Dodgem Logic #1 by Alan Moore et al.

Posted by on April 7th, 2010 at 1:00 PM

Knockabout Comics; Distributed in the U.S. by Top Shelf; 48 pp.; $6; Softcover

Of all the noteworthy aspects of the premier issue of Dodgem Logic the one likely to garner greatest interest around these immediate etheric environs is an Alan Moore surfacing.

In spirit and content Dodgem Logic is consciously molded to carry on an illustrious literary tradition. To quote Mr. Moore: “Clearly, what the world needs is a trippy-looking underground mag with a self-confessed agenda of aggressive randomness.” The magazine originates in the city Moore has made his hood, Northampton, “but designed to have worldwide appeal, in that one abused, dilapidated and neglected shithole is much like another. We are neither local nor global: We are lobal.”

And they intend to be more lobal still. With the title’s inauguration, an express offer is held out to the inspired and motivated residents of other shitholes: Replace the magazine’s insert, an eight page pamphlet of purely Northampton-centric interests, with “embittered rantings of your own device.” (That original insert went unseen as it was not carried in my edition.)

As an underground, Dodgem Logic pursues its aggressive randomness with a proper outsider mentality. Sex, drugs and rock and roll inform that mentality (though drugs least overtly) but none sounds the irresistible muster call as a solo. Politics are assumed if vague: “Our manifesto is … oh, I don’t know. I’m not your mum.” Agrarian good sense, nutritional responsibility, functional, experience-based independence, social and cultural involvement, genetically endowed creativity, respect for personal flair and general free-range nonconformity are explicitly cheered. By way of specific exemplars, the inside front cover begins a series “Great Hipsters in History” with founding inductees Emma Goldman, Alfred Jarry and Paul Robeson.

To these ends, there are recipe pages, an instructional comic strip on staking out your own “guerilla garden,” instructions for sewing a bit of sartorial splash from an old necktie, a personal account of “living without money,” another by a general practitioner on an alternative approach to health care and another — by Melinda Gebbie — on the shortcomings of feminism as currently and lobally practiced. There’s a relatively lengthy piece on the history of the rock scene in ’fampton — which itself is a perfect introduction to the included music CD of said scene —  and much more in the way of “colliding ideas,” including a comic strip by Moore and an emblematic splash page by Kevin O’Neill.

But the headliner, both in substance and heft, is an introductory essay by Moore on the history of underground publishing. He makes this brief education a pleasant diversion with a style and sensibility completely his own: “Hand-written  tracts expressing new religious or political ideas were handed between plague carts during the 1200s, very much like Twitter only with more leprosy and maggots.” The survey is largely of the English-speaking world, including a handy guide to keeping 17th century religious sects like the Ranters, Diggers and Levelers straight (hint: take their titles literally). Yet it does give supraverbal credit where credit is due: During the French Revolution fomenting leaflets became even more popular thanks to the included pornographic representations of Marie Antoinette.

Moore’s piece carries us up to the present, ending with a too true, bleak assessment and opposing glimmer: “We’re monitored to an extent that makes George Orwell seem like an optimist and when the media serve up only regurgitated tinsel shit and naked propaganda, we would seem particularly needful of the colour, sexiness and energy the undergrounds once offered.” Here’s to the punch of the heady old vintage poured in a trippy new wineskin.

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