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    Skin - Peter Milligan Brendan McCarthy

    Skin - Peter Milligan Brendan McCarthy
    Milligan's most controversial work / la obra más controversial de Milligan
    Sometimes, a work gets published and the controversy begins. Conservative people then propose censorship. Luckily, as readers we still have the chance to read the work and judge it ourselves. But what if something is so polemic that gets cancelled before being printed? That’s exactly what happened with Skin. “Skin was this outré thing that no publisher or printer wanted to touch”. The creators went from one publisher to another, and although some expressed interest, eventually they all backed down. The material was too strong, they would argue. This was, like Mark Kardwell explains an “example of censors going after a work they had failed to understand or even bothered to read”.

    “Most people said that Skin was tasteless. In fact, it’s the most controversial story we ever produced and had a long and infamous history, from being banned and repeatedly rejected”. I can only try to imagine the frustration of Milligan and McCarthy, and although I’ve never been “banned” I must admit I’ve never tried to write anything strong enough to awake the beast of censorship.

    Both Milligan and McCarthy grew up in an era besieged by political turmoil and new and strange social expressions. “Skinheads were a predominant urban youth culture […] the skins of this period had yet to become politicized as storm troopers of the Right”. The protagonist of this project, as announced by the title, is a skinhead. But he is also a child deformed by thalidomide. Thalidomide was a pill administered to pregnant woman to “cure” their headaches and nausea. This isn’t fiction, this medication actually existed and if you take 5 seconds to Google it you’ll find plenty of visual horror, which I do not plan to include here. The side effect of thalidomide was a congenital deformation of the limbs. The thalidomide children were often called seal boys, because instead of arms they had only hands (as if they were horrendously imitating the appendages of a seal).
    Skin - Peter Milligan Brendan McCarthy
    A thalidomide product / un producto de la talidomida

    Up until now we can understand why Skin wasn’t the typical comic book. In fact, it wasn’t even typical for Milligan and McCarthy. If in previous works they share their love for surrealism and psychedelia here they communicate their concern about an uncontrolled pharmaceutical industry and the very realistic and gruesome consequences of the political system that allowed these companies to destroy the lives of thousands of families. The authors also examine Great Britain’s crumbling social structure, zeroing in on street violence, unemployment and urban misery.

    Reading the first page of Skin I understood why it had unnerved and enraged so many people. It’s unapologetic, it’s brutal, is as cruel as life itself: “Martin looked like a wanker but of course he couldn’t even do that. Wank, I mean. Couldn’t shake his own knob, wipe his arse, comb his hair. But he didn’t need to comb his hair […] he was one of us. We called him Martin ‘Atchet. He was a skin”.

    Milligan never tries to makes us feel sorry for Martin. Quite the contrary, he shows us the hectic life of this deformed skinhead and the stupid fights he gets into (he specializes in attacking others with his head; it’s the only thing he can do as he has no arms). By showing us life as it is, Milligan quickly generates a connection between the reader and Martin. Because even without deformities, we’ve all had a hard time in our adolescence. Martin is 15 years old and all he thinks about is having sex. Of course, as the monster he is no girl is willing to touch him. Desperate, Martin tries to (unsuccessfully) rape Ruby. She is her only friend, and as a cross-eyed girl she understands a little bit what it feels like to be different. 

    Eventually, Martin understands that his irrational hatred towards the world should be focused on those who are responsible for his condition. Ruby explains to him that the men in charge of thalidomide distribution are still free and rich. No one has been punished. And that is the reality of the situation, not only in the comic but in real life as well. No matter how aggressive or destructive skinheads can be, it all pales in comparison with the Machiavellian strategies of the pharmaceutical industry. All this violence, all this hatred, all this rage is perfectly captured by Brandon McCarthy and Carol Swain.

    “So, is Skin tasteless? We hope so. A story that deals with a young person whose body and life are deformed by powerful multinational corporations, who is abandoned by governments and ridiculed as a monster by his peers, has an obligation to be tasteless. These things happened to real people in this country. How tasteful can you get?”.
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    Skin - Peter Milligan Brendan McCarthy
    Martin ‘Atchet & Ruby

    A veces, un trabajo se publica y la controversia empieza. Los conservadores proponen la censura. Afortunadamente, como lectores todavía nos queda la oportunidad de leer esa obra y juzgarla por nosotros mismos. Pero ¿qué pasaría si algo es tan polémico que es cancelado antes de ir a la imprenta? Eso es exactamente lo que pasó con Skin. “Skin era esta cosa escandalosa que ninguna editorial o imprenta quería tocar”. Los creadores fueron de una editorial a otra, y aunque algunas expresaron interés, eventualmente todas se echaron para atrás. El material era demasiado fuerte, afirmaban. Este fue, como explica Mark Kardwell, un “ejemplo de los censuradores atacando una obra luego de fracasar en entenderla o sin molestarse en haberla leído”.

