Another Revolution

On Fame’s eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
But Glory guards, with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.
— Theodore O’Hara, “The Bivouac of the Dead”

They marched among the geometrical angles of granite tombstones, wearing simulated gore and affected awkward staggering gaits, carrying upraised signs made of stick handles and Bristol boards with bloody running red lettering.

Among the people dressed in dried red, white and green make-up, purposefully tattered clothing and horror film t-shirts, were people in uniform. Some of them wore dark helmets and dark-blue padding with realistic plastic rifles and riot gear in hand. They seemed to wave the macabre crowd along with plastic severed limbs: at least those that weren’t holding signs of a merry skeleton man with a top hat and cigar between his teeth pointing and proclaiming, “Baron Samedi Wants You!” or “Occupy the Evans City Chapel! Donate Your Flesh!”

For all the attention it received, the Chapel was a square structure of stacked old grey cement blocks with a steeple-roof of dark slate, and a chimney of faded red bricks. If someone looked closely at the base of the building, they would have seen green mould slowly and almost verdantly eating away at its foundations.

It had once been used as a storage-shed ages ago, before it was finally boarded-up altogether and left a hollow shell: its emptiness dignified with the remnants of almost forgotten hallowedness. But its simple crumbling elegance cast a long shadow of significance over the minds of its protesters, its guardians, its revellers and its other self-appointed friends as they gathered near the grounds of its long-sealed front door.

Whatever these fifty-odd some people saw on the path amongst the gravestones in front of their modest, aging Mecca and beyond the frame of a black and white reality, they all wanted to be here. Most of the Event’s participants were enthusiastic locals, some particularly devoted interstate and even international tourists. The other group that came into the Evans City Cemetery, on the other hand, did not seem local but they were–in their way–no less eager to be there.

The newcomers did not go to the Chapel. Instead, they moved past it. Some of them walked with a familiar stiffness, ramrod straight spines and a seeming lack of joints: with deep blue eyes that glittered from sallow faces in the setting sun. Others were more sombre or even more colourful heaps of mouldering robes that hopped or leapt alongside their compatriots: jumping with arms open enough to embrace the entire world.

Others wore darker investments: grey and black medieval armour, closed visors and ragged peasant garb. Some of the new arrivals hulked over the others: seeming to rise up from the ground like earthen blue-black shadows and wearing helmets of sharpened horns.

Still more followed them: large and small and some in more than worse for wear contemporary clothing carrying bits of playing equipment, tools and debris. Bloated and emaciated green things in rags crawled and whispered after them, and in the lengthened shadows it seemed as though they did not always have a shape at all. Lean beasts followed them with raised hackles and similar expressions of living greed on their muzzles and in their eyes.

Some were writhing, undulating wild-eyed women bathed in old red and cloying vinegar-wine as they alternatively fell over and prostrated themselves in erratic procession; while others were black-haired, dark-skinned, beautiful hollow-eyed women gliding in fine dresses and sporting long, long, fingernails. A significant proportion of the assembling throng were even more skeletal: shrivelled and brown caricatures that walked slowly and ably. Two of them looked like little girls in tattered old dresses holding smoking cups in their hands: their eyes silvery cobwebs of intent.

In front of them loomed a pillar of Quincy granite: nineteen feet high and surmounted by the figure of an eagle perched on a globe. As the grisly travellers surrounded it, its shadow consumed them and they became a part of the evening that it dwelled in. One side was inscribed with the names of forty-five dead men, while another was carved with an emblem of a wreath with crossed swords.

They had travelled all this way to congregate at this one point: the old Civil War memorial stone known as The Soldiers’ Monument. Anyone else in the Cemetery might have wondered why there was so much attention and security paid to the road and the Chapel, but not for the old war memorial. Yet no one other than the throng moved towards this spot. And so they waited.

They did not wait quietly. At first, the stillness was broken by a faint nearby rattling reminiscent of dry hollow bamboo tubes clattering against one another.

Gachi gachi … gachi gachi …

As though in sympathy, parts of the throng itself began to shuffle restlessly. A few gaunt forms covered with shaggy hair peered forlornly at their fellows with bloated faces and held out delicious ethereal food. This food went ignored.

Grumbling shadows seemed to shift back and forth above the closest gravestones, as the motley assortment began to moan and bang their makeshift tools on the nearby graves. The robed group began to hop impatiently in one place. The unseen ones stomped their shrunken feet in defiant rhythm. The brittle moving antiques that were the two girls walked through the throng with their two steaming cups, their soft voices mournfully chiming, “Cafe grille … Cafe grille …”

Even while the freshest among the ranks began to growl and hiss at each other, and the fat and thin green shifting creatures with their hyena brethren whispered to each other like sand and Arabic, a few of the figures in the front closest to the Monument remained solemn and patient.

One of them was a white-eyed woman with skin the texture of old coffee and dressed in the habit of a nun. Another was a man in a World War I Canadian Major’s uniform with a waxen blank-looking face and a black bag at his side. People arranged in a wide assortment of shapes surrounded him. They remained still, they and the shrivelled white-eyed brown ones. The latter held vintage bottles that seemed to flutter with eerie lights. They did not offer these to anyone as they stood near the nun. The two girls skipped to her side and she put a weathered hand on both of their wispy heads.

And so they waited. And so they wait. They wait for me. The vetala.

What is past is now present and what will be is now. Even as the evening comes, as it has come several times before, and the blue, black and pale-skinned Draugar bathe themselves in the fox-fire light of their trollskap runes, and the Jiangshi resemble Chinese paper lanterns filled with glow-worms, I come. I appear at the top of The Soldiers’ Monument: my feet balancing on the eagle statue as though I am a fallen angel perching on the head of a pin.

I smile a serene, demoniac smile as I lean forward. With a balance and flexibility that would put any enlightened yogi to shame, I hang down from the top of the pillar and my sightless eyes stare into each and every one of them. Now they are all still. I have their attention.

“The living claim to know our stories,” I begin, “but only the dead may tell them,” I look through all of them, “Speak.”

I am the vetala. I hear their stories. They speak to me. They speak to each other. They speak to each other in the rustling words and fading dactyls of our kind. Although their words are disparate, they are all unified under one scraping dissonant mother tongue: the language of the dead.

The elders speak first. Some are dressed in furs, archaic bronze, gold and rotten silk. They wail about the stories their fleshly tribes and descendants told, hidden away in their caves and ancient homes at night, while they raged outside pounding the doors: demanding sacrifice or just to be among the living again.

The Ro-Langs say they are tired of being created and hunted by sorcerers and Buddhist priests for their tongues and their golden bones. The Nachzehr contingent in the Cemetery say they have grown to despise having their graves intruded on and having coins shoved into their mouths. The few remaining native Skadegamutc–their long skeletal forms pulsing with stolen blood and their hair tied into feathered braids open their fanged maws to release whooping war cries into the air–decry the loss of their lodges, being forced to dwell in holes in the ground, and the burning finality of fire.

Many murmur among the gathering in sympathy. The shaggy Bukwus lament the fact that the living no longer take their offerings of food, nor join them in the waters. The mariner Drang nod their seaweed-encrusted heads in agreement and state in vehement Germanic that they are sick of being spat on. In equally fluent German, distorted only by the gnashing of their teeth into their death-shrouds underground, the Nachzehr rebuke the Drang with their livid, gesturing shadows: telling them that at least they didn’t have to worry about getting their heads cut off.

These exchanges bring another large murmur of agreement: especially from the Wiedergänger and their European revenant cousins. The Jiangshi say nothing but continue to jump around ignorant of glutinous rice, peach-wood, the I Ching and their own reflection while everyone else is aware of the funerary-mockery of self-transport that sorcerers first made of their bodies. Mostly, they are impatient for more qi. From its sprawling place near the corner of the Monument, the giant collection of the bones from a multitude of starved human beings called the Gashadokuro reiterates this sentiment with a loud rustling gachi gachi giving even the other assembled dead reason to pause.

Even so, the Ro-Langs are quick to mention their solidarity with the Jiangshi and add that they are also tired of having their tongues ripped out to become occult-swords. This draws the ire of the beautiful Pontianak: hissing that just as they were victims in life of the men that impregnated them and forced them to die at childbirth, so too do they still continue to abuse them after their deaths by driving nails through the backs of their necks and cutting off their long nails to make them “more docile” as wives.

Most of the ones arguing now, while a little more numerous than the elders, are fewer than the majority: with even fewer of the living in their native lands telling their stories every day. With some exceptions, theirs are complaints that have less to do with current persecution and more to do with past wrongs, restlessness and hunger.

Out of all of them, it is the Draugar that are collectively the loudest.  The walking remnants of the Northmen boast about their achievements in strength and power, how it took the will of a true hero to wrestle them back into their howes. They say that the living can cut off their heads or burn them to ash, but that they will fight it all the way and retake the world that was once their own. They taunt the other dead, calling them cowards and mindless shells: commanding them to fight.

One of the revenants laughs hoarsely and points out the ever-present truth: the Draugar are few and most of their barrow-homes have been lost. Even with their power and lore of the dead, they are too few to reclaim their own lands of ice and darkness themselves: never mind the entire world. The Draugar become angry: proclaiming they will get all the reinforcements they need from their brethren in Hel once the ships made from dead men’s nails set sail.

