Monday, January 9, 2012

CD Holiday Interview #1 -- Rock Scorch on Mainstream Comics 2011

BY THURSTON GLUMME

Crack-shot critic Rock Scorch came to the attention of comics readers the old-fashioned way: by putting shit on the Internet.

The competitive-yodeler-by-training and comic-shop employee may be the only comics critic as known for a series of rap videos in which he once starred as he is for shit on the Internet. I've read other bloggers linking to Scorch the way old-timey Scottish Highlanders would fasten their funky plaid kilts to their hairy round man-buttocks before cleaving with mighty claymores the skulls of trespassing Englishmen on battlefields so drenched with blood that the wool of the sheep grazing there today still requires no dyeing thanks to being by nature as red as the anus of the 600-pound alpha-male patriarch of a troop of Gray-footed Chacma baboons after it (the anus) was rubbed—for hours on end—against the gnarly bark of a conveniently located Coconut palm tree. Scorch is out there engaging with the art form—all of it—as it arrives on comics shelves every Wednesday like Tom Hanks and Vin Diesel once did on the shores of Normandy.

It’s been a fascinating year for mainstream comics, in much the same sense as it is fascinating to watch the elder females of the Gray-footed Chacma baboon tribes sling their sometimes sun-dried feces at one another, and I thought Scorch might provide a perspective that, though so utterly and completely divorced from my own, might be valuable for those who broadly accept as questionable the premise that the slinging of feces—sun-dried or otherwise—is to be considered a worthwhile pastime. He did not disappoint.

*****

THURSTON GLUMME: I know very little about you, Rock. Can you give me the over-a-friendly-lunch version of your life with an odd-in-every-other-context emphasis on how you've interacted with let’s-call-them-mainstream-for-lack-of-a-better-term comics over the years?

ROCK SCORCH: Fuck you.

GLUMME: Say, I always get a sense of performance out of your pieces, as much as I do from anyone this side of Costa Cordalis. Is that a fair characterization, do you think?

SCORCH: Fuck you, I think that’s a fair characterization. It’s like I hear them in my head. [Glumme laughs] La la la, la la la la la. Can’t get it out of my head. Fuck.

GLUMME: Why do you have to encounter those “people,” say, scrambling to “break in,” if you're reading and reacting to those books? Why on Earth do you subject yourself to that?

SCORCH: I hate this fucking shit—dealing with the scum that “publishes” it, the sub-mental idiots who want to “break in,” the vainglorious nincompoops that call it their “art.” They’re a bunch of Decepticons. And I’m a fucking Autobot. I’m Optimus fucking Prime. I got the fucking Touch, and I need to get back to fucking Cybertron really fucking quick because, guess what, yo yo yo, Unicron is in the hizzy, and he wants his fucking sled back. Snow is gonna fall. Fucking Rosebud. [Glumme laughs] Are you Megatron?

GLUMME: Can I be Jazz?

SCORCH: You can be Vince DiCola.

GLUMME: I’d rather be Ironside.

SCORCH: Fuck you. [Glumme giggles] What’s so fucking funny?

GLUMME: Abbott and Costello. Also, the Marx Brothers. Don’t worry about it. You mention unicorns…

SCORCH: Fuck… Unicron. Charles fucking Kane. Harry fucking Lime. The fucking Defender.

GLUMME: The Dark Avenger?

SCORCH: Hank fucking Quinlan!

GLUMME: So, then, unicorns aside, perhaps, although I certainly wouldn’t know about unicorns, and I’m not generally sure if knowledge about unicorns as such, however profound, is the type of knowledge that anybody would want to have at all, let alone pass on, how broad is your personal definition of the mainstream comic book? Why do we need to reinvent this idea of genre comics with a creator's personal investment and unique creative contribution? Why can't the mainstream be broader than it is, you know, being the mainstream? Is there still any market force behind genre comics, even superhero comics, from non-top-two publishers, or do they function in an entirely different way? What do you think?

SCORCH: It’s shit for people to kill time with.

GLUMME: Are there any quasi-quality books and/or quasi-solid performers in that genre-books-from-non-Big-Two sub-category of comics, to your trained eye in such utterly insignificant matters, as opposed to my untrained eye? What do you like about them, in so far as you wouldn’t go to the length of immediately dismissing the—frankly preposterous—idea of there being something—anything at all, really—to like?

