Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Annotated Sons of God: Issue 1

Issue 1 Sons of God, Captains of Industry, Heroes of Old…

Deadly Virtue I (for #1, #2, & #3 story arc): chastity (converse sin: lust)  slogan: “Chastity begins in the home…”   
animal cow 
colors: blue (and/or red)     
Disclaimer: disclaimer: this is a work of fiction_ any resemblance to persons living, dead, or other is completely  inexplicable...
it’s all made up anyway_ isn’t it?  all manufactured... all characters & art copyright bathtub comics, September 2013”

Front Cover: The front cover of issue 1 was meant to inspire a sense of mystery and adventure and horror: the reader may be surprised to learn that I was educated by catholic nuns up through 7th grade (then by Christian Brothers for my last 2 years of High School). Guess I wasn’t too traumatized… In this Chicago back alley, we see Sister Mary TB; what she is holding in her little purple velour sack will become apparent in a few pages. Several leech monsters are scurrying down the wall towards their yummy victim (we’ll find out about the nuns transforming into leech monsters towards the end of issue 1). On the brick wall, we see two pieces of graffiti: “ax hacx” and a drawing of a lamb. “Ax Hacx” is seen throughout the book in various backgrounds, as tattoos, on ties, etc. It is the Aramaic transliteration of “Sons of God” and it is a way for them to mark their territory without arousing any suspicions. (it is however written from right to left in Hebrew and Aramaic, but it is just the anglicized version of the original alphabet and spelling, and is meant to be in altered/adulterated

form. Alef, lamed, yod, mem are in recognizable Aramaic, but in bene (bet, nun, yod) bet and nun are pushed close together and look like an x or another alef)
The lamb is the symbol of Jesus, but it is always a conflicting image throughout the book: more closely associated with an innocent about to be slaughtered than with Jesus Christ. The victim was begging for “charity”, but someone has altered his sign to read “Chastity”, with the letters “ST” written in his blood: we will see that she is punishing him for sexual crimes.
            Front Inner Sleeve: On the front inner sleeve of issue 1, we see the same alley scene in Frank Miller style black and white. Jojo tried every idea and style that popped into his head each month; our friend the great artist Max Leon told him way back at the beginning not to let people pigeon-hole him into one way of doing things and he took that to heart. (although, Jojo has always been a next-level inker, even WAY back here when he was just 11 or 12) This page features the theme for this issue: “Sons of God, captains of industry, heroes of old, children of the mighty…” and it teases the first deadly virtue (hint: it’s NOT charity…) This also features the first biblical quotes: we tried to reproduce biblical quotes as accurately as possible, even stating the version of the translation wherever possible. I wanted to give the bible’s authors full credit: it’s just not possible to make up shit this crazy.
(I would be remiss if I did not also credit the excellent movie “Prophecy III” for reinforcing this Nephilim mythology: it is one of my favorites, and the little boy in our story takes his name and insignia from that movie…)
(Also, It will be some time in the book before we get to the modern definition of Sons of God that this story is based on: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first description of the hero of The Great Gatsby, so here it is now, in preview: He was a son of God — a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that — and he must be about His Father’s business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty.” )
Issue 1, page1 this is a composite made-up area: it is based on “Back of the Yards”: worker/immigrant housing for the slaughterhouse workers. This is Dany’s “house”, underneath a slaughterhouse (why are there still any cows in there when they were abandoned in the 70’s…? It’s a ghost thing: those who don’t realize they are already dead (Wait or issue 0…) and whose footsteps are we following he? And who is following them? We’ll see these prints a few more times: they’re Stan’s, and Dany finds them and he follows them into town (past the ghost cows). Later we’ll also see these prints in issue 4, but if you look closely, you’ll see Dany’s little footprints following them, then coming back home, and Derek Frost’s barefoot four-toed footprints tracing them back Dany’s house. You can see “S of G” on an abandoned shop building. We also have the first disclaimer: “this is a work of fiction_ any resemblance to persons living, dead, or other is completely  inexplicable...”
 and then another recurring theme: “It’s all made up anyway, isn’t it? All manufactured?”
Page 2: Chicago theater, still following stan’s footprints to the alley.  The path he walks along S Archer from “Back of the Yards” neighborhood (Dany’s abandoned house and the old slaughterhouses) maybe along e. Lake, or N. State st., past the Chicago theater, then up E. Upper Wacker dr or N. Michigan towards the Du Sable Bridge. (It’s weird how many things have changed since we made this back in 2013: new stores, new backgrounds, etc.) He eventually stops in some alley like n. garland court or e Benton pl.
“SONS OF GOD SOLD OUT” a little joke, they sold out, sold their souls. And the time is “6am, valentine’s day, feb 14th…” this has always bothered me: valentine’s day was on Thursday in 2013 (when we started the book) but I think it should have been Tuesday (for 2014!) we’ll see… This features another recurring theme, in these awful political times: if you repeat something often enough, and with enough insistence, it begins to sound more true each time.