The wax-faced Major steps forward. Even as he points at his twisted companions, his voice comes from the black bag in his hand: explaining in a muffled yet cultured tone that he and his fellow Re-animates were the result of horrible medical experiments that forever robbed them of the gift and dignity of death that is the right of all living beings. After they found each other, they methodically hunted down and killed their creator for his crimes against them and defying the will of Nature.

The elders and the avenging dead add their cries to the Major’s words, and even the brown-skinned zonbi contingent in their silence and with their shimmering glass bottles–by their very nature still full of purpose–incline their heads slightly with mutual respect. The nun–the Mother Superior Marie M.–finally speaks.

She talks of how her young body was abducted from her grave and family by a bokor in her native Haiti where she was made into his slave: only for his wife to attempt to sell her until, finally, she was brought to stay at a convent in France where she has been ever since the early twentieth century. Until now. From my vantage point hanging upside down and slowly swinging from the memorial, back and forth like a pendulum between life and death, I nod at her and the Canadian soldier-doctor.

The more numerous modern dead are also angry and hungry. They are not as articulate as the others, but they make their case clear. They throw their debris. They roar. Some of them stagger at each other while others tense and lunge with swift viciously mindless animal instinct.

They cease just as I stop my swinging. From the Chapel, I can already sense some of those who are with child clutching at their bellies from the Draugar’s auras: not enough to kill, but just strong enough to cause discomfort for those not-yet-born. It seems that as this gathering continues, the Pontianak may yet gain more sisters.  Everyone and even the newest among us are cowed by the presence of the vision I have not revealed yet.

I am the vetala. I am the storyteller. I take the story of my being and I shrug out of it–a layer of ego–as I curl up to stand again on the stone eagle and let the tale tell itself.  I point at the words that my body once concealed on the Monument, words they have all waited to see, “We are the bivouac of the dead.”

At my words, I sense a woman at the Chapel cramping into miscarriage. I continue.

“We exist on ground without walls or protection. The living has the luxury of walls between them and the night of us. We have nothing to protect us except us: the cycle of us. The elders understand it best. This world is not linear,” I spread out my arms, “We have no walls because we do not defend. We were the fierce hunger for life given purpose incarnate. We were the agency of celestial wrath and vengeance. But then, we were usurped.”

I lose myself further into the role of storyteller, “The living began to tell our stories. They took them from us. In them, we lost our divine masters and exchanged them for fleshly ones. For millennia after,” I glance poignantly at the zonbi, “in their stories we served the will of witches and sorcerers. We were their servants and their familiars. Their slaves. And those of us that came about without human agency were considered mistakes of Nature and linear Time. There are no coincidences,” I point one long skeletal finger at them all, “and those of us that were made free to appease our hunger were hunted down, burned, decapitated, mutilated and destroyed.

“Only those few like the Ghilan were free,” I finally turn back to look at them — some of the green-fleshed ones, “They are the ghül: a word used to describe us all because of what many of us are compelled to eat … and kill. They were free … in their deserts, haunts, and the abandoned ruins of cities … until Prince Gherib’s forced ‘Conversion of the Ghouls.’”

A sullen, angry rumble begins to grow, “For all here know that it took more than just one day to accomplish and that it was more than merely one Tribe. To this day the story of what happened to the Ghilan–to the ghül–is a lie still told by the living to their children,” I spit the last word, “as entertainment.

“The Ghilan–particularly the Tribe of Saadan–lost their fortresses and treasures in Arabia for the simple crime of keeping property, for eating the meat and bones of things that could no longer move nor even feel! Some fought, but most did not. They were–are–merely survivors and scavengers of food and scraps of knowledge. Very few Ghilan even kill the living, yet even so many of them were sent anyways to ‘sup with Iblis’ during the ‘conversions.’

“The rest of us were no better off.”

I jump down to the base of the Monument, “You have heard the Ro-Langs, the zonbi, and even the Jiangshi. Most of us could not even be conceived of to exist without the aid or presence of a fleshly master. Some of us, like the revenants, occurred ‘naturally’ but were promptly obliterated by fire, prayer and mantra. But some of us learned to rebel.

“Indeed, many of my kindred were powerful enough to do so. I remember the day, millennia ago, when I came to my vamachari’s side–the mortal responsible for binding the churning spirit of me to this cold, dead matter for my knowledge–and I wrapped my fingers around his neck and slowly squeezed the life out of him with my cold, dead left hand. It was one of the few moments I truly wished my own flesh was not unfeeling,” I let the old fury of that ego dissipate as I relax my left fist and become the storyteller again, “Yet even then there were too few of us to do anything more.”

I gesture at the zonbi delegation, “It truly began in West Africa, on an island called St. Domingo in the year of 1791. Slaves taken from many African nations rebelled against their slavers for twelve years until they overthrew them. From the chaos formed an entirely new nation. However, what no one knew was that a few of the former slaves were bokors and they possessed zonbi. The zonbi, however, were not free of their masters. Yet.”

I raise my hands, “That day, in the place that would become Haiti, a new narrative was formed: a story of slaves freeing themselves forever from their masters. And this time, instead of the living learning from the dead, the dead began to learn from the living.

“1863: the very land we stand on now, the place that bought many of those living slaves from St. Domingo, undergoes the Civil War that created the very Monument that I now stand on. This same nation then proclaims manumission for all its slaves! A few freed bokors and, more importantly, their zonbi were also there. And they learned another story.”

I point at the zonbi delegation, “Do you know what they hold in their hands? A zonbi is created when a bokor takes their soul and puts it in a jar. The bokor takes away the zonbi’s name and memories. The bokor keeps their souls in these jars to increase their own strength or sell them to buyers for luck and healing. Souls have become commodities.

“Over time, Marie M. and others have tracked down all zonbi and their names and reminded them of who they are. They carefully crafted a network with others, finding the bokors and their servants. By the end of the twentieth century, all true bokor have gone slowly and quietly extinct and the souls in the jars before you now are not those of the zonbi. They are the souls of their bokors.”

The dead are silent now, but not because they have become inanimate. I hold up one hand. I am not done yet.

“As the bokors and others like them disappeared,” I nod to the wax-faced doctor and a few others, “the living began to tell each other another story. It is not until 1968 that this new narrative fully manifests. The combination of tensions caused by war creates a new era of protests all over the world and in this land: protests against violence and discrimination.

“Also during this time something else happens. Feeding off of the confluence of conflicting energies, a new story is recorded here: created to become a whole new narrative!”

I spread my arms as though to mimic the Jiangshi, to encompass the whole Cemetery, “We above all others know the earth has power. Here, we were reborn. Can you not feel the power of the founding place, in the grave soil coursing through you? We were made to embody the menace hiding right in front of their eyes!”

I turn to the newest, largest part of our gathering, “And you are the epidemic! We have masters no longer! This knowledge: this real fear of an insidious, unreasoning, creeping cancer over the whole of humanity becomes us. But what’s more is simple. I am the vetala. I see Space and Time like no other. I know the secrets and the power of names and words. It was when they called us zombies–after our first liberated brethren–that we began to understand ourselves … and our final transformation began.”

I look at them all for one last time, as I know that very soon the time of the storyteller will be over and that the story will begin soon.

“2012,” I let my voice become a whisper softer than a child’s dying breath, “From the year before, a multitude of scattered protests–only tenuously related as Occupations–crop into being all wanting one thing: change. Here, in this very town, a few of them meld together: into another confluence.

“Many believe this is the final year of linear Time and they invest into it their fear of death: into a great sense of urgency. And here, in this Cemetery, at the Chapel with its charged residue of the story that changed us, at the anniversary of its genesis, the living gather their most vital energies to save their Chapel: to save us … to join us.

“My brethren,” I proclaim, “it was our will consumed fully by our perpetual hunger that enslaved us and now the very recognition of this fact–this same eternal craving for life–will move this world forward and forever.

“I have seen this! I am the storyteller. I am the vetala and soon we will all become the story!”

And then I am no longer the vetala. There is no longer any storyteller. They are the story now. They cheer as the vetala lets himself be carried away into the throng with open arms. In unison the throng of the dead turns away from The Soldiers’ Monument towards the Evans City Chapel: an army that no longer needs walls. But before they move, something appears in front of them.

It is the shrunken brown figure of a dwarf: one of the formerly unseen Tokoloshe. The eyeless, tongueless being croaks at them all: telling them that they will not be privy to the hurting of children. The two zonbi girls stare at it, then slowly bring their cups of steaming, eerily quailing liquid to their mouths and drink. The Tokoloshe seems to consider this for a moment and nods. Then it bites down on the pebble in its mouth and disappears again.

The evening gives way to the night, as the dead smell the ambient energies of life force and blood and meat–of fate–saturating this focal point where they would now re-imagine themselves for themselves.

Then they begin to participate in the feast that is to come.

Evans City Soldiers’ Monument Photo Credit: J.W. Ocker
Evans City Chapel Photo Credit: The Terror Daves

Fleet-Foot Tales and Hero-Glyphs Part II: The Celestial Voyages Fragment

In our last piece on artist-archaeologist Josh Ln’s hero-glyphs discovery–or “Fleet-Foot Tales”–we discussed the possible interpretations and meanings behind the artifact entitled Conflict Amongst a League of Marvels. However, our work is not finished. In fact, just as we promised, we at G33kPron’s Art Historian branch are going to transliterate and analyze the next in a series of Ln’s discoveries: specifically Exhibit B or The Celestial Voyages Fragment. This was no mean accomplishment. In addition to utilizing the Mind Gem in order to understand the mental processes behind its creation as well as bolstering our own understandings of this matter, our Chief Information Officer G33kBot had to authorize the retrieval and usage of the Space Gem and the Time Gem as well. It should be also noted as with Exhibit A, we had to actually undertake the laborious tasks of repairing and restoring these Gems to fulfill their original functions.

