starwolf_oakley: (Default)
[personal profile] starwolf_oakley posting in [community profile] scans_daily

In PREACHER: THE STORY OF YOU-KNOW-WHO, Garth Ennis gave the origin story of Arseface. It is one of the few elements of PREACHER that date the series. (Another: In PREACHER #31, a flashback of Jesse shows he got to see Bill Hicks perform live and talk to him in person.) If they ever get around to adapting PREACHER as a movie or cable series, Arseface's origin will have to be updated, unless the movie/series is actually set in the mid to late 1990s.
In a very weird way, the Arseface origin story appears to be Garth Ennis' take on Dan Savage's "It Gets Better Project" about 15 years before the "It Gets Beter Project."
11 pages of a 50 page story after the cut. Garth Ennis wrote it, so the F-word and other curses are used a lot. The art is by Richard Case.

Sheriff Root's son, a high school student in a small Texas town, has a rough life. His alcoholic mother ignores him and his redneck father hates him (everyone else in town gets to brag about their sons except him). His classmates hate him because they hate Sheriff Root, and they can't beat up the Sheriff. The few joys in the Root Boy's (first name unrevealed) life are his friend "Pube" (real name Craig) and listening to rock music, especially Nirvana. Pube's older sister Catherine explains that Craig was chronically shy before he started smoking pot, and that he is just charismatic enough to be charming.

The Root Boy's life gets more desperate. Then in April of 1994, Kurt Cobain kills himself. A few of the Root Boy's classmates make some snarky remarks and cruel impression of Cobain.

Nobody had any conspiracy theories about Courtney Love hiring a hitman yet.

Um, what?

So they do. Or more specifically, Pube does. The Root Boy (maybe more out of shock/horror over seeing his best friend die than anything else) attempts to do so. But...

In "Preacher: Gone To Texas," Arseface "says" that Sheriff Root hadn't spoken to him since the night he shot himself. And that's what Sheriff Root said. Sheesh.

Catherine probably wants to ask Craig/Pube, but Craig isn't there and the Root Boy is.

And here's Ennis' take on It Gets Better:

So, the Root Boy's real problem was that he should have been tougher? I'm not sure if anyone who participates in the It Gets Better Project is going to do this. Although a few have said "It doesn't really get better, but you get used to it."

In the last panel, one of three things happen:
1. The Root Boy makes a genuine choice to turn his life around.
2. The Root Boy suffers a psychotic break from reality and no one notices.
3. The shotgun pellets damaged his frontal lobe and basically lobotomized the Root Boy, drastically altering his personality.
Knowing Garth Ennis, it could very well be all three at once.

If I was going to adapt PREACHER for a movie series or TV series, Arseface would be the sole survivor of a school shooting (but not one of the shooters). Or it could be updated by revealing the Root Boy actually *was* gay (but still a virgin) not realizing the people who called him various hateful names *didn't* think he was gay. The suicide of an early 90s rock icon dates everything too much. A rural gay kid trying to kill himself to escape constant bullying is tragically timeless.

While it is a great series and an impressive use of the comic book medium by Ennis, Steve Dillon and all the other PREACHER artists, I'm not sure if I'm much of a PREACHER fan. Ennis just wanted to attack Christianity in every way he could think of and get DC to pay him for it. And many fans, critics and professionals loved the series for it.

These days, Ennis writes THE BOYS, which I *think* is about Ennis attacking superhero comics in any way he can think of and getting paid for it, but I could be wrong.

Date: 2011-10-02 05:15 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
Actually, it was more about those kids who shot themselves over, well their own problems really but supposedly over Judas Priest. One of them survived and he was pretty much just like Arseface. There's a documentary called DREAM DECEIVERS all about it. Garth Ennis couldn't think of a stupider way to die so he created Arseface.

And I have always loved this, probably the best single story to have come out of PREACHER. Case is/was an amazing artist that doesn't get his due.

Date: 2011-10-03 02:11 am (UTC)
halloweenjack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] halloweenjack
Yes, the inspiration for Arseface was James Vance--his family sued Judas Priest after he died of complications resulting from his suicide attempt (there's a picture of him here--warning, not for the faint of stomach). Some of the band testified at the trial, including Rob Halford, who pointed out that, if they were going to put subliminal messages in their music, it would probably be "buy more Judas Priest records."

Date: 2011-10-03 05:46 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
All true except that the lawsuit began before his last(successful) suicide attempt.

I like the IT GETS BETTER project, btw, but I would point out that it's oversimplifying bullying, because bullying doesn't only happen to gay kids. It happened to me for at least 5 years straight and it had nothing to do about being, or being labeled, gay. I was just a shy bookworm, that was enough. (and the only middle-class kid in a school of rich preppy bastards I was sent to because my parents didn't want to put me in a public school with black kids, thanks Mom & Dad! Argh) And it scarred me for life. And that's a mild case by comparison to some--like the disabled kid, who was bullied for being disabled, who recently killed himself. It fucked me up badly enough. I can only imagine worse.

Bullying causes serious harm no matter whether you're gay or not.

Date: 2011-10-03 02:30 pm (UTC)
filthysize: (Default)
From: [personal profile] filthysize
I don't think they ever mean to imply that only gay kids get bullied, but it did start out singling out gay bullying because there are aspects of that issue that's unique to the situation, where the usual anti-bullying rhetoric don't get through to the suicidal gay kids.

To hear Dan Savage talk about it, he pointed out that a lot of bullying prevention talks center around seeking outside help and encouraging kids to talk about their problems with an adult: either their parents, teachers or spiritual leaders. When the White House had that anti-bullying conference, that was 90% of the advice being thrown out by these adults. It annoyed Savage because, as he'd pointed out, for a lot of gay kids, it's actually the parents and their religious leaders who are doing the bullying.

