A DUNCE’S GUIDE TO CONFEDERATE AND ART CRITICISM

by Richard Worth

Often my articles here in the Arts section follow a similar pattern; I observe what I think is a poor defence or poor criticism of a subject, give my contrary reasoning and cast some shade, then tried to conclude with what I think is a better approach to art in general. The overall meta-thesis tends to be “artists and audiences need to be smarter and less sensitive”.

Whilst I do have fun writing such pieces, I feel that my critical pattern is par for the course for liberalism in general. There is an overwhelming feeling of being against something rather than for something. Politically I can reason myself around this. If I’m against inequality in the workplace, I’m de facto for equality. With the arts though it can make me feel like a grumpy old curmudgeon who hates everything and writes from a place of negativity and harsh criticism; To remedy that I wanted to write about something that I was excited about. I failed.

Not only is it a great crime drama with a nunchuck-wielding lead named Dashiell Bad Horse, but the show will have an almost entirely Native American cast and give a voice and representation to the issue of a people marginalised and mistreated in their own land.

What I wanted to write about is the upcoming television adaptation of Jason Aaron and R.M. Guéra comics series Scalped. I love Scalped. It’s a gritty western-crime-noir about an undercover F.B.I. agent on Prairie Rose Indian Reservation. It’s brutal, tense and amazing. Its depiction of life on the “rez” and the struggles of Native Americans feel raw and honest and uncomfortable. I’m not the type of guy who gets super excited for either comic book adaptations or TV series, but this is different. Not only is it a great crime drama with a nunchuck-wielding lead named Dashiell Bad Horse, but the show will have an almost entirely Native American cast and give a voice and representation to the issue of a people marginalised and mistreated in their own land.

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JOAN LEE: THE MARVELOUS MUSE

by Richard Worth

The story goes that Stan Lee was dragging his feet on Marvel’s latest bid to catch up with the Distinguished Competition. He was becoming bored with the monster-matinée mags he made with Kirby and uninspired by the sci-fi parables he produced with Ditko and now his bosses had tasked him with making a book to rival DC’s newest hit, Justice League.

Stan wasn’t one for superheroes. They were too perfect, too unflawed, and too unfit for the hyper-dramatised, purple prose that was Stan’s hallmark. He moped and complained about his artistic integrity, as writers are wont to do, boring all around him until his perpetually patient wife finally told him to get on with it. Continue Reading

THE CULTURAL IS POLITICAL – THE REUNIFICATION OF LEFTISM AND CULTURE

by Chris Jarvis

Culture and politics are inseparable. Culture is more than mere entertainment, more than escapism. Culture is central to how we understand the world, build our value sets and perceive our fellow people. It stirs human emotion in unique ways, pulling different levers in the brain. Sometimes overtly, sometimes with subtlety, the dominant cultural practices, institutions, icons and outputs are used to reinforce the dominant political system and defend the status quo. Establishment weaponise culture as a means of influence.

But this isn’t the sole preserve of the political right.

Looking through history, many of the most important moments of popular revolt have an accompanying soundtrack. The resistance to the Vietnam War had the protest folk singers. Rage Against the Machine were agitators of the US anti-globalisation movement. Riot Grrrl acts built feminist infrastructure, led pro-choice campaigns and brought ‘the personal is political’ sentiments to the fore of a cultural phenomenon. And so on, and so on.