In addition, unlike the Mind Gem and its greater … affinity with Exhibit A, Exhibit B’s unusual temporal and spatial structure–though hypothetically found in an unknown period of Earth’s history–necessitated the use of these three tools (and the Space Gem in particular) to … travel to various places and times in order to place matters in their proper context. So now that you know of some of our struggles with these “hero-glyphs,” dear readers, let us examine what we have learned about Exhibit B.

Star Trek Hero-Glyphics

As you can see, there are three central figures in this sequential narrative. On the left is what appears to be a member of a mythological Elder Race: the Sidhe or the Elves. Certainly, the very bright colours that Fae beings are told to favour seems very much a characteristic of this being: whose actual name we have not been able to pronounce as it utilizes syllables and intonations unfamiliar to human vocal cords, mouth structures, or–even with Mind Gem augmentation– our current mental capacity. However, note his very direct–almost linear–bearing and the hand-gesture that he is creating with his left hand: the left hand in some cultures signifying a receptive element. At first, we thought that perhaps he is attempting to cast some kind of incantation or spell on the right-hand figure. However, the gesture itself–while seemingly questioning–can also be interpreted as either a greeting or a farewell. It can actually be seen as both of these elements simultaneously.

Yet there is that questioning aspect to consider as well. The Elf-Lord, if his pointed ears, gaudily-coloured uniform, the half-obscured celestial arch on the right side of his chest and his straight-forward gesture–with what seems to be indicative of a culture or mentality of highly structured oaths and promises that is incapable of lies (at least upon pain of death or the unravelling of the structure that keeps them from devolving into the chaos of star-stuff from whence they came), much in the way of the ancient Fae of Celtic and Nordic folklore and fantastic literature, there is the artifact on his hip to consider. It resembles a recording device–or a weapon of some kind–or perhaps something that has different phases of usage. He seems to be both questioning and asking something of the figure on the right-hand side.

And what a strange figure the latter truly is. After some translation of the hero-glyph, we have determined that he is a human figure called something along the lines of Tiberius. It is particularly odd given that Tiberius is an ancient Latin name and though the latter have obviously had contact with Celtic culture and even Germanics, there are other details to consider here. Tiberius is a hero and has the rank of something equivalent to a Praetor: a commander or a captain acting on behalf of another force. What is even more puzzling is that he is dressing in the same Fae-like uniform–of a golden hue–and he seems to be sitting on a throne: as perhaps a representative of an empire. Perhaps he is symbolic of a changeling that the Elf-Lord has trained, or raised to influence humankind from the inside and the deference that the latter shows Tiberius is merely a formality: one that belies his true power. Yet this is ignoring the fact that despite the throne, both figures are at the same height: indicative of some kind of–dare we say–equality. And then there are the other images in this narrative to consider.

Even though Tiberius sits on his throne, behind the Elf-Lord is a strange glyph of concentric circles and cylinders that appears to be some kind of vessel. Thus both sides have a power behind them: though the Elf-Lord does appear to be reporting to Tiberius. This vessel–which appears to be hovering in mid-air as something akin to a spiritual genius or something that happened, is happening, or will happen seems to be seeking something that is beyond the edge of the narrative. It is literally floating in space. However, both the Elf-Lord and Tiberius seem more focused–at this moment–on a bronze-gold predatory bird between them. Whether this is some kind of cursed artifact, or a symbol indicative of war is unknown. Certainly, the distance between them and every other symbol in the space seems to indicative a great peace or stillness, but a distant threat of war.

On the upper-hand corner of Exhibit B are three emblems arranged horizontally next to one another. The red symbol with its curved edges seems indicative of some kind of war-like passionate Meritocracy, the blue mirrors the emblems on the two figures as something more peaceful and distant–perhaps an open-ended Union encompassing whatever it comes across–whereas the last may well be indicative of a rising Star Empire. Whether these are other governments that the Elf-Lord and Tiberius are negotiating with, or the possible parallel pasts, futures and aspects of humankind is unknown at this time.

Yet what is really striking is the third central symbol on the upper right hand side of the narrative: the depiction of what appears to be a humanoid saurian ascendant over Tiberius. There are a few elements to consider with regards to the Saurian. He is facing the exact opposite way from Tiberius and carries the weight of a rock or another entire world in one bulky arm. It could be that the Saurian with its seeming brutishness represents the countless horrors and barbarism that Tiberius and the Elf-Lord’s Union faces in the stars. On the other hand, it could also be a threat that was already faced by Tiberius himself and conquered: but never forgotten. The fact that it is a Saurian being may also represent the reptilian Id of the human psyche that Tiberius–as representative of humans that are still evolving–are attempting to control, but unlike the Elf-Lord with the lack of such an apparent symbol above him, still utilizes as some kind of grounding or tie to the Earth and where they came from. Tiberius seems to remember his terrestrial roots amid his celestial voyages. Then again, the Saurian may just symbolize its traditional fertility roots in Earth mythology: or at least with regards to Tiberius.

The linear structure of this narrative is deceptive with all of these possibilities and the story continuing over the edges of the overall image. At the same time, while many of these symbols are in doubt and it’s unknown whether the Elf-Lord or the hero Tiberius are rivals, superior and subordinate, or heroic comrades, it is clear that they symbolize a kind of hope or redemptive narrative: as possibilities that have not happened yet. Certainly it is no coincidence that the three possible images of empires–perhaps reminiscent of Heraclitus’ archetypal symbols of humanity’s hydra of eros (desire), the more orderly shape of logos (reason), or the rising lion form of thumos (courage or duty)–is right above the Elf-Lord’s head. He is always cognizant of what Tiberius is capable of: and, perhaps, what he and his own kind are capable of doing as well even as they continue to voyage further past vistas of sentient understanding.

And though this story, like Exhibit A, seems to have no end in sight thus ends this segment of Fleet-Foot Tales and Hero-Glyphs. Stay tuned next time for our next segment: in which we will discuss the third narrative found by Josh Ln known as The Beatific Agony and the Secret College of Marvels and Daimons.

Josh Ln’s original excavated work and restorations of the rest of the “Fleet-Foot Tales” can be found, without translation, in Hero-Glyphics, Proof All Those Time Travel Story Events Were Real for the curious at your perusal and at your leisure. And, as we end this segment, we would like to leave you with these words we transliterated as best we could from the hand-gesture of our Elf-Lord friend, “Live long, and prosper.”

Help A Lonely Cat Feel Lonely No More: Tessa Kennedy’s Ghostcat and The World of the Incredibly Strange

I keep breaking my promises to just write stories on here for this month. However, the way I figure it I am talking about other people’s stories and looking specifically how they function. In addition, they are Halloween stories or narratives so attuned to the holiday that it might as well be.

So I have presented myself with another challenge. Not too long ago, I wrote a review called Sharing the Love From Ground Zero: Spread by Justin Jordan and Kyle Strahm for Sequart on a comics Teaser which I read, and then promptly wrote up that same day. However, this post will be on something a little less, shall we say … graphic than the above while, at the same time, illustrate the mystery, emotion, and sheer quirky weirdness that can be found in what looks like fragments of story and elemental cartoons in frame.

Not too long ago, British comics creator Tessa Kennedy of Kennedy’s Emporium Followed me on Twitter and asked if I could support her Indiegogo campaign: in which she is seeking funding to print and package as well as provide postage for her seventy-page comic Ghostcat and The World of the Incredibly Strange. While the book it features the black and white comics story of a cat that hunts for ghosts–not to banish or capture them, but rather to attempt to become their friend out of a sense of loneliness–there also seem to be a variety of different strange and weird tales illustrated in a seemingly rough and elemental manner not unlike Rich Burlew’s Order of the Stick, or even Jhonen Vasquez’s Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, but they are cuter somehow: cuter and more iconic.

Kennedy explains, in her description section, that her comics come from her “love of the dark and surreal mixed in with even darker and surreal humour hopefully giving the comic an extra dosage of nonsensical mirth.” Take this page excerpt as an example.

At first, I’d almost say that this is a collection of comics that you would get for children, and they can still well be, but there are definitely some nightmare fuel-inducing and subversive elements in Kennedy’s choice of diction that make this comic totally worth while for adult consideration as well. Also, depending on what you want to contribute, you will not only get a version of the book but also a pen, a mouse pad and even a mini-comic.

Tessa Kennedy’s comic is definitely worth checking out and it is about the season to do so: and by that when is Halloween not everyday? I don’t have too much money on hand at the moment, so I thought I would help by writing up this article on Ghostcat and The World of the Incredibly Strange’s Indiegogo and encourage everyone who reads me to check this out. You wouldn’t want Lonely Cat–as I call him (if he is a him)–to remain lonely do you?

After all, he has so many other ghosts to find …

Song Hunter

If they listen, they can tell he’s listening to the music again. It beats and wavers from the basement that Friday night as he sits at their computer. Sometimes it is a combination of industrial sounds and chiming. Other times it seems to encompass the night. There are even moments when they can make out voices, though the hard percussion and beats of the music are muffled by the floor between him and them: making the vocals only vaguely decipherable at best.

