Thursday, January 24, 2008

Up From the Underworld

Heath Ledger's untimely death has people talking about the various symbols that are always put into play from events like this. Adam is digging into the the portents that no one paid attention to in his new piece, "This Joke is Not Funny."

A large part of the success of the Batman franchise is drawn from Alan Moore's seminal graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke. My personal take on B:TKJ was that it was Moore's admirable but not-entirely successful attempt to translate the very powerful musical and iconographic energies of the British band, Killing Joke.

As I've written in the past, Moore's interest in the occult world was probably heavily inspired by the band, who were talking these themes up many years before Moore himself. Killing Joke also wielded an incredibly potent iconographic punch through the work of house designer Mike Cole.

Killing Joke's iconography was ubiquitous in early 80s England. You can see old episodes of shows like The East Enders where characters are chatting in front of their concert posters. No one who saw their most powerful icons flushed them entirely from their subconscious.

The band understood the power of symbols and wielded them with tremendous force, perhaps like no other band before or since. Images like that above confront you and create an indelible impression. Sensitives like Moore were particularly susceptible to this graphic spell.

And of course, the malicious Harlequin was their mascot.

Again, an object lesson in how incredibly potent energies bubble up from the source into the mainstream: Killing Joke unleash a host of very powerful energies into the world which Alan Moore attempts to translate into his own art. The emanations reverberate from the underground to mainstream comics, up into big-budget Hollywood films and then to the tabloids through a terrible tragedy like the untimely death of a brilliant young actor.

Whose sudden death follows three months after that of Killing Joke bassist Paul Raven...

My personal thinking? I'm always extremely careful what kinds of symbols I put in motion, especially those I identify myself with.


  1. Hi Mr. Knowles. I caught the interview you did at the Grassy Knoll a while back; It was great stuff.
    I'd just weeks earlier attempted to start a thread on a message board about superhero comics and predictive programming, for which I was promptly laughed off the board, in that particularly desperate tone of mockery that only 45 year old nerds seem capapable of.
    Anyhow, it seemed like synchronicity to hear you speak to the same subject a short while later.

    This might interest you:

    Have you seen Errol Morris' series FIRST PERSON?
    Each episode features one interesting and sometimes odd individual speaking directly to the camera. One episode, titled THE LITTLE GREY MAN, features a retired CIA operative describing a front they prepared in which they acted as a Hollywood production company, scouting locations ,etc.
    They used a real script, based on Zelazneys' novel LORD OF LIGHT and carted around art direction materials, which were briefly flashed on screen; Big, bright, mystical looking superhero type stuff, clearly drawn by Jack Kirby.
    So the CIA had a relationship with Kirby, wether Kirby knew it or not..

    Thanks for all your work- I plan on ordering your book asap.

  2. Luke, my brother, I feel your pain. Don't bother with that crowd- it's like sowing seed over asphalt. And it was actual synchronicity, so your bravery was rewarded.

    Thank you very much for the tip- I knew there was some doc where the story was explored, but I wasn't quite sure of the title. I will definitely track that down.

    Thanks for checking in.

  3. You're absolutely right. That cover for "Nervous System" with the mirrored tower is really unnerving in some indecipherable way. Powerful stuff, and I love your explanation of how symbols "bubble up" to the mainstream from the underground. True and quite poetic.

    The vocal majority of comic book "fans" are so caught up in the dogma of corporate continuity. But I think your work here on the Secret Sun is a harbinger of a growing subset looking for a more profound relationship with this important medium and iconic characters.

  4. Hi Chris:

    I find the appearance of what seems very much like the Donnie Darko rabbit on one of those album covers extremely interesting.

    Can you shed any light on this?


    P.S Thank you for linking with my site, I appreciate it.

  5. "I find the appearance of what seems very much like the Donnie Darko rabbit on one of those album covers extremely interesting.

    Can you shed any light on this?"

    That's actually a concert poster. It's an incredible disturbing and enigmatic image, I have no idea what it's supposed to be. The designer Mike Cole used to have a site but it seems to be MIA.

    I also recommend KJs 2003 self-titled album for you- the lyrics are unbelievably pointed in so far as conspiracy themes. They are definitely on the same wavelength as a lot of you guys out there.