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a speculative essay on the self-regulating limits of reality
May 4, 2011 10:31 PM   Subscribe

Mindless Ones is a surreal, cerebral comics blog filled with essays about Grant Morrison and Batman villains. Still not enough? Too Busy Thinking About My Comics takes comic book overthinking to another level.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn (38 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Goddamm you, LiB. I'm about three blogs down the Rabbit Hole into a pile of critical analysis of Grant Morrison's entire comics career because of this post AND I CAN'T STOP READING. Some of us on the other side of the world would like to sleep.
posted by KingEdRa at 11:25 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


The strange thing is that I haven't really read comic books in years but I read heaps of comic blogs. Should probably take advantage of that strong Aussie dollar and grab the Morrison Batmans.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:37 PM on May 4, 2011


Those little red icons are just in the perfect spot to make reading this a hassle.
posted by stavrogin at 11:52 PM on May 4, 2011


Should probably take advantage of that strong Aussie dollar and grab the Morrison Batmans

You'd do much better to prowl around in the 50c bins at a local comic store. Strong dollar or not, those Morrison Batman trades I assume you are talking about, most of them still only in hardback, are revoltingly overpriced. But I've found some fantastic stuff in the bins lately, including a copy of Avengers Annual #10 (first appearance of Rogue!) for a buck. Just pick up a pile of pre-90s books, doesn't really matter what they are, for a tenner and you'll have a far better time than trying to navigate your way through the infuriating clusterfuck that is the leadup to Batman RIP.
posted by tumid dahlia at 12:56 AM on May 5, 2011


Also that Thinking About My Comics blog looks great, cheers for the link.
posted by tumid dahlia at 12:56 AM on May 5, 2011


Nice comics link, thanks.

I'd skip the Morrison Batman issues. I really didn't dig them. His Superman was good, but I think he hit the high point with The Filth (featured in the fpp.) I would compare The Filth favorably with Naked Lunch.
posted by Catblack at 3:10 AM on May 5, 2011


Wahey! A comics blog done by friends of mine getting love!

Thank you, Metafilter, from this Barbelither's still loyal little heart.
posted by Kitteh at 3:51 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Argh. My free time! The semester is almost over and summer is almost here, thus freeing up a vast amount of brainspace. Or at least it looked like it would be freed up, but now it'll be spent reading about comics. And the economics of the Death Star. Did I pick up a level in metanerd? I must have.

Are there any decent podcasts that do something similar? I've been fishing around lately and most seem to be recaps or guest interviews or really, really long. Had I the intestinal fortitude, I'd start my own. I've tried discussing these things with telemarketers, but they don't seem to know a whole lot about Batman except that should Batman need aluminum siding, he'd choose them.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:39 AM on May 5, 2011


Ah, Barbelith. The shining city on the hill.

Possibly shining because of the aluminium siding.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:56 AM on May 5, 2011


We were always good about polishing that aluminium siding.
posted by Kitteh at 5:27 AM on May 5, 2011


God, that place died an undignified death.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 6:29 AM on May 5, 2011


I've been a semi-regular of "Too Busy" for a while now. Colin is quite astute, and his articles are always worth a read. I blogged about comics for two years, trying to be quite astute, and gave up. TBTAMC is the blog I wanted to write but couldn't.

Seriously, the blog is excellent. His analysis of the olde-tymey artist who drew the early Legion of Super-Heroes stories was fascinating, and I can't muster up a rat fart's worth of interest in the Legion.

A great, great blog.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 6:29 AM on May 5, 2011


What ever happened to Barbelith, anyway? There was a stretch where it was second only to The Blue here for internet radness. Then it just seemed to fall apart abruptly like Sheriff Buford T. Justice's car.
posted by COBRA! at 7:01 AM on May 5, 2011


Cancer of the clique, aggressive PC infection?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:04 AM on May 5, 2011


What ever happened to Barbelith, anyway?

They Found Out too Much?
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:08 AM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Combination of social and technical issues, is the short answer. The longer answer, obviously, involves the machinations of Iok Sotot, Eater of Souls.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:11 AM on May 5, 2011


those Morrison Batman trades I assume you are talking about, most of them still only in hardback, are revoltingly overpriced

The ones that are in softcover look to be $15-18 USD, which is a pretty typical price for reprint trades of their length.

