Guttershaman and the Fictionals

14 June, 2010
This isn’t so much a full Guttershaman installment as a kind of “DVD extras” post for the talk I gave to the Omphalos pagan moot in Bath today.

The set-up was:

“Stories and myth are the ground that magic, and culture in general, are rooted in. Although many magicians and pagans endeavour to base their practice on authentic historical roots, there are other ways… using the fictional tales that fill our culture as a modern mythology. Movies, TV,  SF and fantasy fiction and comic books can all offer insights on magic and mysticism.
Cat Vincent coined the term Guttershaman to describe this perspective – an urban path based on the mix of ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’ with personal experience. He talks about some of the inspiration he has found along this path, with particular reference to the noted comic writers and practicing mages Alan Moore and Grant Morrison.”

A few links for those that braved my mad rantings… (and thanks for a great reception!)

All the Guttershaman posts are collected here – start at the bottom!

On Alan Moore and Idea Space:

On V for Vendetta, Anonymous and Scientology:

On Grant Morrison and The Invisibles:

The canonical Invisibles site was Barbelith – which developed from a fan page to one of the most interesting occult discussion groups around. Quiet these days but much food for thought there.

A  very detailed Morrison interview, covering which bits of The Invisibles are purely autobiographical:

How close is The Matrix to The Invisibles? Here’s 15 points of similarity – Morrison claims over 80!

On Hypersigils:

On fiction and reality merging, comic books and Moore/Morrison both:

Grant Morrison on The Matrix ‘borrowing’ from The Invisibles

11 April, 2009

Since it’s the tenth anniversary of the cinema release of The Matrix (and as I found this synchronistically while looking for something else), here’s Grant Morrison interviewed at Suicide Girls on the subject of just how much the film took from his epic magical (literally) comic The Invisibles:

It’s really simple. The truth of that one is that design staff on The Matrix were given Invisibles collections and told to make the movie look like my books. This is a reported fact. The Wachowskis are comic book creators and fans and were fans of my work, so it’s hardly surprising. I was even contacted before the first Matrix movie was released and asked if I would contribute a story to the website.

It’s not some baffling ‘coincidence’ that so much of The Matrix is plot by plot, detail by detail, image by image, lifted from Invisibles so there shouldn’t be much controversy. The Wachowskis nicked The Invisibles and everyone in the know is well aware of this fact but of course they’re unlikely to come out and say it.

It was just too bad they deviated so far from the Invisibles philosophical template in the second and third movies because they blundered helplessly into boring Catholic theology, proving that they hadn’t HAD the ‘contact’ experience that drove The Invisibles, and they wrecked both
‘Reloaded’ and ‘Revolutions’ on the rocks of absolute incomprehension. They should have kept on stealing from me and maybe they would have wound up with something to really be proud of – a movie that could change minds and hearts and worlds.

I love the first Matrix movie which I think is a real work of cinematic genius and very timely but I’ve now heard from several people who worked on The Matrix and they’ve all confirmed that they were given Invisibles books as reference. That’s how it is. I’m not angry about it anymore, although at one time I was because they made millions from what was basically a Xerox of my work and to be honest, I would be happy with just one million so I didn’t have to work thirteen hours of every fucking day, including weekends.

In the end, I was glad they got the ideas out but very disappointed that they blew it so badly and distorted all the Gnostic transcendental aspects that made the first film so strong and potent. If they had any sense, they would have befriended me instead of pissing me off. They seem like nice boys.

And while I’m at it, here’s XKCD’s take on the anniversary. And seriously… if you’re a magician and haven’t read The Invisibles yet, why not?

Meeting fictional characters

10 April, 2009

Found this excellent piece on Electric Children on the subject of (specifically comic book) creators who have spoken of fictional characters as being in some sense real – and those who have met them.

The classic example is Alan Moore’s oft-told story of having met his creation John Constantine – twice. The article doesn’t accurately quote the one thing Constantine told Moore (on their second meeting), which in the unexpurgated version goes like this:

“You know what the secret of magic is?
Any cunt can do it.”

Long – but do read it.

Shamanism, myth and metaphor – and Wolverine

22 March, 2009

From this piece on the popular funny book character as shamanic figure:

Myths, rituals and religion bind us together and can be seen metaphorically as the bones of our society. Our personal belief and value system can be seen as our soul’s set of bones. As we grow up we take on the beliefs and values of the people around us. There comes a point for some of us where we start to doubt the absolute truth of the claims of our culture. We question and question and lose all belief. We are left dismembered and torn apart.

Our symbolic bones are brittle and fragile to begin with because we see them as being literally and absolutely true. For example, when the claim that the moon is a goddess is understood literally, it is smashed to pieces when we land on the moon. Stories and symbols address psychological needs and these change over time. In order to stay relevant and useful the stories and symbols we hold dear must also change. The literal and absolute perspective can not accommodate change and so is weak and fragile.

