Never Mind The Dada: Sweating Blood, Bullets And Creativity In A Comic Book Fiasco

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Andrez Bergen writes,

Dunno about you, but when I think of toilets — which I swear I try to avoid contemplating too often — I conjure up Marcel Duchamp. While pressing shirts? I tend to picture Man Ray's flat-iron with nails.

Yep, I'm talking up Dada, which I learned about in early high school and was instantly smitten.

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I think Dada set me up for a lifetime of like-mindedness in which cut-up collages are king, art should be as much about humour and effrontery as it is about beauty, and experimentation is as necessary as taking your next breath of city-stale air.

Hence my favourite LP being a cut-up tape loop piece of genius called Voice of America — released by Cabaret Voltaire 34 years ago. One reason why, when I watched Monty Python's Flying CircusTerry Gilliam mesmerized me with his animated Victorian cutouts. And I tend to (occasionally) worship at the grubby altar of Brion Gysin and William Burroughs' book 'The Third Mind'.

Noir and hardboiled fiction does filter between the razorblades.

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Other writers who continue to bamboozle me, even in the re-reads, have been Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Graham Greene, Philip K. Dick and Ed Brubaker.

And comic book wise? I grew up on a steady diet of American ones visually conjured up by Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko, Steve Ditko and, later, David Lloyd, Frank Miller, Michael Lark, David Aja, Sean Phillips and Steve Epting. Also never forgetting British stuff like 2000 AD and Action.

So I'm hardly going to kick back and declare here that my comic book series Bullet Gal is something revolutionary and/or innovative. That'd be a complete rort. People were doing the same kinds of thing a hundred years ago.

But I do wear my hear on one sleeve, influences on the other, like proud military epaulets that got lint on them in the rinse cycle. Think a cocktail shaker of all these crosses-to-bear in the 12-issue arc that shapes up the 'Bullet Gal' cycle.

Then imagine it cast in the dual cultural realms of Melbourne (Australia) and Tokyo (Japan) — the two cities I've called home — and you might get a better picture of what to expect.

On the surface this is the tale of femme fatale-cum-aspiring hero Mitzi, who's just breezed into the city of Heropa from parts unknown. She's packing twin 9mm Star Model B revolvers, pearl-handled, nickel-plated ones identical to the firearm Samuel L. Jackson flaunted in Pulp Fiction.

In between elements of homage, sci-fi, dystopia, noir and golden age comic book superhero lore, there's a coming-of-age yarn to tell. In cut-up collage form, of course: a potpourri of my own photos with fair use of public domain advertising imagery, alteration of existing images, references to classic cinema, and original art.

North American publishers Under Belly Comics must have seen something in the resultant mix, since they licensed the 12-issue series and are intending to release the lot as a 300-page trade paperback with cover artwork by Niagara Detroit.

In order to finance this publication, they're running a Kickstarter campaign here.

Just beware of those cisterns and ironing devices, let alone any stray bullets.

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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