unimpressed by that stance. Our view? The Cut tried Substack for a little while, but find we’d rather stick with the WordPress model, which remains completely neutral. Also, we’re not in it for the money—at least not when our model is rehashing other people’s content in a slightly different format. Anyway, here’s a slice of context to help you make up your own mind.
One last hit of geekery and then we’ll throw in some fun stuff. An improvement in simple technology which could really help in terms of the climate crisis and helping people in poverty is the humble stove. Tweaking the design for improved efficiency is, it turns out, a wildly complex undertaking in which every element plays an essential part.
A link from our Leading Man, Clive Ashenden. Nestflix is a database for fictional movies—the sort of show which pops up in trailers or excerpts in the middle of real films. There’s a lot here to check out and it’s a highly agreeable time sink. Thanks, Clivey!
A couple from one of my favourite newsletters right now— The Bluestocking from Journalist Helen Lewis, to which I urge you all to snag a subscription)*. First up, the late lamented Jeremy Hardy does Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in the style of George Formby. You’ll never hear it any other way again.
Secondly, this bit from writer and comedian Chris Addison takes on every aspect of the art and presentation of a creative object and does it in a beautiful, elegant and above all hilarious way. We’re horribly jealous of how good this is.
How much fun are we having right now? Is this week’s Cut a bit of a bumpy ride? Well, it turns out you can absolutely quantify fun. There’s a scale and everything!
And finally. As Marvel crank up their new animated series What If…? (an unalloyed joy and a great sample of how to cram a lot of story into a short space of time—much like the best comics, of course) we celebrate another comic-book cartoon which has hit 40 this year. Heavy Metal, loosely based on the seminal anthology series, is a wild-eyed, bare-knuckle ride. Some parts have really not aged well, but it’s still a movie both the Film and Music Desk view fondly. Hell, we still have the record in our collection!
The choice for Exit Music is pretty simple, then. Here’s Sammy Hagar’s title cut from the movie soundtrack, featuring shots from the final segment of the film, Taarna. We offer up a warning for cartoon gore and unfeasibly skimpy leather armour. This is the most eighties thing you’ll see all week.
See you next Saturday, warriors.
*Yes, The Bluestocking is a Substack newsletter. Just goes to show it it’s possible to gracefully navigate the choppy contextual waters and come up with something worthwhile. There’s always more than one opinion, and a binary right/wrong argument never shows the whole story.