The Full Lid 22nd February 2019

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Hey you! Welcome to Friday. Welcome to The Full Lid, my weekly look at the pop cultural artefacts that have grabbed my attention. Here's what's in store:


Book Ahoy!
Boulevard of Broken Streams
Content by
We Have Always Been At War With Nostalgia
Signal Boosting
950 Band-Aids
Signing Off
Now, let's open the Lid shall we?

Book Ahoy!

As of this very moment, The PseudoPod Tapes Volume 2: Approach with Caution, is available! Published by Fox Spirit, this is a collection of every outro I did for PseudoPod in 2014. Here are five things you need to know:
  • You don't have to read 50 or so variations of the 'we rely on you to cover our server costs, pay our authors etc' speech. That's been excised. Likewise, no need to worry about reading the Creative Commons licence every time. This is just the essays about the stories, 100% me, no added flavorings.
  • Each essay also has credits for the story it first appeared on. Author, Narrator, Episode Number and Date. That means you can use the podcast as extra content for the book. It's also a deliberate statement; Narrators get credit, because they're so often overlooked and without them we don't exist. That's what we're working towards with Escape Artists: everyone gets paid or everyone gets credited or ideally both. 
  • The cover is by relentlessly talented artist and Tiki mug designer Jonathan 'Atari' Chaffin. He's one of the nicest people I've ever met and has talent for DAYS. Check him out on Horror in Clay.
  • The title comes from the only negative review that the first book got. 'Approach with Caution' was the kiss off line and, while I have no problem with people not liking my work, if you're really going to hand me 'Approach with Caution' on a silver platter then of course I'm going to grab it.
  • I love my day job and the sheer variety of work I get to study and talk about. Check out 'Smells Like Teen Idiot' and 'Meaningful Exchange of Blows' for an idea of just what a broad church horror is.

Massive thanks to Adele, Greg and co at Fox Spirit and Jonathan, Alex and Marguerite at EA (Atari you're one of us and always have been, try and look surprised). We made a book! And here's where you can get it and it's older sibling:
The PseudoPod Tapes Volume 2: Approach with Caution
The PseudoPod Tapes Volume 1: Not The End of the World, Just the End of the Day
Ashley Storrie is great. Go watch her videos.

Boulevard of Broken Streams

Netflix have done what Thanos couldn't; wiped out an entire section of the Marvel universe. It was announced this week that The Punisher is done with season 2 and Jessica Jones with season 3. That will air later this year and be the swan song for a five (and a half) show mini-universe.

My feelings about this are, to mis-quote the best line in the entire Mission: Impossible franchise, complicated.

For a start there's the Rat King of fan speculation and business practice to try and untie. We can all clap as loud as we want, the shows were never going to the Disney streaming platform because that platform has to aim for the widest possible audience. It's also almost certainly what raised the renewal costs for the shows beyond practical.So, rationally, this all makes sense. It's annoying, but it does make sense.

From the fan side of things, much like Netflix cancelling Sense8 the first time, it just looks BAD. From the moment Iron Fist was pulled this was clearly going to happen to the entire stable and, if I'm honest, the one thing that I'm angry about is how disingenuous that's made the last few months seem. It's been clear that the Marvel/Netflix relationship is over for a long time but, because PR is king and honesty an unpaid intern, every question has been answered with a beige wall of PR mush. They were never going to be met with anything else, and as a journalist I know that. As a fan, I know you can only read the same platitudes so many times before you're just waiting for the axe to fall. Five times, it turns out.

Of course everyone is armchair quarterbacking too. Oh Defenders was bad, Iron Fist was hobbled straight out of the gate by its production schedule, The Punisher never got past the right wing fetish elements of the character. Some of these things are true, none of them, in the long run, matter. Because the real job of someone like me, when something like this ends, is to ask one question: 

Was it worth it?


These five desperately weird, brutally violent shows all had slumps but all produced definitive, epochal moments in the lives of their characters. Daredevil not only gave us the best Foggy Nelson ever but rescued Karen Page from an eternity in the sweaty self righteous morass of Frank Miller's shitty writing about women. Jessica Jones gave us the most effective, and affecting, exploration of PTSD and abuse survival I've ever seen, when I could bring myself to watch it. Luke Cage was an extraordinary deep dive into the cultural history of Harlem and had only just begun to explore the challenges facing a working class superhuman of colour. Iron Fist found its feet as an exploration of rage, privilege and white guilt and, ironically, helped accelerate the career of the man who should have been Danny Rand, Lewis TanIt gave us the best Colleen Wing ever too. The Punisher was a clear eyed and broken-nosed exploration of the veteran's burden and grief so vast it becomes both map and territory. Defenders, flawed and overlong as it was, was a genuine and largely successful attempt to do something that had never been done before; throw a bunch of characters who exist separately but live in the same place together to face a threat that defines, and ends, many of their plots.