This isn’t coincidental.Continue Reading

STRIPTEASE: ADMIRATION FOR SATIRICAL CARTOON

by Richard Worth

If you have read my work here at The Norwich Radical and elsewhere (shameless self-promotion, I know) it should be apparent that I enjoy satire. And as reality subtly blends in a dystopian crap-scape, one of the very few plus sides is that the satire game is booming. In addition to the plethora of late night hosts to match personal preference (Colbert does it for me) keeping us informed and helping us to laugh instead of cry, the humble illustration has been holding a mirror up to the corrupt, the cruel, and the incompetent and making them look ridiculous, and they know it.Continue Reading

CAPTAIN AMERICA: TRUTH, JUSTICE, AND THE OUTRAGE WAY

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by Richard Worth

Captain America is a Nazi and everyone is very, very mad. There has been a whole bunch of articles about Cap’s Nazification, some explaining it away as comics being comics, others taking a very real offence to the souring of Steve Rogers’ origins. Created by Jewish superteam Joe Simon and Jack Kirby as a way of taking out their frustration at America’s lack of involvement in WW2, it’s clear that this change has huge importance in our current climate.Continue Reading

A THANK YOU TO COMICS ARTIST LEO BAXENDALE

by Richard Worth

The Beano was a part of my childhood I took for granted. To be clear, that’s not to say I didn’t value every issue I had, more that it was a fundamental part of my existence. It was always around and I assumed everybody read it in the same way I assumed everybody had tea in the evening. The Beano and its characters were accepted, not considered. Which brings me to a shameful point: I never thought about who created them.

The death of Leo Baxendale is a sad loss for the nation. Continue Reading

THE NORWICH RADICAL YEAR IN REVIEW 2016

by The Norwich Radical

2016 was a bleak year for many. Across the world, the forces of liberty, of social progress, and of environmental justice lost time and again in the face of rising fascism, increased alienation, and intensifying conflict. That notwithstanding, there have been moments of light. In the Austrian Presidential election, the electorate confirmed the independently Green candidate Alexander van der Bellen; the #noDAPL water protectors gained a soft victory in early December; in fact, there is a full list of positives from the past year, if you want cheering up.

2016 saw our team expand to more than 25 writers, editors, and artists as well as host our first ever progressive media conference, War of Words. Our readership has grown from 5,000 per month to more than 6,500 per month. In total, nearly 80,000 people have read content on The Norwich Radical website this year.

In 2017, The Norwich Radical will turn three years old, with plans to grow our team and publication more than ever before. We’ll also be returning to Norwich to bring debate and discussion on the future of the media, with War of Words back for a second year. Continue Reading

REVIEW: LOVE IS LOVE ANTHOLOGY, FROM IDW PUBLISHING

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by Gwen Taylor

How on Earth do I put these feelings into words? I’m sitting here just after finishing Love is Love and I have been utterly floored. 2016 has been an awful year all around, a year where hatred and intolerance appear to have won, and love has been  firmly pushed into a corner. One of the most horrific events of the year took place in June at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. One person took the lives of 49 others who were celebrating their individuality and love in what had always been regarded as a safe space.

Love is Love is an anthology of responses to the shooting published by IDW Publishing and supported by DCComics to raise money for Equality Florida. It contains 144 pages of beautiful stories designed to celebrate love following a tragic event. Each piece is 1-2 pages long and all are incredibly powerful; the sheer number of contributors demonstrates how this horrific event was felt by everyone.
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CISGENDERED OR NOTHING – THE ABSENCE OF LGBTQ+ CHARACTERS IN FILM

by Jess Howard

Earlier this month, Warner Bros and DC released their latest superhero film Suicide Squad, sending mixed reactions across the internet as viewers commented on the film’s plot line and the sexualisation of squad member Harley Quinn. Audience and critics’ opinions aside, what is explicitly noticeable within the film is the lack of LGBTQ+ characters, such as DC character Batwoman, for example if Batman can make a cameo, why not her? In a world with superheroes, Killer Crocs, and witches, why are production companies still refusing to feature LGBTQ+ characters in their films?Continue Reading

THE CAKE IS NOT A LIE — NERDSPHERE AND FITNESS

by Alex Valente

Content Warning: body issues, body shaming

In recent weeks, people with access to the internet on a regular basis have probably not been able to avoid reading news about a new application for smart phones, featuring a trendy geek icon that never really went away: Pokémon GO. As revealed in a totally legit super serious study by artist Justin Hall on Dorkly, the Niantic game is, in fact, part of a ploy to create superstrong, superbuff supernerds. True story.

