above (left to right)- cover, illustrations by chris mucci, sal farina

Hello, We Alone! Pardon the intrusion, I got in when my friend Michael left the back door open. I'm currently working on a comic book compiled of diverse artworks by friends (including some stills from Michael's Perceptron!). As the back cover of the book is a collaboration between We Alone and me, Michael and Biff thought it deserved a little bit of an explanation here on We Alone. In terms of political discourse, the following write-up could just possibly be of interest, depending on whether or not you stop staring at Glenn Beck. 

fig.A - Big Ups #1 back cover - "Our Hero" (stop staring.)

"Pop culture used to be like LSD – different, eye-opening and reasonably dangerous. It’s now like crack – isolating, wasteful and with no redeeming qualities whatsoever" --Peter Saville

Big Ups is a way of pushing the context of comics. At first its a simple gesture - email your friends, get some really great art together, put it in a hand made book, release a cd with it, and get it out there one way or the other. On the other hand, the simple, do it yourself nature of it all is more political, I think, then saying, outright, "this is a political gesture". The diversity of the art married to the simple fact that "comics are what make you smile" - what does that mean for kids who want to see something different? For us, I think the unexplainable is way more fun then a one-liner telling you where to go. 

This is where we turn to the back cover, featuring a stylish headshot of our hero, Glenn Beck (see fig. A). It's a simple experiment involving an obviously bad political influence (in the sense that he's simply obtuse), transformed into a mandala-like shrine to obfuscation of priority. That's why its going on the back cover, unexplained, utterly beautiful and strange - it represents a 'beyond' of political discourse. The image itself is simply entertaining, but also confusing as hell. The act of fucking with an image of Glenn Beck (or Bill O' Reilly, or Jon Stewart, for that matter) is like burning an effigy that looks nothing like the subject. Plenty of people want to lay into Our Hero for being an idiot, but personally I don't have time to even concern myself with the nonsense that leaves his mouth. In other words, the mere act of transforming a likeness of Glenn Beck into a psychedelic icon/monster is an exercise in political discourse that aims to make political discourse obsolete. It represents the purpose of Big Ups, or anything anyone makes themselves - it demonstrates that we're doing just fine with or without Our Hero.

Peter Saville's apt quip reverse engineers the idea nicely - essentially we are taking crack-like pop culture and turning it into a moderately valuable form of cultural LSD, in that it is different, it is confusing, it is associated with the practice of creating situations for yourself again, rather than having it mindlessly sold to you.
 fig. B - Mr. Peanut/Mr. Penis. 1969 Zap!#4 cover. by Moscoso

 fig. C - Dyke Pirates Rescue Their Captain from the Diabolic Doctors of Dover. Crank Collingwood, ZAP! 1975.

fig. D - MAROOUFAOLLOU! Hank “Elephant Boy” Longcrank. ZAP! 1975.

Underground comics in the sixties and seventies did this all the time - ZAP! for example (see Fig.B), was famous for it, making drug references seem as common as breathing, and featuring horrifyingly(and entertainingly!) detailed graphic scenes of sexual and/or violent natures (Fig.C), or art that was too confusing and gruesome and difficult to be considered acceptable by the mainstream (Fig.D). It was art that sought beauty where others saw filth. It was art for people who got it - anyone who didn't was encouraged to expand their consciousness to do so, or get the fuck out. MAD magazine/National Lampoon were also famous for doing stuff like that, but they also took the more hard-hitting, easy to understand route, making direct parodic shots at political figures, pop culture icons/events, etc. that the mainstream could latch onto more easily. I'm partial to stuff like ZAP! for the very reason that it made no sense whatsoever. It reminds me that life is a little more complicated than following people like Glenn Beck on their journey towards ultimate stupidity.
(note - please see fig. E for the Big Ups back cover's direct inspiration)  
                                                     fig. E - Backcover Comix, Zap 1975


  1. for the record, the back cover of the comic will NOT be an animated gif. while it would be interesting, this isnt the future.

  2. Actually, those of you that got invites to the pre-release of reality 2.0 should be able to experience the rear cover animation, provided you've enabled augmentation. However, the qualia servers are still undergoing some testing and some users have reported that copier toner smells like rotting fish and the sun is slightly more greenish than it ought to be. Rest assured we are working diligently to correct these errors, and recommend that users simply disable augmentation until we've worked out the last few bugs. As always, we are committed to providing out users with the most sanguine subjective experience possible within standard human neural topologies.

  3. How many copies will be printed ? Will those of us remote from Pittsburgh be able to experience the glory and salvation ? Are you prepared to suffer the consequences of announcing your publication to the Internet ?

  4. critics are calling it "profoundly nauseating"

  5. Anonymous5.10.10

    When politics has devolved into a bizarre parody of fiction, the only appropriate course of action is to realize reality _is_ fiction, and to reconstruct a more orderly state of affairs on top of the ruins of the old culture. Irreverence and systematic reappropriation of influential, insane, and idiotic public figures, is the most appropriate reaction. Thus : Stephen Colbert.

    Obama is the most credible politican in the past 20 years, and 25% of Americans think that he's not a citizen/a sekrit muslim. Kerry, a decorated war hero, is a coward. Bush, the ivy league millionaire, is an average joe. If somebody told you in 2002 that that the 2010 republican candidate for senate in Delaware would be putting out ads denying that she is a witch, you would call them crazy, and yet, Christine O'Donnell is doing just that. We have entered the realm of hyperreal politics, where there is no longer any causal relationship between what politicans say, what the government does, and what actually happens.

    and yes, I am still staring at Glenn Beck.

  6. Imagine a technicolored boot stamping on a tie-dyed human face - forever.

  7. Psychedelic Glenn Beck is hilarifying, and has stolen part of my soul. I'll be wanting that back thank you. You can send it with my copy of Big Ups. (how do we get a copy of Big Ups?)

  8. Big Ups is going to print very soon (within the next two weeks). Once we have some copies made, theyll go up on Etsy and you can get your soul back there. and yes i was incorrect about the back cover not being animated. Our Head of Augmented Reality has informed me that the servers have been upgraded and that the animation will be online as soon as you come out from under the covers.

  9. I can't look away from Glenn, I never thought that was possible.