Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Art of Protest

Oh, dear.

As reported at Robot 6, a groups of fans are actually going to protest the DC re-launch at the SDCC.

Now, I'm not going to make fun of them for protesting. I've lived my entire adult life in Washington, D.C., whose economy rests squarely on the idea that the self-righteous will pay good money to parade their moral superiority through protests, not because it ever accomplishes anything, but just because it makes them feel good. Enjoy your stay in the nation's capital and remember to re-hydrate!

Nor will I take the easy pot-shots at them for the "trivial" nature of what they are protesting. Yes, they could and perhaps "should" be off protesting "important" things like world hunger, or taxes, or Crocs (lord knows someone should). But there are other people doing that and what difference would they make doing it too? People don't protest things because those things are "important"; they protest them because they are angry. And don't tell me you've never been angry at something that was done in comic book or with a comic book character. Maybe not angry enough to go out and protest publicly... but that's you, and this is them. Television fans 'protest' on behalf of their shows all the time; perhaps they do not take it to the streets, but neither do they generally have a ready-made venue like ComicCon.


I will point out one thing.

As far as I can tell, this protest comes from "art people" not "writer people". There's some pro forma bitching about the reboot, but the genesis of their discontent actually seems to be the costume re-designs. And THAT is amazing to me... yet predictable.

I have always maintained that there are two types of comic book fans: those for whom the art is a means to an end (telling the story) and those for whom the art is an end in itself. As I've written before, DC has always been story-focused and plot-driven, whereas Marvel is more about characterization and art.

As such, writer-types tends to be DC fans and artist-types tend to be Marvel fans. Yes, yes, 'protest' all you want that I'm painting with a broad brush, and you yourself aren't like that, and aren't we all just the same, wanting a Coke and a smile. Fine. But I used to own comic book stores and if there was one constant it was that every customer who was an amateur artist had a sub full of Marvel and every amateur writer had a sub full of DC.

Given that, DC fans, I think, tend to be a more philosophical lot. Writers know that the essence of writing is re-writing, and that the essence of comic book history is being constantly re-written. Every writer does something slightly different with a character, and characters and continually being evolved, their backstories filled in, their interpretations broadened. Writer-ly types know that it doesn't matter whether the frog is boiled slowly through monthly tweaks or all at once with re-launch... it's still gonna get boiled.

But artist-types? I don't think they understand that as easily. Individual artists have their own style, certainly. But they don't get to actually change costume designs. So all these simultaneously costume re-designs come as quite a shock to the art-fans' systems, I think.

Writers (everyone knows, LOL) are Old, World-Worn, and Cynical. Artists are Young, Fresh, and Idealistic. These young artists types are shocked at the lack of exceptionalism in the fandom, completely taken aback that what happened to the comic book fans of Golden Age, and the Silver & Bronze Ages, is now happening... to them.

The writer types? Not so shocked. Not so ready to protest. We're too busy sunning at the sidewalk cafes in San Diego, sipping demitasses of Cuban coffee and clucking at the naivete of the artists marching by with their artfully letter protest signs.

What I find amazing is that there are that many DC fans who care that much about the art...

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Haikuesday: But I like it here!

Long before there was the somber and power-mad Martian Manhunter, there was timid but carefree Monstro the Martian.

Absorbascommandos will remember Monstro as the Martian that the Shield beat the snot out of.

Turns out the joke was on the Shield; despite the shellacking, Monstro rather liked Earth and hung out with the Shield for an issue or two. How annoying to have a mind-reading, shaping-changing Martian hanging around while you're trying to be a brightly dressed crimefighter! And, unfortunately for the Shield, banishing him to Stormwatch isn't an option.

Still, the Shield and Dusty, as true heroes, are committed to protecting him; as true Americans, to welcoming him to our shores; and as true gentlemen, to serving politely as his hosts.

Hm. Perhaps I misjudged them.

Anyway, before they give Monstro the bum's rush, Shield does try to convince him to leave of his own volition. In fact, he even sacrifices correct grammar to do so ...

in haiku!

"Now see here, Monstro!
You can't stay in our world! You've
got to back to Mars!"

Wow. He even dropped the word "go" from his sentence completely, simply so he could make his word balloon a haiku. You've got to admire the Shield's commitment to heroic haiku, if not his craft.

But Monstro is easily a match for the Shield. Adapting like Martians do, Monstro dismisses the Shield, believe it or not...


"But I like it here,
Shield! Ho-hum, I'm tired!
I think I'll lie down..."

Sneaky Martians; always outdoing you and copying your haiku-making powers! No wonder they're not allowed in the Justice League.

Can you out-do Monstro with a haiku commentary of your own?!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Pep 41: The Fall of Pep, or, The Subjugation of the Shield

Pep #41... has there ever been a sadder cover?

I'm sorry; you can waste all your tears on Ollie's discovery that Speedy was an addict, or little Bruce Wayne kneeling by his parents lifeless bodies in a dark alley, or that puppy falling out the Iron Ace's plane.

But none of those come close to this cover portrait of tragedy.

Behold, the once mighty Shield. Once his powerful thighs of justice propelled him into action with the force of a 1000 militiamen across the pages of Pepe. Here he stands cowed into eunuch-like thrall to his evil master, The Andrews Thing, his legs clamped together tighter than an over-tucked drag queen. Not content merely to have enslaved him, The Andrews completes the humiliation by forcing the Shield to publicly acknowledge him as Victor Over All and praise his "knockout" beauty. How utterly emasculating.

The fight against crime and America's enemy has been deemed to "gloomy" and is to be expunged from the Archieverse. Sidelined are the murderously grim Hangman and apostatic Dusty, swept aside from crime-fighting action into mind-numbering inaction, brainwashed at the Riverdale Re-Education Camp through hours of forced reading of Archie's 'adventures' in Pep Comics. What human can look upon their empty-minded grinning without revulsion and pity?

And all the while Forsythe P. "Jughead" Jones, Riverdale's Minister of Propaganda, laconically, mirthlessly utters the order to all of you, Archie's new minions: "You vill be one vith our Leader. Und you vill be happy, vether you vant to be or not."

Oh, the comic book irony! The Shield spent so much time and effort focused on protecting America from the fascist forces of the Europe, only to have his own domain overtaken by the fascist forces of Riverdale!

May we all remember this lesson of the Fall of Pep this Independence Day!