Invented by Warran Ellis and drawn by Derek Robertson, this incredibly colorful comic strip provides one of the most colorful pictures of the cyberpunk future and tells a fascinating story. Teplitsa author Oleg Uppit explains why Transmetropolitan is a source of inspiration for journalists and activists.
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School of Gonzo Journalism
Hunter Thompson’s biography and the history of the Watergate scandal still inspire journalists and activists. But, let’s be honest, by the end of the 90s, when Transmetropoliten was being created, they began to smell of mothballs. Gonzo journalism entered the mainstream and became all too familiar, and exposing the machinations of President Nixon is in the distant past.
But the adventures of Spyder Jerusalem in Transmetropolitan turn out to be gonzo journalism at maximum speed: even more hallucinogenic, even more insane and dangerous than in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, based on Thompson’s most famous book.
Spider is not just a columnist provocateur. Much more right than Danila Bagrov, he could claim the slogan “Strength is in truth.” The action of “Transmetropolitan” takes place in the City, where there is so much information that the authorities allow complete freedom of speech to exist. Typically, the content consumer simply does not get to something serious, drowning in TV shows, continuous live broadcasts from the streets, in which reporters pester passers-by with questions and advertisements that are not burdened with meaning.
Television remains the main medium in this version of the future, but it has gained strength and, by intrusiveness, overshadows today’s social networks. Spider writes lyrics, but these lyrics are so strong that sometimes they just start broadcasting live on the central channel. And it literally changes history.
Problems of the future and the present
In all this orgy of diversity, Spider is looking for something to pounce on with criticism. And if you step back a little or just get used to how swiftly the City rushes and shines brightly, it becomes clear that the problems of the future are just “old words in a new font”. The alienation and loneliness of people who woke up in this world from many years of cryogenic sleep turn out to be little stronger and more terrible than the loneliness of almost any other resident of the city.
Comics are a great tool for grotesque and highlighting what is already around us with a bright color highlight. And the most terrible problems of the future, in which Spider Jerusalem lives, are not cannibalism (it is legalized, because it is clone meat), not drugs (the residents of the City are free to dispose of themselves at their discretion) and not even information overload (so powerful that the dispersal of news directly into the brain was forbidden). And child prostitution, religious sects and, most importantly, dishonest politicians.