So, on coming home from a very mundane day at a very mundane job, I am confronted by a slim package, bearing the return address of those fine people at Markosia.
Very excited, I hide myself away with the contents. My son asks "What’s that?"
"My friends new graphic novel"
"Ooh, can I read it."
I look across to him. He’s 12. The golden age for comics, yes?
He’s not going to read Slaughterman’s Creed yet.
And not just because of the swearing, the blood, the bodily parts on display.
Because it’s a proper grown up story.
In a lot of the buzz for this book, you may come across references to The Long Good Friday, Get Carter, Mona Lisa…
I think that’s missing the mark.
I’d prefer to refer to older stories. Like Macbeth (and it’s bastard child Throne of Blood), or King Lear, or Julius Caesar.
Am I comparing Cy to Shakespeare? As a jobbing writer in a disreputable medium turning out gripping stories that carry more weight than the audience might expect, I think young Billy S can live up to that.
But that’s not important. What’s important is that Cy gets story. Stories, the really good ones, are about what fundamentally matter.
Slaughterman’s Creed is about power, blood and family. It stands in a tradition that stretches through Chinatown, The Big Sleep, Sweeney Todd, The Threepenny Opera, The Beggars Opera, bloody Shakespeare and back to Oedipus and Elektra.*
It’s a gutsy story. It’s a bleak story. It’s a powerful story.
I thought I caught notes of other recent stories here and there. No Country for Old Men deployed a piece of set dressing that makes a lot more sense here. Alan Moore’s V brought death to a penitent villain too. Jim Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog was a button man for honourless gangsters.
But they’re notes. Like you can’t compose a blues song that doesn’t sound like other blues songs, otherwise how would you know they’re the blues? The notes work because that’s the kind of tune it is.
This isn’t as much as an assault on the mental capacity, like Cancertown was. That was a tricksy number, a product of Cy’s conjurer sensibilites. I felt like I could pretty much see where the story was moving, but that’s good. No-one goes to see Macbeth hoping for surprises (or hugs and learning at the end). Slaughterman’s Creed is much more direct, and perhaps more compelling on a visceral level for that.
Oh, and one more thing. Proper Green Man character. Most hippies and fluffy pagans will hate him, because he’s ultimately a self-aggrandizing little prick with a schtick. Let him serve as a warning to them. By all the gods, some of them need warning.
*Everyone who thought about anything that even remotely looked like Jennifer Garner when I said "Elektra", get out and see a damn play once in a while.