SCORCH: I love books like Hellboy and Casanova and a few others. I mean, it’s not something I’m ever going to be super enthusiastic about, but I like them. I mean, neither of them feel like they’ve completely achieved whatever it is they’re shooting to achieve, but they’re always nice to look at. I'd like them even if I hated them, and… In fact, I think I might hate them… I fucking hate them. All right? Fucking shit. Fuck you.

GLUMME: You are a unicorn.

SCORCH: I’m the fucking baby, Thurston, and you have to give the baby time to learn to walk. Comics just keeps showing up and going “Nope, these are still baby steps” and then they throw the baby out the window. Each time comics says “Nope” the creators have to go back and have sex and take the baby to term and birth it and all that—and the whole time they keep having to face the same bunch of people who have killed their last 16 babies, and they're on their way again to judge the new one, and if they don't like it this time... well, shit. I’m the fucking baby, Thurston. Think about that.

GLUMME: What am I missing, Rock?

SCORCH: I'm not sure what it is you're missing, but I think you're probably missing something.

GLUMME: Rosebud?

SCORCH: Fucking Rosebud. There’s blood in the snow, Thurston—it’s Rorschach’s blood. It's all on me, though; it's Charlie Brown kicking at the football. Pieces of shit act like pieces of shit. That's what they're supposed to do, it's why they're put on the planet. It’s Moe picking up the phone and there’s Bart asking for Al Coholic. It’s the same rule for us as it is for Rorschach: Comics made Rorschach go pop, and it'll make you go pop, too, and your blood will be in the snow with no sled. It’s Tom inviting Jerry for dinner. The only difference is that I really don't care. Comics is like Sylvester, but do I look like Tweety? They have nothing to threaten me with, nothing they can take away from me. Meep meep, goes the fucking Roadrunner. I don't need to be liked by people with no talent. The accumulated filth of all their popping and baby-killing will foam up about their waists and all the scum and sub-mental idiots will look up and shout “Save us!”… And I’ll look down and whisper… Fuuuck you, Decepticons.”

GLUMME: You’re a really big Wonder Woman fan, though.

SCORCH: Oh, yeah, it’s true. Azz and Cliff are rad. I love Azzy and Cliffy. And Waidsy. And the Darwynster, too. It’s okay if you hang with the cool kids.

GLUMME: Darwyn Cooke? Um, isn’t he rumored to be involved in, um, you know, that ghastly Watchmen 2 business?

SCORCH: Well, sometimes you have to compromise if you want to pay the bills. Some people have lifestyles to support, houses to pay off, families to feed or medical bills to take care of. Sometimes, creative integrity only gets you so far, whereas cutting a deal with the devil and thereby making yourself complicit in the maintenance or, worse, further deterioration of an unsatisfactory status quo can seem like it’s the preferable option. Do you know how hard it is to sell an independent comic? Do you know what risks you have to take if you want to own more than just scraps of the work that you do, should it ever come to fruition in a commercially viable way?

But let’s remember it’s still a big privilege to be able to make art for a living, even if the art you happen to be making right this instant may not be your heart’s desire. Some things are just necessary, and in the realm of necessary things, having to crank out Batman comics you don’t own or care about still beats having to work in a coal mine. And for all we know, someone out there may even genuinely enjoy creating new Rorschach stories. [Glumme belches, uncomfortably]

We could stop the chest-beating and have conversations that are honest and not very dramatic about corporate properties in comics and how they affect creators and their work.

GLUMME: So did you read it, the thing? That thing, the one that people talk about like they know something. You know.

SCORCH: I read it in its entirety, and while I didn't like it, I'm not supposed to like it. The best version of it probably wouldn't appeal to me. I’d hate it even if I liked it.

GLUMME: I hear what you’re saying. I've only read a couple of issues, and it seemed perfectly serviceable, but I'm surprised people are listing it as one of the year’s best.

SCORCH: Most of it is just people dying.

GLUMME: It seems like because it's well-crafted and has a point of view that runs against the grain, people are fainting in its presence.

SCORCH: I doubt if it would stand out to an outside reader at all.

GLUMME: Don’t look at me like I said I liked it.

SCORCH: Well, did you?

GLUMME: Say it?

SCORCH: Like it!

GLUMME: It may have seemed to my untrained eye like I liked it.

SCORCH: Fuck you. Fuck this fucking shit.

*****

No baboons, babies or unicorns were harmed in the making of this interview. Any actuality is fictional. The statements in this article do not reflect anyone’s opinion on anything.

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