Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Rogan Gosh: Star of the East

Peter Milligan & Brendan McCarthy
Rogan Gosh: Star of the East (1990)
Revolver was another one of those 2000AD spin-off comics which came and went back in the nineties. It lasted seven issues and, brushing up on Wikipedia, I realise that I have absolutely no memory of at least half of its contents. I remember the name Happenstance & Kismet, but not Fighting Figurines - whatever the hell that was, nor Dire Streets, which looks horrible. I have the impression that Revolver was instituted in response to the then prevalent subcultural premise of the sixties having been like a really amaaaaaaazing time, yeah? which additionally served to launch a million terrible bands. Grant Morrison's version of Dan Dare appeared in Revolver, and I quite liked that, and there was some sort of biographical strip about Jimi Hendrix which probably worked better for people who care about Jimi Hendrix, and then there was Rogan Gosh, which I didn't really understand.

It's painted by Brendan McCarthy so you can't really blame me for revisiting this one. I still don't understand it, but then I don't think I'm supposed to. The narrative is impressionist rather than realist, and may as well be considered as nothing deeper than an excuse to have a certain quota of Brendan McCarthy pages assembled in the same place. There's an afterword offering explanations about how Rogan Gosh isn't a linear story - which funnily enough I'm sure most of us noticed - but it reads like whining excuses invoking dogs eating homework tagged on at last minute when someone realised that Milligan hadn't actually bothered to write a story, and it particularly reads that way when he invokes Einstein, Bohr, and Schrödinger.

Give me a break.

Nevertheless I'm a big boy, and I can handle impressionism and abstract narratives splattered across the page with a logic closer to music than writing. I've read William Burroughs, and so Rogan Gosh sort of works providing you keep in mind that the words are no more an explanation of what's going on with the pictures than they can be considered representative of any deep insight into the illusory nature of reality. Like most of the stuff we've bothered to remember of the sixties, Rogan Gosh spends a lot of time selecting which books to leave casually scattered across its coffee table prior to your arrival, and oh - there you are at the door - on goes the record: second track, side two so it doesn't look too obvious.

Come in.


Oh they were called the Vanilla Tea Kettle. You probably haven't heard of them. I listen to this album a lot.

Still, as something pretty much inviting its readers to BYOS*, Rogan Gosh is nevertheless enjoyable thanks to the art and the occasional flash of snappy dialogue. It slightly bothers me how this apparent attempt to engage with Indian culture is centred around a man named after a fucking curry, and for pretty much the same reason that Kula Shaker's continuing to draw breath bothers me, although this aspect is addressed a little way into the story, albeit not very convincingly; but providing you keep in mind that Rogan Gosh isn't really about Indian culture so much as it's about our slightly clueless reaction to the same - albeit possibly not deliberately - you should be okay.

*: Bring Your Own Story.

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