An actual ghost filmed by Google maps, on Michigan ave…

Page 3: panel1: this is the first of many times going to this alley: the boy is following footprints (which turn out to be Stan’s). the garbage truck symbolizes the meaninglessness of life: “One man’s garbage…” and we’ll see it again too.the Illinois license says “Repent, the end is here” (of course…) with a bunch of Chicago truisms (which, existentially, cannot be disputed, because they are truisms…)
Panel 2: more truisms about childhood, and the famous Chicago parent’s threat: “Be good, or you’re going to Dunning!” We’ll learn a lot more about Dunning, Chicago’s most infamous Insane Asylum, in issue 6. I like Sister Mary Todesengele Blutsauger’s voice: nuns are scary that way… (I’ll call her Sister Mary Leech-monster, Angel of Death from here on: it’s easier…) Note Dany’s cubs hat and green Lamb of God jacket.
Panel 3: this is from Curious George and the Bunny: “George looked and looked, but the bunny was gone. All the fun was gone too.” It seemed pretty creepy to have the little boy realize this was NOT a fun adventure.
Page 4: panel1: This is our first look at Carl Bobson: a true-life monster more evil than any I could invent:  as I said above, Bob Carlson 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: police, college, hospital and prison officials, women’s groups. 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… I’ve seen him pop up at the podium and take the microphone when you’d least expect him, and 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. this scene is, of course, from the Godfather: Sal Tessio asking Tommy Hagen to get him off the hook (“Can’t do it, Sally…”) Panel 2: Bobson begging for mercy, trying to get himself pardoned, starts babbling Mark Ch 5 verse 38 as fast as he can… to no avail
Page 5: panel 1 “Shh, now don’t make such a fuss…”, a line that will come back later… based on that awful scene at the end of Saving Private Ryan, where the Waffen soldier kills Mellish: "Give up. You don't have a chance. Let's just end it. It's easier for you, much easier. You'll see, it will soon be over" in German:"Gib auf. Du hast keine Chance. Lass es uns beenden. Es ist einfacher für dich, viel einfacher. Du wirst sehen, es ist gleich vorbei".
Panel 2: This is how I remember the sign of the cross from catholic school: up-down-left-right. The Charity sign is a fake-out: he is asking for alms (for the poor), but the real first deadly virtue here, is “Chastity”: we’ll see that she changes the sign, writing “ST” over the “R” in Bobson’s own blood (priests sexually abusing children entrusted to them should have its own circle of hell…) behind them, we have our first look at the “Ax Hacx” grafitti, and the Lamb: the sons of god marking (or “tagging”) their territory.  We see her sisters, changing into leech-monster form, and also the nun’s jaunty foot-wear: ruby slippers, of course! She is holding a purple velour bag containing Bobson’s heart.
Page 6: Panel 1: Sister Mary Leech-monster was expecting the boy to wander in! (How could that be?) (the leeches are each dissolving a finger)
Panel 2: also the first of MANY subversive prayers: “When things are at their darkest, you never know if your prayers are actually being answered…”
Panel 3: Don’t worry, the horror ends now…” which actually means “Don’t worry, the real horror is just about to start now…”
Page 7: Dany was having bad dreams and really couldn’t sleep: we’ll see why next issue. (the latin words are my favorite incantations from Poulenc’s Gloria.)
Page 8: panel 1 the DuSable bridge (aka the Michigan Avenue Bridge), a 100 year old marvel of engineering. (again with the “If you repeat that often enough it sounds true” theme…) This is a view from inside the McCormick bridgehouse and Chicago river museum.
Panel 2: we’ll learn the great creature’s name soon. You can see the little leeches coming to the bridge, then changing back into nuns.
Page 9: this is how I pictured the leech nuns would speak (not like humans…) And Sister Mary Leech monster always uses old latin/English spellings (for foetus, daemon, paedophile, etc. )