A man with unbreakable bones has a belief system that is fluid and adaptive to his life. He chooses from the stories and symbols around him and defines himself through them. He dances to the beat of his own drum. He is protected from the manipulation of others by his conscious recognition of the power of symbol and story. The transition from a literal to metaphorical perspective requires the complete dissolution of everything that we previously held to be true. When the process is completed the core of our being is left free from doubt and insecurity.

Well said, bub.
(And don’t get me started on the shamanic arc of Hugh Jackman’s career… let’s just say, go see a double bill of The Prestige and The Fountain and see how that does ya.)

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Inevitable Watchman post

13 March, 2009

Need I emphasise, here be spoilers?

I enjoyed it. And I didn’t miss the squid.

It could have be so much worse. Whatever you say about Zack Snyder not being a great director  – and frankly, he really isn’t – his sheer love for every frame of the book overcame his shortcomings.

Malin Ackerman didn’t suck anywhere as much as rumoured (after all, Juspeczyk isn’t exactly the deepest of characters in the first place). Though Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Comedian was good, he wasn’t quite the powerhouse I’d hoped for. Jackie Earl Haley’s Rorschach was, however… truly splendid work, and if there was any justice he’d be a shoo-in for next Best Supporting Actor Oscar. (Well, maybe if he dies, he’d get it. Too soon? Tough.) Also big points for Patrick Wilson in the thankless role of Dan – subtly handled, and the transform from pudgy dude to combat machine worked for me. (One criticism that I sort of agreed with is that all the heroes seem to be super-powered – able to kick through walls, snap arms with a light punch etc – which kind of reduces the impact of Veidt’s bullet-catching act. But the fights sure were pretty.) It was also great to see old-time SF veterans like Matt Frewer, Stephen McHattie, Rob LaBelle and (briefly) Alessandro Juliani turn up. (And Apollonia Vanova, who played Sillhouette, was the loveliest woman in the movie. Which is saying a lot.)

Some of the make-up and FX were a little slack, but overall the impression was good. Doctor Manhattan’s Big Blue Cock wasn’t that distracting (though there’s probably a paper to be written on the semiotics of him being circumcised…).

Yes, using Happy Uncle Len for the sex scene was a dumb idea. The use of ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ in the background was crass – and though enjoyable, using Philip Glass as the music for building a ship made of, er, glass, lacked subtlety. And I missed hearing Elvis Costello’s ‘Comedians’ and really didn’t need All Along the Watchtower (unless of course Veidt is the Last Cylon…) The actual score (as opposed to the plundering of the music archive) was well-done.

After checking with IMDB I found my suspicion that one of Veidt’s TV screens was showing (among other favourites as Mad Max 2, Rambo 2 and Generic Lesbian Sex Scene no.5) Altered States was correct… nice touch!

Also I found after reading a couple of interviews with the screenwriters, it seems Alan Moore (described memorably as ‘the Dumbledore of comics’ by Daily Grail recently!) actually saw and (whisper it) approved of an early draft. (Just wondering – if Alan’s the Dumbledore of comics, what does that make Grant Morrison? Snape?)

Another criticism I agree with is that the overall sense of menace and sheer insanity of the Cold War mentality wasn’t really brought across. It was portrayed, but felt flat – and I’m a cold war kid, so I can’t imagine what you young whippper-snappers who were born afterwards thought. (For the record, using ’99 Luftballoon’ in the soundtrack as ironic counterpoint doesn’t fucking count, m’kay?)

That ending… worked. Let’s be honest, Moore’s not great at endings, especially in his earlier books. The solution they came up with for the resolution made sense, took much less set-up than the squid and had about the same punch. (Interesting to note the strategic use of images of the World Trade Centre throughout – especially at the end, overlooking the New York rebuild.)

Needless to say, I am looking forward to watching the Director’s Cut, with Black Freighter put in etc – partly ‘cos my son (who just read Watchman and is a bit of a purist, like many recent converts) is waiting for the long version.

You’re a yellow bastard, Charlie Brown

11 March, 2009

Wandered across this little gem – Charles Schultz’ Peanuts, in the style of Sin City-era Frank Miller (click the link to see the whole thing!):

Blogged with the Flock Browser

My talented friends and family 3

16 January, 2009

When I was a kid, it would have been unthinkably cool to have a friend who wrote for 2000AD. Now I do. And he’s a very busy boy.

Here’s the splendid Jaspre Bark:

My book on Leonardo Da Vinci was translated into nine different languages and published all over the world. Here’s a link: (NB, link goes to .pdf download.)

The first four in the series of graphic novels I wrote to help improve literacy in 12 – 16 year olds in UK schools can be seen here:

On a totally different note my new novel is a gore soaked horror tome and coming soon from Abaddon books here’s a link to some advance publicity:

And I’ve got a few comic stories up on my Facebook page now.

Looking forward immensely to that Abbadon book, ‘Way of the Barefoot Zombie’!