Tough Sells

What are the art/media things you love that are “hard to get into?” What do you evangelize that friends/family always seem to bounce off of? Here is your chance to preach the good word of the difficult art/media you wish other people “got” the way you do.

For my example: The comic series **Love And Rockets**


The Pitch:

An independent comic series by The Hernandez Brothers (Jaime, Gilbert, and occasionally Mario) that constitutes what I would say is some of the best narrative and visual American art of the past several decades. This is a reductive description, but I'd call it something like an art soap opera avant garde Archie Comics. Jaime's work follows a group of oxnard teenagers connected to the hardcore punk scene to the present (and into middle age). Gilbert's work centers on a small central american village called Palomar, like lives of its citizens, and its local politics.


A Tough Sell because:

  • * Not one but two 40 year long storylines with dozens (if not low hundreds) of characters.
  • * Early issues have some art and themes that the authors would grow out of, but you can't skip them because they still relate to subsequent work
  • * Somewhat convoluted publication formats. Tempting to recommend the Locas hardcovers, but they omitted "Flies on the Ceiling" - unforgiveable.
  • * Gilbert's work in particular has become increasingly experimental, violent, and difficult to follow.
  • * You will have to explain why (if you can) Luba looks the way she does
  • * New issues are always, always late. Have been a subscriber off and on for years. I don't think they have ever finished an issue on schedule.
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    The Ask:

    *Read the trade paperbacks from the beginning until you reach the current, uncollected individual issues. No shortcuts. This will cost hundreds of dollars and who knows how many hours. At least read Jaime's work and then move on to Gilbert if you're up to a greater challenge. But it's worth it you can trust me



    Ok, I'll bite.

    The What: Showa Era Godzilla

    The Pitch:

    Some of the greatest filmmakers of all time spent the greater part of the 60s making giant monster movies together:

    Eiji Tsuburaya: arguably the greatest special effects artist of all time. He popularized large scale miniature work and created Godzilla and Ultraman

    Ishiro Honda: cocreator of Godzilla and right hand man to Akira Kurosawa. Assistant Director of Stray Dog, Ran, and Kagemusha

    Shinichi Sekizawa: an incredibly creative genre screenwriter. Wrote scripts for Seijun Suzuki and Kihachi Okamoto before doing Godzilla and Ultraman

    Akira Ifukube: One of the most prolific film composers of all time, wrote the score of nearly 300 films.

    So many great actors but notably: Takashi Shimura (Ikiru, Seven Samurai), Akira Takarada (who worked with Naruse and Itami), and Akihiko Hirata (Inagaki's Samurai Trilogy) who all show up in multiple movies.

    Tough Sell Because:

  • - People hate fun
  • - People are usually first exposed to the movies through poorly done English dubs that heavily edit the movies
  • - People are sometimes first exposed to the movies through MST3K's episodes on lesser entries in the series
  • - Some look at Tsuburaya's miniature work and can't get past the fact that they can tell that it's miniature work. I would impore them to watch it as if they're watching an animated film. Sure, you can tell that it's artificial, but if that doesn't stop you from appreciating the skill that goes into animation, why should it stop you here?
  • - People _hate_ fun
  • The Ask:

    Find an original cut, Japanese language version of one of the 1964 films: Mothra vs Godzilla, Ghidorah the Three Headed Monster, or Dogora. These are the highlights of Toho's 60s tokusatsu films and if they're not to your taste then you're probably not going to like the rest of them. They have the best miniature work, heavily centered b-plots that don't focus on scientists at desks, hilarious and inventive scripts from Sekizawa, charismatic performances, and tons of giant monster movie magic. If you do find yourself liking them, there's a whole bunch on the Criterion Channel (and the not quite Godzilla stuff like Dogora and Mothra is easily findable elsewhere)

    yeah I should make the effort wrt godzilla, and you‘re recommending a reasonable entry point. And while I don’t “hate fun” I am suspicious of it and don‘t feel like I deserve it but that’s probably a “me problem”

    @yeso#9914 I feel that haha

    @Syzygy#9931 Sorry to intrude and I 100% support your recommendation to go for the manga, but I watched a bunch of episodes of the 2018 adaptation of Baki back in the day and didn‘t see any 3D CGI?? I got the impression it was very faithful and well done, but not a good place to start since it’s a sequel.

    Is it possible you are mixing it up with Kengan Ashura, which has a similar martial arts theme and is fully 3D CGI? Because that one indeed sucks.

    I like the thread btw, might participate later!

    @Syzygy#9933 My mistake then! Thanks for the explanation.


