||[Dec. 18th, 2007|02:02 pm]
(This is a slightly longer version than the one that ran in today's issue. It's the writer's cut, ha.)
100 COMICS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE (or grow out of them)
#99 THE NEW ADVENTURES OF HITLER – Grant Morrison, Steve Yeowell
Available on the Internet today.
"And did those feet in ancient time walk upon England's mountains green?"
The New Adventures Of Hitler postulates that in 1912 the young Adolf Hitler spent a holiday staying with his half-brother and sister-in-law in England while questing for the Holy Grail. Like most of Grant Morrison’s ideas it is just a little bit out there, but where sometimes his oddity dips towards self-indulgence, here he remains brief and to the point. He’s also graced with one of the best artists he’s ever worked with in Steve Yeowell, and the second printing benefited even further from added colours that veered between a psychedelic wallpapering of entire panels and washes of drab British brown.
At the time it was published Morrison was accused of being a Nazi propagandist by people who hadn’t read the series, which lampoons Hitler constantly and mercilessly. He’s depicted as a buffoon and a lunatic, hallucinating entire conversations over cups of tea and convinced that he’s being remorselessly pursued by a trolleybus full of people with chairs for shoes. He’s as mad as a fish. At the same time he’s portrayed as a limited kind of visionary, finding the seeds of National Socialism in the rich, dark soil of the British Empire while hearing Morrissey and John Lennon singing songs from the future in his wardrobe (Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now and Working Class Hero, respectively). Morrison knew the kind of controversy he was courting, even titling the first chapter ‘What Do You Mean, Ideologically Unsound?’
Like a lot of British comics from the 80s – V For Vendetta and seemingly half the stories running in 2000AD, for instance – the spectre of Thatcher looms over the book. There’s more to it than political ranting dressed in surreal clothes, however. Although it’s loosely inspired by Bridget Dowling’s probably false claim that Adolf Hitler visited her and her husband, Alois Hitler, in Liverpool and it’s told as fiction, The New Adventures Of Hitler nevertheless contains uncomfortable truths about prejudice and national pride, tyranny and government, madness and genius, and the distressingly blurry lines between them all.