"I take orders from the Octoboss."

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE is the first sequel to SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE, the brilliant 2018 movie I still believe is a watershed moment for computer animated features* as well as super hero cinema. I’m happy to say that ACROSS is a worthy sequel that finds a smart way to build on the first film’s clever multiverse premise and push its revolutionary visual style into the stratosphere. Miles gives me the same “it’s weird to see him taller” feeling as real kids I’ve seen grow up, and the series’ already astonishing artistry has also experienced a growth spurt. Honestly the gimmicks and the eye candy would be enough to make this a classic, but they’re not the only reason these movies have become a phenomenon. They’ve also given us characters to really care about as they live their lives in that perfect Spider-Man intersection between regular every day problems and universe-shattering super shit.

This one works particularly well on the level of a teen movie. You may remember that our main characters Miles Morales/Spider-Man (Shameik Moore, Raekwon on Wu-Tang: An American Saga), and Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld, 3 DAYS TO KILL) exist in different realities. As in, different dimensions, timelines, worlds, whatever. They met when a super-collider brought Gwen and people from various other realities into Miles’s, but now they’re apart, trying to get through life as their reality’s Spider-Person.

Each have normal issues with their parents, exacerbated by their secret super hero lives. Gwen’s have to do with her dad (Shea Whigham, SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO) being the police captain chasing Spider-Woman, blaming her for the death of their universe’s Peter Parker (Jack Quaid, LOGAN LUCKY), a misunderstanding they can’t clear up because she hides her true self from him. When her secret comes out under duress it goes so poorly that she takes an opportunity to abandon their reality.

That’s one reason there’s tension about whether Miles should risk coming out as Spider-Man to his parents, Jeff (Brian Tyree Henry, CHILD’S PLAY remake) and Rio (Luna Lauren Velez, THE FIRST PURGE). They do understand that he’s brilliant, and that his grades are great by anyone else’s standards. Even in his crime-fighting life, taking on a fake deep voice when talking to his cop dad on the job, the relationship seems to be improving a little bit. They just worry he’s a fuck up because he keeps showing up late to everything and giving flimsy excuses for it, things that could be cleared up by telling them the truth. But even for a guy who jumps off buildings all day that’s a scary leap to take.

One thing I think ACROSS gets really gets right is the teen longing. Miles and Gwen miss each other so much. Miles is really doing well in his web-slinging life but he keeps thinking about the girl who helped him get there, the person who understands what he’s going through most. He draws pictures of her in his notebook – not just her face, but also her mask. So he doesn’t just think she’s purty, he thinks she looks cool in her super hero persona. He admires her work.

It’s like she’s the cool girl who goes to a different school or who he met on a vacation, except being in a different reality is a little more extreme. And the filmatists do such a good job of making her the ultimate cool girl to have a crush on: she’s funny, she’s great at what she does, she has a badass haircut and cool fashion, she plays drums, she’s an outsider, she’s very assertive, she leaves her sweater in his bedroom. It really gets that teenage exhilaration of Miles dreaming about this girl and then all the sudden she’s there. She climbs through his window and they put on their costumes and go swinging across the city together, excited to catch up and show off what they’ve learned. Later there’s a great scene where they have a good talk while casually hanging from a clock tower. It looks like a normal looking-out-over-the-horizon shot except the skyline is inverted and Gwen’s ponytail is hanging straight up.

Most of Gwen’s news is about the inter-dimensional elite spider-team she ran away with, the Spider-Society, and all her cool new friends she wishes Miles could meet. She’s cagey about why, with a wrist device that allows her to travel between realities, she didn’t come see him right away, but there’s obviously some Prime Directive type reason why she wasn’t supposed to see him at all. Her job is to go around finding people in the wrong realities and correct things before everything else gets out of wack – an ongoing multiversal problem stemming from the events of part 1.

Miles learns about this only from sneaking through Gwen’s portal and being allowed a day pass into a headquarters populated by even more spider-beings than we saw in the first movie. There are some more meta/in-jokes, like cameos from the crudely animated Spider-Men of previous TV and video game incarnations, and a few live action references, which I’m glad they don’t spend much time on since that feels like a worn out gimmick after NO WAY HOME. (In retrospect though it makes me laugh that I saw a clickbait headline something like “Behind those INSANE Spider-Verse cameos” and now I know that means one major actor plus outtakes of the bodega owner [Peggy Lu] from the VENOM movies. In Association With Marvel Cinematic Universe represent.)

With the exception of Miles’ mentor Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson, REDBELT), most of the supporting-spider-people from part INTO are only seen briefly, leaving room to introduce newbies like Spider-Woman Jessica Drew (Issa Rae, THE LOVEBIRDS) (who Gwen can’t help but idolize) and the Spider-Man of “Mumbattan,” Pavitr Prabhakar (Karan Soni, SUPREMACY) (who brags that he doesn’t use any product in his hair). But Peter Porker Spider-Ham, Spider-Man Noir, etc. seem set to return next time, like when the casts were united in STEP UP 3 or FAST & FURIOUS.

The screenplay this time is credited to LEGO® MOVIE/21 JUMP STREET dudes Phil Lord & Chris Miller, plus, to my surprise, Dave Callaham (DOOM, THE EXPENDABLES, Jean-Claude Van Johnson, MORTAL KOMBAT). There’s a new trio of directors: Joaquim Dos Santos (G.I. Joe: Resolute), Kemp Powers (SOUL, writer of ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI…), and Justin K. Thompson (production designer of the first one). It’s exciting that between the two SPIDER-VERSE movies there are six really talented directors learning new things that they’ll probly build off of in other movies, including next year’s (we hope) BEYOND THE SPIDER-VERSE.