Morrison fanboys like me will be wanting to keep their eyes peeled for Supergods this summer.
posted by Zed at 7:27 AM on May 5, 2011


What an undignified waste of time.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 7:40 AM on May 5, 2011


What ever happened to Barbelith, anyway?

The truth of it is that it became less like the tight-knit community it was and more like a pissing match between two posters who seemed to pop up everywhere you went, derailed threads with their own "oh dearie me, aren't I clever and right" attitudes, and eventually everyone didn't really care to post as much because it would all get drowned out. Some of us are keeping the Doctor Who thread alive (but barely).

It saddens me, honestly. I was on there when it was the Nexus (wow, that's over ten years of my Internet life right there) and still poke in because I haven't got the good sense to let go of something that gave me so much (a husband, lots of amazing friends).

Yes, I feel bitter about it right now.
posted by Kitteh at 7:50 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is suspiciously timely. I read the Filth recently and a week ago finished reading The Invisibles. Having just now recovered from the experience to the point of some semblance of sanity, I've been looking for exactly this type of link.
posted by dodecapus at 8:05 AM on May 5, 2011


What ever happened to Barbelith, anyway?

In my personal experience, they cliqued themselves out of relevance.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:25 AM on May 5, 2011


Mindless Ones is seriously the best comic blog ever. You
posted by johnasdf at 8:30 AM on May 5, 2011


In my personal experience, they cliqued themselves out of relevance.

This, and an unwillingness to moderate the idiots.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 8:39 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


As to the subject of the FPP, I suspect that I may be spending quite a lot of time on Too Busy Thinking About My Comics--even if I don't agree with him on some of his conclusions, there's a sort of rhythm to the way he writes, interspersing bits of comics along the way, that seems attractive. Probably not so much with Mindless Ones; I skimmed through a few things, and decided to bail out when he made the case that the Joker of Miller's TDKR was based off the Bowie of Scary Monsters, when, to me, from the first appearance of the Joker in TDKR, I saw him as being two parts Dr. Frank N. Furter (in some panels he even looks directly based on Tim Curry in RHPS) and one part Miller's homosexual panic.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:44 AM on May 5, 2011


I was FOAFs with relevant people, and I'm always struck both by how people still have very clear - if often partial - memories of their time on Barbelith, and also how very enthusiastic the speculation gets about who to blame for it not being the message board they wanted it to be.

Remembering the division and arguments going on behind the scenes on how and whether to keep it running, and the hundreds of hours of unpaid work people put in trying, behind the scenes and on the board, to make it work, it makes me sad to hear people making airy statements about cliques or finding a couple of scapegoats for the collapse of a board that had thousands of members.

Possibly the full story could be told at some point, but I think generally people are too married to their narratives even to want that. Also, there probably isn't a "story", although there are better and worse-informed viewpoints - it was a very Morrisonian fractured narrative with multiple perspectives. And possibly some hypertime.

If you came out of the post-Crisis reboot with a comics blog you really enjoy, or a wonderful husband, or some great friends, I'd suggest putting that in the win column.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:49 AM on May 5, 2011


His review of
posted by Acheman at 8:54 AM on May 5, 2011


Remembering the division and arguments going on behind the scenes on how and whether to keep it running, and the hundreds of hours of unpaid work people put in trying, behind the scenes and on the board, to make it work, it makes me sad to hear people making airy statements about cliques or finding a couple of scapegoats for the collapse of a board that had thousands of members.

Oh well, I guess. MeFi is the better Barbelith, as far as I'm concerned; all's well that ends well.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:56 AM on May 5, 2011


... Batwoman Issue 0 is very, very funny:

(That jacket cost about ten grand, didn’t it Bruce? Oh Bruce.)
posted by Acheman at 8:58 AM on May 5, 2011


If you came out of the post-Crisis reboot with a comics blog you really enjoy, or a wonderful husband, or some great friends, I'd suggest putting that in the win column.

Too true! I miss Barbelith, but regardless of its implosion/irrelevance, I count myself lucky to have drinks with some lovely people when in London and elsewhere in this crazy world.
posted by Kitteh at 9:19 AM on May 5, 2011


it makes me sad to hear people making airy statements about cliques or finding a couple of scapegoats for the collapse of a board that had thousands of members.

Possibly the full story could be told at some point, but I think generally people are too married to their narratives even to want that.


