As it’s a new year, I’ve decided to give you all little write-ups on the meetings of the Cornwall Graphic Novel Group, which is a community reading group that I run. At the moment, we’re meeting on the last Saturday of each month in 8-Bit Gaming Bar, Falmouth (but do check the CGNG website and social media for the latest on that). Last weekend was our first meet of 2014 and we all gathered to discuss Mike Norton and Tim Seeley’s Revival comics (David Osbon did a review of the first TPB back in August).
With all the zombie related media that’s still incredibly popular at the moment, it can be easy to miss the films, novels and comics that aren’t about zombies or don’t feature explicit representations of the shuffling/sprinting, incoherent undead. But there is in fact a steadily growing volume of literature, films, TV series and comics that don’t talk about zombies as Romero would imagine them, but instead focus on things that are more like romanticised versions of the Rapture as detailed in the Bible.
During our meeting on Saturday, I put forward the idea that Revival is in fact one of those texts that uses the Rapture as a theme (a conflict between religious groups – based on the groups believing what’s happened is the Rapture – and the US government is one of the series plot points) and that this whole thing has come out of a slowly growing public consciousness in the US around the concept of the Rapture. Consider that over the last few years, extensive media coverage has been given to religious groups who believe the Rapture is coming and it’s only inevitable that creators would start covering the subject. Similar to what happened in the aftermath of 9/11, creators are just reflecting the crazy world that now exists around them.
Or are they? While TV series like Torchwood: Miracle Day are of a comparative time frame to Norton and Seeley’s comics, further reading (and thinking) outside of Saturday’s meeting has made me conclude that there’s been an undercurrent of Rapture themes in US media for more than several decades. And it just hasn’t died down. Prior to 2000, you could argue that it was all just an example of the Fin de siècle – which I can only describe as a kind of fearful fervour that grips cultures the closer you get to the next century, the fear mostly revolving around the world degenerating – but it’s still going. An example of the Rapture as a theme prior to 2000 includes Stephen King’s The Dead Zone (first published in 1979) where one main character is convinced the event is going to happen soon.
But unlike Revival, The Dead Zone was not written in a post 9/11 world and it is perhaps this horrific event which has failed to allow for the usual “cultural reset” to happen after the year 2000. At least in the US. Though as the world appears to destabilise further both politically and environmentally, perhaps we will see more media creations that feature themes around the Rapture/End of Days as cultures the world over try to make sense of situations on a scale their forefathers are unlikely to have encountered.
Our next meeting will be February 22 and will be about Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel. If you’re down in this part of the world, you’re more than welcome to join us. Keep an eye on CGNG Facebook page for the most up-to-date meeting info.