The first SPIDER-VERSE worked brilliantly on a meta level about storytelling because it told us there are infinite variations; you don’t have to be mad if Miles isn’t your Spider-Man or even if he isn’t your Miles, because he’s just one version in the multiverse. This one looks at it from a slightly different angle. According to Spider-Society leader Miguel O’Hara, a.k.a. Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac, X-MEN: APOCALYPSE), there are still rules – commonalities between universes he calls “canon events.” For example, he believes there has to be some version of Peter Parker’s uncle Ben, or Miles’ uncle Aaron, dying, in order for him to become a hero. So the philosophical debate between super heroes here is about whether or not it’s necessary to allow certain bad things to happen for the greater good. But on another level Miles is fighting for his true uniqueness. It’s beautiful that all the Spider-Versions are at their core the same, while representing so many different cultures and backgrounds. But Miles is not only the Afro-Latino, graffiti artist, kinda nerdy, Brooklyn Spider-Man. He’s also just Miles. And he refuses to let anyone else decide what that means, what he has to do, what his reality and destiny have to be.

Implausible as it may be, I love that Miguel chooses to call these expectations “canon,” because it has set up a comic book movie where the big world ending event our heroes have to stop is the necessity of following canon. Take that, talkbackers.

That brings up the first of my two complaints about ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE, which is that it’s part one of two. (Like FIST OF THE CONDOR, its first trailer had “PART ONE” in the title, but luckily I remembered that this time.) A comparison can be made to THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, but I was a little kid when that came out, I can’t remember if it felt as satisfying before RETURN OF THE JEDI existed. Here is an absorbing and visually stunning movie that, for now, is an incomplete story. In that sense it’s not as good as the first one.

My second complaint is that every time they said the name of the company “Alchemax” I thought for a second they said “Malcolm X.” But both of these issues will fade away with time, I’m sure.

Focusing on any minor complaints would be silly in the face of all the things ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE knocks out of the park, especially considering how much they’ve leveled up on the aspect of INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE that’s most essential to its chosen medium: the way it exploded the style of modern computer animation. As visually revolutionary as the first one was with its varied frame rates, Zip-a-Tone dots and hand drawn linework over three-dimensional models, it seems almost timid compared to this one. Every reality has a different design style, allowing for far more hand drawn animation and stylistic experimentation. They still have the thought bubbles, motion lines and editor’s notes inspired by the newsprint/screen printing era of comics, and they push even further into the ’90s-through-present-day glossy-print era where so many different illustration styles and medias have been explored.

Gwen battles a DaVinci-sketch-inspired Vulture made of crinkled parchment. Her world has impressionistic watercolor backgrounds; in one of the most emotional scenes the swaths of color that form her bedroom begin to drip. The main villain, The Spot (Jason Schwartzman, SLACKERS), has visible construction lines (the light pencil circles and lines artists sometimes use to rough out the shape of a body). The standout new cast member Hobie, a.k.a. Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya, SICARIO), is designed as a collage of xeroxes, complete with cut-out outlines.

They obviously poured so much thought and love into making this look amazing. For example I read that Spider-Punk’s body parts are animated at different frame rates, and that artist Rick Leonardi worked with them to create 3D tools to mimic his linework on the Spider-Man 2099 comic book. Miguel’s holographic assistant Lyla (Greta Lee, GEMINI) is probly part of that, but she made me think of the chaotic painted style of Bill Sienkiewicz. All this comes together in a wild mix of disciplines and mediums, a hybrid of techniques so well executed I can’t always tell whether I’m looking at drawings or computer creations inspired by them. Usually it’s obvious.

So much great animation has been created with computers over the last three decades, but the limits of the technology and the unwritten rules created by past successes have caused the format to be dominated by a very neat and clean style. It’s a thrill to see computer animation slathered in so much stylish mess – paint splatters, smudges, lines, brush strokes, figurative (and I’m sure at some point literal) fingerprints of the many artists who work on these things at all levels.

The more our popular art gets devoured by tech ghouls and unsustainable stock market scams, the more it becomes clear to me that the creation of art – a song, or a drawing, or a series of words that a unique individual transmits from inside themselves – is a sacred act. And fortunately there will always be artists creating on their own. It doesn’t need to be expensive, gigantic, meant for the masses. It certainly doesn’t have to be about Spider-Man and what not! But shit, I’m a movie critic, a movie lover, a summer movie-goer, obviously I enjoy seeing artists create on a massive scale. I like comic book movies and shit, so I love to see this done with such excellence, such imagination, such an unbridled creative spirit. Not sanded down, not taking short cuts, deeply considered, but not second guessed. From interviews and social media posts and what not I get the sense that individual animators, designers, and everyone involved in ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE are particularly excited and proud of it, and they should be. It warms my heart to imagine how many kids are running out of the theater not just wanting to be Miles or Gwen or Spider-Punk or Pavitr, but to figure out how to draw them.

*In my review of INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE I wrote that I felt “confident it will encourage more stylistic boldness in the animation studios.” Five years later I think this has borne out. Miller & Lord produced THE MITCHELLS VS. THE MACHINES for Netflix, which had lots of frenetic, doodle-inspired touches over its three-dimensional animation, and pushed the cartoony character animation and other techniques they reportedly carried into the SPIDER-VERSE sequel.