    @Syzygy#9931 Baki has no self-restraint. It started one-upping itself 30 years ago and never stopped, so the further you go into the series the more ridiculous it becomes

    I feel like having to get on a particular wavelength is a key part of these tough sell things, but in recent years I find that aspect kind of appealing parallel to it's being daunting. There's just a lot of sludge out there, not an insight I'm sure we all recognize this


    @Syzygy#9931 Are games allowed here

    of course! there are no "rules" here

    @yeso#9895 No need to sell me personally on Love and Rockets! I‘ve been a huge fan since I was a teenager! I completely agree on it being a hard sell, even from the perspective of a lot of more modern relationship webcomics and non-mainstream print comics that I suspect owe a hell of a lot to L&R, even if they’re generations removed at this point.

    At this point I find the series to be incredibly bittersweet since it has this odd kind of internal nostalgia for its past, but I still love it just as much.

    @yeso#9895 {Deep breath] As a cartoonist who has very similar interests to Xaime, the insularity of Love and Rockets has always bothered me. I tried to write a review of Is This How You See Me? last year and even I couldn't but together all the details as to who was who and what all their relationships where. In my own work I am always trying to parcel out my similarly connected world in chunks that an audience can digest. But yeah, Flies on Ceiling is SO GOOD I definitely used it as a primer when I decided to go in a more ominous supernatural direction with my storytelling.


    @Karasu#9951 odd kind of internal nostalgia for its past

    I'm having a hard time buying into this trend over the past several years of jaime's work. I did a full re-read earlier this year and was struck with how unsentimental and forward-moving it was until I'd say they switched to the 100 page annuals, with browntown being the last peak (not 100% crazy about some of that). But that was like 10 years ago at this point, so add to the list of asks for the uninitiated: after reading 40 years of comics, keep reading for indefinite future decades to see how it comes together.


    @robinhoodie#9955 the insularity of Love and Rockets has always bothered me

    I suspect it has foundered a bit, hopefully just temporarily and is leading somewhere. That's happened before so maybe. But the few reviews I've read of some of the recent issues are all sycophantic and non-critical which bums me out. As though it's just taken as received that everything he does is immaculate (not the case).

    I picked up a recent book "The Hernandez Brother: Love, Rockets, and Alternative Comics" by enrique garcia but haven't read it yet. Would be curious to know you opinion on "Is This How You See Me" if you ever have a convenient moment.

    I'll say this about L&R as whole: Wig Wam Bam->Chester Square is some of the best american art since WWII. Big fan of maggie the san bernardino apt manager era as well.

    If I may I will add another tough sell: Bela Tarr's 1994 film Satantango

    I should mention that I was unsuccessful in selling my bro on going to a screening when it played in his town. Tickets only $4 for a once in a lifetime opportunity! What a dope!

    The Pitch:

  • * Almost overwhelmingly atmospheric film about the dissolution of a late-soviet era hungarian collective farming community. What could be better?
  • Tough Sell Because:

  • * some people don't like black and white films
  • * some people don't like subtitles
  • * the film itself is somewhat longer than usual (7.5 hrs)
  • The Ask:

  • * lock all phones and distractions in the trunk of your car and watch the film in one day
  • * if possible, go to a screening if one is ever in your area
  • When I saw a screening, we had 3 breaks (a 15 min intermission, an hour lunch, and another 15 min intermission). We (I was not the only weirdo there) gave the projectionist a standing ovation when it was over.

    Also, during the scene below when the guy with the baguette on his head wanders into the frame at around 2:35, many of us in the audience laughed, and to this a film nerd in the front row whipped around and screamed: "THIS IS NOT A COMEDY"

    but he was mistaken, it is a comedy

    @yeso#9973 It‘s tough because my memory of the book is shot. There were individual moments. Like when Maggie and Hopey get attacked on the street that stick in my mind as strong scenes. That’s maybe my biggest take away from the series. Individual scenes or panel. Flashes of violence (the self immolation moment in the Palomar stories) or the surreal inside lots of everyday drama. And I think I am in agreement with you about that being the best arc. There are some drawings in the part with Hopey at the wrestling camp that are just phenomenal cartooning.

    The what:

    The complete stories of JG Ballard

    98 collected short stories arranged chronologically from 1950-2003.


    The pitch:

    [We are living in JG Ballards world](

    While better known half a century ago, few today are reading JG Ballard. Especially his short stories, short stories popularity having declined with the decreases in science fiction magazines. Ballard believes there are no perfect novels but there are perfect short stories. He often used his short stories to explore ideas later fleshed put in his novels, so this collection will give you a small taste of all the themes he explored over his entire career. Because the stories are individually short, it's a very easy book to put down and come back to later without having to worry about remembering the plot. It's great pre-sleep reading.