So they don’t really know what the music is, or what might–or might not–mean to him.

They don’t see him hunched over and cross-legged on the swivel chair. He sits there staring at a blank Google screen. His hands are clasped together and his fingers are entwined in front of him. They feel cold.

He listens to the music and its rhythms: as though trying to find something, trying to go back to the night beyond the basement, to the city, to a club that doesn’t exist, and another one that changed … trying to go back in time.

As he listens to VNV Nation’s “Space and Time” again, he tries to remember the remnants of a train of music. The beats are faint in his head, but they do not translate into words or anything tangible enough to work with.

One, you love the goddess,
two, you bring the night,
three, your song has ended,
and four is the god-killing light.

The half-imagined refrain of “spread the lay, Judgment Day …” faintly thunders like echoes or receding footsteps through his mind. He can’t find the song’s name: not through the typing of half-imagined fragments of lyrics on Google, or sifting through Electric Body Music on YouTube. Sometimes he wonders if the song and the dancing pale bodies were just figments of a long-standing delusion: the same one on which he had been out of this house, out of this basement … dancing …

Spread the lay,
Judgment Day …

Somehow, he thinks if he can find that song it will all come back in some way, somehow … the bouncer with the golden eyes, the concrete stairs, the welcoming dark beat …

Old dark nights two years gone sit like uneasy ashes in the pit of his stomach, rustling the occasional word, the remains of a memory, when all of it was still real …

Huddled in his sweatshirt and old sweatpants, he tries to remember the feel of black leather on his shoulders, and the luminous lights of downtown and clanking tracks, and the anticipation that far outweighed the anxiety.

And then, clicking on the mouse in one chill hand, he finds something. An 8-Tracks.

It belongs to a DJ that went to a club he knows well, though it was long gone before he ever walked the streets of Toronto on his own.

It’s music from Sanctuary.

That is when he knows. He can’t skip too many tracks: the application won’t let him. Instead, he sits and waits it out. Each wailing note and synthesized tone brings him closer. Queen Street. Floor-length black leather coats. Floating must. The night bus on the way home. A girl’s head on his shoulder.

But music creates videos inside his mind: replaying scenes that may or may not have happened. He isn’t sure yet. He isn’t sure …

Then there is the silence. And the hollow beat. He checks the list to see what it is called.

Front 242’s “Headhunter V1.0.”

Finally. Finally, he knows its name. He knows who made it. He can call it up on YouTube and the Web with impunity. He can play it whenever he wants.

And he plays it. He waits until the song comes to its crescendo and he finally–and truly–hears it.

One you lock the target,
Two you bait the line,
Three you slowly spread the net,
And four you catch the man!

As the song tells him to “Lock the target, bait the line, spread the net, and catch the man,” over and again, he listens to the rest of the music. And, for a few moments, he’s back.

He takes the bus the bus from his apartment, to the subway and to the Spadina streetcar. Sometimes he goes to the Velvet at Queen but usually it’s the Neutral Lounge. He goes there every Friday night. Sometimes he’s there with friends, sometimes meeting friends but more often than not he goes there alone …

Except for that night when he got off the streetcar. He’d been reading Soseki’s Kokoro–a novel about an old man eaten away by the shadow of guilt and youth being the loneliest time of all–when he met an unexpected Cheshire smile, electric blue eyes, the inside of a red car smelling like cigars, and something wonderful.

Until it and everything after was eroded by shadow.

Lock the target, bait the line,
spread the net, then catch the man …

Something dead stirs inside him as he finds himself back in the basement. While he is reminded of the freedom that going to that club first held for him, he also recalls the disconnect of watching the beautiful people dance and hearing nothing but the music, the fear that he would lose this place, and the emptiness underneath it all. It never seemed real. He never really belonged.

He will never dance there or anywhere as he once had. The music of the clubs is now regulated to the speakers of the computer that doesn’t belong to him and his once aggressive movements have become the nervous twitches of a burnt-out recluse. But even as the pang of what he lost reverberates through him again, he remembers the hollow feeling and the fleeting nature of happiness, and how even if he could go back–even when he could–there is nothing waiting for him there now.

Perhaps there never was. Perhaps he was just as alone there as he is here, as he was in the apartment that the people upstairs helped him take apart that last night.

Perhaps it was all sound and fury, signifying nothing. Maybe it had all meant nothing.

So he sits in that basement, listening to dead music from a dead life, staring at a blank screen and reliving glory days that never happened, still remembering–like Lucifer–the time when he thought he was an Angel but always knowing that his own fall had been a slow and gradual matter of becoming an unmovable object colliding against the unstoppable force inside himself.

The real and imagined lyrics of the song he looked for, for so long, begins to coalesce in his head now: the real words hard, and his own become shadowy echoes interlapping with one another inside the dark core of what he now knows what he truly is.

One you lock the target,
one, you love the goddess,
Two you bait the line,
two, you bring the night,
Three you slowly spread the net,
three, your song has ended,
And four you catch the man!
…is the god-killing light…

Spread the lay,
Judgment Day …

Photo Credit: Sevres Babylone

An Interview with Bill Watterson in a Magical World

It has been seventeen years or so since Bill Watterson’s last Calvin and Hobbes strip hit the newspapers: the clipping of which still curls and yellows on my bulletin board. It was a comic strip of silliness, philosophy, introspection and–most importantly–pure exploration, adventure and imagination between an overactive child with big dreams and little taste for reality such as it is and his tiger with a penchant for eating tuna fish sandwiches that only he can talk to and play with.

In 1995, Bill Watterson ended off his Calvin and Hobbes newspaper strip series with the words, “It’s a magical world, Hobbes, Ol’Buddy … Let’s go exploring.” In the intervening years, the creator of the imaginative boy and his tiger friend, answered fifteen fan questions in 2005 for Andrews McMeel Publishing and had an interview with The Plain Dealer in 2010. Bill Watterson himself rarely grants interviews: partially because of his own intensely private nature but also due to his desire to distance himself from his completed comic strip. Certainly, many potential interviewers and authors such as Nevin Martell in his Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and his Revolutionary Comic Strip had no such luck arranging a meeting with the reclusive artist: resorting to drawing material from The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book as well as talking with Watterson’s contemporaries, members of his family, and those artistically inspired by his work. Watterson has, on many occasions, claimed he said everything he had to say about his work in the Anniversary book.

Mental Floss Magazine and interviewer Jake Rossen, on the other hand, seems to have had far better luck.

The magazine gives us a brief glimpse of the email exchange between Rossen and Watterson: in which the cartoonist addresses questions such as why he thinks it is so hard for readers to “let go” of his works, what he thinks of a company such as Pixar animating the characters of his strip, the critical point in which he decided his creativity was more important than licensing and syndicate interference, where he thinks the comic strip will fit in today’s society, and other matters. The rest of the interview will be published in the print version of Mental Floss come this December.

Bill Watterson ended Calvin and Hobbes while it was still good, after saying everything he had to say, gaining sole rights to his own creation, and prohibiting any kind of merchandising aside from the sales of the books of collected strips. While I was sad to see it go, it has lived on: becoming an archetype and legendary spot of golden warmth that has inspired the aesthetics and works of future cartoonists as well as countless others over the years long after it was finished.

But those last words that Calvin speaks to Hobbes still haunt me. After the strip ended, I didn’t know how “magical” the future would be afterwards. Certainly, a lot of very unpleasant and difficult things have happened since 1995 but now–in 2013–despite all of the challenges that still exist not much else has changed. There is still that child in all of us, that Calvin that likes to daydream and that need for a friend like Hobbes to always be in our minds. And when I look at the return of Miracleman, the next Sandman comic and so many new and geeky innovations I think back to Calvin’s last words created by Watterson and Watterson now granting this new interview when everything was thought to have been said and I think to myself that perhaps, just perhaps, this is a magical world after all: one that still bears some exploration.

Calvin and Hobbes

A Film Festival Double-Billing: We Are What We Are and Bounty Killer

So I am going to be doing something different. Not only am I going to make an early Blog post, but it is going to be a movie review: or more specifically two reviews back-to-back courtesy of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. I literally got an RSVP after applying for a Press Pass that allowed me to attend the opening gala of the Festival with one other guest–in this case my brother–for free. In exchange, however, I am to review both of the  films that we saw.

This has been a very busy but exciting time with regards to my writing, so let me get this underway: after an obligatory Spoilers Warning. The first film we saw was Jim Mickle’s We Are What We Are. However, I would like to state that the film short–which the Toronto After Dark likes to include before every film–also bears some consideration.

It is an abstract film fittingly enough named Kin: which essentially is about a boy child who is on a quest to help a group of dancing shamans with strange masks summon a giant crow or raven. There is also a knight that was travelling by horse to the hilltop where the boy stands with his own wooden sword and shield. In addition, there is a small waif of a girl with pale blonde hair and a gossamer white gown who seems to have been waiting for the boy: only for him move past her, summon the creature, open his arms, and let the gigantic mythological blackbird either devour him or embrace him. The knight gets there just in time as everything ends and he and the girl just watch the sky where the boy had once been.