PUSS IN BOOTS: THE LAST WISH surprisingly changed styles from its predecessor to a more painterly, smudgy look, as well as experimenting with different frame rates when a herky-jerky look is preferred.

I’m genuinely excited for the upcoming TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: MUTANT MAYHEM, partly because the trailer actually made me laugh, and moreso because the visual style just blows me away. I still can’t believe this is a screengrab I made from an animated shot in the trailer – doesn’t it look like the oil pastel concept art you see in an “art of” book and think “I wish the movie could look as good as the concept art”?

Even conservative Disney seems to have been influenced, as their upcoming movie WISH adopts a painterly look to its backgrounds and subtle use of outlining on its 3D models to make them look more like storybook illustrations.

Honestly I don’t love that look, but I respect that they’re taking visual risks even in princess movies. Could be good for the art form in the long run. And I’m sure there are other movies I could mention, like THE BAD GUYS and some of the smaller Netflix movies.

Of course, it’s now time to move beyond “how can we make CG look more graphic” into other experiments, but this is a start!

This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 7th, 2023 at 3:14 pm and is filed under Reviews, Cartoons and Shit, Comic strips/Super heroes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

41 Responses to “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”

  1. This movie rocked me pretty hard, was just in that perfect headspace where even Gwen’s opening monologue had me choked up with its sensitivity and emotional fluency. If I were to lodge a complaint, it would be that it’s kinda overwhelming to watch something that’s operating at level 10 the entire time; even during the quiet emotional moments there’s just an excruciating amount of style and attitude packed into the visuals. Suffocating, almost.


    I appreciated the symmetry between the film’s three villains (Spot, Miguel, and in the final moments, Miles), all of whom have embarked down the path of badguyness in response to their personal tragedy. It’s a rare treat where the antagonist’s redemption matters just as much as the hero’s victory and I’m tremendously invested in the outcome for all these characters. Although, it will be hard to forgive Gwen for her apparent decision to abandon her and Peter’s dads (since she was presumably going along with Miguel’s monstrous multiversal fascism). A true and worthy cliffhanger ending, in my estimation.

    One question I had. Is it implied that Spot was Miles’ universe’s Peter Parker? Or did I just hallucinate that?

  2. I was a lot less over-the-moon about the first one than everybody else. There was a lot to admire but I didn’t love it. In terms of aesthetics, it was phenomenal. My eyeballs burned from drinking in all that stimuli. Plus, it had the most accurate you-are-there Brooklyn street scenes I’d seen in any medium, even live action. But I felt the story was a little bland and the characters cute but thin. But to be fair, I’m just not an animation guy. I can admire the craft of a well animated sequence but I’m never gonna get that electric feeling of watching an amazing event unfold before my eyes that I get from a great live action set piece, even one that’s mostly CGI. When there’s never a real human being to cut back to, my brain knows that it’s just seeing drawings in a way it doesn’t in, say, an AVATAR movie. I watch superhero movies for thrilling daring-do, but the action in a fully animated film tends to reach me at a remove. It doesn’t give me my action fix. So without a story, characters, or action that hooked me, I was left with a purely aesthetic appreciation. Which is not really what I like movies for. I’m glad that these movies seemed to have opened the door for more experimentation in the medium, because maybe someday somebody will use these new techniques to make an animated film that excites me as much as a live action one.

  3. Yeah, I really loved this film, I saw it Sunday and have been thinking about it since.

    To me this is the apex of comic books in cinema–maybe not this film specifically, but it’s certainly headed that way. The MCU just has never fully worked for me–to date I think I’ve only seen all of maybe 3 of them, parts or most of several others, and haven’t found myself attracted to the ones I’ve never seen, even though they’re all readily available to me on Disney+. I’ve always been mildly confused by that, too, since as a former reader of comics–Claremont / Byrne X-Men, Miller’s Daredevil, Simonson’s Thor, plus tons of oddball titles pulled from the 5-for-a-dollar boxes at the weekend flea market when I was a kid–I’d seem to be part of the target market, but it just hasn’t worked out. I used to think it was because I found their full reveal of all action to be disengaging, as a kid I unconsciously filled in the spaces between the static images to the point that, without seeming to mystical or grandiose about it, I was effectively writing and drawing parts of the story in my head. But lately I’ve become convinced it’s really / also that the mixture of human actors with their obviously fully human actions and reactions amongst the wild CGI landscapes just doesn’t quite cohere for me and leaves me at a distance from it–I recently caught a scene of the last DOCTOR STRANGE and Benedict Cumberbatch hopscotching through some CGI hellscape just felt like two halves of a mismatched picture jammed together. It just felt off. Not bad, not unnerving, just…off.

    But this–this feels like a comic book projected on a large screen, with all of the hyperreality and madness that implies. This movie makes full use of the palette available to comics and takes big, big swings at expressiveness and operatic action in the way that human actors matched up with weightless CGI just don’t. And I realize there are some problematic sentiments there. But still–think of the seminal “How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way,” a text I still refer to some weekend nights in my garage, exploring what I can these days of the comic art career that never materialized because I didn’t practice enough–one of the central tenets of that book is go big on action, go operatic, go EXTREME–think of the huge wind up or follow-through to a punch, the arcing lines that suggest the curve of the figure–it’s got to still be real, yes, but not REALLY real. And watching Miles and Gwen and all of the assorted Spider-people go through the combustible action scenes and huge arcing movements that no film anchored to actual human figures could really match, nor should it – I saw it. A real comic book on the screen.


