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"'Repent, Harlequin,' Said the Ticktockman"
February 4, 2010 2:55 PM   Subscribe

"'Repent, Harlequin,' Said the Ticktockman." An illustrated version of Harlan Ellison's short story of the same name.

I never would have heard of this story but for an AskMeFi question. So, thanks, iconomy!
posted by John of Michigan (31 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
jesus christ, why haven't I read any harlan ellison, yet? every time I encounter some adaptation, I think "I bet the original story is fucking awesome." and yet...
posted by shmegegge at 3:05 PM on February 4, 2010


I was sure this was going to be a link to the Rick Berry illustrated version. A friend gave it to me a few years ago because of my shared nickname with one of the characters.
posted by quin at 3:10 PM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here is the text of the story, without graphics.
posted by bearwife at 3:10 PM on February 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


I, in turn, thought it was going to be the stereographic Jim Steranko version.
posted by Iridic at 3:15 PM on February 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


The serendipity of this appearing on metafilter, to me, at this time, is bordering on the religiously significant.
posted by The Whelk at 3:18 PM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is one of my favorite short stories, but that's pretty unreadable to me - and it looks absolutely nothing like the pictures in my head when I read it. Nor do the versions quin and Iridic linked to. Maybe there's something wrong with my head pictures.
posted by Dojie at 3:21 PM on February 4, 2010


Cease and desist letter from Ellison coming in 5... 4... 3...
posted by jjg at 3:24 PM on February 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


with Ellison it's more like a Cease And Desist rat nailed to your forehead and then set on fire.
posted by The Whelk at 3:26 PM on February 4, 2010 [19 favorites]


jesus christ, why haven't I read any harlan ellison, yet? every time I encounter some adaptation, I think "I bet the original story is fucking awesome." and yet...

I'll take that bet. Harlan Ellison is, by far, the closest thing I've encountered to a real-life Garth Marenghi. A friend loaned me a copy of "Paingod--And Other Delusions," a slim, yet too-long, volume whose eye-roll inducing lameness is perfectly distilled in its dreadful title.

This story appears in that collection, prefaced by an introduction from Ellison in which he whispers a confession from the "anthracite core" of his being--he is perpetually late. OMIGOODNESS! After having confounded legions of girlfriends and employers and commanding officers, he goes to the doctor for a diagnosis, and there's nothing wrong with him! So he writes this "minor masterpiece" (his words) so that we'll understand and cut him some slack--after all, he, like the Ticktockman, is a hero we really should be adoring.

If the book hadn't been loaned to me, I would throw it away. Apologies for the rant. I just have never hated a book as much as I hated this book.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:37 PM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


"It was just like what they did to Winston Smith in 1984" etc etc is awful literary name dropping and a cheap, lazy way to resolve the story. I read "Repent..." once, something like two decades ago, and that sentence has stuck with me. It's as if Harlan was saying, "Here, let me refer to this modern classic and somehow try to insinuate what I created is remotely as good." It's almost like that goddamn "Overdrawn at the Memory Bank" movie with scenes of Casablanca embedded in it; bits of gold encased in a turd.
posted by cog_nate at 3:41 PM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I, for one, enjoy the name dropping. He introduced the story with this idea by using Thoreau's words, quite bluntly saying that someone else had already said [the message] better, and let's get on with the story.
posted by asfuller at 3:50 PM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I ain't clicking though. Ellison scares me, and I'm not taking the risk of reading the wrong thing and ending up on his shitlist.
posted by mikelieman at 4:28 PM on February 4, 2010


"...it looks absolutely nothing like the pictures in my head when I read it. Nor do the versions quin and Iridic linked to. Maybe there's something wrong with my head pictures."

Nah. Allegories like this are usually better left unillustrated - they deal with very iconic characters while leaving their exact physical appearance fairly murky, leaving the reader to fill in the blanks. When someone fills in the blanks differently, as is almost inevitable, the effect can be pretty jarring. Still an interesting find, though.
posted by Toby Dammit X at 4:32 PM on February 4, 2010


Hell yeah Garth Marenghi. Check the canon.

