Transmetropolitan: Punching Out Fascists - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Transmetropolitan: Punching Out Fascists

Transmetropolitan: Punching Out Fascists

Published March 11, 2005

If you can’t stand the idea of a future without Hunter S. do not despair. In 1997, Warren Ellis, a British graphic novelist, came upon the idea of depicting the great Gonzo in the ultimate Dystopian future. What he pulled off with his series Transmetropolitan was outlandishly good and prescient.
In the future, household appliances will be capable of drug-addiction, vice presidential candidates will be hapless clones, the public will be completely and totally without attention-span or memory, and investigative journalism will be non-existent. Also, New Yorkers will order baby seal eyes at their local hot dog stand. As I said, prescient.
The kick out of Transmet doesn’t come from the predictions or the commentary on society, though these are amusing and well drawn, it comes from the riff on the central character, Spider Jerusalem, a character Ellis says “was somewhat influenced by Thompson’s writing, persona and life”—or close enough that the author pointed out on his website that CBS news called him within two minutes of the story of Thompson’s suicide hitting the wire.
In a comic, a journalist could presumably carry a weapon that causes politicians to soil themselves uncontrollably, or he could lob grenades off skyscrapers in protest over red states. (Yes, Spider has Thompson’s love for guns and drugs.) But even in a comic, he can’t stop the red states from going red. And what makes the comics so great is that if Spider—acting out an educated reader’s fantasies— say, punches out a fascist at a political rally, he is immediately applauded by the other fascists for being strong and picking on the weak, and thus going from fantasy to nightmare.
Sadly, Transmet has finished its run. There is a bright side: you can get the comics collected into six graphic novels and rumors abound that a movie is on its way.

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