Existentialism

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Today’s entry to make you smile runs a slight risk of delving too deep into angst, but hopefully it will be a gift that keeps on giving.

How many of you remember Garfield? For me, that fat ol’ cat with the penchant for lasagne was a staple of my comics diet as a youngster. I’ve not revisited the character at all in the way I have with Calvin & Hobbes or the Peanuts gang…but recently I’ve discovered that the comic is actually at its best when Garfield isn’t in it.

Several years ago Dan Walsh created this webcomic simply by curating the old Garfield strips by Jim Davis, and editing out the title character. What we are left with is hilarious and harrowing, as Jon Arbuckle (Garfield’s owner) goes through his day-to-day without a communicative feline to bounce his ideas off. He faces existence alone, and is revealed to be more than a little batty from the isolation.

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You can find Garfield Minus Garfield here.

For those curious, Jim Davis is familiar with Garfield Minus Garfield…and apparently loves it. You can read his thoughts on it here.

Fighting the End of the World

We’ve reached the end of the first week in which Esoteric Fish have attempted to lighten your mood a little. It was a little rough – we’ve lost some wonderful creators in these past weeks, along with the devastation caused by our collective microbial adversary.

But as we sign off for the weekend, we leave you all with our best wishes, our prayers for health and safety, and above all, a strategy that could save us all.

At least…maybe it could have saved this franchise.

Stuart Gordon, Gone Beyond – 24th March, 2020

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We bid a very fond farewell this week to Stuart Gordon – visionary director; subversive social commentator; cheeky bugger. In what is proving to be a crushing week for my creative spirit, Gordon has passed away at the age of 72. While he was not a household name the likes of Spielberg or Kubrick, to fans of genre cinema – most especially horror – he stands out among his peers as being one of the most unique filmmakers of the 80’s and 90’s. Whatever else one might say about him, his voice was truly his own.

There’s something of a rite of passage for movie guys of a certain generation – it comes about when one progresses from the point of being fascinated by the VHS covers in the genre sections of their local video store (ask your parents kids), to finally watching the movies themselves. When I was a kid our family would make weekly trips to the bargain video barn, and while my brother and sister searched and made their choices, I would slip away to the horror section, and gaze upon the terrifying, but engrossing, cover art. I would never dream of actually watching one, mind – I was way too intimidated. I was fascinated at their existence though. Many of those cover images are indelibly burned into my mind,  but none moreso than-

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Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator, based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft, is an entry point for many into the magnificent fusion of horror and comedy. It is Gordon’s first and most widely known film, but is really indicative of his output as a whole. It is a film that combines genuine heart, biting satire, laugh-out-loud humour and gross-out horror sequences. It is bizarre, upsetting, tense, ridiculous, funny, awful, disgusting and at points in phenomenally bad taste…and I love every second of it.

While best known as a horror director, Gordon actually had a diverse output on screen and on stage, directing plays which may have been his greater passion. Gordon is responsible for bonkers sci-fi schlock Robot Jox, but also for a staple of my childhood, Honey I Shrunk The Kids.

Gordon scared me hysterical, and I loved him for it. Vale Stuart, I doubt we’ll see another like you.

We encourage you to read more of Stuart Gordon, who was a bizarre inspiration, but a great one.

Vale, Albert Uderzo – March 24th, 2020

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There’s not a single person I went to high school with – nor anyone who was a student anywhere at the same time as me – who is unfamiliar with the work of Albert Uderzo, though it is entirely possible they might not quite register the name. Collaborating with his long time creative partner, René Goscinny, they delivered to my generation the most constant source of entertainment on every school property, always located prominently on a display stand of the library.

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The Asterix series.

These timeless comics were a magnificent bridge between generations, nationalities and sub-cultures. Parents happily endorsed their kids reading the adventures of the diminutive resident of the unnamed village resisting Roman occupation and his rotund but kindhearted companion, Obelix. As a comic book reader and collector in general, I lost count of the number of conversations that went something like:

They: What are you reading?
Me: A comic.
They: Oh. I’ve never been into comics. I really like Asterix though.

Asterix was a common ground for so many people in life – a truly remarkable legacy that any artist would dream of being a part. Goscinny, who wrote the series, passed away in 1977, leaving Uderzo as the sole creator until 2008.
I first learned to draw by copying Uderzo’s characters; when I was too sick to go to school, Asterix books were my constant companions; I once dressed up as Asterix for a primary school book parade.

Albert Uderzo made an impact on my life I will never forget.

Still the Greatest Man on the Internet

It has occurred to me today that some of you may have some difficulty in remembering how to smile. I hereby turn you over to our Master and Sage.

Happy Thursday.

Max Von Sydow – Five Farewells: Citizen X

For the longest time, Max Von Sydow was one of those perennial “faces” in film. You know, the ones who show up and make you go “Hey! That’s the guy from…” I’m speaking of my personal experience of course. As such, he was never someone that I was particularly looking for when I picked out movies at the video store, or took recommendations from one of my High School French teachers. For the life of me I can’t remember how we got into something of a contest – recommending movies to each other that had not seen theatrical release in Australia. The goal was to go obscure, but still give a hook to convince one another that the movie was actually worth watching. Continue reading

It’s time to play some music…

If you have stumbled across this today, seeking some sense of relief from anxiety or fear regarding the world at this moment in time,

then please, even for just a moment, allow me to share that which never fails to make me smile.

Ladies and Gentlemen…Fozzie and Rowlf.

Hope that brightened your day…even just a little.

Be blessed.