Page 10: panel 1 who could be making their way through this crowd o nuns, on a frigid early morning on an abandoned bridge? This is based on Bugs Bunny’s “Hare Do” where bugs keeps climbing over all the patrons in a movie theatre showing “Anthony Adverse” “Scuse me, pahdon me, beg your pahdon…” the leech monsters are now seen from behind, so their words are backwards: “Fulfill your destiny, you worthless, whey-faced minnow!” “Feed him, you dogfish!” “Drop it in!” “We love you”. Then we have more reverse-engineered prayers (self-fulfilling negative prophecies…)
Panel 2: we see the bear cub on Dany’s hat is also terrified now. Sister Mary Child Abuse is a take-off on Cheech and Chong’s “Sister Mary Elephant”.
Page 11: the 3 little words? You have to remember back to May of 2013, when Kai, real name Caleb Lawrence McGillvary) the “hatchet wielding hitchhiker” or the “home-free hitchhiker”, was all the rage: appearing on every channel, getting gifts from Jimmy Kimmel, etc. It was all so funny and cool… until it wasn’t: well, here come those famous 3 words: “Smash…
Page 12: panel 1 “Smash…” (by the way, this is a Stanley steel camp-axe or hatchet, with a black rubber handle-grip)
Panel 2: Smmmmaaash! This is our first look at our hero, Stan! Ever present red sweatshirt/hoodie, ax, and red converse all-stars (with upside-down pentagram stars for ankle insignias.) “Smash Smash SMMMMASH” was, of course, Kai the Homefree Hitchiker’s viral catch-phrase: people carelessly lionized him, canonized him, and took advantage of him. They put him all over the internet, facebook, etc. when it was plainly obvious that this young man had serious mental health issues himself and should not have been turned into a star or a media-darling. We heavily criticize the media here and in later issues, as well as ourselves for our voracious appetite for “the next viral thing”. You can see Stan wearing his red hoodie, like Kai wore, but instead of a Fox racing insignia, it is a Wolf (the wolf and the lamb are recurrent character themes throughout the series…) The logo is a tribute to Joss Whedon’s “Angel” series: Wolf, Ram, and Me (ooooh, what a giveaway…)
Back inside sleeve: It is possible that Stan may a little like a famous actor of the era, known for making Faustian deals on Madison Avenue…  Several characters are based on the spirit or aura of famous personalities of 2013/2014. Also a tip-off to the era, Stan is the first (and only) comic book hero to wear Google Glass. I thought it was going to take off, but somehow, people started legislating against Google Glass almost from the start. I’ve tried them on, and they are SUPER cool and advanced. The main question was: how do comic books get all these amazing scenes of battles and monsters and super dramatic goings on? We wondered, why not have a character recording everything on his Google Glass, then we have a rational explanation for these 1st hand images (although it becomes apparent immediately, that Stan always has his own agenda and only releases what suits him…) Another clue in this image? “Pleased to meet you…” I hope you’ve guessed his name… Also, “You were expecting maybe…” was a running gag with two of my heroes: Bugs Bunny (you were expecting maybe the easter bunny? Humphrey Bogart? Etc.), and Bullwinkle J. Moose (“You were expecting maybe John Philip Sousa?”) it seemed too predictable, boring, and easy to say “Some heroes are born, some are made”, or to quote Shakespeare: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em.” This slogan fits Stan much better… “Some are neither born, nor made…” 
P.S. I can’t quite remember what the tiny little hidden words are JOjo wrote in the lower left red corner, but I’ll ask him… update 7 17:oh! I penciled that page: He thought he saw words in the corner so he inked them: he thought it said OK a-lias or OK elias… YAY! Mystery finally solv-ed!

Back Cover: I love how you can still see the rims on her eyes even when the little leech takes her glasses… This was back in a very serious “Spawn” phase for Jojo, and the early Spawn’s used to give out posters, etc.

Disclaimer: I am fully aware of just how Zimsky this is: writing down all these sources and inspirations and references for… well, for posterity. Theyah!

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