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365 Reasons to Love Comics #189

Clouds rolled in, followed by the crowds. Masses of people, condensing into being like cumulonimbus. A clap of thunder gave way to an applause of same. Bonfires were lit, seemingly immune to the torrential downpour. Goats were sacrificed. A wicked guitar solo cut across the land. Men and women alike consumed their weight in hallucinogenics. And lo, responding to the cries and chants of the faithful, the massive godhead shimmered to life in the dark sky. It wore sunglasses. It was bald. It also seemed to be Scottish.

I am one of Grant Morrison‘s whorrisons. This week, you will learn why, as I present to you– Grant Morrison’s Greatest Hits! Or, at least, seven of them. Seven little comics that blew my mind. Are you ready?

Today: A joycore little pop comic that’s ridiculously fun and cool and just click on through the fold already. The archive can be found here, as always.

7/8/07

189. Kill Your Boyfriend

KYB 1.JPG

Kill Your Boyfriend is a jazzy little Vertigo graphic novella that I’ve written about before (in an article called “Pop Comics/Joycore and the (New) Mainstream,” which can be found in two parts here and here). I may paraphrase some of my own passages. I’m definitely reusing the images, as they constitute my favorite panels in the book.

The comic itself is a 1995 work by Grant Morrison, Philip Bond, and D’Israeli, and is completely awesome, crazy, wonderful, frabjous, full of joy– joycore. One Barbelith poster remarked it’s the first thing they’d rescue from their home in case of a fire. I can understand why.

The plot is your standard fare, described thusly on the back cover: “Boy meets Girl. Girl falls for Boy. Boy takes Girl on violent rampage through English suburb. Murder, sex, drugs, and anarchy follow.” Girl (the main characters aren’t named) is fed up with her life, sick of the endless tedium and tired of her nerdy boyfriend. She encounters Boy, a charming rogue, and they hang out, get drunk, and decide to kill her boyfriend. Things escalate from there, and they end up on a mad chase involving alcohol, narcotics, sex, wigs, anarchists, more sex, implied incest, and death. Don’t worry, though, it has a happy ending. Sort of.

It’s a really twisted dark comedy written by G-Mozz at his breeziest. The dialogue is sharp and witty, the mood is sarcastic, the fourth wall means nothing, and there’s even a riff on Morrison’s own Invisibles in the characters of the anarchists-on-the-bus. Bond, Phil Bond’s art is crisp and cartoony, carrying the madcap feel of the book in excellent fashion. His Girl is quite fetching, considering she’s a drawing. I’ve always felt that Girl’s depiction reminds me of someone, but I can never place who it is.

Kill Your Boyfriend is the perfect comic for the angry, blisteringly insane teenager in all of us. It’s out of print and hard to find, so if you do come across it, snatch it up right away. If you still don’t believe it’s good, though, I’ll let the book speak for itself (click any image to enlarge it):

KYB 7.JPG

KYB 2.JPG

KYB 6.JPG

KYB 8.JPG

KYB 3.JPG

KYB 9.JPG

(Don’t worry. He’s not his dad, he’s a priest. Well, sort of. Not really.)

KYB 4.JPG

KYB 5.JPG

Every line is worth savoring, as is every panel. For more KYB excellence, check out this really neat Random Quote Generator for the comic. Some brilliant stuff in there.

As I said in those posts two years ago, Kill Your Boyfriend is the perfect example of a pop comic. It’s short, it’s cheap, but it has a spine and can sit on a shelf. It’s ridiculously entertaining, like a marvelous pop single you can’t stop listening to. It’s, yes, joycore. I don’t use the word much anymore, but it definitely applies to Kill Your Boyfriend. By joycore, I mean it’s fun, imaginative, and awesome.

Joycore pop comics are the way to capture the mainstream, and by that, I mean the true mainstream, the dirty “normies” who read novels without pictures and go to the movies and like things that are in different genres. The comics industry needs these people, but the industry has to produce and support material these people will like first. There are loads of great little indies out there, but if the shops don’t order them and they don’t hit the bookstore market’s radar, then the audience they’re aimed at will never know they exist. Comic shops and bookstores have to start ordering good comics, and the bigger companies have to start making good comics. Comics like Kill Your Boyfriend.

C’mon, Vertigo, reprint KYB. It’s one of my favorite comics. It’s also one of Matt Fraction’s favorite comics, so if you’re not gonna listen to me, listen to him.

Alright, that’s my spiel. For more, uh, read those old articles I linked you to. I quite liked them, and they helped get me this Comics Should Be Good gig. Haha. I’ll see you tomorrow. Until then, remember:

KYB 10.JPG

‘Nuff said.

19 Comments

Patrick Joseph

July 8, 2007 at 6:12 pm

This is the comic, in it’s original no-spine-having first printing, that got me into Grant Morrison. The snappy, perfect art, the snappy, perfect dialog. It’s gleeful satire, dark but the polar opposite of nihilism. A truly perfect comic which immediately lead me to reading the first dozen issues of the Invisibles back in 1995.