To actually stray on the side of serious, though, the application has indeed helped some players (we will be discussing this in terms of people with disabilities, looking at positives and negatives — such as the gaping flaws for physical disabilities, or Playing While Black — in an article soon) to engage with others, and spend time outdoors (plus, this). Both results, in the most generalised way possible, are healthy habits and attitudes, and being hailed as the best thing to happen to nerds since Dungeons & Dragons.

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BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN: REHASH OF INJUSTICE

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by Sam Naylor

Disclaimer: Filled to the brim with spoilers and undergraduate level gender studies analysis *gasp*

Just for a moment whilst sitting with phone wrapped in hand, imagine that I am a renowned film critic — tall order I know. Now picture the scene of zero-star ratings being awarded to films. I am that film critic that awards a zero rating to the backwards 50s tripe that is Batman vs Superman. As you can tell I am totally not bitter about wasting my money and time, with 153 minutes of my life being dragged out before my eyes, as I endured a steroid-induced-figurine-smacking-debacle.

Initial rant over: what I’d first like to address is the films portrayal of its female characters. Now with a film title like Batman vs Superman I was aware that the main arc of the story would revolve around these two colossuses, but I’d hoped that in 2016 we’d moved far enough away from female roles as fillers and crutches for their male onscreen co-stars.Continue Reading

DEADPOOL AND SEXUALITY: MINIMUM EFFORT

by Beth Saward

Bringing in a staggering $132.7million, Deadpool had the biggest opening weekend for an R-rated movie, beating The Matrix Reloaded’s previous 2003 record. It’s safe to say that the Merc with a Mouth has been a success. Tim Miller’s direction combined with Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s screenplay manage to stay true to the comic’s sense of humour.

Those fans who were worried about how Deadpool’s infamous fourth-wall smashing would translate to the screen weren’t disappointed (even if a beautiful opportunity was missed during Stan Lee’s obligatory cameo). Reynolds, who’s said in interviews that he’s waited 11 years to make Deadpool, plays Wade Wilson with an infectious glee that you can’t help but enjoy. Despite all of this, the film leaves a somewhat unpleasant aftertaste.Continue Reading

COMICS, A PROGRESSIVE MEDIUM

by Alex Valente

Repeat after me: comics is a medium, not a genre. Good? Good. Let’s start from there. Comics is (yes, plural noun, singular verb) a medium. As such, it has the power to channel ideologies, reflect society, provoke ripples in current trends, generate new ones, validate certain opinions, undermine others, and most of all — it influences a gigantic audience, it creates a dialogue between readers and authors.

Sometimes that dialogue is out of sync. Sometimes a side shouts louder than others. Sometimes it falls short of everyone’s expectations and hopes. And sometimes, really good things happen, and excellent conversations take place.Continue Reading

CARTOONS AND CONSENT

by Jess Howard

You would think that consent is a straightforward issue. If someone does not want to have sex with you, or is not able to tell you they want to have sex with you, then don’t have sex with them. Period. But, sadly, this is not always the case, and there is often a haze and grey area around the issue. So, to clear up any confusion, a number of artists have taken to drawing step by step analogies about the issue, in attempts to make it as clear as possible. But my question is: are we reducing a dangerous issue to nothing more than a doodle?Continue Reading

THE JUNGIAN APPEAL BEHIND STAR WARS

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By Faizal Nor Izham

What is it about Star Wars that makes it so endearing to the public consciousness? Is it really all about the lightsabre duels, the weird and wacky alien characters, or the intense melodrama behind the story that reaches almost soap opera-like proportions? Fans and critics have long speculated the secret behind the franchise’s popularity over the course of three generations, but the truth may actually lie behind the fact that it is a form of modern-day mythology that is universally relatable to this day.