    Heres the introduction, which I think does a great job of speaking for itself:

    Heres the introduction, which does a great job speaking for itself.


    He was very influential on later sci-fi writers like Philip K Dick. The outdated technologies used as fodder for plot and metaphor in the early stories are like visions of an alternate future via a half century ago. Its very interesting reading them now in 2020. He focuses a lot on civilization in decline and global environmental collapse stories. you'll see a lot of empty swimming pools and a lot of worlds at the very end of their lives, for a lot of reasons. But just sometimes these dead worlds are also filled with the sprouting of a new kind of life. A hostile environment drives evolution. Audio technology is frequently addressed, as is the doctor-patient relationship, you will find a number of artists whose art can destroy as well as create.

    The ask:

    The book is $35 dollars.
    Watch "Empire Of The Sun", the movie based on his autobiography, before reading. Having even this much knowledge about his background will enormously inform your reading as it relates to the author. You will understand where the empty swimming pools are coming from. It'll make a very sad sense when the main character in "The Concentration City" dreams of flight.

    Why it's a tough sell:

    It's over 1000 pages, and about half the size of a cinderblock. (Though I'm always quick to remind people that because its devided into 98 stories, it's very easy to pick up again later). Even so it's still a big commitment.

    It's hard enough to get people to read Vonnegut's Galapagos or PKD's Flow My Tears. A beefy tome of a short story collection by an author most people today have never heard of is a tough sell.

    I really like the outdated technology in it but some people might not find that interesting.

    People dont read short stories like they used to. Sort of a neglected art form. Everybody wants to write the great american novel nobodies out the trying to write the great american short story. Some would prefer to instead read some of his novels, like The Drowned World, one of the first global warming stories.

    That's all I got.

    I've been reading through this collection myself over the past year (very slowly) and it's been "A Mood". The Drowned World is actually the only novel I've read by him, but I knew how influential he was at the height of his career so I decided to purchase to explore him this was instead of through his novels. Its very interesting watching the stories change as the decades advance, it feels like you're time traveling along with the author. Consider checking it out!

    @Moon#9981 Oh yeah, the breadth of that book is just so intimidating, and it's not like Ballard stories go down like candy like say a big collection of Poe or King short stories do. That said, Myths of the Near Future is certainly a one of my favorite pieces of short fiction.

    @Moon#9981 Well, I had already been wanting to read some stuff by Ballard, so I just now went ahead and requested the complete stories from my local library. I'll pick it up tomorrow!


    Super cool. Be sure to check out the movie (or book if you're really interested) Empire Of The Sun! Chronoplois, Deep End, Sound Sweep, "Studio 5, The Stars", and The Concentration City are some off the top my of head favorites so far.

    Great pick with JGB. Another nice aspect of the short fiction reading experience in that volume in particular I would add is that while he has a career-spanning style and set of themes, his work can be loosely subdivided into different temporary preoccupations (the early dystopian sf, the vermillion sands sequence, the dead astronaut stories, etc). So you get some good variety and momentum reading through the book even though its phonebook sized.


    @Moon#9990 some off the top my of head favorites

    the stories are ordered chronologically, correct? Have you gotten to "The Air Disaster" yet?

    Also, make _The Crystal World_ the next novel you read

    @yeso#10012 unfortunately i havnt made it that far yet. I‘ve been making “cliffnotes” about each short story as I go along and that exercise, while enjoyable (gives me a good reason to ruminate on the stories individually and collectively), has considerably slowed my progress as I’ll often not sit down to read unless I‘m also ready to write/summarize something. And I wont let myself move on to the next story unless I’ve recorded the previous.

    The what: Merzbow

    The Pitch: Atonal noise and feedback

    Dang I dunno how many of yall like Merzbow, I discovered him a few years ago after someone linked to one of his concerts where he's got some kind of bowl hooked up to a noise machine. I was like "well that's weird". Years later I was working at a game studio that switched to an open office, and due to my proximity to other people I would have multiple loud conversations happening right behind me. Having some kind of audio processing issues related to be neurodivergent didn't help things either. I tried listening to Lo Fi hip hop beats, and a bunch of music, but I could always hear parts of conversations happening around me. One day after being completly frustrated, I put on Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music" and I could - paradoxically and at last - concentrate. I suddenly remembered Merzbow again and put on Pulse Demon. I've been a fan ever since.

    It's a hard sell because, well, just listen to it. It's the definition of unlistenable. It's harsh too. Sometimes cool sounds will come through but lead to explosions of other sounds. Merzbow also has a ton of albums so it's difficult recommending one over another, you're never like "oh I like this one section of this one track".

    @marlfuchs2#10038 I love Merzbow. My introduction was Frog which is still probably my favorite, but 13 Birds is also up there.