Flirting & “Transmetropolitan” Review




All this casual flirting with Death has got to stop,” she said,

I’m not getting any younger, you know,

 I need a serious commitment!”

I just laughed and let her go.

She let me kiss her one last time.

She never even noticed,

her mind was already somewhere else.


At the funeral, I peered into her coffin.

No doubt about it,

she looked fuckin’ terrible.

All lumpy and leaden hued,

a horror waxwork tinged with blue.

Still I did what I must do,

and as was our custom at the time,

I left lying in her lap

  a little pouch of pot

and some cigarettes and matches

for her journey.


She’d found herself another boy after me,

one more inclined suicidally,

and so it was I came to be

scattering “His-and-Hers” ashes off the clifftops.

And as I did so,

two dolphins broke through the waves below

and swam out side by side  to sea.

It was exactly

the kind of romantic crap

she would have loved,

had she  been alive to see.


As it was,

the wind blew the ashes

back into my face,

and I could taste the grit between my teeth,

all the way back to the car.





written by Warren Ellis, pencilled by Darrick Robertson.D>C> Comics 2010

Ah! Pity the poor “Graphic Novel”! Recognised as neither Art nor Literature in the Halls of High Culture, too readily derided as mere glorified “comic books”, the preserve of the lowbrow. Mere fanboy juvenalia. O who will sing the forms praises? Who will compare it to the classics.

Well me for one. Hey, I’ve been reading the “Selected Works”of Cicero(Penguin Classics)this week in tandem with TransMetropolitan, and let me tell you I got a lot more pleasure out of the graphic novel than from that pompous, overrated Roman Bore. Maybe Cicero reads better in the original Latin, but I don’t think he’s such a Great stylist as all that. Essays full of platitudes and cliches, bitchy, whining, backstabbing letters, floridly rhetorical speeches, and always puffing himself up and his achievements. A shameless self publicist. But there were some snippets of gossip I was after, so I perservered.

Yes, perhaps thats part of the problem with the idea of the Graphic novel as a high Art form; that general idea in the populace at large that reading “great literature” is work. Ah all that wading through archaic syntax and stilted translations. Same with Art. People go see it in Museums out of a sense of Duty, “Must go see the Impressionist Exhibition while its in town, get my dose of culture, donchaknow?.”

Art & Literature are what they make you learn at school, a smattering of the classics to leaven the human loaf. Your not supposed to enjoy it, just flaunt it to demonstrate your intellectual superiority.

Yes Graphic Novels smack of “Popular Culture”, which the plebs enjoy. Not the same thing at all old chap. Besides there’s the question of author ship.

Graphic novels are collaborative works, a collusion between word smith & visual artist, whereas Great Art & Great Literature are composed in solitude. The heroic image of the lone artist or author, the genius in seclusion. Thats how real Art is made, hoho.


Still TRANSMETROPOLITAN is a classic of its genre, whatever you may think of that genre.

Originally released episodically in magazine format circa 1997-2002, and now re-released in 2010 in this handsome 10 volume set, Transmetropolitans basic premise is simple. You take Hunter S. Thompson and you set him loose in a gritty 23rd Century metropolis that makes Neuromancer & Bladerunner look positively sane,sanitised and benign by comparison.

After that it pretty much writes itself. Weird futuristic drugs, warped mutant sex and a wide variety of weapons and ultra violence of course feature prominently. Not to mention political paranoia, deviant technology and moments of sheer, unexpected beauty.

Like Hunters own best work, there is running thru the maelstrom a deeper level, manifesting in a passionate concern for people & politics. Transmetropolitan examines power politics in all its manifestations, past, present & future. Not just who gets the most votes, but who has the power. What are they using it for. How should we be living our lives, organising our cities. Politics is the space we create in which we interact to try and answer these questions. Questions that need to be asked everyday. Sometimes, however, it seems we need a comic book to remind us to ask them.


The Good Doctors avatar in TRANSMETROPOLITAN is known as Spider Jerusalem, he inhabits a megalopolis known only as “the City.” Darrick Robertson’s art leaps out at you in almost every panel. His hell visions of this futuristic Pandemonium rival those of Bosch & Bruegel.

Besides the main story arc of Spiders ongoing battle with an Evil President known as”The Smiler”, there are a myriad of little stories littered thruout. Some are funny, some are sad, some are sick & disturbing. Accompanied by appropriately reasonant artwork, each is a surrealistic, humanistic gem.

Some make you think.


The story of the man who wanted to invent a better City…

A huge mysterious,explosion destroys a city block aside from a single apartment. Investigfating, the authorities find mysterious heiroglyphs..

The scrawl appeared to comprise three equations. The three equations seemed to represent a machine. A machine that was just 3 ideas in motion around each other.Solving the equations activated the machines.

It took ten years to evolve any workable theories as to what the creator-a half educated seventy year old man who worked as a janitor-was trying to do. He himself had had to invent his own mathematical language to do half the work.

It took ten full years to work out that IT WAS A MACHINE INTENDED TO MAKE another CITY. A better city. There were mathematical expressions of ethics and love and dignity in his paperwork.

For a moment there, that guy must have seen another world opening up before him. A better world. A good city.

And then the flaw in his math kicked in and the block was incinerated.”

 At its most basic level TRANSMETROPOLITAN is a morality play with Spider Jerusalem as Hunter S. Thompson at his best, as we’d like to remember him, a drug crazed crusader for Truth and Morality with capital letters.

Not since John Wilkes perhaps, has there been a more publicly flawed defender of Truth, Liberty & Justice, but our flaws make us human, as someone once observed. Possibly this is a good thing. But whatever the case, turn to TransMetropolitan for a disturbing vision of a future you never imagined.


The Reverend Hellfire..he’s..just a man.



~ by reverendhellfire on November 21, 2010.

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