Not all of it worked. All of it tried. There were more stories to tell and, vague carrot dangling aside, odds are they won't be told. But this version of these characters won't fade, because this stuff never does. Somewhere out there is the next great Daredevil , the next Jessica Jones, the next White Tiger and all the others. The streets are clearing for them and, when it's their turn, they'll step up into the space these shows made, dodge their mistakes, make new ones and leave their mark too. There are a million stories in the streaming city. Some end too soon. But even those never fade away. Because Intellectual Property is just another way to say idea and, like the man said, ideas are bulletproof.

The entirety of Daredevil, The Punisher, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and The Defenders is on Netflix now along with the first two seasons of Jessica Jones. That will be joined by season three later this year.

And of course, here's my Ko-Fi.
Let's start the next section with a little thematically appropriate music, shall we?

We Have Always Been At War With Nostalgia

It's been a weird week in pop culture. We've had, in no particular order:
So there's really two things going on here. The first is the veneration of the past that, tied to the mandatory immortality of successful Intellectual Properties, means that it's always your childhood, it's always your formative years. You can build the bubble of media you want to exist in and do so with relatively little money and time. The good news there is it works. We all need to escape every now and then and if I didn't believe that then the fact I own Escape Artists would be a little weird.

The bad news is, if that's all you do then, to return to a phrase I used a lot last year, you're facing backwards on the rocket. Watching the culture that's finished recede into the distance or, if you try very hard, remain stationary around you. Which is lovely. And finite. And means that you trade the challenge of engaging with modern culture for the largely static culture of the past. Facing backwards, not moving, unaware of what's coming. Eventually you view what's coming as a threat not just to stability but to confidence, self identity and to the blanket of amber you've drawn over yourself. That's how review bombing happens. And harassment. And on a larger circuit, Presidential campaigns. It's why, even though Reitman has walked back his comments and been supported by the director of the 2016 Ghostbusters, it's far too late. His intentions, at this stage, are irrelevant because whatever they are he's opened the door to the worst excesses of fannish extremism. All of whom face backwards on the rocket, and in doing so are either obscuring people with legitimate viewpoints or actively targeting those with differing ones. As starts to a PR campaign go, it's positively Neesonian

The other thing going on here is what always, eventually, happens; The Future. It's taken nine years but the MCU's next flagship character is a woman. There'd never been a western-made afrofuturist superhero blockbuster until Black Panther. LGTBQ+ representation was non-existent in mainstream pop culture until it wasn't. The brave new world never quite renders in all at once, but it's always there, and always here and never quite anywhere fast enough.

And so it's easy to give up. We look at a director, intentionally or not, using dogwhistle phrases to attract the very worst elements of fandom and wonder why we bother. We look at the WWE's frantic attempts to redeem themselves and pander to a tangerine-skinned racist and despair. That future, that constantly shifting, constantly arriving world is replaced by obsessive discussion and assessment of books, shows, films that already exist. A different country yes, but not the one we all travel to. Everything turns in on itself, and, in doing so, becomes smaller, pettier. Cooks with WAY more salt and boils far more things.

So what can we do? The same thing we always do; research! Read round an issue, make informed choices about the culture you support and, as important, the culture you want to interact with. A lot of things are extremely on fire at the moment and you have to choose your escape plan more carefully than ever. No cultural artifact is beloved by everyone (Aside from Bernard Cribbins, obvs) and that's the point. We all like different things, we all solve the same puzzles different ways. And if we're all facing forward on the rocket, we can compare notes and that? That is the BEST PART.

Further Research
Captain Marvel opens in two weeks and I AM MADE OF EXCITEMENT.
Thorsworth will next be seen in Men in Black International and small scale indie movie, Avengers: Endgame
Details of Jason Reitman's astonishingly bad week in the press can be found here
Details of the horrific land war fought against the 2016 Ghostbusters movie in general and Leslie Jones in particular can be found here.