    So yeah, this is one for the history books in my opinion.

  4. Franchise Fred

    June 7th, 2023 at 5:07 pm

    Renfield, I agree, it is A LOT and it’s over 2 hours. I think they paced it well giving breaks for emotional parts/catching breath but even those don’t get down to 0 or 1.

    But then how great is it to feel a movie able to have that impact. It reminds us how so many generic live action movies are falling short.

  5. Renfield – I might be misunderstanding your question, but remember – Miles’ universe’s Peter Parker was in the first one. Miles witnessed him dying. This character was said to be a scientist at Alchemax.

  6. Great review, as always.
    How can you possibly improve on INTO THE SPIDERVERSE’s visuals? Easily, as it turns out. I had a huge grin throughout, and left the theater reeling. Getting this as soon as it comes out on home video- there’s so much to parse, it’s custom built to bear multiple rewatches.

    I’m not a fan of the story, it felt a huge comedown from the first film’s self-contained, more universal story; this one is more of a modern comic-book story, self referential kind of thing that might speak to people who really like comics but to not me, as someone who doesn’t really like superhero comics. But like NO WAY HOME, the themes and characters here are so strong and so damn likeable that the fact that I didn’t care much for the plot ends up being a minor concern. The only thing that really ended up bugging me was the duration – I don’t mind that they split it in half, since the story certainly supports it, but at two hours something it did feel a little flabby. Either make it a two-parter, or a two-hourer, but not both dammit.

  7. These movies, and this one even more so than the last, are so visually overwhelming and beautiful to look at that I don’t think I can do it justice in words. Watching this staggering work of imagination illustrates even more clearly how empty, pointless and terrible “No Way Home” was—just an endless series of meaningless callbacks. While this movie has tons of references that are there for fans but don’t *feel* like cheap fan service, don’t stop the story dead to remind you of another, better movie. What an achievement, gonna see this in theaters so many times…

  8. Vern, I hope you review Miyazaki’s new (and presumably last) film “How Do You Live?” whenever it’s released in America. This could be quite a year for animation!

  9. Chuck – Yeah, I look forward to finding out what the hell that is! That’s amazing that they’re releasing it without a trailer or images.

  10. I too am pretty excited about how certain big studio cartoons are pushing the envelope in terms of design and animation and refuse to look “normal”. But I also have to say that once the TMNT trailer hit, my first thought was “Sheesh, can we go back to make them look more mainstream again?” It not just feels like it became incredibly quickly a cliche to impress the Cartoon Brew community, but it also sometimes makes me wonder why does it have to look like that. It reminded me of that one BOB’S BURGERS episode, where every scene was animated by fans in whatever style they wanted and suddenly the characters had for a few seconds big red noses and the eyes on the side of their heads or they looked like pencil drawings of triangular Lego Duplo figures or whatever. Maybe I am too much brain and not enough heart for animation, but I was constantly distracted by the animators trying to stand out with often grotesque results.

    Oh well, still better than boring stock anime characters, I guess. Yesterday I saw a trailer for a new SUPERMAN cartoon that looked like some Tumblrgirl’s Anime fanart, which also was the style of an upcoming KING KONG cartoon on Netflix and both looked like they just reused the characters from that SHE-RA cartoon from a few years ago, only with different clothes painted on them.

    Don’t get me wrong, I definitely appreciate them trying to do something outside the norm, but it also makes me think of them as the visual version Aphex Twin or Radiohead. Something that I appreciate more for being different than actually being good.

  11. Well, I guess you could watch one of the four different animated series, the previous computer animated movie or the (actually quite good) DTV Batman crossover if you want it to look normal and not as exciting. Let me have this one, CJ.

  12. There is this German saying, don’t know if Americans have something like that: “Complaining on a high level”, which basically means that someone is bitching about shit because it’s good. And I do admit that this is what I’m doing when it comes to those animation styles. Don’t let me sour your enjoyment of these things, I’m sure we will go back to more classic looking animation soon enough. (And by then it will probably be praised for being a “nostalgic throwback to old fashioned animation”.)

  13. dreadguacamole

    June 8th, 2023 at 2:05 am

    Speaking of animation – What’s the opinion round these parts on SONG OF THE SEA or WOLFWALKERS? For those that haven’t seen them, they’re by Cartoon Salon, an Irish studio that still does mostly traditional animation- their stuff is gorgeous and they do great on the story writing front as well; Song of the Sea is my favorite animated anything in a very long time (and it’s had a lot of stiff competition.) Can’t recommend it enough.

  14. as a former reader of comics–Claremont / Byrne X-Men, Miller’s Daredevil, Simonson’s Thor, plus tons of oddball titles pulled from the 5-for-a-dollar boxes at the weekend flea market when I was a kid

    As someone with exactly the same ‘comic upbringing’ (the only thing I’d add is Layton’s Iron Man), and someone who’s been thoroughly underwhelmed by the MCU (to the point where I don’t even pay attention to them anymore), you’ve sold me on this one (even though, I thought the first was extremely okay)

  15. Mild SPOILERS, I guess?

    I’m definitely glad I revisited the first one before going to see this (has it really been five years?). I remember Part INTO as being so visually dense that it became overwhelming and hard to keep up with the story. Rewatching it with the benefit of pause and rewind certainly helped, and got me on the right wavelength to watch this. So it’s weird that my main complaint about Part ACROSS is the opposite– I felt the movie drags in a few spots, and the extremely telegraphed cliffhanger put me too far ahead of the movie.