    “Muchos dijeron que Skin era de mal gusto. De hecho, es el relato más controversial que hemos producido y tuvo una larga e infame historia, al ser prohibida y repetidamente rechazada”. Sólo puedo imaginar la frustración de Milligan y McCarthy, y aunque yo nunca he sido “prohibido” debo admitir que nunca he intentado escribir algo lo suficientemente fuerte para despertar a la bestia de la censura.

    Milligan y McCarthy crecieron en una era asediada por trifulcas políticas y nuevas y extrañas expresiones sociales. “Los skinheads eran una cultura juvenil predominantemente urbana […] los skins de este periodo todavía no se convertían en las tropas de asalto politizadas de la Derecha”. El protagonista de este proyecto, tal como el título anuncia, es un skinhead. Pero también es un niño deformado por la talidomida. La talidomida era una píldora administrada a las mujeres embarazadas para “curar” los dolores de cabeza y náuseas. Esto no es ficción, este medicamento de hecho existió y si se toman 5 segundos para buscarlo en Google encontrarán bastantes horrores, que no planeo incluir aquí. El efecto secundario de la talidomida era una deformación congénita de las extremidades. Los niños de la talidomida a menudo fueron llamados chicos foca, porque en vez de brazos sólo tenían manos (como si estuvieran imitando horrendamente los apéndices de una foca).
    Skin - Peter Milligan Brendan McCarthy
    Martin's first sexual experience / la primera experiencia sexual de Martin

    Con esto podemos entender por qué "Skin" no era un cómic típico. De hecho, ni siquiera era típico para Milligan y McCarthy. Si en trabajos previos ellos compartían su amor por el surrealismo y la psicodelia, aquí comunican su preocupación por una industria farmacéutica descontrolada y las muy realísticas y grotescas consecuencias del sistema político que le permitió a estas compañías destruir las vidas de miles de familias. Los autores también examinan la estructura social desmoronada de Gran Bretaña, enfocándose en la violencia callejera, el desempleo y la miseria urbana.

    Al leer la primera página de Skin, entendí por qué había alterado y enfurecido a tanta gente. Es brutal, no pide disculpas, es tan cruel como la vida misma: “Martin se veía como un pajero pero por supuesto ni siquiera eso podía hacer. O sea, pajearse. No podía sacudir su propia polla, limpiarse el culo o peinarse. Pero no necesitaba peinarse […] él era uno de nosotros. Lo llamábamos Martin ‘Atchet. Era un cabeza rapada”.

    Milligan nunca intenta hacernos sentir tristes por Martin. Al contrario, nos muestra la vida desordenada de este skinhead deforme y las estúpidas peleas en las que se mete (al no tener brazos se especializa en dar cabezazos). Al mostrarnos la vida tal como es, Milligan rápidamente genera una conexión entre el lector y Martin. Porque incluso sin las deformidades, todos hemos sufrido en la adolescencia. Martin tiene 15 años y lo único en lo que piensa es en follar. Por supuesto, al ser un monstruo ninguna chica está dispuesta a tocarlo. Desesperado, Martin intenta violar (sin éxito) a Ruby. Ella es su única amiga, y al ser virola entiende un poco cómo se siente ser diferente.

    Eventualmente, Martin comprende que su odio irracional hacia el mundo debería estar enfocado en aquellos que son responsables por su condición. Ruby le explica que los hombres a cargo de la distribución de la talidomida siguen siendo ricos y libres. Nadie ha sido castigado. Y esa es la realidad de la situación, no sólo en el cómic sino también en la vida real. No importa lo agresivos o destructivos que puedan ser los skinheads, todo palidece en comparación a las maquiavélicas estrategias de la industria farmacéutica. Toda esta violencia, todo este odio, toda esta rabia es perfectamente capturada por Brandon McCarthy y Carol Swain.

    “Así que, ¿es Skin de mal gusto? Esperamos que así sea. Una historia que trata de una persona joven cuyo cuerpo y vida han sido deformados por poderosas corporaciones multinacionales, alguien abandonado por los gobiernos y ridiculizado como un monstruo por sus compañeros, tiene la obligación de ser de mal gusto. Estas cosas les pasaron a personas reales en este país. ¿Puede eso ser de buen gusto?”.

    Originally Published at http://artbyarion.blogspot.com/2013/12/skin-peter-milligan-brendan-mccarthy.html

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    About the Author - Arion


    Arion, who is either from Chile or New York (it’s not really clear) writes a blog that the Outhouse steals on a regular basis.  Arion is by far the nicest of all the staff writers and the most well behaved only having been banned from one country.  One thing we really appreciate about Aroin is that he writes his reviews in English and Spanish and we hope someday he’ll translate this blurb for us.  We’re not so good at languages, just look at how well we write in English if you need proof.  You should bookmark Arion’s blog -  http://artbyarion.blogspot.com – and actually look at it.  There will be a quiz at the end of every month.

     


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