For me, it was an excellent segue into We Are What We Are because what we see is a child that, at first, seems to be challenging an ancient tradition or ritual while the adult–who seems to have power–almost helplessly follows him just in time for it to be too late. In fact, every time the boy stumbled, the knight seemed to stumble as well: which makes me wonder if the two of them are linked. Is the knight is an archetype that the boy pictures in his own mind before circumstances make him discard him: or pass him onto the girl? But in any case, and in the end, the boy–faced with the sheer power of mythology hovering in front of him–lets it overcome him on his own terms: leaving the idea of the knight behind to perhaps be born from the girl one day in order to continue a new tradition. This is what I got out of it anyway.

But in any case, Kin was an appropriate title when you consider what We Are What We Are entails. Just as it was outside the Scotiabank Theatre, so too was it raining at the beginning of this film. I will admit–much to my own eternal frustration–that there was a quote at the very beginning of the film that I can’t remember and it was even repeated verbally at the funeral scene. The reason I didn’t write it down at the time was because I thought it was a literary quote when, in actually, it came from a book that exists only in the film and I have not been able to find it since. I will get to that soon.

Essentially, We Are What We Are is a film about the Parkers: a family of cannibals that live in relative poverty close to a small town near the Catskill Mountains that eat human meat for religious purposes. In addition to this, the town doctor is still searching for his long-lost daughter amid a lot of flooding: flooding that carries strange objects with it in currents of water like flotsam and … old bones, for instance.

This seems pretty straightforward and not very original. However, there is more. The mother of the family drowns at the beginning of the movie: leaving her husband, two daughters, and young son in tremendous grief. And here we see something very interesting. The family patriarch Frank Parker–who is traditionally in charge of procuring their source of meat–could easily be portrayed as a complete and totally cold-hearted and  abusive monster. But he isn’t. He genuinely grieves for his wife’s death. It makes him completely fall apart to the point where his daughters–who love him–take care of him. If anything, it is the disconnect between what this family eats and how they still act as human beings that makes this film even more disturbing because you end up having sympathy for, well, the monsters.

It is no coincidence, when the middle child Rose Parker is reading to young brother Rory Parker about a “happy monster” that he says–after accidentally seeing the “animal” they were keeping in their basement–that the “monster is actually sad.” And the monster–the secret of the family–is sad. We find out that the Parkers’ holiday of Lamb’s Day began in the 1800s when their early settler ancestors ran out of food and nearly died in the wintertime. We find this out as Iris and Rose Parker are reading the book that has been passed down throughout all the generations of their family: detailing how the first patriarch’s two daughters found their father in front of the body of a woman and partook with him of her flesh. This was the beginning of the family spiritual epiphany: of that transgression to live and then ascendance beyond the taboo of eating human meat to find new meaning. This was the beginning of their Lamb’s Day: a man making a decision to undertake it and two girls deciding to carry on the tradition through their line. And, after all, don’t most religions begin with trauma?

There are, however, obvious consequences for eating human flesh: such as the lovely addition of Prion Disease: which includes tremors and tremendous brain damage. At the beginning, when their mother is trembling and essentially dies from the illness at the general store, a man says that the storm outside will “only get worse before it gets better.” And unfortunately for the matriarch of the Parker family, it only just got worse until it finally ended.

Yet the ending … The thing to understand is that the older daughters were thinking of abandoning Lamb’s Day and trying to become normal: hoping to find some way to get past their overbearing religious father. Unfortunately, this did not end well. The father begins to notice that the old bones of their previous feasts are drifting down the river and he begins to understand–even in his Prion-riddled brain–exactly how screwed they truly are. He also kills Iris’ boyfriend as they are about to have sex: as he is right on top of her. And then to add insult to injury, he puts arsenic in their Lamb’s Day stew–yes, that kind of stew–when he realizes they will all be discovered. So not only does Frank hurt his daughters–and you notice he never lays a hand on them, though he is so imposing he doesn’t even have to–but he betrays his oath to protect the family and the tradition.

What happens next is nothing short of watching a terrifying transgressive religious reformation of sorts unfold as his daughters, both dressed like Gothic Lolitas–fulfill their Electra complexes and consume their own father while he is still alive. Meanwhile, the Doctor–who figured out that Frank killed and ate his daughter–watches this all happen and, assuming they spared his life, I’m thinking at if I were him at this point of seeing this Bacchanalian horror unfolding in front of me I would really reconsider that long overdue retirement to Florida: provided a Dr. Lecter wasn’t staying nearby.

The ending was just beautiful to me in all of its gory horror. Iris and Rose manage to consummate their love and hatred for their father: defeating that monster that he is through even greater depravity. I mean, think about it: he and the family over many years at least prepared and cooked their food. These girls are eating him raw: while he is in agony. There is something more honest about this “back to basics” religious approach and also a rebirth. Because if they didn’t eat the Doctor at the end of the film or even kill him, while they are driving away with their baby brother and the ancestral book in hand what we might be seeing is the creation of a whole new kind of familial cult: of the women–who carried out the line–taking it away from the false civilized nature of the patriarchy and making it something new.

What is even more hilarious is this: at the end of the film, we got to ask the film-makers questions and one of the things that came up was that they not only planned a prequel to the film: in which we find out how Frank meets his wife, gets inducted into the Parker family and takes on the role of matriarch–of actually killing and preparing their human food–but there is going to be a sequel as well which takes place, of all places, in Mexico.

Now, let me make something else clear.

We Are What We Are is a revision, not a remake, of Jorge Michel Grau’s Mexican film Somos lo que hay which has all of the gender-roles reversed and a whole different ending. The idea was transplanted from Mexican social commentary into American religious criticism: and now is being transplanted in a weird sort of creative hybrid way back: to the point where the endings almost meet. I can only imagine Iris, Rose, and Rory Parker making a new family tradition: of only killing and eating criminals and otherwise bad people instead of the “shit where you eat” mentality and hypocrisy of their father who made them eat their town doctor’s young daughter. A shameful secret becomes a religious mystery once again and two girls come of age in blood and sacrifice. Perhaps now, when they finish reading their brother his story for the night they can now safely end it with, “And the monster was happy.”

So, after going twenty minutes later over schedule and a bathroom break my brother and I went to see the next film: which was Henry Saine’s Bounty Killer.

I don’t know how much I have to say about this one, but again the short L’Étranger was a nice and fun lead-in: an action sequence with a cowboy who, after killing and maiming everyone in a bar, was simply there to deliver a package on time. It was amusing.

As was this trailer for the following film.

Bounty Killer is a post-apocalyptic comedy action film that was originally taken from a Kick Start Productions comic book which Jason Dodson and Henry Saine also created–the latter of which seems to only be available in the iBooks Store–along with an idea for a 1997 animated series that never happened. So essentially what we are looking at is a film created from action, almost superheroic animation that didn’t completely happen, and a comic that in addition to its own self was made to help storyboard its very existence.

It is a tongue-and-cheek movie that takes place in a world that has suffered from the Corporate Wars: in which corporations eroded the world governments and caused mass chaos and suffering. In the wake of this, there is a Council of Nine formed in the Wastelands that creates the Bounty Killers: celebrity assassins that hunt down the white collar corporate individuals and their Yellow Tie minions as war criminals … though Darth Vader’s age-old admonition of “No disintegrations” seems to apply at least with regards to their heads.

As you can imagine, the violence is exaggerated not only in a stylized way–ala Matrix-level slow motion scenes cut with fast pacing–but it is literally parodied with some snappy one-liners and moments of pure, fun ridiculousness.

What is also really interesting is the way they set up two of the main characters. Mary Death is the former protégé and on again, off again lover of the first Bounty Killer Drifter: who is literally stylized violent sex. Drifter is not so much this, but he is an extremely pragmatic and clever man who used to be the head of a corporation before his company betrayed him by making weapons and he hunted most of his business partners down. As he put it, he was “sick of being behind a desk.”

In a sense, training Mary Death was one of his best decisions: as she unknowingly distracted everyone else from really looking at his celebrity status and into his past as a former Corporate. In fact, as I think about it now, Drifter most likely purposefully botched his kills–such as, well, disintegrating him–so that people wouldn’t pay too much attention to him compared to Mary Death and start hunting him.

Of course, this all changes as a bounty is seemingly placed on him by the Council of Nine: under his true identity.

Mary Death herself is a former member of a raider and infiltration group known as the Gypsies of all things. She approached Drifter ages ago to be trained by him in the arts of Bounty Killing: though how she actually knew what his real skills were like is unknown. She is a dangerous woman. Aside from my previous description of her, it is the best way to sum her up: although she does like to give autographs. She and Drifter a strange relationship in which she exercises independence and love by stabbing him non-fatally in the spleen and leaving him to chase her: at which on two occasions he has said, “She cut me … deep.”

What is really interesting is that Mary Death is set up in a way that makes her look like the protagonist of the film–even the film’s advertising has her as the central aesthetic figure–but the focus isn’t always on her. The film’s perspective alternates between Mary and Drifter: ending with Mary in an iconic sort of way. This film is also inter-dispersed with Heavy Metal-like animation and illustrations: making it not unlike, as others have pointed out, Kill Bill meets Mad Max.

Really, the film is crazy: just plain crazy. But it is crazy in a fun “what the fuck” way. It is also fascinating to consider how the “white collars” and Bounty Killers evolved as their own cultures in this post-apocalyptic future and how when you strip away that veneer of civilization a lot of this 1% to 99% we keep hearing about would become tribes of a different kind and the film definitely reflects the current cultural reaction against the former.

