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3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 13 June 2004
In Britain ," Filth " is a word which can mean pornography,grime and dirt, or (in the expression "The Filth") can be slang for the police force. Grant Morrison,surrealistic graphic novelist supreme, plays with all three meanings,and combines them with his usual interest in the nature of reality,personality and the power of fiction to create new realities....the result?
A graphic novel which is confusing,stimulating,terrifying. hilarious and uplifting.
Through a sad sack loner who is obsessed with his cat(autobiographical echoes of Morrison's own life here!), the reader is introduced to "the Hand" a reality police force,clearing up threats to existence itself....but what do they really represent? And what is reality?
Readers familiar with Morrison's wonderful "Doom Patrol"," Animal Man" and "The Invisibles" will be on home territory here,while the casual reader may find themselves thoroughly confused. This work is dense,allusive and mind-expanding and is nowhere near as easy to follow as Morrison himself thinks..But,by God,it's thought-provoking,beautifully drawn by the magnificent Chris Weston and will resonate for weeks after reading. This work,perhaps more than any other,repays careful rereading and consideration.
Ignore the grudging response of much of the comics community. This is a challenging and complex work,but it is very worthwhile.The sexual and violent content,whilst disturbing in many ways,is neither gratuitous nor pointless,and the message of the work is empowering and positive.
Another meaning of "Filth" is the manure that makes flowers grow, and this compelling and difficult graphic novel makes the flowering of new concepts and ideas possible.
Recommended to all open-minded readers, willing to work hard to explore the limits of reality.
And that should include YOU!!
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on 29 March 2011
I think the best word to describe this novel is 'funhouse'. I chose that word with some care, because I think it captures both the strength of the novel and its weakness. Basically, we have a collection of ideas, each fascinating in itself, thrown together with little apparent attention to conventional narrative or plot. So, in the course of the book a number of strands run relatively parallel to one another, with little or no contact, but even within each strand there are shards or fragments, as if the strand were a collection of icebergs moving freely, so sometimes the touch briefly, but there is no obvious way in which they fit together.

So, this could be infuriating if what you are looking forward to is a simple narrative where good guys kick butt, or even a less simple narrative where everything is horribly complicated but at least you understand how all the parts fit together to produce a greater whole. But then again, what ideas they are. Gilbert and George images brought to life; a man whose official spokesperson is a woman who has been subjected to surgery so invasive that she is now simply a highly concupiscent automaton; extremely ambitious nanobots; mind-reading toupees; the 'paperverse' of superhero comics, whence characters can emerge into our world; chemically induced alter-egos leading to weird existential debates about which is the real personality; and so on.

So okay, loads of brilliant ideas. What about the novel as a whole? Well, this is my theory, and Grant Morrison may disagree, but here goes. In my opinion what we have here is almost the raw material for making a graphic novel. That is to say, we have a number of only very loosely connected fragments, and it is up to us to make a narrative of them that works for us, but may, of course, not work for anyone else. Trying not to sound pretentious, this is very similar to the idea Woolf used in Jacob's Room (Oxford World's Classics), where she presents fragments from the life of the eponymous protagonist, and it is up to us to assemble them into a life. So the real story of The Filth lies in the intertextual gaps that you, the reader fill from within your own mind, inspired by what Grant Morrison has told you.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 3 September 2010
'The Filth' is an extraordinary achievement: an original illustrated narrative that sustains itself over 320 pages without once flagging. Grant Morrison has created a story that spins off a triple pun - 'filth' in the literal sense of detritus, waste, decay, corruption, dirt: 'filth' in the moral sense of impurity or obscenity; and 'The Filth', British street slang for the police. His central character is at one and the same time an agent of filth - as Greg Feely, balding pornography aficionado and suspected paedophile - and an Agent of The Filth in its most extreme aspect: as Ned Slade of The Hand, a secret 'supercleansing' organisation dedicated to the maintenance of Status:Q.

So far, so relatively conventional. But this brief outline barely scratches the surface layer of the metaphysical - and metafictional - fantasy that Morrison spins from his secret-agent and secret-identity scenario. Is The Hand real, or is Feely a sad little man undergoing a psychotic breakdown? Is hard-boiled 'Ned Slade' more or less authentic than cat-loving 'Greg Feely'? How far is our sense of identity merely a satisfying story - and if so, who is writing that story?

'The Filth' is complex, funny and scabrous, and not for the faint-hearted. You should read it, if for no other reason, to make the acquaintance of Dmitri-9: enhanced ape, foul-mouthed dope-smoking former cosmonaut and sometime presidential assassin. He's just one of a whole gallery of memorable, original figures that Morrison throws around with reckless prodigality.

Almost in passing, Morrison and his penciller Chris Weston paint a picture of contemporary Britain - stressed, squalid, angry, judgemental - that owes nothing to American models, and then disrupt it with a surrealist sense of surprise and threat that suggests the excremental vision of the great satirists. The brilliance and violence of the ideas and language match the bleakness of the vision.