    Visually, it’s amazing (and also spectacular, sensational, superior, friendly neighborhood, and web of), taking it even further than the first one. I’m so happy they’re using the Spot of all characters as a major antagonist, somehow making him very silly and also taking him seriously. I also dug seeing those pencil outlines in his body. Love Spider-Punk’s whole aesthetic and character, even though Kaluuya has turned his English accent up to 11 so it was tough to grok some of his dialogue. Love all the stuff with Gwen– that first 20 minutes or so of the movie is absolutely perfect, and the color work is phenomenal. I had heard about the “secret trans allegory” that was going around the internet for Gwen’s arc, and having seen the movie I think it’s a legitimate reading. And it ties into Miles’ story, too– fear of your parents’ rejection, wanting to belong in a community of like-minded (or spider-powered) individuals.

    And I love how the first movie was about how “anyone can wear the mask,” and then this one was about “no, not like that”– with the Spider Society standing in for fanboys who don’t want a black Spider-Man or a girl Spider-Man or a black girl Spider-Man, who are upset that the story isn’t being told “the right way”. And how Miles rejects that, and in doing so, becomes the most Spider-Man.

    Vern, this was a great line: “But even for a guy who jumps off buildings all day that’s a scary leap to take.”

    I thought that trailer for the new TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES looked beautiful, so I’m also looking forward to that one. And I’ll see you back here for Spider-Man: Part BEYOND!

  16. Oh yeah—Layton’s Iron Man was in that mix too, as was the Perez Avengers run, Byrne’s Fantastic Four, and lots more. Hard to believe that’s so long ago. Interestingly, though, I was never much of a Spidey stan outside of the occasional issue that looked cool. Given his stature in the Marvel Universe he popped up all over the place so his books never seemed that essential to me.

    But thanks to INTO and ACROSS I’m more into Spider-Man than I’ve ever been.

  17. I did not have a very good movie going experience with this one. Most of that was on me, not the movie, though. For some reason just before the movie started I got that antsy, don’t want to be here feeling, and I thought, oh shit, I’m not going to enjoy this. It’s possible I became aware just under the surface that I was developing a headache. I still wear a mask when I go to the movies and sometimes they pull on my ears too much and give me a headache. I should’ve just taken the damn thing off. I also had no clue it was a cliffhanger so the pacing felt all off to me. It felt like we got a couple of climaxes there at the end but since the main thing wasn’t getting tied up I was thinking, Jesus Christ, how long is this movie?! Then a split second before I realized it was a cliffhanger ending I thought it felt like an ending for a TV show, not a movie. Then I felt stupid, like some bumpkin who doesn’t know how movies work.

    I really liked the first one and there was a lot I enjoyed about this one. Hopefully I like it more upon another viewing.

  18. Franchise Fred

    June 8th, 2023 at 6:34 pm

    CJ, is that like the American expression “champagne problems” or “high class problems?”

  19. No, these seem more like snynonyms for “first world problems”. The German expression is more complaining about something good because your always unhappy snob ass sees a minor flaw in something perfect and/or still thinks it could be better.

  20. Jason in Savannah

    June 11th, 2023 at 6:58 pm

    Very hard name to get right: Bill Sienkiewicz. And he actually did a special poster for the movie, that I went to an AMC theatre to get.


  21. Jason – Whoops, I unconsciously wrote his name out phonetically like he does on his Twitter account! Thanks for the correction.

  22. ALF, please, I’m begging you. None of us here can possibly understand what you’re going through so I’m not going to try, but please find some dumb reason to go on. It doesn’t matter what it is. There’s no bad reason to live.

  23. Hi everyone, I just wanted to write and thank you all for helping me get through what was undoubtedly one of the worst mental states I’ve ever been in. I am doing much better today, but in a way where I know that this is still not where my brain should be. Even humbled, embarrassed gratitude is not going to be expressed or considered as it should be. Still, I know you would all prefer if I approach things productively, and alleviating concern or at the very least making sense about something unpleasant and confusing is socially productive.

    Living with brain damage is such a nightmare. I mean that literally – PTSD has caused my entire self to be something it wasn’t before, and being a changed person is bad enough when my brain is more functional. I haven’t smoked weed normally in weeks, so the PTSD continues through the day. The abstracted and undiluted PTSD takes hold even worse during sleep. Each day gets worse than before. My feet are covered in sores, I sleep someplace scary, I smell horrible, my necessary actions of being a human being are either beyond myself or nearly impossible and an event I have not articulated to anyone at all from the recent past has my fundamental psychology in a pain of the worst of recent and lifelong misery.

    I felt inordinately guilty about the funds sent to myself last night. It would have been enough for half a month’s rent somewhere, or a housed month in, say, Detroit. Instead of doing anything sensible, I refunded every dollar sent to me in a state of extreme guilt.

    I’m going to take a few days and suss out what the best decision I could make is. The extreme and senseless mindset of the previous few days was not good. Everything I have said is true and I’m not delusional, but I sure don’t deal with it well. The necessary detachment needed for cynicism and getting through the day is not good when it applies to depression, a lack of results in terms of social justice concerns and my inability to live as a changed person. The personal loneliness is a secondary concern, but rationalizing to myself that I care less about it really do isn’t logical either.

