Graphic Novel/Comics Review


The Filth

(2004) Grant Morrison, Chris Weston & Gary Erskine, Titan Books, 16.99, trdpbk, 320pp, ISBN 1-840-23739-2

Greg Feely lives at home with his cat and his pornography, just an ordinary bloke. Except that he's not. "Greg Feely" is just a parapersona for Officer Slade of The Filth, an extra-dimensional police force/garbage collection agency. It's their job to clean away all the non-real parts of reality, the rubbish left behind when the continuum is disrupted by bad elements. But when Slade is called back to duty from retirement, he can't shake Feely out of his mind...

This is a collection of the thirteen issues of The Filth. The art is lovely. But if you're a person who likes nice, neat storytelling with tidy resolutions, you're going to be disappointed. Arguably Grant Morrison has been getting more and more self-indulgent as his comics career has progressed and, frequently, he leaves the 'point' of his tales up to the reader - which is fair enough in this case since it's flagged in the introductory section: Those "using The Filth are required to participate in the generation of significant content by interpreting text and images which have been deliberately loaded with overlapping meanings and scales". The journey, as ever, is more important than the destination. The trouble is, who to recommend this book to? Morrison fans, obviously. SF readers who enjoy the work of Jeff (Vurt) Noon or Richard (Dead Girls) Calder, or even Philip K Dick. Art lovers who dig surrealism, perhaps. Comics fans who don't mind the self-referential treatment of content. The tormented. People with aphasia. Cat lovers. The list is beginningless...

How much you get out of this story is directly proportional to how much you bring to it. I don't mean that in a pretentious way (I'll leave that to the good people at ComicReaders.com), I just mean that you could decide that the point of this story is just "Shit Happens" and leave it at that, or you could decide it's about 'them', the ones who think they know better and police us for our own good, or you could decide it's about the 'validity' of Greg Feely, or about the irresponsible use of technology, or, or... You get the picture, I'm sure. If you're looking for light reading and superheroics, you're out of luck; if you like your comics with intellectual meat on their bones, then this might be your cup of tea.

Tony Chester


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