As folks have seen, the biggest and saddest news on the Hooded Utilitarian this week is the departure of Tom Crippen. Tom came onto the blog almost exactly a year ago, though it feels like he’s been here forever. He’s been a tireless blogger, about everything from comics to politics to Star Trek. While he’s been here, his lovely, thoughtful, and often mean-spirited (and I mean that in the best way) prose has really defined the Hooded Utilitarian.

If you haven’t read much of Tom’s work, I’d urge you to look back through the archives; there’s just tons of wonderful material. Some of my favorites:

-his description of an imaginary Sandman collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Jack Kirby.

-his paean to his days as a Marvel Comics collector

— his contributions to the Helter Skelter roundtable, both in his own posts and in comments.

—his attempts to understand Oliphant

-and maybe the gem of gems, his description of Michael Corleone as a Mary Sue. It’s one of the pieces of writing that made me feel like starting the blog was worth it.

Almost all of Tom’s posts, with the exception of a few at the beginning, can be found here. You can also read him semi-regularly in the Comics Journal, where he writes a stellar column called “The Post-Post-Human Review about super-hero comics. I believe he’s got a long essay on Alan Moore and Watchmen coming up there, which I’m eager to see.

I hope we’ll see Tom occasionally in comments still, and I really hope he finds more outlets for his writing, either online or in print. In any case, I feel very lucky to have had him here for as long as we did, both as a co-blogger and a friend.

On the Hooded Utilitarian

This week was devoted to our roundtable on Sandman. Some of us were disappointed, others still loved it, and lots of folks weighed in in comments.

There was also a long post on the inkdestroyedmybrush site in response which is worth checking out.

Utilitarians Everywhere

Vom Marlowe reviews Killer Unicorns over on her LiveJournal page.

Kristy Valenti catches me in an embarrassing error over at comixology. It’s like the Dave Johnson thing all over again…except this time, I really do kind of care.

I have a short review of Jennifer’s Body at the Chicago Reader.

An essay at Splice Today in praise of lousy art.

On the contrary, if any contemporary figure attains to Bataille’s ideal of pure sacrifice it is one particular kind of artist—that is, the failed artist. Note that by “failed” here, I do not mean the artist who has missed commercial success, but has underground cred or aesthetic bonafides, or who is discovered and lionized after his death. On the contrary. When I say, “failed” I mean “failed.” I mean an artist who profligately, copiously, obsessively works on creating objects that are, literally—by everyone and forever—unwanted. Creators of tuneless songs who never achieve dissonance; of ugly canvases too self-conscious to be outsider art; of doggerel verse too banal for even the high school literary magazine-in them, the excess of the universe is annihilated. Genius, love, life—they are exchanged for neither lucre, nor cred, nor beauty, but are instead simply thrown away. Failed art is permanently wasted, and it is therefore sacred.

I have a review of Observatory’s Dark Folke. It got kind of chopped down for space, so I thought I’d reprint the full version here:

The Observatory
Dark Folke

Though this Singapore band may have placed the word “folk” on their album, that doesn’t really capture their sound. Certainly, there are elements of freak folk here; “A Shuffler in the Mud” has sparse lovely harmonies and a gentle acoustic sway that wouldn’t be out of place on a Devandra Banhardt album. Other tracks, like “Lowdown,” though, trip merrily etherwards, heading for the brainy, drony psychedlia of Ghost. For that matter, “Decarn” is almost heavy enough at points to qualify as metal, locking into a head-thrashing trudge while keyboards burble overhead and somebody shrieks from the pits of Hades for a couple of bars before handing it over again to the gentle-voiced harmonizers.

The album feels like a delicate arrangement of shifting textures drawn upon and then erased from a black canvas. Omicron, for example, starts with an acoustic guitar strum that is allowed to fade almost completely; then there’s a second strum, also followed by silence, and then a percussive keyboard figure takes over, building with other instruments and vocals, until again it fades almost to silence…and we go back to acoustic guitar. The track is built around changes in direction, but it’s not the busy post-modern bricolage of the Boredoms. Rather, it’s modernist, fetishizing space and silence. If The Observatory doesn’t adore Webern, I will cease staring at the hardbound liner notes, graced by Jason Bartlett’s Pus-head meets Virginia Lee Burton line-drawings, and eat the whole package instead.

Other Links

Alan David Doane reviews the abstract comics anthology and searches for Sentinels in my contribution. His son finds them.

Comics creator Dewayne Slightweight performs an amazing rendition of Were You There When They Crucified My Lord.