    You all talked me out of something nightmarish and impossible. I was ready to be gone. I am ready to figure out how to stay here.

    Thanks to Vern, Majestyk, Pac, Maggie, Dreadguacamole, Bill, Borg9, CJ and anybody I may be forgetting. If you commented and I’m blanking, seriously, remind me. I owe you thanks and apologies. Don’t neglect to say so if you did.

    Unless things get drastically better, I think I am going to seek out that out of state mental hospital before returning to research and cartooning work. My mental illness is a serious disability, and I am, you know, operating equipment that I’m not cut out for. I don’t drive because I have brain damage – still, I’d know enough not to drive a car with the emergency break locked in, making everything impossible. That’s what my body and mind have turned into, which is no good.

    I do stand by my social justice attempts, though, and think it is good that somebody pointed out these disgusting and insane things that are right under everyone’s noses. I’m obviously the worst-suited person for such a thing, but better future victimization be hindered than nobody knows what is going on at all. Sometimes only a crazy person will do what is necessary. There is an evident “we’re screwed” feeling evident from these lunatics, which started with the Sebastian Bear-Mclard revelations and has the intense “clean up” being done by myself. Hopefully, others will take this information and do something with it. When I relentlessly called Film Forum, a few of their employees seemed aghast at what they were supporting before I even mentioned these people. I am not in a place to process social change occuring, and I’m happy for you all helping me out in letting me know you’ve heard, particularly Pac and Majestyk.

    Responding to what I said must have been impossible. Still, you all did it – with sense, applicability, perspective, warmth, unearned appreciation and generosity.

    Though somehow we’ve never met, Vern is the friend I have been in communication with the longest. He talked me out of it yesterday, and didn’t give up due to my unappreciative, impossible obstinacy. That is not to lessen anyone’s goodness, but to say I am honored for being among those changed by the extremely generous soul this guy has. Nobody else is like him. He is truly special.

    This is some long-ass bullshit already, and I should try to draw for a while. That really heals brain damage like nothing else.

    If anybody feels like needless charity, if someone sent me fifty bucks I’d buy a bag of weed and some food. It’d calm me to the point of a dulled self with an improved ability to reason. (Smoking weed in the fun, low tolerance, “hey man the guitars sound like rain” way never works for me, whereas being consistently stoned helps in the “dulled intensity” ways pills are supposed to). That sounds selfish, but I’m honest, and shitty stoned ALF is the only one capable of reason. Reason is essential. I am leaning towards the “I can’t go on like this”, and even though most of my time with mental health pros in my hospitalized and social life has left me wary and distrusting, I’d be willing to fake the funk like I believe in therapy and offer some Honest Abigail shit to these people in order to figure out just what this brain damage is doing to me. I was sincerely suicidal, making plans and shit. The brain damage will be there no matter what the mood. Three hospitals in New Mexico caught it, but weren’t equipped to say what it was doing. I need to research which city, which hospital for a few days and prepare myself for the potential of mental health imprisonment, with the hopes it’d bring me to a decent neurologist and maybe being on disability. I do not need any money to live and need to reconfigure myself more.

    I will check in here in a few days if a collective fifty bucks could be facilitated for my bus trip to another state. There are more apologies I should offer people, a bit I should accomplish and a few days of planning in order. Unless there is a miraculous change in myself, I’m gonna seek a potential solution.

    I spent the morning crying in extraordinary pain. A nice friend and I spoke on the phone (first non-research-affiliated friend’s voice I’d heard since April 24th), which was a centering help, but I am still very fragile.

    Thank you all for not lessening me for reason of my senseless. It was good and honorable of you.

    Oh and by the way, if anybody had reason to re-read that Dick Tracy review, I had entirely forgotten about my hilarious idea of a guy who cosplays as C-3PO, but particularly the version from the Droids cartoon. That is pretty fuckin hilarious of me if I do say so myself.

    I learned from the best.

    And I’m still learning.

    Thank you all. There is a torrential downpour going on right now, I need to get out of this lifestyle. Thank you for reminding me that it is possible.

    I will now post some stupid garbage/funny ass shit to a classic thread in an attempt at normalcy and a less selfish contribution to a place and a people that mean a lot to me.

    Trukk not munky to you all,
    Abigail Zero
    A longtime fan
    P.S. I requested Vern delete all those sad posts I’d written but I am going to share the amazing Dan Clowes comic about Steve Ditko again, my mental illness and stupid expressions or not, it still deserves to be shared and read.


    RIP John Romita Sr, a glamorous woman if there ever was one.

  24. I’m just happy that you are still around ALF.

  25. Thanks for checking in ALF.

  26. I think we all care about you ALF. I’m very glad you decided to stick around.

  27. I’m glad you’re doing better ALF.

  28. I’m so glad that you’re doing better, ALF. I do wish you’d just kept the money, though. I wouldn’t even care if you spent it on weed. Hell, that’s what I would have spent it on.

    Take yourself out for a nice dinner. Get a massage. Treat yo self. Do whatever it takes to feel like a human being who deserves nice things. Get invested in life again. We need you to stick around, buddy.

  29. I wish you well, ALF. And I’m happy to Paypal you a few dosh to do with as you please, but you’ll need to remind me of your email since that earlier post disappeared.

  30. Also glad to hear you’re doing better A.L.F. At the risk of sounding pat, don’t feel the need to be positive all the time or feel guilty for imposing; we’re all friends here.

