Friday, January 30, 2009

liberalism in comic books




Holy Terror, Batman
by Mike Baron

Part One:



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In 2006, I had a minor low pressure area in my brain and conceived a P.R. campaign directed against Islamo-fascism which I posted on Nate Tabor’s “The Conservative Voice.” The results were swift and devastating. Like any other branch of the entertainment industry, liberalism is the default position of most comic book creators and fans.

Liberalism has a long and honorable history in comics, nowhere more apparent than in the groundbreaking Green Lantern/Green Arrow comics by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams which dealt with drug addiction, the trial of the Chicago Seven, corporate pollution and overpopulation. In “Death Be My Destiny,” O’Neil posited a planet called Maltus where over-population was out of control. Denny was channeling the Reverend Thomas Malthus, a nineteenth-century Brit who predicted a Paul Erlich-like doom. In “The Population Bomb” Erlich predicted: “In the 1970s and 1980s . . . hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.”

That didn’t happen. It was a test run for today’s global warming baloney, which many libs take on faith. Comics are jammed with corporate villains and group identity politics.

In the eighties, I worked on adaptations of Timothy Zahn’s “Star Wars” novels for Dark Horse and wrangled an invite to Skywalker Ranch to meet my Skywalker editor. We were sitting in her office when I cheerfully offered a non-ideological observation, “You know,” I said, “I have a theory that “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” are two sides of the same coin. “Star Trek” offers a liberal vision. “Star Wars” offers a conservative…”

That was as far as I got before my editor barked, “I’m a liberal!” I didn’t mean anything by my observation beyond what I’d said, but she was so terrified of being associated in any way shape or form with conservatism that she had to nip that line of logic in the protein pool.

Part Two:

Comic fandom is a raucous free-for-all of often juvenile voices. Who else has time to hang on the web all day fantasizing about John Byrne’s sex life? After I posted my “Manifesto,” Newsarama, an excellent source of comic news, quickly smelled blood and posted the following referring to the manifesto:

“Fans of his work on ‘Nexus,’ ‘Badger,’ ‘Punisher’ and countless other titles may be wondering what Mike Baron has been up to lately. Well, you can check out his latest work over at ‘The Conservative Voice,’ where he posted an essay titled “Manifesto” earlier this week. The first line — “What if the United States launched an all-out public relations blitz to convince the world that Islamofascism must be stopped?” — gives you an idea of the flavor of the essay.

“His proposed PR plan does include comics [Newsarama now quotes from my "Manifesto"]:

Comics: The idiot bastard son of newsprint and yellow ink has become the tail that wags the cultural dog. Half the movies made today are based on comic books. The comic itself is making a comeback thanks to the graphic novel and the rise of Japanese manga. Comics are the preferred reading in most of the civilized world. They account for over half the periodicals sold in Britain and Japan. It is only in the United States where they dwindled and almost died from a combination of cultural and economic factors.

But now they’re back, and being read big time by studio executives. Entertainment Weekly and the New York Times regularly review comic books. With the advent of such works as Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series they are once again a serious vehicle for ideas.

We need the kind of comics we produced during World War II, when Superman, the Justice League et al went to bat for America against the Nazis and the Japanese. One character from that era cries out for a new beginning: Captain America. Captain America should be taking the fight to Tehran. Captain America should become the unabashed champion of Western civilization and Judeo/Christian values. Considering Marvel’s diversification, world market, and the eagerness of its owners to hobnob with the beautiful people, this is unlikely.

We need a new Captain America.

Here are the responses from the Newsarama comment section:

1. And here, ladies and gentlemen, is why I don’t want to give Baron any of my money anymore.

2. Okay, Baron is officially a Right-wing nut. It makes so much sense to spread hatred in the U.S. against Muslims? Wow, can’t you see the skinheads torching mosques and saying, “Well, Captain America said it was okay!”

3. After Mr. Baron links to a news segment - which starts as a 60 minutues [sic] clip but then almost seamlessly cuts to somebody trying to prove Palestinians fake their own deaths… After he calls for ridicule of a religion (”…comic books satirizing Ahmadinejad—the dude’s eyes are so close together he’s practically a Cyclops. And Nasrallah—did you ever see a more hapless looking shmuck. He looks like a chipmunk with glasses…”), which can only lead to more misunderstanding and violence… After he inadvertantly [sic] agrees that the Palestinians live under Israeli opression [sic] in this paragraph:

Above all, repeat as often as possible the message that suicide bombing is a crime against humanity, it has no justification, and the people who do it are evil. Point to the example of Tibet, under soul-crushing Chinese rule for decades, yet not a single Tibetan has resorted to violence, let alone suicide bombing.

After all this, he actually says this: “Thank God for Fox News. This is one area where civilization has a leg up.” At which point I stopped reading. Mike Baron’s understanding of the world is equivalent to that of a child. A hateful, spoiled child who does not even understand the propaganda he regurgitates.

4. That’s sad. I feel sorry for Mr. Baron. There’s a sickness running wild in America, and he’s the latest casualty. I hope someday he recovers enough equilibrium to be ashamed of that article.

The following most succinctly summed up the tone of the comments:

’Islamofascism’–Interesting that this bullshit word took all of 2 days to seep so deeply into the public conciousness [sic]. Amero-fascism is what has got me scared.

My favorite response:

Mike Baron being conservative is a new development? Yeah, I seem to recall his introduction to a Punisher collection from the 80s making the case that America needs a real life Punisher, someone willing to completely bypass the legal system and dispense summary justice, etc. Mike Baron’s mother is/was a radical feminist professor at UW-Madison, from what I’ve been told.

My mother was a Professor of Business in the UW School of Business. She also had a TV show for kids called “Bouncy Bunny,” but that’s another story. The most radical thing about Mom was the bright red coat she wore on cold days.

Part Three:

A couple true liberals, including Mike Gold and Jackie Estrada, wrote in to defend my right to pop off. I was saddened but not surprised by the majority of responses. As I mentioned above, liberalism is a fall-back position. It needn’t be examined and explained because it is the dominant culture. It makes people feel good about themselves without effort.

Occasionally a conservative voice breaks through what Emmett Tyrell calls the kultursmog. Frank Miller, creator of “Sin City” and “300,” has always had conservative views and is in fact working on a Batman graphic novel called “Holy Terror” in which Batman defends Gotham City from Al Qaeda.

Miller’s been riding high, with film versions of his “Sin City“ and “300.” His latest film, “The Spirit” (based on the classic comic by Will Eisner) went down in flames on its opening day with some of the worst reviews in history. A certain portion of fandom was waiting with sharpened knives. The schadenfreude on the message boards was thicker than the fog in “Sin City.”

Will this affect “Holy Terror?” I hope not. Frank has said “Holy Terror” is “bound to offend just about everybody.”

Well it won’t offend conservatives, but who counts them?

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