As for new comics:
Got hold of the first issue of Desolation Jones this week, along with the most recent one, issue #3. Ellis’s own commentary on issue #1 can be found here. This is easily one of the most visually captivating tracks on which I’ve ever set the eye-train running, which it does at bullet speeds. Ish one really put the whole story in place, correcting me on a few misconceptions regarding the plot. Set in some version of the present, not the near future as I had originally thought, L.A. is a sort of open prison for disbarred and out-of-favor members of the world’s intelligence community. Jones is former M16, victim and sole survivor of an experiment the depths of the horrors of which have only been partially insinuated called the desolation test. In L.A. he works as a private investigator for this stray dog intelligence community. His existence is hallucinogenic, he is beset by visions and distortions of reality he can’t keep at bay- he is the perfect hard-boiled supermodern private dick, a translation of noir into transient modernity. He lives in a world not unlike that encountered in the pages of Algren’s New Orleans in A Walk on the Wild Side, a world peopled by the shells of the shells of people, the remainders of those mechanisms that once fulfilled a professional obsession or obligation with all traces of the social dug out of them; these are people who have become forks and who’ve had a few tines broken off who are then forced to fly back to the world of hugs and brunch. Ellis’s theme of hyper-mediation is thoughtfully entertained and expanded in this book. Transmetropolitan explored, in the few compilations I had the good fortune to stumble across a few years ago, what I do not mean to seem derogatory in characterizing as a more superficial exploration of the effects of media on people. In that series, we see the hero, Spider Jerusalem, throwing his hands up in the air as he uses the press to try to get people in the hyper-mediated future to police their humanity and its loss. This book, in the first three issues, seems to be leading us to focus not on identifying with a voice of reason pointing out the decay of people victimised by their own eagerness to be mediated as in Transmetropolitan, but instead on a world without that antebellum voice of reason. This is a world of people ruined by their specializations, people who have tuned in to the million gallons of thought pouring down from the wire and lost vast tracts of themselves because they don’t have enough channels in their perception to do something with all information at once. There are no other characters of any other stripe in this book. Though Spider Jerusalem’s jaunts were set in the future, the present-day world Michael Jones inhabits is the bleaker, more far-flung.
Pay particular attention to Jones’ musing on supermodernism, the mediation of space as a message: You are just passing through, you don’t belong here. The characters in this book are a testament to the arrival of our plight in our mediated present- YOU don’t belong here. YOU don’t belong anywhere. If any part of YOU wants to get through to tomorrow, YOU had best make friends with a profession. And all professions simply use their human mediums to transfer information from one place to another.