  31. Yo to you all, I didn’t want to be overly-self-oriented so I thought well, I’ll take a bit of time to reply to this. I am still inconsistent to say the least but I’m doing better, though I know it’s temporary if taken into consideration with the general S. of A. (State of Abigail) that I’m in moreoften than not, and in recent times in particular. Also, being homeless and isolated makes me feel like that no matter how controlled the mental state is, so I should probably do something about it. I ain’t hurrying to do anything in part because of stupid-ass reasons like that my feet are covered in an insane amount of cuts and abrasions that burst into a bloody fountain from all over my feet out of nowhere, and now I’m moving at like a third of my normal pace. I don’t want be transferring three buses or anything, and just spent the day in front of a computer writing stupid garbage on Twitter. A good move, but not one I can expect to be consistently-effective. I’m still going to try to get my scrambled brains peeped at by some sort of out of state doctor, and feel like I’m basically giving up on living in Ohio, which is where I’ve been for just shy of three months now.

    I am not giving up on here, either this really nice forum of hilarious thinkers or the larger “here”, the subject of Third Stone from the Sun by Jimi Hendrix and also the hit French Stewart T.V. show. (If any of my internet diary friends from the early 00s are out there that remember all my pop culture classics, nobody has STILL ever said “French Stewart is cool” ANYWHERE online.)

    Forgive the rudeness of the tone change, but another thing I am not giving up on is smoking weed in order to feel like a human being, that’s for sure. This has been the least stoned year of my adult weed-smoking life, which I don’t think helped matters at all. Should anybody who kindly offered sending myself embarassing-but-important-to-accept charity, I would welcome a few bucks, but just a few. I currently have $26 A.L.F.tastic dollars to my name, so if people would like to send me enough to get a fifty dollar bag of weed and maybe as a “stretch” goal a ten dollar meal that isn’t from overspending E.B.T. on individual items and coffee or much-appreciated slight-staleness from a pantry, I would accept it. Not more than that, though, because I don’t want to fleece and legit freaked when I had ALMOST enough to be housed, but not quite and not with enough time to make a plan. If anybody – Bill or Maj, say – that was like “Fuck it, I’ll send you the money again”, well, I have to accept that. Trust me, my posts will be funnier and more sensible if I don’t have all this awful brain-damaged frenetic energy a-scurrying through my self.

    Do you guys think Jack Kirby smoked weed? He had P.T.S.D. from being a World War II hero, probably had brain damage from getting hit in the head on the L.E.S. as a kid and drew the most psychedelic shit ever. Also, he talked in what I’ve heard hilariously called “Kirby-speak”, and smoking weed does help one’s ratio for philosophical deeply-meaningful instant-weird-and-awesome-word-choice meaningful nonsense universe-considering truth of self. I’m gonna go with “yes”.

    Anyway, my PayPal is that of my horrible birth name, abescott@gmail.com.

    I think about Spider-Man all the time so I will be back to this thread in order to make it as evocative of the hugely complicated thing that is being a person within a society that is reflected in the work of Steve Ditko in Spider-form and otherwise, and the glib-ass writing that Stan Lee awesomely/insufferably littered the work of great visual storytellers with because he had an unhealthy amount of social and professional power from the time in which he was a child.

    Thank you all.

    “Well, pierce my ears and call me drafty”,
    Abigail Zero
    A longtime fan


  32. Oh also as proof that Jack Kirby probably smoked weed: Jack Kirby’s collages rule. Not the ones from the actual comic books (which also rule), but the gigantic ones he made for personal gratification and externalization of the internal, both knowledge and questioning. Greatest guy of all time.

    Check out these gorgeous slides in all their breathtaking, stunning, beautiful, contemplative glory.

    If you think you’re familiar with these, it’s worth giving this a click – a few of these were only discovered in 2021.

    Jack Kirby Collage

    Slides of Collages have been found and are being scanned in.

    These ones rule, too:

    Buddy Blank
    OMAC works for the Global Peace Agency (GPA), a group of faceless people who police the entire world using pacifistic weapons. The world balance is too dangerous for large armies, so OMAC is used as the main field enforcement agent for the Global Peace Agency.

  33. Hi Vern people, I just wanted to thank you all again for your true kindness when I was flipping the fuck out and writing about it online the other day. I don’t want to affect a tone of universally-understandable rationality or anything, but I do think it sort of makes sense a person would encounter feelings like that when sleeping outdoors for most of 14 months and in a life without people in it. I genuinely feel the times of accepting how bad things are constitute a greater lack of mental health, but also accepting lousy things is a necessity of human life. I dunno.

    I haven’t felt like my contributions were useful or really welcome here in the past week for whatever reason, so I sat out all of the superhero talk going on.

    Bill and Dreadguac, thank you both very much for the kind funds you sent via PayPal. That brought me to about sixty bucks after fees, which I used to buy one meal of pizza, one of falafel, a number of coffees I paid for using this shitty survey-gets-you-a-fifty-cent-coffee things they hate at the convenience store and enough weed to microdose my way through a week as necessary for, you know, being able to mentally stand sleeping outdoors and the such.

    My apologies to anyone I refunded money to when I felt like I had too much, before during and after deciding not to go to the crazy house.

    I still may try to go back to the state I used to live in and see if a crazy house would admit me for more than just the 72 hour standard in order to get my ruined brain looked at, but that’s a depressing thought, too. I really wish I knew anyone alive where I could show up, sleep on a couch for six hours a night, shower a few times a week and be scarce the rest of the time, other than working at whatever job I got instantly. That’s the only way this sort of thing can get resolved, but the social justice shit firstly and my own impossibility secondly have made it rough.

