Dem■n
September 9, 2014 2:27 AM   Subscribe

160 pages into his webcomic "Demon", Jason Shiga (previously on MetaFilter*) declares its intent - to "subvert the superhero genre", with a protagonist who is apparently quite immortal... which he doesn't realize until after a few suicide attempts (trigger warning: repetitive suicide including one later on that's rather obscene). But it's really much more complicated than that. And "superhero"? More like "supervillain". Just don't expect crazy costumes and other such tropes, we are doing some serious subverting. The story starts here. (Updated every weekday) posted by oneswellfoop (22 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
 
I frigging love Jason Shiga. Meanwhile is the coolest choose-your-own-adventure book I've ever read. Empire State is very good too. Thanks for this, oneswellfoop!
posted by nushustu at 2:46 AM on September 9, 2014


Also, I must point out because this is what I do and what is currently consuming my life, but Demon is nominated for two Ignatz Awards this year (Outstanding Series & Outstanding Online Comic).

(I long for the day when I can think about something other than Small Press Expo. Which will be right around Tuesday, I suppose.)
posted by darksong at 3:28 AM on September 9, 2014


That's an interesting comic.
posted by sotonohito at 5:28 AM on September 9, 2014


Demon's been great, just like everything else Shiga does.
posted by gerryblog at 6:24 AM on September 9, 2014


The films The Hidden (1987) and Fallen (1998) have the same plot (or at least the same gimmick), although it's an extraterrestrial rather than a demon in the former.
posted by ubiquity at 6:38 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Thank you for all the links! I love Shiga's comics so so so much. Meanwhile (on iPad), gave me the most purely pleasing "aha!" payoff I think I've ever had in fiction. It's so perfect he's a mathematician, he makes such self-contained, intricate, brilliantly clever, spherical comics.
posted by Erasmouse at 6:48 AM on September 9, 2014


This work looks interesting, but I'm not seeing how it's "subvert[ing] the superhero genre" or even breaking any particularly new ground. The particular power has been done already, and his description of what he's trying to do:
I’d think in reality if any of us could be invisible, we’d just sneak into movie theaters and bank vaults. If we did fight crime, it probably wouldn’t even be on the local level. I’m reminded of that scene in Superman where he flies above earth to see where he’s most needed and then flies down to Metropolis and stops a bank robbery. I don’t know. How about assassinating Kim Jong Un and then smushing all the mosquitoes in Africa? As for the costumes, my theory is that Joe Shuster dropped out of art school after he took anatomy but before he took drapery and now we’ve all decided spandex looks cool.
is basically exactly the concept behind Watchmen.

This sounds like something Alan Moore would write if he were a young man today.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:54 AM on September 9, 2014


I enjoyed this.
posted by kjh at 8:53 AM on September 9, 2014


Doubtless he loses points for not spelling the title with all the extraneous letters people seem to love so these days.

I appreciated his treatment of The New Yorker Cartoon Phenomenon, except that referring to anyone older that yourself as 'senile' is pretty cheap. Also I wouldn't have quoted Roz 'Legacy' Chast here, as I consider her to be Part Of The Problem.
As for the costumes, my theory is that Joe Shuster dropped out of art school after he took anatomy but before he took drapery and now we’ve all decided spandex looks cool.
. . . sounds like something Alan Moore would write if he were a young man today


Well the supes weren't gonna walk around like Doctor Smurfhattan in the 1930s, now were they?

I thought it had been pretty well established that early superhero costumes -- basically trunks on the outside of a body suit (with or without a cape) -- were derived from 19th c and early 20th c circus strongman costumes, with a bit of prize-fighter thrown in, and maybe an opera cape tossed over the shoulders to add a bit of gothic drama and class.

What other models did we have in Victorian / post-Victorian culture for a costume that says 'this guy's job is to be uniquely -- and theatrically -- physically strong'?

Neither the Tarzan look nor the Noble Working Class Laborer Social Realist look really works well for a Strange Visitior From Another Planet.

PS: Spandex was invented almost thirty years after Superman debuted.
posted by Herodios at 8:59 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


PS: Spandex was invented almost thirty years after Superman debuted.

Clark Kent has been writing an interesting series of articles in the Daily Planet detailing Superman's ongoing legal battle to have DuPont's patent invalidated alleging prior art and theft of his Kryptonian technology.

