Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Annotated Sons of God: preface

Well boys and girls, as we warned you, here now is some good old-school blogging: a step by step walkthrough of the book, just for the sake of it! We'll put out a new installment every month or so for each of the 11 chapters in the book:


“Sons of God” is a trademark of Bathtub Comics, copyright 2016.
These annotations are copyright 2016 by Ioannes Patrem, and they are styled after the definitive work of this type, “The Annotated Watchmen”, by Doug Atkinson (copyright 1995). Please check it out online at It is a brilliant work that I never tire of rereading. It is my hope for this text to be a similar “companion piece” to our comic book, and that maybe it will make the story more fun for the reader.
Disclaimer: Now right at the top, let me first say that I am fully aware of just how very Zimsky1 I’m being here: writing down all these sources and inspirations and references for… well, for posterity. Theyah! Now, on to the notes…

Certain notes are true for each issue:
Each issue was created by the son/father team of Iosephus Filius and Ioannes Patrem: our latin pseudonyms. As with many jokes throughout the book, we tried to go back to biblical era languages, terms, measurements, etc. We tried to be grammatically accurate, but readers will surely find incorrect latin declensions, badly drawn Aramaic words, and misspelled Hebrew phrases. For example, “Iosephus Filius” is latin for “Joseph the son”, while “Ioannes Patrem” would be “John the father”. Why did we use the accusative case patrem instead of the nominative case? I do not know, go ask your pater. Astute readers will note that in issue 1 we went with ars et fabula (art and words) filius et pater (father and son). In issue 2 we tried fabela et picturae (story and pictures) Ioannes et Iosephus. And in issue 3, we even tried the ablative case patre et fīliō (from the father and from the son). So from issue 3 on, we settled on the much easier story and art by JP2.
Each issue is based on one deadly virtue and deadly vice: Issues 1, 2, and 3 are built around the first deadly virtue, chastity (and its corresponding deadly vice lust). We kept a slogan around for each vice in our notes, but did not put them in the comics (to let people try to discover the deadly virtue motif on their own). The unwritten slogan for this virtue is “Chastity begins in the home” (referring to the sexual abuse of children by relatives and clergy, as will be explained later in issues 1 through 3).
Each issue also features a color scheme based on one of the “seven deadly virtues” (and also on the seven deadly sins). The palette is based on the generally agreed-upon color associated with each virtue and vice: in issue 1, the first deadly virtue is teased on the cover, in the dead man’s sign. He was asking for “charity”, but we can see that someone has changed the letters to “Chastity” written in blood (this will be explained later in the issue). In each issue, the color scheme is predominantly featured on the front and back covers, but also to a lesser degree throughout.  For Issue 1, lust is associated with the colors red and blue, and chastity with white.
Each issue features an animal that is associated with one of the deadly sins. We try to have the animal appear both on the cover, and in the issue. For issue 1, the animal is the cow (which will also come back again in later echoes of the slaughterhouse in issue 0 and issue…)
Each issue features the logo “Sons of God”:  each month one of the 9 letters is replaced by the symbol of a world religion. On issue 1, the first two letters S and O are drawn as a serpent on a tree or cross, and as a star in a circle: the caduceus is used as a symbol of alchemical mysticism and cosmic Christianity (as in “Moses and the Brazen Serpent”) and the pentacle is a symbol of Satan, as opposed to the inverted pentagram). Each issue we morphed one more letter into a religious symbol. The next two covers (for issues 2 and 3) also represent the two main antagonists (Jesus and Satan, i.e. Jesse and Stan) this time with the symbols the alpha and the omega (but as you’ll see, the point of the whole story is which one is which: who is the savior, who is the force of destruction). When we first showed the comic to people on internet sites, some people misread the logo and we thought it was pretty funny, so on issue 11 the letters were changed to the mondegreen version: “Tons of Goo”…)
Of note, three issues (issue 9, 10, and 11) also have variant covers called “Top Shelf Comics” variant covers, in honor of our awesome local comic book store which has supported Jojo since the very beginning when he was 11, and which sells our comic books in the store. We also bring Top Shelf free comic book day comics sometimes and Jeff and Chris and everyone have been a terrific introduction to the comic book community.
Each issue also features an old silver age style Month, Issue number, and Price box, hand drawn: I’ve always hated how people make things $3.99 to look cheaper: so we proudly made all the prices 400 cents.
Each issue also includes a silver age era comics code seal of approval, only slightly modified for such a pious and reverent project as this. It seems characteristic of holier than thou people in charge, from the churches to the senators and committee members, to have a slogan like ours: “apropos of some Higher Authority” with the flying H.A. replacing the C.A.
Each issue also includes the Bathtub Comics logo: another moment of pure kid inspiration. After drawing some T-man comics, Jojo made a cover page for the story (“the only hero with the power of television…”) and out of nowhere, two versions of the Bathtub logo appeared (I have to find the other one somewhere…)  I still have no idea where he came up with it. You can see he drew it with a mouse on our old bundled photoshop elements when he was 11 or 12.
Each issue has a themed title, usually chosen for its dramatic import, but also teasing the action to come (literally or in an ironic sense). For example, the theme of issue 1 is “sons of god: captains of industry, heroes of old, children of the mighty”. This is the modern definition of the phrase “Sons of God”, since the story is nominally about the Corporation that has a controlling interest in Earth. As we see on the front inner sleeve, there is also a biblical definition of a son of god: “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown,” (Genesis 6:4).
And just a brief digression here, yes, the “Sons of God” are all male: I felt the need to perpetuate this insanity, from the bible having all male angels all the way to today with everyone’s hero Pope Francis stating that women will probably never be ordained as priests. (Does God or the pope have an explanation why Angels are exclusively male in the Bible? Michael, Gabriel, Lucifer, and several unnamed male angels referred to exclusively in the masculine. Weird, huh?
·         Judges 13:21, "Now the angel of the LORD appeared no more to Manoah or his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the LORD."
·         1 Chronicles 21:27, "The Lord commanded the angel, and he put his sword back in its sheath."
·         Zechariah 1:19, "So I said to the angel who was speaking with me, “What are these?” And he answered me, “These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem."
·         Revelation 14:17, "And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle."
And even our most progressive and seemingly unbiased reference sources today are ridiculously biased:  “Only 15.5 percent of the 1,445,021 biographies on the English Wikipedia were about women as of January 2015.” This, from Wikipedia’s own pages about gender bias…  and )
(But don’t you worry, we may have a little surprise for everyone who buys this male-supremacy crap before the end comes (say around issue 10…)