You may want to take a closer look at your own assumptions and stances before you accuse others of flippant remarks. In my case, I'd heard great things about Barbelith, tried to sign up (and found out that it was closed at that time, no reason given), finally got an account, signed in, poked around, made a few comments hither and yon... and was roundly ignored. No "you must be new here", no snark, no remarks (or even hints) about Needing to Know How We Do Things Here, just full-on silent treatment. I'd long since been on the internet long enough and tried out enough boards and forums not to get butthurt about stuff like that, so I brushed the site's dust off my sandals and moved on. It's possible that other people got a much better initial reception, that it was something I did or didn't do that led to my being ignored--who knows? A clique's a clique. I've been part of some myself and I don't need to be the belle of every ball. Maybe I just happened to stumble across the corner of the site that wasn't populated by the welcome committee, or something. Just my personal experience.

Maybe, if you want people to have a fuller understanding of Barbelith and what happened to it, you might provide that narrative (or fractured hypernarrative, whatever) yourself. I can believe that it was a once-great site and that there's a lot of inside baseball regarding what happened--hell, I went to that rodeo for the first time before most people knew that the internet existed. But you're not going to win minds and hearts for faulting people for honestly relating their own experiences, at least without providing a bit of perspective.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:34 AM on May 5, 2011


For those of you who are curious about the Barbelith derail, the Kitteh/Reckless/Halloween Jack exchange is actually turning into an uncomfortable redux of the last few months of the site.

HEY GUYS THERE ARE NEAT COMIC BLOGS HOW ABOUT WE DISCUSS THEM FOR A WHILE
posted by Shepherd at 9:41 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


No "you must be new here", no snark, no remarks (or even hints) about Needing to Know How We Do Things Here, just full-on silent treatment.

I don't think a clique's a clique if everybody in a community except you belongs to it, TBH. I don't know, man. Maybe nobody was interested enough in what you were saying to respond, or read what you said, took it on board and had nothing to add to it, or maybe nobody was there - it was pretty much a ghost town beyond a certain point, unless you were talking about Doctor Who (which, looking at it, is still going). People don't respond directly to statements on MetaFilter all the time...

So... yes. If that's what you're basing your critique on, I'd say that is indeed an airy statement about cliques.

But Shepherd's right - deep dives into the technical and social issues experienced by Barbelith isn't really what this post is for.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:52 AM on May 5, 2011


We should discuss Batman's choice of aluminum siding instead. I'm pretty sure he'd chose the Performance Metals double 4" for Ace's Batdoghouse.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:14 AM on May 5, 2011


Is aluminium siding back in continuity?
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:24 AM on May 5, 2011


Oh, I'm pretty sure that Ace's house would have had Kevlar panels, possibly even reactive armor. Plus, of course, full land/air/sea transport capability once Bruce had to endure Ace's whimpering and sad-eyed looks once too often during their annual viewing of It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown during the Sopwith Camel segment.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:25 AM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


The exegesis required to appreciate Morrison's Batman is astounding. The plotting and pacing are great and the art has generally been good too, but sometimes I feel like there are two panels missing at the page turn, and it is thick with references to Batman history/literature as though we're reading Milton. I've been relying on Mindless Ones (and David Uzumeri on Comics Alliance) to illuminate the references I'd otherwise miss. And Mindless Ones has been entertaining reading on its own.

And Amy Poodle's (contributor to Mindless Ones) re-reading and review of The Invisibles over at The Comic Journal is worthy of consideration too, The Invisibles and Hauntology.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 11:29 AM on May 5, 2011


LiB: the current Morrison BATMAN INCORPORATED is just lovely; then again, my other current favorite Batman is the one from the BRAVE AND THE BOLD TV series, so YMMV.

I signed up for Barbelith in 97 or 98 while visiting my dad. Didn't have Internet after that until 2000 or so, and discovering this place and deathvalleydriver.com took up all my internet rec time...
posted by jtron at 11:44 AM on May 5, 2011


In my personal experience, they cliqued themselves out of relevance.

This, and an unwillingness to moderate the idiots.


I can't favourite those comments enough. I began to loose interest when the regulars began interviewing themselves in-thread.

As a kind of pasttime I've taken to studying how online communities work (and also participating in the admin/mod process myself at some points). One of the lessons I've learned (and that Barbelith failed at) is that moderating the idiots and attention seekers is key. It's one of the things that Metafilter has got so right.

Failure to do this is essentially the same as hitting a slow motion self-destruct button on your forum.
posted by panboi at 3:01 PM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


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