Thursday, June 8, 2023

Locking the door but leaving the lights on

So I've got a Substack now.

I've already gone over the reasons for wanting to move on. Blogger is a zombie platform. Substack hosts a livelier scene, and its architecture is much more interlinked than Blogger's. Maybe—maybe—I can get involved in the "community" and make the acquaintance of people I vibe with. I'm probably kidding myself (writers are an off-putting breed, let's be honest), but one can hope.

And also: you can subscribe and get updates right in your inbox without having to check back every couple of weeks! HOW EXCITING! I understand Blogger used to be able to do this, but no longer. (Like I said: zombie platform.)

This blog is looking like a hoarder's house to me at this point, and I thought it might be fun to try something a little different—and with a more defined purpose. When I started this thing, the idea was to just treat it as a repository for whatever thoughts I cared to elaborate on, and lately I'm feeling like I might do better by limiting myself to a narrower set of themes. Restrictions promote creativity, after all.

Maybe I'll periodically return here to post fluffy stuff about video games, comics, etc. when I feel compelled to write it. (I really had a lot of fun scribbling about Shade, The Maxx, etc. over the last few months.) Heck, maybe I'll get tired of Substack and wander back by the end of the summer. Who knows?

So, again: Beyond Easy probably won't be updated for a while. Go here instead.

Hmm. The space could use a bit of gussying up. I'll get to it sometime.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Kontemplating Komix: I Feel Sick (1999–2000)

I will not be unconvinced that the title is an
End of Evangelion reference.

When we were talking about The Good Old Days some years back, my hometown friend Dave said: "Johnny the Homicidal Maniac was our Catcher in the Rye." The observation was too on-point not to get permanently stuck in my memory. Dave certainly has his moments.

Jhonen Vasquez's seminal indie comic (which ran for seven issues between 1995 and 1997) and its spin-off, Squee! (four issues, 1997–98) were a fucking revelation for kids like Dave and me—socially askew goth bois with a morbid sense of humor, and who maybe thought a little too highly of ourselves. Johnny not only made us laugh ourselves hoarse and inspired us to imitate Vasquez's idiosyncratic art style in our classroom doodles, but reaffirmed us in our belief (one not uncommon in teenagers who wore fishnet sleeves and painted their fingernails black) that virtually everyone in the world was stupid and horrible, and if we were fucked up, it was because we were surrounded by mean-spirited and obtuse assholes from wall-to-wall.

When I was a sophomore in high school, I had every Johnny and Squee! poster on my bedroom wall. My wardrobe contained no fewer than four different T-shirts with Vasquez's characters on them, and I quickly wore them out and kept wearing them anyway. I ordered the Bad Art Collection from the Slave Labor Graphics catalogue and actually read it—multiple times. I sent Vasquez a long email and saved his reply on my hard drive. (I remember it involved Final Fantasy VII.) Yes, I was obsessed. Vasquez has that effect on people; he's like David Foster Wallace for young moth goths. I meant for that to read "mall goths," but I'm going to let the typo stand.