And we blink, and it’s February. This time last week I was starting to twitch about the Reading Writers launch at Tutu’s in Palmer Park. Very happy to report it went off without a hitch. Stories were read. Wine was imbibed. Cakes and sandwiches just kept on coming. Fine times were had.
Now we have business to address. Saturday rolls around and there are links to be shared. This week—fonts! Bots made of spam! A big chunk of fiction! And several more! You know the deal by now.
Wherever you are, whenever you are, however you are, welcome to The Swipe.
(featured image via @69Scars on Twitter).
Rob is reading…
ND Stevenson. Particularly his 2023 Hourly Comics, which are thoughtful on the creative process while also managing a light observational humour which seems effortless and I can guarantee is not.
Rob is watching…
This. Take ten minutes and you’ll never look at films in the same way again.
Rob is listening…
To George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass. It’s a huge, dense chewy piece of work, made all the more remarkable as this collection of incredible songs were rejected or sidelined by the Beatles. Lavish production and an extended run time (it’s a triple album after all) make this a record to take your time with.
Rob is eating…
Home-made comfort food. Spicy breaded chicken nuggets made with thigh pieces, breaded with the crumbs I blitz out of the ends of our sandwich loaves and stash in the freezer. Haddock in a tempura batter sizzling to perfection in our tiny deep-fat fryer, with double-cooked chips. It’s a messy job but seriously worth it.
Deanna Dikeman has taken a simple moment that all children see and turned it into a moving exercise in love, the passage of time and inevitable mortality. The last picture hit me like a train. I suspect it will wallop you too.
Some musings on design and how a particular font on a particular title or set of books can stick with you for ever. I still own the New English Library editions of the Dune trilogy alluded to in the article below. They are beloved treasures, with a very distinct feel. I do like the use of Davison Art Nouveau, though. It has the right blend of futuristic mysticism. Gods, I’m such a pseud.
Right, time for a shot of profundity. As a species, we have a choice to make. We can choose to be selfish and brutal, oppressing those weaker than ourselves and taking everything we can. Or we can take the brighter path, share, collaborate and unify. Garret Hardin’s The Tragedy Of The Commons takes a bleak view of humanity and its future. However, look at the data properly and a different, far more hopeful picture appears. One quote springs to mind…
Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies – “God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”Kurt Vonnegut
Do not fear the robots made of meat. They are here to help you. There is no threat from the robots made of meat. If that ever changes, just remember—the robots can be retasked as sandwiches.
I don’t watch any rolling news channels, for good reason. The endless churning need for content creates a monster which will do and say anything for your attention. Heidi Cuda used to be part of the machine which built the monsters. She walked away. What she saw sparks questions about the very nature of rolling news and whether we should allow it any room in our houses or our heads.
A great, long stream on Mastodon from Blake Leyh, who was a music supervisor on The Wire. He tells stories about some of the needle-drops and montage tracks which helped to make the show so powerful and its legacy so enduring.
Big comics drop! Brian K. Vaughn, writer of Saga and Y: The Last Man has been working with artist Niko Henrichon on a book called Spectators, dropping pages weekly for free. The team have wrapped up year one, which is now available for download. Again, I stress, for free. I can strongly recommend this swervy tale of memory, history and sexuality. Fair warning—it’s graphic in every sense of the word. If cartoon depictions of the act of love are not for you, please do not proceed. The rest of you freaks are in for a treat.
Another long read. Look, it’s a grey old weekend. Settle back and read comics and SF like your old pal Rob. Hell, crack a beer. I’ll probably join you. Please to enjoy this cracking tale of superheroes and humanity from Hugo Award winner John Chu. Content warning for racist slurs and violence.
If You Find Yourself Talking To God
We’ve talked about fonts. We’ve talked about comics. What could be better than to squish the two subjects together? The art and science of the humble speech bubble transcends the delivery of text, providing a clever way to create different voices and sonic textures, all happening in a way your brain probably doesn’t even notice. I’m a fan of the way robot voices in 2000AD (usually lettered by the heroic Tom Frame) came in square, chamfer-edged bubbles.
And I can’t move on without posting this image from Thor #353. That’s John Workman’s lettering. Tell me you can’t hear that one word coming from two mighty throats echoing round your skull.
The Last Word concerns itself with those little things loving couples do to keep the relationship cheery and balanced. Those sweet catchphrases and in-jokes which give every day that special glow. This is so heart-warming.
Can we just have one week where artists I love don’t wander off the mortal plane, please? The Outro is turning into a never-ending eulogy fest. This week, Tom Verlaine moved on. If you’re wondering why certain elements of the music press lost their shit about it, let’s just point out Verlaine’s work effectively redefined what rock should sound like. Just as punk was pushing songwriting towards faster, shorter songs Verlaine and his band Television went the other way, keeping the spiky jagged textures and tying them to music with ambition, depth and length. You may not know the name, but I guarantee you know the sound. I suggest we all listen to Marquee Moon this weekend, and consider what we’ve lost and where we go from here.
If you want a proper eulogy, Patti Smith has you sorted.
See you in seven, true believers.