This is one of the rare graphic novels that comes close to justifying the phrase. Certainly it repays rereading.
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on 28 January 2012
A scenario: Shaven-headed sequential art auteur, Grant Morrison, reads Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange.. Inspired by its dystopian vision, he then reads William Burroughs' The Naked Lunch and Nova Express. Drunk on the old ultra-violence, pornographic horror-show and misogynistic nihilism, he has a Yosser Hughes moment (see Boys from the Blackstuff [DVD] and thinks, "Gissa job. I could do that." The result is 'The Filth,' which, like Burroughs and Burgess, combines abusive sex and gross violence with warped humour and narcotic, hallucinatory weirdness. It also uses a fragmentary narrative style not unlike Burroughs' 'cut-up' technique that he got from the English artist, Brion Gysin. The plot arc of 'The Filth' is so fragmented that I found myself repeatedly having to flip back and check page numbers to make sure that I hadn't skipped four pages by mistake.
But does it work? Well, not really, at least not for me, hence the three stars. The question for me is whether the trips into degrading sex, excremental nastiness and graphic violence are outweighed by convincing characterisation, engaging storytelling, underlying philosophy and leavening humour. Personally, I have to say, no. There certainly are moments of humour (my favourite being on page 106) and, as with almost everything Morrison writes, we are called on to question the nature of reality, but, in the end, like 'The Naked Lunch' and 'A Clockwork Orange,' 'The Filth' simply leaves me feeling rather depressed by the grotesque detail lavished by Morrison and artist, Chris Weston, on humanity's capacity to inflict suffering on ourselves and each other. Morrison is a great writer and Weston a very good artist, but, unless you're a fan of gross grotesquery, this book is probably not for you. To see Morrison at his brilliant best, check out his early 90s runs on DC's Animal Man (Book One) and Doom Patrol: Crawling from the Wreckage (Book 1) In both of these, the surreal humour and questioning of reality are playful and genuinely engaging. In 'The Filth,' the playfulness is swamped by the ... er .. filth.
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on 24 August 2012
This is right up there with my favourite comic books; Grant Morrison has created an awesome, bizarre world in this book. In a way it reminds me of cult TV show The Prisoner. Not in terms of story or characters, just because nothing is what it seems and just when you think you know what's going on, the story takes another strange twist.

A word of warning, many events in the book are left for the reader to interpret, so if you need everything wrapped up in a bow by the end of a story then this probably isn't for you.

I highly recommend it though, it has an atmosphere which is unlike any other comic I can think of. It's an edgy, unnerving, even uncomfortable read, and yet thoroughly entertaining and occasionally very funny.
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on 13 March 2010
I read this and I can stay it stands well out there on it's own. I am amazed this work exists at all, I say that because its the most dense and strange and funny and disturbing and stunning looking thing. I can say that it has made me rethink what boundless potential the graphic novel medium has. There are twists and turns every step of the way in here, I had many literal jaw dropping moments during the read.

I know some may think this is just too absurd but maybe they are asking too many questions about whats going on. Forget questioning it all, that will kill you, just ride it out, it's very rewarding and your brain will find some satisfactory explainations. Myself and my friend exchanged some how? and why? about the book. We had two completely different conclusions on it. All I can say is if you like somthing to be different, busy challenging and rewarding you should check it out.

I have nothing to compare this book too. It is without doubt one of my all time favourites. Last of all, I have read this once. I will read it probably every year for the rest of my life just because i don't think it's possible to ever see the same thing twice, ok maybe I can compare it to the Adrenochrome experience depicted in the film fear and loathing (and then some).
Shame there was not more of it though but its more than you can chew anyhow. Way more.
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on 22 November 2006
Grant Morisson's 'The Filth' represents a daring vision of human insights and hidden characters. Through a dirty - and yet classic - story telling, the author is provocative and pleases fans of science fiction as well as pornographic plots. It's sexy, crazy, complex and surreal. Morrison is the Salvador Dalí of comic writing. Brilliant and unique!
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on 7 February 2015
Paperback printing of this book is bizarrely shoddy, unlike anything else I've had from Vertigo (who I'm normally a fan of). The spine isn't thick enough for the number of pages, so the very thin outside card "cover" doesn't actually cover the inner pages. Just exceptionally cheaply made, which is a shame as Morrison and Weston's work deserves better. Really wish I had held out for the hardback edition of this.
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on 25 July 2005
I really enjoyed the original story and superb artwork in this book. Very different to any of the other graphic novels that I've recently read and a very welcome addition to my collection.
The main character lives a strange dual life, you (and he) are never quite sure which is real, which is fantasy, in a world that again, you and the character are never sure exists. Either way you'll enjoy trying to work it out.
Confusing at times but much more than that a really great ride. Highly recommended for a challenging but really enjoyable read.
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on 6 October 2009
I have a golden rule: If the only poor reviews of a book or movie are due to offense taken over taste and decency, then it's probably worth a look.

The Filth can be enjoyed either as a very literal adventure story, or mulled over for weeks. Self indulgent, yes, but 100% more emotionally involving than The Invisibles, at least for me, because The Filth came in one volume and revolved solely around a single protagonist who is, at face value, just some sad perv with a cat. If you can't get past the perverse nature of the material (which is no worse than The Invisibles or Preacher for instance) then this is a must-have, and will soon become a must-force-all-friends-to-read as well.
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