Unexpected good fortune has rather done for this blog. Due to a totally unforeseen stroke of luck, the time and energy I’d intended to invest in Them Darned Superpeople has ended up being funnelled elsewhere. I shan’t bother you with the details. It’s not a particularly interesting business. But up until a few brief months ago, there’d been shadows that I’d found impossible to shake off. Amongst its other virtues, blogging had looked like a welcome way of carving out a space in which I’d be free to write whatever I wanted to. In perpetually exhausting times, even the smallest measure of autonomy and self-expression can be a sanity-preserving blessing. Hence, to a large degree, Them Darned Superpeople.
But then, out of the blue and against all expectations, my designs for disaster-management didn’t seem to be so important anymore. The weather, as it were, had changed. And then, as the days became weeks and the weeks became months, the weather stayed changed. Which had never happened before. Not once. Fortunes hadn’t been granted. A glittering career didn’t dramatically hove into sight. But occasionally, good fortune isn’t so much the presence of measurable blessings as the utterly unexpected absence of old, unshakeable sadnesses. In Sheenagh Pugh’s words, sometimes things don’t go, after all, from bad to worse.
Which leaves me with my lovely new(ish) blog and what to do with it. A place designed to enable some small degree of liberty and purpose suddenly seemed somewhat redundant. The world most certainly doesn’t need another comics blog, and it has recently seemed to me that I might not either.
It seems to be a question that I keep returning to.
But after a great deal of entirely stressless chin-stroking, it strikes me that Them Darned Superpeople is still a more-than-useful tool. In its out-of-the-way and undeniably solipsistic fashion, it’s a practical and effective canvas for lunging at quandaries that might otherwise remain unresolved, or, more likely, entirely unconsidered. If I may be forgiven for paraphrasing Montaigne, and I strongly suspect that I may not, the world and its contradictions can make us feel as if we’re going mad, and writing is a way of at least starting to resolve some of those discrepancies for ourselves. I can’t help but believe that that’s as true for, say, the question of how panels are organised on the page as it is for the likes of grand international affairs. For these are, as I fear few can have managed to avoid twigging, incredibly uncertain and unsettling times. Finding some kind of answer for any kind of question, great or small, in an age in which the West appears to be rolling further into the abyss, offers not just distraction, but the occasional slither of satisfaction too.
There is some kind of comfortless irony in the fact that my own accidental escape from perpetual dark clouds and mournfulness has come at the moment in which the world appears – from oligarchic coups to runaway climate change – to be opting for the worst possible futures. (It’s as if our Lords and Masters had presented themselves before Gozer from Ghostbusters and, in response to his demand to Chose the form of your destructor, had replied, hey, frak it, we’ll take every single destructor you’ve got.)
So, in the absence of a magic wand to dramatically reduce carbon emissions or increase rationality and decency in politics, what to do with Them Darned Superpeople? I could return to posting a variety of posts on a wide range of subjects, but that feels like a too-familiar option. Instead, I find myself thinking of a longer-term project concerned with the development of a single subject through time. On reflection, I’m fascinated by the prospect of tracking, as best I can, Jack Kirby’s storytelling from his reluctant return to Atlas Comics in 1958, through the high summer of the Marvel Revolution and on to his defection to DC Comics at the turn of the 70s. Although I’ve read a fair degree of Kirby’s work from the period, I’ve never worked through it chronologically. That seems to me to be a regrettable business. Not only would doing so help me get a much clearer sense of the changes in his style over that period, but it would also allow me to track something of the way in which current affairs and pop culture informed his work. Which might, I fear, sound rather worthy. But for me, it actually promises to be nothing but a great deal of fun.
So, beginning next week, this blog will use the time between now and the New Year to look at two or three pages of Kirby’s work every week from those aforementioned 12 years. I certainly don’t intend for the entries to be of any reader-wearying length, so they may just make for a diverting if undeniably passing distraction. (Or, I will concede, they may well not.) I hope, if you’ll forgive me saying so, that you might join me here on occasion, although, if the topic doesn’t seem very interesting, I have at least spared you a visit here until January 2019, at the very earliest.
Why write such a declaration of intent on a tiny blog with a tiny, if much-valued readership? I fully understand that this may appear to be nothing but hubris. But the truth is, I’ve always found that it simply helps to work out a problem in this way. It’s all too easy to vaguely formulate good intentions. But such carelessness tends to breed a gaggle of reasons not to go ahead with whatever’s been hazily decided.
But with no doubts about blogging in sight for the first time in a good while, which is a welcome relief in itself, next week here at Them Darned Superpeople will be all about Jack Kirby, the turn of the 60s and giant monster invasions. Should you pop in then, or should you not, I wish you the very best of good fortune with your own personal and private shadows. May we all feel better tomorrow.