Signal Boosting

The bumpers this week were going to be Gerard Way-tastic before every Umbrella Academy video got taken down. Hopefully they'll be back next week because there is MUCH to talk about there, especially the fdance scenes. In the meantime have this. I'm not saying this is the best music video ever made. I mean, it's not this. I am saying it's Very Good though. And the 'TRUST ME' is the sardonic cherry on the sundae of rage.


The cloud is now the Moon. Project Moonframe turned the Earth's satellite into a colossal offsite backup for the entire history of electronic communication. It's all there. Every text. Every phone call. Every cat meme. Synthetic brain tissue as the ultimate solid state storage. Luna as the ultimate external hard drive.

It's also just been infected by a virus. Astronauts Zack and David have been sent to solve the problem. Doctor Harriet Marks, Zack's wife and the creator of Project Moonframe, is running the operation from Earth. None of them have any idea what they're about to get into.

Scripted by Nick Bryan, with art by Lucas Peverill and letters by DC Hopkins, Moonframe begins as classic space mystery and then takes a far darker turn. Bryan's script, which establishes it's characters and structures effortlessly, has some nasty surprises up its sleeve and reveals them to us at the same pace as the characters. That in turn ramps the tension up as the astronauts struggle to find a solution in an increasingly abstract landscape. The extruded cats are a real highlight and that's not a sentence I ever expected to write. 

Peverill's bright, scratchy style is a great fit for the story. When the Moonframe starts acting up, the pages go full Cronenberg body horror but when the action focuses on the astronauts it's far more subtle and dialed back. Peverill's work focuses Bryan's script and ensures the emotion comes to the surface throughout. It also uses the occasional witty, on-point piece of image reference and manages to portray the Moonframe as something akin to Moonbase Alpha if it had been built in the Mountains of Madness. It's good, expansive stuff that reminded me a lot of the work of Alex Maleev. Hopkins' lettering is the circuitry that holds things together and really gets to cut loose in the second half. There's a great sequence where the Moonframe begins weaponizing people's dataprints which leads to panels being filled with texts. Peverill's art, and Hopkins' lettering give them the exact vast, implacable, heavy and nightmarish feel they need.

Moonframe is great, smart fun. It explores its idea from multiple angles, tells you no lies and is ridiculously well put together. The team behind it is top notch too and I look forward to their next work.

Moonframe, priced £1,99 is available from Comixology now. You can find more about it at Nick's site here.
Killing Eve was an absolute standout last year and season 2 is imminent. Here's the rest of the photoshoot, the trailer and the song from the trailer.

950 Band-Aids

I wrote a version of this on Tuesday which talked, at length about how it feels like I'm being hit with the Thousand Cuts at the moment. Everything from a work for hire piece being recycled by an organization who have pivoted away from what I do to someone deleting a tweet thanking me for signal boosting their work. None of it big by itself but it mounts up. By the time I was watching the sole UK staffer at a site I'd love to work for do a running joke about 'commuting to the office' being a drag when he was sent to New York I was about ready to dust off the circus application form. All of it seemed designed to remind me of two things:
  • I'm an eternal freelancer. Often working, never on staff.
  • I'm an occasional commodity rather than a frequent individual as a result.
Then I took a day off. An actual day off. I didn't write anything instead of staring at a screen not writing enough to meet my impossible standards. It was GREAT. It was also the first one I've taken this year and that's a lesson well and truly learned.

Being honest, some of the stuff from earlier this week still bothers me. But one of the things written on this year's whiteboards is 'EYES ON YOUR OWN PAPER' and it's really helping. I'm trying to do a lot. Sometimes I'm trying to do too much or do the right amount of things all at once. That doesn't work but it's also not a failure. It's just time to stop, re-prioritize, accept the cold that was last year's going away present has slowed me down and start again  I'll get there, with all of it. But this week, getting there means applying some band-aids and progress means slowing down.

Signing Off

We made a whole entire book! Netflix ended a whole entire mini-universe! Pop culture got weird! The Moon got cats! Sort of! Calling it folks, that, right there is a Week.

Follow the Instagram adventures of Team KennerStuart here and listen to our podcasts here. That's the main page which will lead you through to everything else. If you liked what you read, tell a friend, the more the merrier!  if you're feeling generous you can buy me a coffee over here. If you can, please do, this is all written for free.

In the mean time, have fun, make sure you rest (LOOKS STERNLY AT SELF) and I'll see you back here in seven days. Because this?

Is a Full Lid.
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Agathon Towers · Cheapside Road · Reading, Berkshire RG1 7AG · United Kingdom

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