Sunday, September 30, 2012

Spider Jerusalem - Filth - Ray Wonsowski

All captions are in Courier typewriter font.


CAPTION across the very top of the page:  There have been valid arguments on both sides regarding the Barack Obama Welfare Tenament Project.

Panel 1 - SPIDER JERUSALEM, his back to us, outside the tenament house.  It is dilapidated, crumbling, and abused.  Walls are cracking, windows are broken or boarded up, graffiti is epidemic, and some of the window bars have been pried back and bent.

CAPTION:  Construction was farmed out to the cheapest bidder.  Cement was diluted with dirt, and safety minimums for both electrical and plumbing were barely observed.  Bribes to zoning officials were paid dutifully.

Panel 2 - Filthy assistant YELENA ROSSINI, background, stands in the doorway (the door was torn off) looking at, foreground an exhausted mother surrounded by hyperactive, half-dressed children.  She is in her 40's, haggard, slightly overweight, in baggy clothes that are sliding off her shoulder, exposing a nicotine-color bra strap, and she leans on her broom, cigarette drooping from her lower lip.

CAPTION:  National average, children per family: 2.  Average, children per tenament family: 5.  Most of the children miss at least one meal daily, yet most parents are still able to scrape up a few coins for smokes and booze.

Panel 3 - Same apartment different pov.  From over YELENA's shoulder, we see the above scene foreground.  Background we see the woman's fat unshaven husband in a torn-up recliner drinking beer from a bottle, looking lecherously at his skinny blonde teenage daughter (about 15yrs), sitting on the window sill, dangling her feet.

CAPTION:  Jim Burton has not found work in over a year.  He has no intention of looking.  He resents his nagging wife's autumn of 43, and does not bother to hide his desire for spring again.

Panel 4 - Our other filthy, CHANNON YARROW, is in the basement listening with concern to  the maintenance man.  A rusty boiler is sputtering in the corner.  The super is dirty, sweaty, and frustrated talking with her.  They both wear hip-high rubber boots, because they are standing knee-deep in dirty water.  One low-wattage lightbulb hangs from the ceiling to light the scene.

CAPTION:  The building was built connected to the old sewer lines.  Toilets overflow regularly, and the offal backs up at least twice a week.  It's worse when it rains. 

CAPTION:  The super calls the Project's management on a daily basis.  Middling executives in charge are either "at lunch with investors" or on holiday.

Panel 5 - SPIDER looks down a burnt out stairwell.  On one stair, a 10-year-old kid huffs on a paper bag.  His older brother, half his head shaved, draws a dirty graffiti picture with a fat black marker on the wall.  On the next landing, two teenagers shag standing up, skirt hiked about the girl's waist, boys pants around his feet.

CAPTION:  The few reponsible adults with gainful employment have to leave for work before the kids are supposed to go to school.  They come home too late at night to realize that they never went in the first place.  One boy told me, "What's the point?"

Panel 6 - SPIDER sitting civilly in an executive office across the desk of a well-dressed property broker.  The room is airy, and the windows in the office are floor-to-ceiling, giving a view of the city.

CAPTION:  I hear the boy's question repeated when I ask the Project Associates about upkeep.  "What's the point?  So the little buggers can trash it again?  Screw'em."

CAPTION:  Welfare policy, poverty eradication.  Property rights, opportunity costs.  Ever the political animals, government politicos must weigh in.

Panel 7 - Background, the entire city block where the Welfare Tenament stands burns as a raging inferno.  Foreground, with their backs facing us, are (L to R) CHANNON, SPIDER, and YELENA.  They are watching it all burn.  A military helicopter is recognizable in the orange smoky sky.

CAPTION:  The government couldn't stand to see all that stockpiled napalm go to waste, so the National Guard was mobilized to "supervise the demolition of the Barack Obama Welfare Tenament Project."

Panel 8 - Seen through the scope-sights of a helicopter gunner (that electric green color wash) close up the faces of (L to R) YELENA, SPIDER, and CHANNON.  YELENA is pointing at whoever is looking through the scope, shouting with rage.  CHANNON has a bowel disrupter like a bazooka ready to fire on her shoulder; it even says "RONCO MILITARY-GRADE BOWEL DISRUPTOR" on it.  SPIDER, cigarette clenched in his teeth, looks up at us over his live shades, grinning toothily, smugly, slightly evilly.

CAPTION:  Whether you have or have not, this is how the elected Scum take care of you.  Because you refuse to take care of your own f##king selves.



  1. Wow in the space of a few days you have given us two great Spider Jerusalem pages. Your first captured the dark and very adult humour of the book. Where as this page is savagely brilliant, with its gritty and haunting images combined with the very well written captions. In both pieces you capture the tone perfectly.

  2. I haven't read any Trasnmet at all (I know!) so I can only comment on the construction of the page, dialogue, etc.

    There's some strong imagery at play here that really hits home and it pays off in the last panel with that rocket launcher (every last panel should have a rocket launcher, right?).

    The page had a gritty 'DMZ' type vibe to it that I liked too.

  3. I haven't read any Transmetropolitan either, but this page is, from what I've read of him elsewhere, pure Ellis. While there is an undercurrent of humour, you focus more heavily on the serious message here, and pull it off brilliantly.

    As precisely one of the politically ignorant people Warren Ellis hates, I'm gonna have a tough time this week.

  4. This is great Transmetropolitan page, Ray. You provide a page that manages to fit perfectly into Spider's sick world while also acting as an apt commentary on our own. That's what I've found to be one of the most impressive parts of Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson's work, and I think you've nailed it here.


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