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Thursday, June 16, 2005

I've read the first series of Global Frequency comics, and I'm even more impressed with what John did. The concept of the Global Frequency is really cool, and that's at the heart of the pilot. But too many of the comics seem to be about kill teams going into places and shooting everyone on site. Warren Ellis is particularly fond of people shooting other people's arms off. (His blog used to be Die, Puny Humans, Die so there you go.)

Warren, if you're reading this (and I'm on your list, so thanks): the thinking part of you is more interesting than the angry part. What's cool about the Global Frequency is that it's composed of ordinary people -- ordinary people who are very good at something -- who can do things the government can't. Thinking outside the box. Getting it right with improvisation.

Sending kill teams, on the other hand, the government is very good at.

And many of the plots are unnecessarily farfetched. There's enough government malfeasance in real life without coming up with the notion that the government created satellites aimed at our own cities, just to reduce the population.

Though the concept of dropping carbon fibers from orbit to kill people is neat, in a homicidally geeky way. I would buy that we had'em aimed at China. Would the GF be less willing to save everyone in Shanghai than everyone in Chicago? Warren, pursue your concept a little farther, huh?

What if the GF sent in a kill team to wipe out the dot-com cultists and discovered they were wrong and someone put up a fake website to get their competitors killed? Take it to another level. Crystallize how the ways we live, the ways we think, have changed.

The stories I hope John was going to tell would have been more about the Global Frequency people thinking outside the box -- like the comic where they discover the echo chamber -- and less about the shooting. Shooting people isn't really all that cool. ("Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.") It isn't that interesting to watch. And you can't do it well on TV. I mean, is there anything you can do with shooting that John Woo didn't do in Hard Boiled?

I think it's interesting that a liberal like John would be gung ho for a series about how vigilantes take over where government fails. I mean, those guys staking out the Mexican border are doing just that, right? Where the heros torture and maim prisoners to thwart terrorists. Hell, John, how did you feel about Abu Ghraib?

But I suspect the series would have taken the comics to another level. Certainly the pilot did. Too bad we don't get to see where the five year plan was leading.

I think Warren needs a great editor. A Brian Eno to his David Bowie or his David Byrne. An Ezra Pound to his TS Eliot. Someone to say, okay, this stuff that you do, no one else can do. This other stuff here, other people do it perfectly well. There's no need for you to do it. Technogeekery, big metaphysical concepts -- flock humans, invasive memes, subsonic reverberation -- good. The Global Frequency: powerful and moving. Bang bang: seen it. Angry cyborg supersoldier: saw it on Buffy. (Never steal from the Joss.)


Have you read Transpetropolitan, by the same author? It might be a bit more up your alley. An extended andd complicated riff on politics via Hunter S. Thompson. Warren Ellis does have a violent streak about him, but some of his stuff is well worth it.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:11 PM  

Er, that should be TransMETROpolitan. Damn tiny laptop keyboards.


By Blogger shakescene, at 2:13 PM  

After watching the amazing pilot, I was going to pickup the graphic novel but I noticed that alot of people said pretty much the same thing about the comic that you did... That it wasn't imaginitive and fell in line with all the other conspiracy theory comics/stories...

By Blogger Jason Sanders, at 2:32 PM  

Alex, I think you're being smug and over-critical here. You are a softie-at-heart. In your Sideways review you complained that movies should be about what is "amazing" in life. You love Nora Ephron. All I'm saying is that for some (like me) Ellis' violence is existential and necessary, and your dismissal of violence as the act of an incompetent is completely ludicrous: I personally think that violence--and it has been done well a zillion times, from Kurosawa to Scorsese to The Sopranos and back again--is a more profound and honest reflection of human nature than meeting on top of the Empire State Building at midnight.

By Blogger Larry Fouch, at 2:34 PM  

Over-critical maybe, smug no. Mostly what I am is OLD. At 42, violence doesn't seem fun any more. Probably because I don't heal as well as I used to. And I live in Canada, where people tend to frown on shooting other people.

And while I do love Nora Ephron, I also love John Woo's Hong Kong movies, and the first 22 minutes of Saving Private Ryan. But the "elite kill team" thing reminds me too much of how we THOUGHT we were going to win in Iraq, while the real solution will probably involve training 20,000 grunts in Arabic. I'm not a pacifist. I just think kneejerk gunplay is unimaginative and usually ineffective. Just ask the Israelis. They have the best kill teams in the world. Hasn't solved their problems, though.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 2:41 PM  

Oh, right. And it's not my dismissal of violence, you insufficiently-geeky-dude. It's Salvor Hardin's. Don't you kids read Isaac Asimov any more?

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 2:47 PM  

At the risk of being perceived as insufficiently geeky, how does one find GF at Bittorrent? Secret search words?

I came up with nothing when I used GF, kung fu monkey, WB pilot, Ellis, Miranda...

Ah, I feel sooo left out.

By Blogger Unknown, at 3:54 PM  

This post suggests how to find the right torrent.

The comics, you can get from Amazon, used, for not that much.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 4:16 PM  

At least one Global Frequency torrent is quite healthy on TorrentSpy at the moment.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 1:08 AM  

There were plenty of non-violent, clever stories - the roof runner trying to stop the dirty bomb, the team trying to stop an alien mind virus from killing lots of people - they were my two favourites. Mind you, even the shootybangbang ones had a good emotional core to them. And some of the guns were really big! Yeah!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:32 AM  

Okay...Okay Alex, I have come to your posting late. But Wow. You are rewriting Warren, so I guess you have big stupid balls. Did Hemingway or O’Neil make any mistakes either? Of course they did. Take their work for what it is. Criticize but do not rewrite it. To dark? To Violent? What planet do you live on? You think Deadwood Is to dark. Violence is not an easy way out. ‘Cause the Soprano’s is pure fluff. Stop reading books and manuals on how to write and just f…en write.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:37 PM  

Anyone needing to find GF would do well to download eDonkey2000.

I'm not connected with, either -- well, except as user and now viewer!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:05 PM  

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