That said, there is one regret that I share with Henry Saine: namely, the exclusion of one aspect of Mary Death’s origin. He told us in the Question and Answer period that originally Mary Death was supposed to have been a child on an airplane during the Corporate Wars and that when the plane was being attacked; she was actually by what was essentially a bad-ass stewardess. Even though Mary Death was taken by the Gypsies after this, she never forgot that woman who defended her to the death–even though she had once worked for a corporation–and modelled her new uniform in her memory.

I did like this movie, but I have to admit that I was put off by the moral of love and independence being a knife in the spleen. But hey, if you are into that sort of thing who am I to judge?

And, after that film based after the Corporate Wars was over, we appropriately stopped off at the After Dark’s event at The Office Pub.

So this has been an ad hoc review of the Toronto After Dark’s opening salvo. I hope you enjoyed this and please, when you get the chance, watch these films. As for me, after seeing the last one I now definitely need to somehow watch Saine’s The Last Lovecraft: which was shown at an After Dark opening gala a few years back.

And I definitely need to do this sometime again.


There are some things in life that are expected of you. You are born, you learn, you get a job, you raise a family or you occupy yourself with your job or a hobby, you age and you die so that others like you can get their chance to live their lives and continue the preset quest that you and so many others began before you.

And you have to pay for everything in this pre-made adventure, even the name you’re given is not yours: and you pay for that gift with as many lives as you can muster. However, sometimes in this scripted world that you interact with, there is the wild-card– the random encounter–to consider.

Because sometimes, you want to follow the rules and stay within the familiar but you can only replay the same game the same way only so many times. And one day, you find this element that changes you, that scares you, and the next thing you know you take it: just as it takes a piece of your heart. But even theft has its price. For just as you are given a name to live to, others give you a name for what you have done.

And it is called Thief.

No matter where you go, or what you do, what is all you will ever be. That is all of who you are. And sometimes it wears on you, as though everyone knows what you are and what you truly were. If you let it, it can become a bitter realization that slowly eats at you inside, poisoning your soul with sourness every time hear someone say your new name.

Thief. Thief.

But, if you live enough, over time you begin to understand something. After a time of existing, hurting, doing deeds and learning, you realize that it wasn’t so much that you stole this moment, this person, this joy, this life it’s that they captured you. And sometimes it takes being Forever Alone, or becoming a Monster or a Coward to understand that what you may have found long ago and did not pay according to the script has changed from a fragment of your soul into a Heart of Gold.

And then you remember that before all of this, you knew Virtue and found Love. And when the scarlet letter become an entire alphabet cum your name reflects the light of that new shiny Heart you know it is transfigured and that to be Thief is to be someone who dared, and found a whole new level to what, on the surface, seemed like a worn and monotonous game.

And another game is a small price to pay for a name that can also be worn away and become arbitrary: become the meaning that your subsequent actions have finally given it.

Congratulations, Thief.

Miracleman Returns January 2014!

Miracleman Returns Jan 2014

It was in 1994 that the last official issue of Miracleman–a superhero series creatively revised by Alan Moore in 1982 and continued on by Neil Gaiman–hit the stands. The series was not yet finished but by the time issue #24 came out its publisher, Eclipse Comics, had become defunct. There were many attempts to resurrect this series about a superhero that discovers the unpleasant grittiness of his existence and eventually uses his power to rule the world, but there were many convoluted, legal complications that not only kept new issues from being created, but also prevented the rest of the series from being reprinted as well.

It is only now, nineteen years later, that Marvel Comics has announced at the 2013 New York Comic Con that starting January 2014 it will be republishing Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman’s run of the series and publishing all new Miracleman stories by Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham. According to Editor In Chief Axel Alonso, Marvel Comics and its Special Projects Team has been in the process of obtaining the original or the photo-static copies of the artwork as well restoring them to a quality of detail that is up to par with the standard of the Marvel Masterworks line. It is a truly fascinating bit of news especially when you consider that Neil Gaiman, who was given the reins to the comic after Alan Moore left it in a dubious utopia, last worked on it as a young writer and is now back into it as an experienced and best-selling author and storyteller. It is tempting to say that this journey from creation to legal controversy has come full circle for both Neil Gaiman and artist Mark Buckingham, who has since become known for his art work in Bill Willingham’s Fables series.

Above is a video posted by Bleeding Cool of Neil Gaiman talking about his love for Miracleman, Marvel’s republishing of it, and his own work in finishing what was given to him. To all the fans, old and new, I would like to leave you with this article by Julian Darius of Sequart called Why Miracleman Matters. Finally, the years of Miracleman‘s Silence will be broken once again by one word.


Miracleman Ascendant

Fleet-Foot Tales and Hero-Glyphs Part I: Conflict Amongst A League of Marvels

This just in: artist-archaeologist Josh Ln has uncovered what seem to be ancient, and very distinctive, hero-glyphs–or what we have colloquially termed some “Fleet-Foot Tales”–from an ancient period in Earth’s history. Whether or not the sequential narrative stele, scrolls, tablets, or frescoes come from the beginning of Egypt’s Old Kingdom period or some other preceding civilization so advanced it would seem positively anachronistic by today’s standards is unknown at this time.

However,  our branch of Art Historians here at G33kPr0n–with the oversight of our Chief Information Officer G33kBot and a judicious use of the recently uncovered Mind Gem–has managed to transliterate enough of the symbols and images depicted in these astonishingly preserved materials to give some form of passable translations and, failing that, possible interpretations of what these artifacts mean. So with our Blue Gem in tow, we will now attempt to decode these sequential narratives for you, dear readers.

First, let us look at Exhibit A: the first of what we have decoded as Conflict Amongst a League of Marvels.

Avengers Hero-Glyph

In Exhibit A, it seems that on the surface we are met by two images. On the far left is the grown figure of Icarus who–in this version of the tale–fell from the heavens after the death of his father Daedalus and used his knowledge to craft a protective aegis around his body and seal the power of the Sun that brought him down to remake his broken heart. In his hands are auras from the Sun he has chained. In this way, Icarus is combined with Prometheus who–in his hubris–plans to bring the secrets of the Sun and the gods to all mortal kind: on his own terms.

Icarus’ counterpart, facing him in opposition is Rojhaz: the embodiment of a hero archetype from the distant land of America. In the legends, it says that he is one of the few to drink the Serpent’s venom created by long-lost sorcerers and live stronger than most mortal men. Yet this is only part of the spirit of Rojhaz. In addition to his strength, the hero is garbed in reinforced chain-mail coloured with the blue of the ocean’s eroding tides, the red of the blood of his enemies and the white of the souls he was made to protect. His shield is made an indestructible metal–another lost art of sound turned into material–to ward off all evil and turn its own force back against itself.  He is a warrior and a Guardian.

Above them, on the far left is the Nordic deity of Thunder. This is strange in and of itself due to the fact that all of these figures do not seem to be in their places of origin. Thor himself is far from home: though he is depicted as maintaining his place in the sky above these relatively mortal heroes: signifying his divinity. He possesses the short-handled Hammer Mjölnir that will one day be his undoing in Ragnarok: or so the Nordic Sagas would have us believe. There is a look of what seems to be dismay on his face. Notice that all three figures possess celestial connotations: with the Icarus-figure’s circular auras of power, the small wings and the letter “A’ for–presumably–ascendance on either side of Rojhaz’s skull and the much larger wings on Thor’s helmet. Each hero here believes that they are right: that their cause is just.

There are a few ways to interpret this narrative based on the positioning of the characters. Icarus is positioned over a green fist that, according to some interpretation, could be construed as a green djinn or a sealed magical spirit attempting to free itself. This unleashed power sits between Icarus and Rojhaz: perhaps symbolizing a potentially destructive power that helped make both of them after it was split from the Earth or human clay itself. Perhaps Icarus has sympathy with this power given his wanderlust and gall, while Rojhaz is leery and seems to guard a hierarchical tablet behind them: perhaps symbolizing the current social or celestial order of things. As for Thor, he can be seen as looking down in dismay at this mortal strife or, perhaps, one of the other heroes displaced him somehow with the power of the green djinn below and between them. It seems unclear at this time.

However, there are other images in this Exhibit to consider. For instance, just as the gods of the Norse are seen as knowing their Doom–while compelled to follow through with it–Thor seems to see something beyond the clashing of Icarus and Rojhaz. He sees a black panther and what seems to be a red spider with an hourglass or a keyhole in its carapace moving on a three-hold path off of the surface of their narrative. The meaning behind this is still unknown at this time. However, there is something very disturbing in the left-hand corner of the depiction. For while Thor seems distracted with what might-be or will-happen, with a branch of a narrative that is separate and the other two heroes clash, behind Rojhaz is the edifice of a hierarchical society or cosmos: as if there is any different from human perspective.

It is important to draw attention to this structure because, above it, seems to be a horned deity with a staff. It seems to symbolize both cuckolding and fertility: of taking seducing others and holding power. This character, at first, seems to be a trickster-figure. Yet below him is a smaller counterpart that seems to rule over or have usurped an order that is used to his presence. Another figure, a depiction of a citizen or ruler, draws away in fear of this being. One possible interpretation is that the very civilization, or ideal, that Rojhaz is defending is in danger of being corrupted from an enemy they cannot see while Icarus wishes to challenge that status quo with potentially unstable power: regardless of the consequences or necessarily even aware of the Tyrant-figure sitting on the upper part of the hierarchical line. What is worse to consider however, within the context of this piece, is that the Tyrant-Trickster may well be bewitching all of these forces to either conflict with each other or become distracted with paths that may not happen while keeping them divided and ignorant of his real plans. Indeed, another interpretation is that even the God of Thunder seems more distracted or mesmerized by the orb in the Trickster-Tyrant’s staff than the Tyrant himself. Perhaps this is important in and of itself.

