There Is Nothing Left to Say On the Invisibles
I Was a Librarian’s Assistant Pt 1
by Travis Hedge Coke
Knight of Pentacles
2022. I read the last twelve issues of The Invisibles in the order they are numbered.
1994. The Invisibles debuts, a monthly series published by DC Comics through the imprint called, Vertigo. I knew about Vertigo because they had published Enigma by Duncan Fegredo (an Invisibles artist), (writer of the foreword to an Invisibles collection) Peter Milligan, and Sherilyn Van Valkenburgh – which changed my life – and the Doom Patrol run of Rachel Pollack – which saved my life. I was fourteen, the same age as Dane McGowan, who would become Jack Frost. (Jack Frost was both Dane’s imaginary friend and his secret heart, his secret self who becomes, quickly, his public self.)
Dane was like a white, British version of a lot of my brothers and male cousins. He got into some trouble, was too judgmental of his mom, weird about girls his own age, but he was alright, he was a good enough guy. Dane kicks his teacher square in the jaw in the first issue of The Invisibles, but you like him.
I am not too interested. We had just been homeless, for one thing, and Dane starts the series forced into homelessness. It was a lot of guns and bombs and cool car posturing. And, the characters who spoke to me were almost just window dressing.
The court scenes and the conviction terrify and embarrass me. Carceral enforcement of nonconsensual castration and sterilization is not far off from me or from the United Kingdom of the comic.
2022. An old friend sends me copies of her love poems about a high school boyfriend, to keep archived in case. They save to my folder for There Is Nothing Left to Say On The Invisibles.
1991. We take a spring term field trip from Horace Mann Elementary School to a local juvenile detention center. They walked us through daily life and expectations, and openly assured us most of us would someday find out from the inside. Pre-chastised for tagging in our cells, they were already planning out for us.
Two of Cups
1996. Fall. A student at Saint Catherine Indian School, I work my free periods as an assistant to the school librarian as we clean out the library of much of its collection at the behest of the Catholic Church who will, not too long after, shut down the entire school and move the Sisters to various locations, separating them and chastising them for presumed conspiratorial behavior and the sin of nostalgia. They will destroy the scrapbooks of one Sister, which she had compiled for decades, to teach her humility.
In 1996, I am just mature and aware enough to realize the world can turn on something smaller and quicker than a dime.
Between asking me if I want to keep a 1950s copy of Sylvie and Bruno and paperback The Best of the Best of Trek collections, the librarian asks if I can help her think of the name of a comic a friend of hers from college had drawn. It focused on a team of five and they were superheroes, but not superheroes, they had special powers, maybe they were born with them, but they often fought the government. She was thinking it was X-Men, but that did not seem exactly right.
It was Jill Thompson, and it was The Invisibles.
Short while later, she showed me her copies of the Thompson issues, not from 1996, but from two years earlier, two arcs following the opening storyline I had been disinterested with.
1980. I am born a Libra.
Now. There is Nothing Left to Say On the Invisibles has to presume we have all read The Invisibles. I have to assume we have all played in our universe, as well, in which, The Invisibles is a comic which also operates as a diary, a letter, a game, an initiation, and a point of commerce.
Now. You are reading this, but you are thinking about The Invisibles, so you are reading and playing The Invisibles as you read this, and when you stop reading to think or go pee or eat or go to work. Not reading neither play stop while something is out of your hands or no longer in front of you.
Now, coming back to find if you missed the secret of everything.
Now. You realize this is not a media studies textbook or a memoir of rumination, not a character study or history of a comic. We will not be annotating successive issues until the series has been covered. We will not commit to double blind tests or cite and date every applied theory, technique, or referenced work.
1995. It is 1992 in the comic. They have crucified a toad.
Now. If you are thinking to yourself, “I do not know The Invisibles well enough to read There is Nothing Left to Say,” or even, “I have never read The Invisibles! Do I need to know the comic to get something from this?” it is important for you to know, you do not really need to know The Invisibles well, or at all. You should. It is an excellent comic. But, There is Nothing Left to Say is its own and works on its own. Maybe it is better if you do not know The Invisibles too well. Maybe you will feel less inclined to argue points I make, and that makes my end easier for me.
1488. Now it is recorded that Friar Rush had entered a drunken monastery to win favor as their cook, after this spectral horse killed the old cook, only to be revealed as an abbey lubber after seven years.
Now you are reading of frogs as an agent of healing and toads as an animal confused sometimes for frogs.
So, now, from 2022, thank you.
Last week’s column: here.
NEXT WEEK in There is Nothing Left to Say (On the Invisibles): I was a Librarian’s Assistant, Part II
Nothing in There is Nothing Left to Say (On The Invisibles) is guaranteed factually correct, in part or in toto, nor aroused or recommended as ethically or metaphysically sound, and the same is true of the following recommendations we hope will nonetheless be illuminating to you, our most discriminating audience.
Morrison, Grant. The Invisibles. Jill Thompson, Chris Weston, et al. DC Comics. 1994-2000.
Rock DJ. Vaughan Arnell, director. Performed by Robbie Williams, et al. 2000.
Hedge Coke, Allison. Rock Ghost Willow Deer. University of Nebraska Press. 2004. Revised in 2021.
I Was a Librarian’s Assistant Pt 1
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