||[Jan. 22nd, 2008|05:11 pm]
100 COMICS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE (or grow out of them)
#96 TRANSMETROPOLITAN – Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson
"You're miserable, edgy and tired. You're in the perfect mood for journalism."
Transmetropolitan is set in the future, but like a lot of the best science fiction it’s really talking about the present. Darick Robertson draws its futuristic, bustling American city made out of bright plastic and filthy metal, full of weird-looking people and advertising everywhere you look, just like the real ones of today. The people include a subculture who genetically alter themselves to look like aliens and the advertising comes in bombs that invade your dreams, but it’s still recognisably our world that’s being exaggerated in Transmetropolitan’s fairground mirror.
Part of this backdrop is a political race that slowly becomes the foreground of the story as Spider Jerusalem, a journalistic cross between Hunter S. Thompson and a William Gibson protagonist who is our tattooed and drug-fuelled guide, becomes caught up in it against his better judgement. Spider is a bitter cynic, but like most cynics he’s an optimist who’s been let down by the world too often. The battle between his disdain and hate on one side and his compassion and idealistic belief in truth on the other is as fascinating as the war of words, media skulduggery and bowel disruption between him and his opponent. That opponent is a politician so vile he manages to combine Nixon’s arrogance, Blair’s vapidity, Clinton’s rampant horniness and even quotes Bush with the slogan: “Because there ought to be limits to freedom.”
Several of Transmet’s everybastard characters are loosely analogous to real people, but fictionalised and sanded down to timeless archetypes. Using Spider as his megaphone, Warren Ellis harangues them and most of the rest of the world for their failings. If the world has ever disappointed you enough to want to piss on it from the rooftops like Spider does – or you’re considering a career in combat journalism yourself – this is your handbook.
Call a publisher, MacGregor. Call one NOW.
I hate those "1000 idiots you must punch", they're too big. A pocket-size 100er...I'd buy that. And I reckon so would half the world.
One written this well would be even better.
I've been thinking about that. I'm glad to have one customer lined up already.
I hear 2008 is a good year to get published... like any year really.
Good work as usual, McG.
Having some time on my hands a year or two ago, I finally sat down and read the whole series, starting with volume one, issue one.
I think 'The City' is supposed to be New York, but it reads like London. Maybe that's just the nature of the modern Megalopolis: each one has elements common to all the others.
I figured the city was a sprawl that had replaced New York, something big enough that only the mountains halted its spread. You're spot on about the modern Megalopolis; Alan Moore once said that New York was just three Londons stacked on top of each other with better food.
2008-01-22 01:40 pm (UTC)
From what I know about the history of New York, the Island of Manhattan wasn't always a gentle and evern slope from the Bronx to Battery Park, but a wild forest with hills and valleys.
It was flattened to create the New York that we know today.
The Alan Moore quote amuses me, because wandering around London it feels very much like it isn't one city at all, but several different cities layered together. And each city comes apparent at different times, or when you look from different places. London at Three AM is a completely different place, with a totally different population than London at Two in the Afternoon.
(Of course, this is totally ignoring that London is not really one city at all, it's more a bunch of villages that actually overlap, and what was a trading port and administrative hub just keeps spreading outwards, claiming all in its path... Kind of like Brisbane, really)
Anyways, keep up the good work.
And that was me just above.
By the by, Alan Moore was dead on about the food.
That, I disagree with. Granted, I spent more time in London than New York but in London you can eat better in a greasy spoon than 90% of the places in NYC. For me, American food is like American fantasy: something they can't do as well as Europeans, so they add more sugar to compensate.
Transmetropolitan is filled with awesome. =)