So, What's The Comic About?

it's a little hard to say, exactly...
Here is the original idea: when you see a leaf skittle down the street, it’s really a child’s hat that’s blowing away. (that's just how we thought of it, the spirit of it... fantastic, odd stories)

And we wanted to always remind our readers each episode that the villain's job is to awaken heroes. But which ones are the heroes and which are the villains…
Here's another description: The “Sons of God” are an unknowable shadow corporation, with residence in the most exclusive penthouse apartment in the modern world: on the very doorstep of the fallen World Trade Center. It is whispered that this organization is planning a hostile takeover, and means to evict the current tenants of this their largest property (Earth!) to clear the parcel for their own private use. The Board of “The Kingdom” consider themselves “Sons of God”, a phrase which may mean “Captains of Industry”, but might connote actual deities… But how to destroy all civilization, and every living creature therein in a suitable manner? Turns out the Jehovah’s Witnesses have had such a contingency built into their doctrine all along:
According to Jehovah’s Witness teaching, the final Battle of End Times has been prophesied to begin on October 2nd. Exactly 100 years ago, Brother Charles Taze Russell announced to the flock that “the Gentile Times have ended; their kings have had their day.” On that day, Oct 2 1914, Jehovah crowned his Son, Jesus Christ, as the Messianic King, to rule from heaven for 100 years.  The prayer “let thy kingdom come!” (Matthew 6:10) is actually to invoke the great tribulation, the War of Armageddon, to destroy dark Babylon on Earth. If Satan is defeated, it will mark a 1000-year paradise on earth: all that’s needed is the right “push” to begin the Apocalypse. That knowledge lies hidden in 7 forbidden editions of the King James Bibles from the year 1611! And only one man, a tortured, confused Jehovah’s colporteur knows where to find them!

there... cleared that all up! Now back to our story… where were we…? Oh yeah_ at the beginning:

Collected Comic Book (Graphic Novel):
Front Cover: Here we see the fictional (we think…) cloistered European convent of the Sister Servants of the Most Holy Meerungeheuer (German for sea-monster), and their leader Sister Mary Todesengele Blutsauger (Death-Angel Blood-sucker), SCS (Sisters of Chastity) founder and leader of the order of S.C.U.M. “Sisters for cutting up molesters…” a secretive fringe group of ultra-conservative fundamentalist medieval theological vigilantes… We’ll meet Sister Mary TB close up and personal in just a few pages, don’t worry…
Front Inner Sleeve: On the graphic novel’s front inner sleeve, the sisters are all waiting on a bus stop in their horrifying “Hostel” style eastern European country, wearing their ruby slippers, and in my head I heard the Monkees’ theme song… the “table of convents” shows the beginning of each issue as they were first printed, and includes the deadly virtue associated with each issue, along with that virtue’s slogan.
Back Inner Sleeve: This is the next line in the pre-fab four’s TV theme song: “You never know where we’ll be found, so you better get ready…” We can see that this bus bears the comic’s insignia of “A Higher Authority”, and the destination is “New Jerusalem”: literally, they are headed for the Apocalyptic End Times (which they hope to help bring about): this refers to the New Jerusalem of Revelation chapter 21 (so after the 1000 years). The license “Bene Elohim” means “Sons of God”. As we see, the driver, unfortunately, will not be making it to the New Jerusalem, and one of the nuns, in leech form, has taken the wheel.
Back Cover: This completes the lyric: “We may be coming to your town…” and in fact, the nuns have arrived in our town: Bangor. This is Stephen King’s house, and the real-life Bangor monster Bob Carlson lurking in the sewer system, in the manner Stephen King’s meta-evil clown Pennywise. Now, the sewer grate Stephen was inspired by is just a couple of blocks away at the corner of Jackson and Union street
And he has no sewer grate at his home. But… Bangor did have a real life Pennywise, until 2011: dressed not as a clown, but as a priest, and his name was Bob Carlson (he appears in issue 1 as Carl Bobson) and he was infinitely more evil and dangerous than any pan-dimensional entity: this guy used his position to get access to little boys, and he ingratiated himself with groups all over the city, with police, college, hospital and prison officials. He used insinuate himself into official ceremonies all over town, such as the funerals of prominent Bangoreans, and he would pop up as the main celebrant or master of ceremonies… people loved him, thought he was the greatest thing since sliced unleavened bread. When he was finally found out (when one former victim threatened to reveal Carlson’s true character to the world), Carlson jumped off the new Penobscot Narrows bridge to his death (in November of 2011). But his false persona, just like his fake theological credentials, are still slowly haunting his victims, and the whole town. ( ).
The blurbs on the back cover are from another clergyman, Pope Francis, who is lauded in the lay news, on talk shows, radio, tv, papers, internet, and who is adored, in my book, WAAYYY out of proportion to the good he actually does. He says a few nice, polite things about gay people or women, and everybody fawns all over him. Remember, this is the guy that just came out and said women will probably never be ordained priests in the catholic church? The guy who says children should not be brought up in same sex households? Who won’t condemn the killings of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists? He says a few sweet words which mimic progressive ideas, but then steadfastly sticks with all old school doctrine, from birth control to rejecting transgender people (we must embrace our “femininity or masculinity,” accept “our bodies as God’s gift,” and stop trying to “cancel out sexual differences”.

well anyway, it turns out the Pope has at least 20 official titles. Most of the titles printed on the back cover are from the official Vatican papal web presence. (Only two of these titles on the cover may have been elaborations on my part, see if you can tell which…)  the “123rd Equus asinus Detachment, serial number M52519” is the actual assignment and serial number of “Francis the Talking Mule” from the 1950 movie with Donald O’connor. Nuff said… The last blurb is the unofficial catch phrase of Stan, (and of the whole series): “Things is about to get weird” (or “things is gonna get weird”). 

end of first installment... to be continued!

1) from IMdB Quotes “2003 “The Core” Dr. Conrad Zimsky: [trapped in a compartment of Virgil with a nuclear bomb set to detonate; recording himself for posterity] For here, in the great unknowable, man can come to know the most important thing of all - himself. He can understand...
[trails off]
Dr. Conrad Zimsky: What the $^#$ am I doing?
[begins laughing hysterically; the nuclear bomb explodes]

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