In the end, perhaps these heroes are–like the characters in Ragnarok–attempted to get vengeance or avenge a battle or an atrocity that has not happened yet: while their real enemy already plans it right in front of their noses.

Perhaps, in the end, this is a sequential narrative that is not over yet or finds itself “to be continued.” Stay tuned next time for our next segment: in which we will discuss the second narrative found by Josh Ln known as the Celestial Voyages Fragment.

Josh Ln’s original excavated work and restorations of the rest of the “Fleet-Foot Tales” can be found, without translation, in Hero-Glyphics, Proof All Those Time Travel Story Events Were Real for the curious at your perusal and at your leisure. As the ancient farewell goes, “Excelsior.”

Dark Crystal: Connection

From the moment they entered this world, YiYa knew that Thra was special.

Even though they had come through the Crystal of their homeworld as exiles—transported here to deal with the imbalances within themselves as this world came to its next Conjunction—it was no coincidence that they had been brought here. YiYa firmly believed that there was a reason they had been sent to Thra: so much so that now, when the prospect of finally returning to their homeworld came, it leaves him feeling … unfulfilled somehow.

The two Gelfling and the Podling representative, along with the Landstriders that brought them here to watch this moment in the Crystal Chamber fascinate him. In fact, every life-form on Thra—from Aughra and her son, to the Gelfling civilizations, even to the nebrie—all fascinate him. He never dreamed of this. Never in what was a million of this world’s trine did he ever conceive of such a variety of life even existing in the multitude of possibilities that the Universe had to offer.

Even now, holding the stave that Aughra made for all of them, YiYa remembers SoSu abjuring the urSkek Collective’s decision to banish him along with the others. He told them that he had committed no crime: he did not know what he was doing and that he had no place with them. But YiYa interrupted them. He had been so curious. He always wanted to know not so much how, but why. He was the youngest of the eighteen. Only the most discerning of Thra could see that he was a little smaller and brighter than his other brethren. And always wandering. He could never stay still unless the occasion demanded for it.

That time on their homeworld he had been reverberating with eagerness, just as he was with reluctance at this time now in the Chamber. The Collective had said that the mere act of wanting to explore was enough to place him out of consensus and into the dangerous sense of individuality that the other seventeen found themselves in. YiYa had felt such fear and joy that time when he was allowed to join his brethren—his adventurous brethren—to see another world after developing such complexities within himself: to not be uniform again. He also recalled SoSu’s sad eyes as he told him that this would be a great burden, these barely controlled passions that they had: that it would be sad that he would have to learn of his role in another world. Still, SoSu vowed that he and the others would watch over him and that they would return here together when they did what needed to be done.

YiYa grew up, in a fashion, on Thra. He watched TekTih interact and examine the organic and the inorganic parts of this world. He heeded SoSu’s counsels and maintained meditations with UngIm. But sometimes he would follow SaSan into his voyages under the various oceans or be made to assist LachSen in helping the Gelfling keep a census of their populations. His favourite times, however, ones that he looked back at mournfully as the three suns of Thra were coming together, were the journeys with the wandering GraGoh and MalVa. MalVa had always seemed the most solemn among the exiles. YiYa, in the beginnings of millennium they spent together, always asked him what it had been like to hunt and to pursue an enemy in battle such as in the first times before the Collective. It always struck YiYa, that look on MalVa’s face, as he told him with some weariness that it was a feeling that he should be thankful to never understand.

The taking of a life was hard—this was something MalVa had always tried to instill into him—and should only be done when all other possibilities were exhausted. Almost a thousand trine on Thra and YiYa had seen life take life, and observed the checks and the balances of such. Sometimes it seemed so arbitrary and cruel, but over time there was a pattern. There was always a pattern.

Far away from Gelfling ears, he’d told the others his theories. He asked them how they could come to a world built on the very principles they said they held dear: of realities of three angles encircling the perfect unity of a sphere and not be moved by its lessons. Had they not seen the skeletal structures of the Gelfling and the Landstriders as tripartite? Couldn’t they sense Aughra—as the avatar of this world’s elemental energies—with her three eyes as embodying their ideal?

So why, he asked them, why was it so hard to believe that this place that had such an intermingling of Light and Dark—in the multifaceted nature of the Crystal with its crossing lines and angles no less—had nothing to teach them about their own darkness? Couldn’t they find a way to coexist with it as the lifeforms of this world had? Was it really wise to try to suppress or purge those inclinations but instead, somehow, integrate them and learn more from it?

But the others said that YiYa, though young and bright, had much to learn and the evolution of life on Thra had even more so. But then YiYa had brought up the Gelfling and the Pod People and asked them, after spending so much time among them—for as much as they had been comfortable—and asked how such a peaceful people could evolve on a world of Light and Dark if Light and Dark contrasted as much as the urSkeks said. ZokZah warned him to be mindful of his thoughts—to be careful of straying beyond the heresy they’d all already fallen deep into—and the others remained silent. YiYa would have spoken more about this had not SoSu adjourned their meeting.

YiYa didn’t understand. Perhaps this was what Raunip—Aughra’s child—felt whenever he told her that she didn’t see everything when she looked at them. The urSkeks could hear their conversations well enough, but chose to say nothing. But YiYa, who always tried to befriend Aughra’s hostile hybrid son, now wonders if there was something to those claims that even he could not fully see.

YiYa levitates in the circle of his brethren around the Crystal as it hovers over the Lake of Fire: as it began to glow. As it begins to happen. He fights against the inclination to look at the two Gelfling. The Sifa Gyr with his tear-drop scar and the pale highborn Vapra Kel stand there and watched their leave-taking from this wonderful, fascinating place. Their hands inch together and YiYa remembers …

After that fateful meeting where he spoke out, SoSu wished to talk with him. As the other urSkeks went out to fulfill their tasks and duties, the two urSkeks had hovered across the green land around the Focal Point—or “the Castle” as the Gelfling called it—and observed the stars in the sky. YiYa recalled seeing the faint rays of the Rose Sun and the twilight of its Dying Brother as the Greater Sun had rotated away for the night. They weren’t as close this time: the Greater Sun always dominating, always there, but only barely touching the Rose—a tousle between brothers, the Gelfling told him—and the Dying Sun was still, far, far away. But because of what he and SoSu were, they could see the spheres of energy and their concentric circles of power and influence gradually, ever so gradually, rippling into each other until—inevitably—all three would cross again just as they had that fateful day almost a thousand trine ago.

SoSu asked YiYa then what he had seen. Even though his role was undefined as of yet and they all remained individuals, YiYa was still part of the collective consciousness that all eighteen made up. To an extent, he access to all their thoughts and experiences—their feelings—but as time went on, even with their strides towards calming the turbulence inside of them, YiYa did not see everything. But they did not see what he saw either. What many did not know, outside of the eighteen, was that YiYa sometimes had flashes of insight along the multifaceted angles of the Universe: the circle of himself still young and growing into lines that had not completely formed yet.

These flashes of actual prescience, like solar flares in his very being, motivated YiYa into finding out more: more about Thra and why of all places they came here. YiYa told SoSu then about the Gelfling—and to some extent the Podlings but the Gelfling in particular—and how they were growing. How they would face that time. As they themselves had long ago.

It didn’t surprise YiYa when SoSu told him that he had also seen this and more. The elder urSkek believed that they had been sent to Thra not just to purify themselves and reincorporate into the Collective, but to help another developing species manage their burgeoning abilities. The ability to dreamfast—to make a rudimentary Collective—was indicative of this crucial and potentially dangerous development should an imbalance between individuals occur. It would only be with the Crystal properly and naturally honed that the Gelfling could reach their potential. SoSu told YiYa what the urSkeks had always known: that each world was a gradation of reality and that, as far as their perceptions reached, the Crystal of Thra was the strongest and most clear version of all the world-Crystals that had ever existed: the archetype of what it was to be the Crystal: an ur-Crystal, for lack of a better word.

It was no accident they were summoned here for, as YiYa was told that night by SoSu, just as this Crystal would help repair them; they would also help the Gelfling find their way. Nothing comes from nothing, YiYa recalls now, and everything has an equivalent exchange of influence and interaction. Everything is connected. SoSu’s belief was that they would show the Gelfling and others that understood that Darkness had to be overcome or controlled for Light to prevail and be refracted through the natural angles of their being: that through this act of hard-work, discipline and humility that they would also purify themselves and ascend back to a proper balance.

But now, as YiYa floats in his place—no longer the erratic young urSkek he’d been and knowing what was at stake—he wonders if SoSu’s thoughts were merely one interpretation of their role. His brethren were proud of him however. As preparations for their guests and the ritual had occurred, and they bemusedly watched AyukAmaj indulge in his speciality and prepare his material sustenance for their guests, SoSu had told him that he had almost reached his own role. Even HakHom, the primary architect of the Focal Point and a contributor of Gelfling artistry, told him that YiYa had been building on sound foundations and that soon, back in their world, he would add another newer pattern to the complex of the urSkek Collective.