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THE PLACE FOR POETRY: VISUAL CULTURE

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by Carmina Masoliver

The Place for Poetry’ conference at Goldsmiths took place from the 7-8th May, and I attended it with She Grrrowls, as well as within my poetry collective, Kid Glove.

The end of the first panel I’d attended discussed the importance of white space and the ole of images as part of the process, and linked nicely to the next panel about the relationship between visual art and poetry, which I was interested in due to my own project Poetry&Paint. Sophie Collins spoke of Mary Richardson’s defacement of Venus to highlight the hypocrisy of such an outcry, and she also touched on the Guerrilla Girls, leading to new kinds of art by women largely disregarded within ekphrastic poetry, and highlighting a collection entitled ‘In the Frame: Women’s Ekphrastic Poetry’, published in 2009.

The focus was a discussion of Rachael Allen’s 4chan poems. I hadn’t heard of the website ‘4chan’ before, but it seemed a unique concept to create poems from the basis of an image-based bulletin board, which — being the internet — provided useful commentary on the role of gender, acting as a platform for feminist art work.Continue Reading

BE NON-COMPLIANT – A BITCH PLANET REVIEW

by Alex Valente

In February, the Image Comics/Milkfed Criminal Masterminds Inc. series Bitch Planet reaches its third issue in an ongoing series (tentatively, out of 30). Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick (Captain Marvel, Pretty Deadly), drawn by Valentine De Landro (X-Factor), coloured by Cris Peter and lettered by Clayton Cowles, the book features a wonderful design by Rian Hughes (covers and title) and Lauren McCubbin (backmatter) and is tightly edited by Lauren Sankovitch. There will be no invisible labour here.

After three issues under its belt (depending on when this piece is published), it feels a little strange to write a review — so this is not a review, not exactly; this is an appreciation.

The Story

DeConnick uses her writing to build a dystopian setting in which patriarchal structures have reached such an overt manifestation of power that the rulers — the New Protectorate — are a bunch of old men who call themselves The Fathers. A society whose constant, obsessive message is ‘You are broken, you are fat, you must obey, you must comply’, a society that has rejected the idea of Mother Earth (‘Earth is the Father’) and created the Auxiliary Compliance Outpost — affectionately referred to as Bitch Planet – as a space (‘the Mother’) penitentiary for non-compliant women.Continue Reading

VALENTINE’S AND ZOMBIES: A POLITICAL REFLECTION

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by Jack Brindelli

It is Valentine’s week – apparently that’s a thing now – a time of saccharine sweetness, hollow gestures, and empty consumerism in place of romance. In-keeping with the seasonal spirit, then, I want to talk to you today about hearts that long ceased to beat; about a festering horde of blank-faced ghouls, hungering to sink their teeth into human flesh. No, not the populace of shag-app Tinder. Today I am talking about actual zombies.

The undead have always possessed a special place in my own heart – sating more than a simple blood-lust in my own cinematic tastes. Zombies often shamble above and beyond the call of duty, creeping and clawing their way into socio-political territory rarely visited by the supernatural silver-screen. They often act as crude agents of social commentary – and sometimes even of justice. The reanimated corpses who so often fill our post-apocalyptic screens aren’t really a thing to be ‘feared’ by us as such; they are a cultural representation of us. Zombies are the fictional embodiment of the dominant section of society’s fear of a mobilisation of the filthy, impoverished masses.

As Robert Kirkman’s famous comic series (and subsequent televisual smash hit) so often reiterates, “We are the walking dead.”Continue Reading

WHY I TEACH (THE HUMANITIES)

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by Alex Valente

This is not another defence of the Humanities as a subject worthy of study, funding, support.
This is not a defence of creative writing as a subject worthy of teaching, practising, support.
This is not a way to convince myself that teaching English Literature at a higher education institution in the UK is a career worth pursuing. Though maybe it is, maybe it is all of those.
This is not, in any way, a researched piece. The editors have allowed me to voice my thoughts on the matter because I wanted to say something about it.

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