"Something was pouring from his mouth. He examined his sleeve. Blood!? Blood. Crimson copper-smelling blood, his blood. Blood. Blood. Blood...and bits of sick." - Slicer

"Mike stared in disbelief as his hands fell off. From them rose millions of tiny maggots. Maggots!? Maggots. Maggots. Maggots. Maggots. Maggots. All over the floor of the post office, in Leytonstone." - Slasher

"Tina screamed for nurse. But Little Miss Nurse didn't come. Little Miss Nurse was out in the backroom having a cigarette and flirting with doctor. The pain shot through her like a big bullet. She knew babies were meant to kick, but were they meant to scratch? No, they weren't." - Tomb Boy

"The moonlight shone down on the place, unhindered. The gnarled parapets jagged upwards, like a bony hand of icy indifference. In the background there was a pigeon. Who knew how long the place had stood there? 40 years? 50 years? Tempus immemoria, i.e. always? But it was a bad place, that much was certain. A very bad place indeed." - Black Fang

"Nina's eyes popped out of what was left of her back. Why oh why had she opened that tomb? The sand turned red. This was because she was bleeding on it. Blood - ruby-red blood, her blood. Blood… and piss and shit. This was the worst day of her life." - The Told

You're right...he's Harlan Ellison.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:52 PM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


"It was just like what they did to Winston Smith in 1984" etc etc is awful literary name dropping and a cheap, lazy way to resolve the story.

Stylistically, the story is remarkable for purposely ignoring many "rules of good writing", including a paragraph about jelly beans which is almost entirely one run-on sentence.

posted by DU at 5:03 PM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, Harlan Ellison most certainly is NOT Garth Marenghi, and the only way you could possibly think so is due to a criminal cheesy-horror deficiency in your own reading diet. I'm quite sure, actually, that the real Garth Marenghi is this gentleman.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:03 PM on February 4, 2010


Thanks for posting this. Here's hoping whoever put that up online isn't in for a litigious world of hurt.
posted by CheshireCat at 5:07 PM on February 4, 2010


"My life for you."
posted by cmgonzalez at 5:17 PM on February 4, 2010


Hmm. After going through the first couple pages, yeah, the Rick Berry version is the one I'd choose. This is an interesting take, though.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:45 PM on February 4, 2010


I ran across this story when I was in high school—it was in some literary anthology that I found in my mom's bookcase. I had never read anything like it, but didn't know anything else about Ellison at the time (this was the early '90s, there was no internet available to me to immediately look up people/things like this). And, to be honest, I have never really read anything else of his since. So this story remains kind of like a perfect little moment for me, I kind of know that I would't like anything else of his as much.
posted by statolith at 6:08 PM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Scroll down for Penny Arcade's encounter with Harlan Ellison.
posted by rifflesby at 6:32 PM on February 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


Harlan hits it out of the park once in every ten times at bat. The rest of the time he chases around the bat-boy with a Louisville Slugger he lit on fire, screaming something about Nazi communist vampires. Still, that's good enough to play for Pittsburgh or Kansas City.

The art in this is awesome, it reminds me so very much of Heavy Metal back when Heavy Metal was about art and storytelling and dangerous deviance, or Showcase 2000AD in the late 80s, which was about pretty much the same thing.

More of this please, it makes fond of the internets.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:09 PM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Harlan hits it out of the park once in every ten times at bat. ... Still, that's good enough to play for Pittsburgh or Kansas City.

I honestly can't tell who you are trying to insult more with that analogy.
posted by DU at 7:13 PM on February 4, 2010


I have no mouth and
posted by ovvl at 7:18 PM on February 4, 2010


I honestly can't tell who you are trying to insult more...

Alex Niño, who, looking at his wikipedia page, was an illustrator for both Heavy Metal in its golden age and Dark Horse Comics Presents (same ting.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:28 PM on February 4, 2010


Tom Servo: "They arrested Harlan Ellison!"
Joel: "Good."
posted by JHarris at 8:17 PM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


WRT Harlan Ellison: His work in the late sixties through about the early eighties or so still stands up the best, and by "work" I mean mostly his fiction, although there were some Glass Teat columns (his column on television that ran in a Los Angeles paper back in the sixties) and a few essays that still stand up. He can still hit one out of the park every once in a great while, but his reputation has suffered greatly, in part because of increasingly erratic and egotistical behavior, and in part as a sort of backlash to his personality cult, which he's assiduously cultivated over the course of his career. In other words, he's kind of the Warren Ellis of his era.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:51 PM on February 4, 2010


I totally agree with the Garth Marenghi comparison, that's perfect.

On the other hand, Alex Nino's work has aged very well.
posted by doctor_negative at 9:42 PM on February 4, 2010


Just because the man may or may not be a gaping asshole doesn't mean some of his work isn't fun to read.

I enjoyed that.
posted by valkyryn at 6:13 AM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Previous thread on a somewhat related theme (which, in the interest of full disclosure, I recalled only because I referenced the story in that thread).
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:06 AM on February 5, 2010


But... but... where did he get all those jellybeans?
posted by Squid Voltaire at 1:30 PM on February 5, 2010


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