Old pictures, early photographs, have become fetish objects. They often
speak to a time where repression shared a room with wild decadence, but with
hard demarcations. Restrictive, decorative clothing evokes bondage -- once
known as The English Vice -- without ever speaking its name.
Steve Cook's ALTERNITY fetishises the fetish. Careful
digital manipulation places these proper ladies and gentlemen in a parallel
world; a hyperreal interzone of rubber, piercings and tattoos.
Steve Cook's career has been tangential to comics for some years. He returns
to comics next year, to design the cover for VERTIGO X, a special
magazine-style object celebrating ten years of DC's adult-fiction imprint --
itself existing in a kind of parallel world where major commercial publishers
still produce something other than children's fiction and film tie-ins.
Six or seven years ago, my book LAZARUS CHURCHYARD stood almost alone in the
local library. Today, the smart retailer of graphic novels -- I immediately
think of Amanda Fisher in Montana, Rory Root in Berkeley, Gib Bickel in
Columbus, Ohio -- sell many hundreds of dollars' worth of graphic novels into
the library system on a regular basis. It's part of an ongoing mission to
find readers, rather than collectors, of the medium. At Artbomb, we're now
finding that libraries want printable versions of the introduction to graphic
novels that Jessica Abel did for us -- I've wanted to find a way to work with
her since I met her in an airport in 1997, the first time I saw
her work -- to use as a gateway for readers into their nascent graphic novel
If you can't afford the things you see on Artbomb, it wouldn't be the worst
thing in the world to go into your local library and ask for them. These are
the things that need to be read. Read them any way you can.
Today, I celebrate Britain dumping a sack of religious fanatics on a big
weird continent far away. I do this by going to Germany and having a Red
Bull in the Hotel Vier Jahrezeiten, on the edge of the Inner Alster Lake in
Hamburg. Belly warmed by potato cakes, sausage and mugs of mulled wine.
It's been a family trip, so I haven't had much time to go out on cultural
investigation. To be honest, it's been nice to hang around the Christmas
markets dotted around the centre of Hamburg; aromatic smoke from the
wood-fired ovens baking fresh breads, the smells of bratwurst and wine and
coffee. Champagne and roasted nuts in the evenings.
In LA, I saw a guy wearing a t-shirt reading DEFEND COMICS. In Germany this
afternoon, I'd like to say; fuck comics. Even just for one day. It's a big
world, and everything has its