Monday, 31 July 2017

The Umbrella Academy: Dallas

Gerard Way & Gabriel Bá The Umbrella Academy: Dallas (2009)
I was interviewed for a podcast called Raconteur Roundtable. They were mostly interested in my Faction Paradox novel, Against Nature. The interview was conducted over Skype, and it was fun but exhausting. My original intention had been to present the brooding, unflappable façade of a sort of English Henry Rollins but without the weightlifting, but I suspect I came across more like Suzanne from Orange is the New Black. I kept catching myself in the webcam feed, going cross-eyed and whirling my hand in the air whilst feebly scrabbling to make the word stuff come out good.

That night, I was woken at three in the morning by the cellphone I never use - except to receive sales calls which aren't even for me - beeping to let me know that it needed recharging so that I may receive more calls from people trying to sell car insurance to my mother-in-law. I then found myself unable to get back to sleep until about 6.50AM, having lain awake for several hours giving full consideration to just how mad I sounded during the interview, and whether it would be practical to trace the invention of the beep which a phone makes when it's low on juice at three in the fucking morning back to a single individual and to smash their kneecaps with a hammer. I got up at seven to feed the cats, then went straight back to bed for yer actual sleep and a couple of hours of weird, unpleasant dreams in which Adrian Meredith, my junior school bully, coerced me into buying his girlfriend's gold necklace back from the pawn shop to which he had flogged it.

I woke at ten to discover that Jello the cat had shredded an entire bog roll for the third day running, and so I was not in the sunniest of moods, in contrast to the rest of Texas which was already 98° in the shade. I needed coffee, toast, and the routine of my daily hour or so of reading, but I couldn't face Vonnegut's dreary debut novel. I needed comfort food, so to speak, something colourful and fun requiring no expenditure of brain cells, and so I picked this.

The more I read by Gerard Way, the more I appreciate that he's very much doing his own thing. Obviously there are traces of Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol, but Umbrella Academy somehow manages to be even more esoteric without ever quite descending into non-sequiteurs. The story ducks and weaves like Nic Roeg, Bill Burroughs, or any reference to weird European cinema you care to make, whilst also doing something suspiciously reminiscent of a garish Saturday morning cartoon serial; and where with Morrison, you can occasionally spot the gaps and sense how pleased with himself he gets over certain layered references, Way has none of that awkward self-consciousness, just confidence and expertise. The story is fucking peculiar, and the art is gorgeous. I've no idea what any of it's about, but it made my day much, much better than it had been.

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