That it is out of print is utterly baffling. It’s not like he wronged the Charles Atlas people with this one.

It would have been a delightful addendum to the Vimanarama collection.

See, books like this are the reason the swooning over All-Star Superman seems overdone to me. THIS is the one to swoon over. So of course it’s out of print and impossible to find, while Morrison’s JLA and Superman stuff has never been out of print from the moment it hit the stands.

If DC had figured out a way to get this book into, say, record stores, it would have outsold Meltzer’s Justice League ten to one. Think what one of those cardboard stand-up book-bin displays could have done with this book just parked by the checkout line of, oh, Virgin or Silver Platters or Sam Goody’s or something. Meanwhile, I am pretty sure this was hardly a blip in comics shops. We SAY we want something New and Different and when it shows up we scream and flee. Sigh.

I’ve never read this but it does look like the kind of thing that would appeal to the hipster Ghost World loving crowd. It seems like there is a lot of stuff from Vertigo as well as DC’s Paradox Press and Piranha Press that they should put back in print (if they own rights to it. They might not which could be one reason DC hasn’t reissued it).

“I’ve never read this but it does look like the kind of thing that would appeal to the hipster Ghost World loving crowd.”

Which is what comics people mean when they say things like “the true mainstream.” The actual American mainstream wouldn’t touch this with a ten-yard pole.

Tom Fitzpatrick

July 8, 2007 at 8:22 pm

I loved this book when it first came out!

I nearly shed a tear when the girl’s dying lover says to her that they never got to do anal sex.

Invisibles. The Filth. Doom Patrol. JLA. New X-men.
Seven Soldiers. Marvel Boy.

Which will be showcased next?!?

Go, Whorrisons, go!
Ya rulez!

“Which will be showcased next?!?” Indeed, that’s fun to ponder. Well, based on a previous Reason to Love Comics, I’d say Bill’s got Seaguy on call. We3 and Flex Mentallo are both a must, as are Animal Man and Doom Patrol. (I can’t take any Morrison list seriously if those last two aren’t on it.) That’s five more entries right there …

What might the last one be? The anticipation is part of the fun … !

I want this comic! Dammit, I’ve been passively hunting for it for over two years now, along with Marvel Boy. Stupid companies and their letting-everything-go-out-of-printness.

Tom Fitzpatrick

July 9, 2007 at 5:16 am

To Stealthwise:

Try E-bay or http://www.dougcomicworld.com/

Good luck.

Stephane Savoie

July 9, 2007 at 5:57 am

I know he won’t make the list, but I thought Aztek to be a highly entertaining and imaginative book. It would be a shame for Zenith to be left off, since it’s Mozz’s start, and he explores many of his early themes here. Everything else seems straightforward.

Matthew Lazorwitz

July 9, 2007 at 6:09 am

It took me nearly two years to track one of these down, but man was it worth it. I found the original, no-spine version of it, and I just loved it. It’s Morrison at his most biting, and Philip Bond (who I think is one of the most under-rated artists in comics) at some of his best. Just an incredible piece.

It’s out of print again? Fie. I have both floppy and spined versions, and used to lend them out guardedly. It’ll be back.

I don’t know…it looks a little too cynical and bitter for me.

I wasn’t that big a fan of Heathers either.

It’s not cynical. Trust me. Grant Morrison has never written a cynical comic book in his life.

After 188 days, it really is a Reason To Love Comics today. One of my absolute favourites: funny, clever, stupid and beautiful. Almost perfect in fact.

Also possibly responsible for convincing me to make a rather foolish decision: carpe diem and all that, eh?

I thought this was about the weakest thing Morrison ever wrote. A silly inconsequential bit of fun, maybe, but I was a bit bored by it.

Nice art though

I’d argue Kill Your Boyfriend was the most perfect comic Morrison’s ever wrote. There’s more ambitious work. There’s more pop work. But KYBF’s black-farce has an obsidian-skin that’s just perfect.

It’s also a great way to get a quick personality reading on someone. A person’s response to it says a lot. Were I still an over-judgemental teenager stil, it’s “If you hate it, we can’t be friends” comic.

KG

See, books like this are the reason the swooning over All-Star Superman seems overdone to me. THIS is the one to swoon over.

What, we can only swoon over one at a time? Not to mention the fact that one of the aforementioned series’ is currently being published. Kind of plays a major part in the amount of praise it’s currently receiving.

I’m baffled that anyone could call this bleak little story “joycore,” or indeed joyful at all. For me, it’s precisely the fact that KYB is uncynical that makes it so profoundly unappealing to me. It is the apotheosis of GM’s least appealing trait– his conflation of coolness and worthiness. The book always seemed to skirt a weird and queasy kind of pop-fascism, in which being uncool was essentially the same thing as not deserving to live. Being cool and sexy, by contrast, could justify almost anything.

Definitely one of my favourite jobs from Morrison… although the invisibles is THE novel :)

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