It's a shame he's always busy during the hearings and depositions when Superman is testifying, though.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:06 AM on September 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


Perhaps Reed Richards will be called as an expert witness on the use of 'unstable molecules' in superhero costumes.
 
posted by Herodios at 9:23 AM on September 9, 2014


"Meanwhile" was taken offline to become a dead-tree publication.

it's also an app for iPad/iPhone!!!
Recommended
posted by Bwithh at 9:31 AM on September 9, 2014


if only the artwork was compelling! What is it with webcomics?
posted by ReeMonster at 9:47 AM on September 9, 2014


I appreciated his treatment of The New Yorker Cartoon Phenomenon

Which is where?
posted by kenko at 9:59 AM on September 9, 2014


Apparently it is here?
posted by kenko at 10:00 AM on September 9, 2014


I appreciated his treatment of The New Yorker Cartoon Phenomenon

Which is where?


There are links in the FPP. It's on the first one.

if only the artwork was compelling! What is it with webcomics

My theory is that Shiga dropped out of art school after talking about it but before taking classes.
 
posted by Herodios at 10:06 AM on September 9, 2014


I'll agree with the sentiment that the superhero genre isn't what's being subverted or deconstructed, here. Sure, I love the low-fi art style and how it goes against the by turns bizarre, gross and violent story. And the first third, before the main character turns into the Plot Explainer trope, is wonderfully confusing, with a deserted, post-apocalyptic feel.

Then things just go off the rails, it feels like, with regard to the character's motivations, and there's a whole heap of questions about what's driving him -- to say nothing of the carnage he's causing and the lives he's destroying, seemingly unthinkingly.

What's pushing him at the beginning of the story is understandable -- he simply wants to commit suicide. What's pushing him at the end, though, is totally beyond me. The utter disregard with which he uses his power, the total lack of introspection, even what could cause a normal Joe Schmo to casually murder a whole building of people ... I'm really hoping that the titular demon is responsible for this, further on in the story, and that it isn't just Michael Bayhem in a unique art style.
posted by jpolchlopek at 1:19 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'll agree with the sentiment that the superhero genre isn't what's being subverted or deconstructed, here. Sure, I love the low-fi art style and how it goes against the by turns bizarre, gross and violent story. And the first third, before the main character turns into the Plot Explainer trope, is wonderfully confusing, with a deserted, post-apocalyptic feel.

Then things just go off the rails, it feels like, with regard to the character's motivations, and there's a whole heap of questions about what's driving him -- to say nothing of the carnage he's causing and the lives he's destroying, seemingly unthinkingly.

What's pushing him at the beginning of the story is understandable -- he simply wants to commit suicide. What's pushing him at the end, though, is totally beyond me. The utter disregard with which he uses his power, the total lack of introspection, even what could cause a normal Joe Schmo to casually murder a whole building of people ... I'm really hoping that the titular demon is responsible for this, further on in the story, and that it isn't just Michael Bayhem in a unique art style.


Yeah, it's pretty odd, having read it through, SPOILERS!

just how happy the character is to essentially murder loads of people just so he can escape working for the government. He also reminds me of feep because the protagonist once again has amazing super deductive powers. Eh. I'm hoping that the story is going to go somewhere a bit more exciting.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:06 AM on September 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


author's note: As a disclaimer, I should confess I’m actually not a big superhero person by any means. I didn’t grow up reading them and it always frustrates me slightly when I see my favorite cartoonists like Jaime Hernandez, Scott McCloud, Chris Ware or Dan Clowes waste their time with doing some superhero comic.

That's pretty a pretty annoying and self-serving angle. "Subversions" of the superhero genre are themselves are only slightly less shopworn than the genre itself, and I don't see that he's earned trumpeting his own take as this wildly original. It's weird for him to elect to throw his forebears under the bus vs. being slightly gracious and acknowledging them as a starting point. I mean, this guy seems super into himself.
posted by anazgnos at 11:17 AM on September 10, 2014


What's pushing him at the beginning of the story is understandable -- he simply wants to commit suicide. What's pushing him at the end, though, is totally beyond me.

In the latest pages posted, his motivation also seems to be baffling the agents pursuing him. This makes it look less like a flaw in the narrative and more like an intentional element in the story. Which IS one form of 'subverting', even if it's not a good one, but time will tell (and do you notice the progress bar on the top of the page? This story is only 22% done.)
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:18 PM on September 12, 2014


...and make that the Ignatz Award winning "Demon" by Jason Shiga, as presented during last weekend's Small Press Expo (those small pressers must really dig this kind of thing).
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:03 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


What annoys me about this strip is that it seems far too interested in the cleverness of the mechanics (the "what") and not at all interested in the "why".
posted by anazgnos at 4:00 PM on October 7, 2014


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