Monday, 25 April 2011

Gentleman Geek

Recently a friend of mine paid me the compliment of being a ‘Man about town’, which got me to thinking. Geeks are no longer required to lurk in enclaves and dark corners, they’re just as likely to be socialising with non-Geek, mainstream folk. Here are some thoughts on furthering Geek-kind, and leveling up to the Prestige Class I call Gentleman Geek: Geek About Town.

Note: Not rules, merely guides.

1. The Gentleman Geek is passionate about his chosen subject, but rarely opens a conversation about it. If it becomes clear the people you’re talking to have nothing to contribute to the conversation find a new topic. You may think you’re bringing them pop culture or genre enlightenment; in fact they just want to sneak off to the bar.

2. The Geek-about-town can still profess his undying love for his cherished sub-culture without having to proclaim it across a t-shirt. A measure of sartorial finesse will bring respectability to oneself and the Geek collective as a whole.

3. Facial hair, whilst sported by every hipster in Christendom, needs occasional taming. You’re a Geek, not a Viking.

4. If your fine locks go the way of Firefly (Great while it lasted; now but a memory) then consider The Picard as your new look.

5. Geeks have taken to Japanese food, and sushi in particular, as if it were their birthright. If you are chopstick impaired then there is no harm in asking for a fork. Far preferable than decorating your fellow diners with rice. Standing your chopsticks up in rice is bad form.

6. Never, ever assume that because you attended the signing you’re a shoo-in for the drinks afterwards. The Geek-about-town is always invited, never an unwelcome hanger-on.

7. Always have a couple of non-Geek anecdotes up your sleeve for parties, weddings and bar mitzvahs. Rehearse your small talk if the idea of it gives you conniptions.

8. Listening is sexy. If you’re not a natural raconteur at least listen attentively.

9. Never berate anyone (Geek or non-Geek) for not having read or seen your favourite films, books and comics. Recommend enthusiastically, by all means, but a person should never be made to feel bad for missing out on a pop culture gem.

10. Holding doors open for women (and indeed people of any gender) is still classy. Period.

11. When in the company of non-Geeks do not use excessive film quotes or recite large parts of Withnail & I or The Big Lebowski. What you and your friends may find hilariously charming is baffling at best and weird at worst for regular folk.

12. Rarely insist and always suggest.

I don’t profess to have adhered to these guides. In fact many of them are a direct response of my very own Geek Failures (sometimes Epic). I include them so others may learn from my mistakes.


Monday, 18 April 2011

Comics Are For Kids, Right?

Joe the Barbarian
Writer: Grant Morrison
Art: Sean Murphy
Colourist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Todd Klein
Vertigo Comics

I’ve always divided my time fairly evenly between comics and genre literature; providing I could drag myself away from console games or tabletop wargaming. My geekery knows no bounds.

It’s this scattershot approach to Geek Culture that means I’ve largely missed out on Grant Morrison’s body of work. He’s been on my cultural radar for ages, I’d just not gotten around to finding out what the spell-casting, frequently nekkid, Scots fellow was capable of.

Joe the Barbarian changed all of that.

I’ve been steady collecting the monthly comics since March last year. I say ‘monthly’, Joe the Barbarian hit a couple of production bumps it would seem, and the last issue, #8 has only been released recently.

Morrison crafts an Alice in Wonderland-esque alternate world out of the protagonist's hypoglycemic hallucination. This compounded with Joe’s anger and grief for his father underpins the series narrative. The story weaves elements of the real world into a Fantastic (with a capital ‘F’), quest driven story. The whole conceit is made more charming for the fact that Joe knows he simply needs to get a soda from the fridge to wake up from the unreality he’s experiencing. The characters in the hallucinated world all speak exactly as if they’d been lifted from High Fantasy novels, and the place names of the imagined world are suitably outlandish.

This story has it all: Anthropomorphized sword-wielding pets, an army of action figures and super heroes plundered from pop culture, dwarven pirates, tons of action, real world events bleeding into the imagined world, and real life consequences too.

The first issue is particularly powerful. At points the issue turns over entire pages to encapsulate the loneliness Joe is feeling and how bleak his world is, summed up by the gorgeous art of Sean Murphy and coloured by Dave Stewart.

The art style and nonsensical predicament put me in mind of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, which also alludes to a world beyond our own. Todd Klein (something of a legend in comics) provided lettering for both series. His is light, nuanced touch in Joe the Barbarian, the sound effects never overpower the art and sit nicely with trippy, gloomy world Murphy and Stewart concoct.

Joe the Barbarian is a rare treat: an all ages comic with real heart, fun, memorable characters and the genuine feel of the hero digging deep and saving himself and the world he lives in.

A deluxe hardcover graphic novel is slated for release in September 2011. If you can’t wait that long the single issues are available on Ebay.

Monday, 11 April 2011


Hello, you’ve not met me before but I’m a big fan of yours. Yes, really. That thing you did with the Scrabble pieces and electrical current was incredible.
Oh, we have met before. At a party? Who’s party?
Ah, perhaps I was gatecrashing. Forgive me, I was probably drunk. Did I do anything embarrassing?
Anything else apart from that?

Anyway! This is my new blog. Welcome. I used to have a blog with a really silly name that was lots fun, but then I decided to part ways with it. This is me being grown up. Look, it has a sensible name and everything.

I can’t promise you I’ll stick to any given mission statement for longer than a week because I’m like a goldfish with ADHD. What I can promise are odd bits of writing, me being enthusiastic about music, books, cinema, comics & culture, and possibly the occasional rant or whinge, but I’ll keep that to a minimum.


So, show me the thing with the Scrabble pieces again. Oh, go on. I’ll buy you a pint.