    I am still having a completely impossible time with how far away jobs, housing, company, social respect, integration, etc all seem. Still, I am better than I was two-weeks-ish ago. Having slept more soundly (even if on a bench, in a dangerous place) was a help with that.

    Bill and Dreadguac, is there anything either of you might like a drawing of to thank you for your kindness? Name me a person or a character from something and I’ll do a nice “head sketch” for you.

    If anybody sent me funds I’d accept them, and spend it on the necessity of brain-normalizing weed (as embarrassing as that is to admit) and occasional groceries – otherwise, the putting around from pantry to pantry thing is not bad.

    If I do going ahead and taking a bus out of state, I’ll let you know about that too.

    I feel really weird announcing the pain of being homeless on a movie message board where I offer nothing but disruption, but I’m still trying.

    It feels terrible and like I’m fleecing the world and completely useless, but a life without any friends in the normal sense or relatives to have no real potential to it.

    I wonder how the hell this is going to end. I remember sitting on a curb six months ago and I remember sitting on a curb two nights ago. I remember fleeing from rain with no hopes of being indoors fourteen months ago, and I remember it the other day. I feel really warped and changed as a person, like nobody could ever relate to what I’m trying to express and that any trying to participate in any conversation is an insanity. If anybody has advice of the “What I’d do in your circumstance WERE it me” (and not “This is what you NEED TO DO and all other options are STUPID”) let me know, I’m all ears.

    Doing things with the free time is essentially impossible because my body has not laid in a normal bed since April of last year, I have hardly showered at all in fourteen months and the only real thought I have is a unhappiness at immersivity of lifestyle. The amount of time I spend attempting simple hygiene, functionality or restoritive process – and the nature of human energy – have it so that even if I were working full-time and commuting a lot, I’d still have about the same amount of energy for my dumbass “extracirricular” activities, namely, drawing. I can’t even watch movies or transcribe things when living like this, and objectively I should be able to.

    It is going to be like this from me until it is not, and either way, I apologize for it at all. I think a better approach to it is possible.

    Real quick, though – who was it in the deleted posts that offered to speak to myself on the phone? Was that Skani? I never thanked yourself directly, and rudely lost sight of who it was during those insane few days. That sort of thing has been happening to me more than I’d like it to, but hopefully I can just get back indoors. Seems unlikely, being middle-aged though.

    Also, CJ, I wanted to say succinctly and with more depth than that communicates that I’m really sorry to hear this has been a rough time for you and your friends over there. I really appreciate your outlook and relate to your way appreciation and hope things are at least a bit better this week.

    I’m not happy with where I am, what I am or how I communicate, but I am happy about the way people have made an effort to myself. I apologize for it being through the internet, and in such a weird context. I am appreciative of this community and hope you all had a nice, enjoyable weekend. Thank you.

  34. A.L.F.
    Thank you. Thank you for being here. Thank you; don’t take that away from us.
    I don’t post much or get into it all but I’ve been here, reading brilliant minds do what they do for over a decade.
    This site has probably been a rock for many of us caught in a storm. I love you, man.

    I love all you kooky cats. You’ve saved me more than once.

  35. Thanks for checking in ALF.

    As a side note I recently stumbled upon your post from a couple of years ago about Tarantino opening up his Criterion Freebie to discover in horror that it’s LOVE STREAMS, and it really cracked me up. Good work.

  36. I’m still happy that you’re around ALF. And don’t worry about me. I’m still fighting energy vampires and a bunch of other things and really feel bad for having to chose priorities when it comes to helping friends, but sadly this is how life works sometimes. That said: never forget that your problems always count and there is nothing shameful about asking for help or just venting about all the shit that you have to deal with.

  37. Good to hear from you, ALF. I don’t need you to go out of your way for any artistic repayment, but if you reeaaallly want to draw something, I do love me some ROM Spaceknight (and I imagine his boxy ol’ head is easy to draw!)

  38. Hi Bill, I’m not having the easiest of times right now, with words or otherwise. Your kindness to myself – despite it being the internet – is extraordinarily decent. Things are not much better, but I’m trying not to be impossible. I write too much and it’s unreadable. This community deserves respect.

    I hope that you enjoy this cover recreation of the second-to-last ROM, #74. I thought I’d recreate a Ditko work, but that would be literally impossible. This one is after the book’s inker, John B***e. Those Ditko ROMs have quite the assortment of inkers. I like the P. Craig Russell ones.

    This is not a deserving response, I can’t think in a way that would be enjoyable or comprehendible to others. Still, your generosity in every sense made a big difference.. Thank you.

  39. https://bashify.io/img/c33f613272bfbc8adc89e6e79cd5fbdf

    Thank you again, your encouraging words, belief in morality and very generous (and understanding) donation have done a lot.

  40. Here is a drawing of Ditko characters that I enjoy thinking about, The Enforcers. I felt you deserved more than just a drawing of ROM.

    Respect to Steve Ditko, Bill Mantlo and yourself.

    Scanned from a Xerox Multifunction Printer (13).jpg — Bashify.io

    View Scanned from a Xerox Multifunction Printer (13).jpg for free at Bashify.io - an image hosting and sharing service

  41. ALF, these are amazing. Thank you. I’m honored.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>