Posted in: Do Anything. Thoughts on Comics and Things by Warren Ellis | Tagged:

Do Anything 021 by Warren Ellis



Do you know where you are?

I have this vague recollection of someone asking the writer Spider Robinson where his ideas come from, and his answer having to do with hacking your way through a jungle (with Burne Hogarth denouncing you from a tree, probably) to find a filing cabinet in the middle of it, which is kind of like hunting a needle in a haystack, but the jungle metaphor's better because you have to hack through the crap and the obscuring foliage with a machete to get at what you want. And the filing cabinet is probably hidden in the back of an old Francois Roche building that's now bearded with vegetation.

I imagine that, in Robinson's conception (if he even said the above — I recall another sf writer quoting him, maybe Alfred Bester (comics writer) or Harlan Ellison (comics writer) or even Robert Silverberg (adapted into comics) — the filing cabinet moves around, like the TARDIS. Because even jungles have structure, even if it's the structure we naturally impose on them just by looking at them.

Do you know where you are?

That rainforest canopy, seen from above and stained all neon, could be the datafield visualised upon immersion in William Gibson's Cyberspace: "A graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data." The imagined superstructures of the Idea Jungle becoming the virtual skyscrapers of assembled global information flow. Imagined electrical gardens. Ideas as light. The ideascape.

Do you know where you are?

The paths through the trees, and the trees that look like buildings, the canyons and the streets. The shared environment of Alan Moore's Ideaspace: "We've all got our own Idea Space which is individual and unique to us. This is like having your own house. We've all got part of our unconscious in the back garden but the back gardens all lead onto the same street. In another model you might say there's all these little individual inlets of consciousness, but they all connect to the same central ocean."

You're up here, in the digital air of cyberspace, in a rocket-prowed plane being flown by Raymond Loewy, who knows these currents and eddies well, looking at the entire infinite breadth of the ever-shifting mantic geography of ideaspace, and the traffic up here is all spaceships, TARDISes and stone thrones.

A place where everything connects to the same central ocean. Where we all share the same strange air. Where unthinkable complexity becomes visible, speakable, drawable. Where we can see the paths through the jungle that others have trod, and can see where they've crossed, and can see what foliage has not yet been trailbroken.

This is where the robot head of Jack Kirby has been taking you too, all this time. This is a universe that abuts our own, a vast space of cometary ideoplasm and speaking atomic structure.

This is where Jack Kirby lived. A place where you can see that everything is connected, and that everything is ideas, and that everything can be expressed through visual narrative — which is, itself, nothing but a series of connections.

Everything is comics. Comics are air. Cave paintings, the Stations of the Cross, the Bayeux Tapestry, woodcut novels, army maintenance guides, airplane safety cards — all comics. Comics are everywhere, the ideoplasmic universe of human culture from its dawn to one second ago and up the line until the sun goes dark. Nothing but words and pictures: but they are what define the way we frame ideas and experiences. They do anything.

Deceleration begins.


IN ORBIT — Sun Araw
THE SPOILS — Zola Jesus
THREE EPs — Shackleton
FLIGHT — New Age Hippies


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Rich JohnstonAbout 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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