Yet YiYa kept his secret: too young to access the confidence of his elders and their specific experiences. He still saw the Light and Dark struggling. He wonders if, deep down, it would ever stop. If it ever should stop … if it ever did…

And then it happens.

SilSol. He had been … discordant somehow after talking with the Gelfling: the being that YiYa had wanted to also talk with, but decided to leave alone in order to help his brethren with the ritual despite his nagging sense of curiosity. But now it is worse. Somehow, they still hold up their star-staves: despite something … something coming. The suns are coming together. The power flowing through them now is tremendous and for the second time in his existence YiYa feels transcendent and alive and all the mysteries of the infinity open up and despite everything drilled into him, he wants to explore them all …

But SilSol, who had been so red, darkens. Raunip, that unique hybrid, antagonizes him. SilSol had never liked Raunip. In fact, despite his interest for all life on Thra, YiYa never had opportunity to even talk with Aughra that much: that honour being mostly reserved for TekTih with whom she had been closer. YiYa himself had apparently been “too annoying” and she had wanted to be the one to “ask the questions,” not him. But SilSol had been sulking for a while: lost in his sad music where he thought none of the others could find him save SaSan that always fetched him from his favourite voyages in the water. This world had changed them all, but SilSol not for the better.

YiYa can see the darkness inside SilSol squirming against something luminous. It is like there was a war raging inside of him. And that was when YiYa sees it.

That is when he finally sees it.

The others also have that Darkness. It isn’t a name or an urge anymore. It is right there—incarnate and inside of them—raging and raging to get out. And something else, something gentle and light quivers around it: like the rippling gelatinous insides of the organic beings of this world. YiYa feels it too. The surge to set out and keep going, that fascination at all costs rages—rages—against the love he had for his brethren, for the Gelfling, for the Podlings he celebrated with, for Aughra and Thra’s balance and his need to help … It is too much. That one discordant note that Sil … Sol … Sil…. Sol…

It is agony. Two halves in three-angles. How can there just be two … the darkness … dark … rk … radiance … rad … r … Words and concepts from another time, before urSkek … the Collective … Sol…. soul … the ur came first … that ascended death … and Skek … the body, the hungry, scared, creeping, living body that died … died … died …

The Crystal explodes into such Light: making them see, see, See … Then nothing … nothing … noth…

…Yi … ragged plumage, purple scales. A gnashing beak. He looks at his claws and feels a cackle deep in his throat. And … Ya … soft yellow skin with swirls on its flesh. He feels sleepy and ponderous. Yi hears the growls and trills of his brothers … they look and revel in themselves. They are free. They are all free. No voices in them. Just them.

Ya … looks around at his … befuddled brethren. Yes, they are his brothers. He blinks. It feels as though something, someone had been a dream and he has just woken up. He feels lighter. He remembers someone’s … others’ terms for the light part of a soul.

Ur … The first to awaken.

He looks at his closer brother at … at Hom … at urHom and urHom looks back: his long spindly fingers playing as though looking for a toy he lost before … sleep. And he is urYa … urYa knows he has been sleeping for a long time. But now he is awake.

UrYa looks across the Chamber at the others … and feels a part of himself still unaware. Still gloating and planning. He doesn’t understand … until he sees the others in the room. The … Gelfling and the Podling. Yes. They came by Landstrider. Noble beings: they know the balance of Nature intrinsically: implicitly. And Aughra and her wayward son…

SkekYi … yes, that is his name. And he knows many other names too. He has the power of them. More than even his brethren. Yessss … Looking at his claws and knowing how tall he is, newborn as he is, he knows how to Soulspeak, how to control the dreamfasting … the little fools trusted him once … and the connections to the Earth through the avatar and her deformed mutant offspring. They thought him a nuisance … he would destroy them. He would explore all parts of them until he grew bored. And then, then he would turn their secrets against them and show them how truly meaningless they all were … make the animals eat each other as he laughed … and laughed…

UrYa blinks, a newborn come from recent sleep, and sees Skek … Yi destroying all life on Thra … deforming the dreams of the Gelfling, poisoning all life with his twisted parody of Soulspeech, etching profanities in all sleeping minds … it is awful. And he wants to stop it, to stop him but he can’t … he can’t … he….

One of the other Skeksis turns to urYa. SkekHak … they regard each other. Hatred blooms in the reptilian being’s eyes and he lunges forward. It seems so slow, but in reality it is beyond time.

And then … urYa remembers.

Suddenly, it is fast. This concept of fast and slow is alien to them, and it comes to their minds so fleetingly compared to the totality of what others could perceive not long ago, oh so long ago … This … it happens so fast: as fast as the speed at which his former self … their former selves used to think and affect the reality around them.

UrYa knows that they were all one not too long ago. And this was the price of trying to control and separate their Darkness. SkekHak’s talons close around his throat. He looks into the hateful gaze of the being that his brother fought against forever. And he sees a horror. UrYa sees SkekHak the Machinist: a Skeksis creating a multitude of weapons, siege weapons, motley war engines and mechanistic terrors. He would dig up the bowels of Thra and pollute it with its own excavated waste. The Gelfling, not knowing their own Darkness enough yet to embrace combat for self-defence and innovation, would fall … fall to the Skeksis with SkekHak’s machines…

The claws tighten around urYa’s pulsating throat. His new-found vision is darkening again, from dream into death … All of them. All of the Skeksis will bring ruin … they were the threat. They were the threat, the potential of what the Gelfling could become. That was why … why Thra, the Crystal wanted them … To teach them, to warn them … but it didn’t have to be … be like … like…

UrYa sees his own brothers. He sees a Valley like the parts of their old world before they … the ur…Skeks had fully evolved. And urHom beside him … the builder, the Carpenter … making refined structures of beauty and repairing what the Gelfling lost for every city lost…

But is it enough? Does it make up for so much?

And with his dimming eyes, urYa understands again. They don’t know. No one here knows. But he has to show them.

Everything is connected.

Despite the passivity infusing his very being, his sweat-soaked brown hair against his smooth yellow skin, urYa knows that he can fight back. He more than knows how to defend himself. A remnant of his corona glimmers next to urHom. And he thinks he hears … something from urHom: a faint dulcet hum. And he knows that his brother understands him. UrYa saw it. He knows that SkekHak will kill him today: just as he knows that the Machinist would destroy and eventually one day build more destruction. But not now. He is too young and immature. Too lustful for killing. He would move on to as many … urRu as he could … like urHom.

Far away, he can see skekYi choking. SkekYi who doesn’t have a role yet … an infant monster … everything urYa is not. He can see him though, see what he became see him as…

SkekYi the Nihilist. SkekYi would obliterate all meaning … but he is choking, he is suffocating and he doesn’t know why. The others, his filthy brothers stand there and watch him. Wretched traitors, wretched things, he wish he could destroy them too, deform them further, and make them pay, always underestimating him…

UrYa does not underestimate the monster he used to live with. He doesn’t dare. He can only hope that the other Skeksis will be too stupid and their depravity will end. But he sees them, older, later, in finery and committing horrors and that SkekHak’s next murder leading to his flaming ruin will show them what they are in a purely crude way, will show them for what they are….

Instead, urYa closes his eyes. The darkness is soothing. He is falling asleep again, even as the nightmare across from him suffocates in its cradle. He wills his brothers to see … and he feels them understand. And the Gelfling and Podling … Because of this, they will not have to face the Machinist or Nihilist. He can do that much. Perhaps this moment will teach them as well … will pass into a legend or a small myth to warn future generations to come one day when that Great, awful awful Shattering that happened, that will happen, that is happening can be repaired and made whole …

The elders had been destroying themselves in this exile, but this would stop it. This would show them … the two Gelfling almost holding hands, male and female, Darkness and Light, there is always a third way … they always lived the third way …

They thought that the Gelfling had to learn from them, but they had just as much to learn from the Gelfling in their crucible of Light intermixed with Dark, with life … in their new home…

Everything is connected, urYa remembers, letting himself relax, letting himself die, willing his brothers—everyone—to see before, finally, he sleeps forever: his nightmare dying with him, and his dream living on.


The urRu gather together in the sands of the Valley. They had prevented the quake of the Crystal’s cracking from destroying the Gelfling, Podling, and their mounts. They are humming: their deep voices resonating and complementing each other’s.

One the tallest among them, urSu, closes his eyes. He remembers watching urYa stand and let SkekHak drain the life from him with his bare hands. He saw some of what the other did and knew what it meant … what it all meant.

And as the youngest had grown slack in the Skeksis’ hands, they all saw.

His lower arms scoop up the sand in front of him. There were no remains to bury: urHom incinerated silently into flame and urYa vanished with his demise. There is nothing left of them except for the wind in their lungs and their dreams. He takes the coloured sand and gently blows it into the air: wishing for the passing of urHom—urHom the Carpenter—into the next life.

Then his lower arms scoop more sand. urSu opens his eyes and looks down at the many, many colours. UrYa would have appreciated the different varieties. The different perspectives. He had died so young and before his promise. And yet: he had shown him so much. UrSu speaks again in the flowing language of their kind. He wanted to call urYa the Philosopher, but as he speaks, he says something else.

“Here passes urYa, youngest of our brethren,” urSu says, a tear rolling down his cheek, “urYa … the Dreamer.”

The Master takes the sand to his upper hands and blows it gently into the sky: returning to Thra and to everything.