Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Fashion Beast

Alan Moore, Antony Johnson & Facundo Percio
Fashion Beast (2013)

I had no idea this even existed until I saw it in the used book store, it being something Malcolm McLaren requested from Moore presumably in an effort to hitch his wagon to yet another rising cultural star, having probably read an article entitled Pow! The Comic Grows Up in Time Out. It was supposed to be a film, but I didn't realise it had ever gone further than a conversation, never mind anything of substance sufficient for transformation into a comic book. I'm not sure quite how to take this, given that its worth seems predicated on the popular image of McLaren as a lovable inventive rogue, as opposed to just a bit of a cunt; and even Moore seems to buy into this in his introduction, which if nothing else is at least consistent with his own clueless sub-Russ Abbott take on punk rock in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Moore describes his meeting McLaren just as gingerbollocks was posing for Sun photographers in the wake of having lost his court case against the surviving Sex Pistols, and he speaks of the man in the terms with which we've all become roughly familiar always with a touch of the uproarious English pantomime tradition... Aladdin's uncle proffering new lamps for old, which for me sort of loses sight of why the fucker was in court in the first place, specifically for ripping people off, for his habit of making a parasitic living off those doing the actual work; not unlike DC Comics farming out Watchmen to persons other than Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in some respects.

Never mind.

I'm sure he was a lovely bloke in person.

Fashion Beast was therefore a script for a film, written by Alan Moore and based on something or other by McLaren - I suspect no more than the fucking title and a reference to Beauty and the Beast as worth ripping off given his usual methodology; it could just as easily have been Monkey Tennis or Youth Hostelling with Chris Eubank. Anyway, Fashion Beast reads mostly as Alan Moore with flashes of McLaren's distinctively repetitive brand of complete cobblers showing through every once in a while: blah blah Dickensian urchins blah blah fashion blah blah sex blah blah young kids on the street blah blah London fashion blah blah blah playful and subversive etc. etc. Antony Johnson has clearly done as much as he can to turn this into something for page rather than screen, and while it's better than it probably has a right to be, and holds some historical interest in the context of Moore's career, in essence it remains nevertheless a mostly unpolishable turd.

The sexual ambiguity of the principal characters work very well, and there are some snappy lines of dialogue as you would expect, and there's a great speech about the medium being the message around the halfway mark; but otherwise it's a bit of a mess. The art is of promising fanzine standard at best, too many scratchy lines, figure work developed whilst reading comic books rather than attending a life-drawing class, and characters all wearing one of just three available facial expressions - regular pout, pissed off, or surprised. The beast turns out to be quite hunky - a real dreamboat in fact - which kind of misses at least some of the point I would have thought, and the fashions as illustrated suggest no actual research undertaken regarding the fashion industry or its history, even without taking into account that no-one sane or interesting ever gave two shits about the fashion industry or considered it in any sense important. Had they got, for example, Duke Mighten to draw this, they might just have had something, but they didn't, so here it is. I suppose at least they held back from giving Rob Liefeld a call.

Fashion Beast is true to McLaren's oeuvre in so much as he trots out the usual boggle-eyed observations about Dickensian London and Situationism, and then gets someone else to do the work; which isn't something I'd offer as a recommendation.

No comments:

Post a Comment