Date: 2011-10-02 05:17 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] darkknightjrk
I don't think I read this segment recently since the It Gets Better project, but I can definitely see that working--as well as making Arseface gay in an adaptation. Though that's the least of that series dated nature--Herr Starr's sect having them take full control in junction with Y2K is, I think.

As for Preacher being "just Ennis' way of attacking Christianity and getting away with it"...while I don't doubt that there's a bit of that, I think Ennis also wanted to do a modern day take on the western, and basically planting a guy who is an old-school cowboy in the politically correct era of the 90s.

Date: 2011-10-02 05:34 am (UTC)
stolisomancer: (mmm soda)
From: [personal profile] stolisomancer
Arseface is probably my least favorite part of the entirety of Preacher, but I was 16 in 1994, and his origin story has always been reasonably believable for me. I'm always going to remember a picture in the paper from one of the vigils after Cobain's death, featuring a girl who'd cut his name into her arm with a razor blade.

Preacher... I'd go so far as to say that it's an attack on God more than an attack on Christianity. It's actually many things at once - societal commentary, a modern-day Western, an attack on racism, a black comedy, a deeply vulgar comedy - but Christianity itself, normal everyday Christianity and Christians, never really appear in the book at all.

As for The Boys, it's a weird book and I'm looking forward to its conclusion so I can sit down and read it through all at once. It definitely started as an attempt to court controversy by mocking superhero comics, but like Preacher, it's impossible to summarize simply, and I really do get the impression that Ennis intended it to go somewhere other than where it currently is.

Date: 2011-10-02 04:30 pm (UTC)
filthysize: (Default)
From: [personal profile] filthysize
There's a common thread between the two books. Actually, the one thing that runs through a lot of Ennis' work is his hatred of authority figures who try to police others. This translates to politicians and religious leaders, and his view of superheroes are the same, and that's how he depicts them in The Boys. He finds what these people represent to be hypocritical and fascistic.

You can kinda understand why he loves America so much and decided to live here, after growing up in Ireland amidst pointless religious and political strife.

To me, Preacher, above all else, is his love letter to the American ideal of individual freedom and going against people who try to tell you who you are or should be--which is why Jesse Custer is the embodiment of an inbetween; he's neither an agent of hell or heaven, he walks his own path.

Date: 2011-10-02 11:33 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] whitesycamore
You can kinda understand why he loves America so much and decided to live here, after growing up in Ireland amidst pointless religious and political strife.

Yes, thank goodness there is no pointless religious and political strife in America.

Date: 2011-10-03 12:07 am (UTC)
stolisomancer: (akiyama)
From: [personal profile] stolisomancer
We have our differences and a history of acrimonious conflict, but we sure as hell aren't 1980s Belfast.

Date: 2011-10-03 05:40 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson

Date: 2011-10-03 06:36 am (UTC)
zukahnaut: (Default)
From: [personal profile] zukahnaut
They'd kind of have to set any adaptation in the mid-to-late 90s, wouldn't they? Other than Arseface's origin and Jesse having a drink with Bill Hicks, there was also that little matter of the Grail's big plan for January 1, 2000. And Herr Starr's different plan for the same date.

Also, as someone else already pointed out, Preacher was pretty up-front about its theme, and it was much more "tell a modern-day western story" than "ridicule faith." I didn't find much of that in the books when I read them.

I enjoyed Arseface's origin story. Never heard of anything called an It Gets Better Project, but I'll look it up since you seem so keen on it.

Date: 2011-10-03 09:33 pm (UTC)
fifthie: tastes the best (Default)
From: [personal profile] fifthie
And here's Ennis' take on It Gets Better:

I've always intensely hated that page. It seems to me to be pretty much the furthest opposite of the IGB message.

I'm sure there are plenty of people who think it makes for a really good, insightful, uplifting argument to say that teenagers who try to kill themselves are just whiny babies whose problem is that they just couldn't be bothered to care, but I sure am not one of them.

Date: 2011-10-04 01:46 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] darkknightjrk
It's not the exact message, but I think that is a real, strong reaction from the sister's perspective. As I recall, she was around, giving her brother support when she could, and yet he never realizes that and kills himself, hurting her in the process.

Date: 2011-10-04 02:00 pm (UTC)
kagome654: (Grump)
From: [personal profile] kagome654
The sister's hurt reads as genuine, sure, but I see enough people berating suicidal individuals for being selfish and/or self involved that I can't exactly see anything particularly positive or insightful about another example. It reads too much like 'your problems aren't real problems, man up!' which kind of ignores how suicide and depression often work.

Date: 2011-10-05 04:37 am (UTC)
zyriex: Best Spiders Ever (Default)
From: [personal profile] zyriex
I'm of two minds here. I know that sometimes when I've encountered this line it's been like "well, me being such a selfish brat is part of the problem," but at the same time it's like at those points appealing to whatever sense of guilt and familial obligation I had would've worked better than any appeals regarding me and why I should stay specifically.

On another note, it really seems to me that Root boy has gone crazy in the end, since holy crap his attitude afterwords seems way too Stepford-ish and artificially cheery. Why is the dad talking strangely in the last few pages too?

Date: 2011-10-05 04:48 pm (UTC)
zyriex: Best Spiders Ever (Default)
From: [personal profile] zyriex
Oh right, whoops; I thought that the first bubble in the 3rd panel was somehow from the dad. Still think the kids gone at least partially crazy though


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