Matt to Comics Legends: Cowboy Up Re: Bush, Iraq

Matt to Comics Legends: Cowboy Up Re: Bush, Iraq

Dec 08

My boss asked us all to create short lists of things we want from Target.Com, so that he can purchase us a gift for Christmas. Pretty generous, and one of the items that made my list was Absolute Watchmen.

Which got me to thinking about what I’d say if any office comics neophytes asked me about what exactly Watchmen is, and then about how Watchmen is timeless but also a product of its era, and then about how it’s actually a pretty sharp political statement about the cold war and nuclear proliferation, and THEN about Dark Knight Returns and how Frank Miller savaged the Reagan administration and the politics of eighties America.

Then I got sad. Cause who’s doing that NOW, when we need sharp and biting critique of our nation’s policies more than ever?

No one’s doing it, that’s who. Alan Moore’s making pornography–excuse me, “erotic fiction”–and Miller’s gone red white and blue in the wake of 9/11. Howard Chaykin’s cranking out excellent and absolutely uncontroversial work for both Marvel and DC. All the angry young men of the eighties comics new wave have become far less angry old men, except for Moore, and then only when they make his books into movies.

Is Civil War supposed to count? Cause it’s pretty tame. Toothless, in fact. Thinly-veiled allegory that strikes no nerves.

Fact is, there’s nothing out there on the scale of a Dark Knight or Watchmen that is taking the current administration to task for its heartless, thoughtless policies at home and abroad. These assholes are getting a TOTAL free pass from the comic book industry. (And the music industry, and most of the movie industry, and DEFINITELY the television industry. But that’s another post.)

I guess one could argue that we don’t need comics to act as political statements, nor do we need pop tunes, popcorn flicks, and the boob tube filling any kind of similar role. Except we DO, if only because some of our greatest artistic achievements as a nation have emerged from the righteous rage of political protest.

History will probably not be kind to our current era of comics, if only because the US of A was brought to its knees by Bush and his cronies, and sequential artists did absolutely nothing about it. Talk about an infinite crisis–there’s one for ya.


  1. Steve

    I agree with everything you’re saying. And you’d be even more right if you went beyond the industries you named to blame the great, yawning, fat, and happy American people, themselves, who will tell pollsters how much they “disapprove” but will not leave their TV sets long enough to do anything about it. Which is why, if I may be critical, I will ask you to read the following sentence aloud:

    “These assholes are getting a TOTAL free pass from the comic book industry.”

    Is this the stuff of revolutions?

    I agree with everything you’re saying. But Jack Kirby or Siegel & Schuster will not save the world, and neither will their characters. I love sharp art and entertainment that can provoke us to think or to act. But I’ll argue that looking for inspiration to comics or television or film is little better than being narcotized into doing nothing by comics or television or film. Our problems are here, and they are our problems.

    Or, to quote Billy Bragg: “If no one out there understands, start your own revolution and cut out the middle man.”

    (Did I just contradict myself by quoting a piece of entertainment? Ponder that riddle, Batman.)

  2. you also are absolutely right. but i think you knew that already.

    I guess my point–this being a geek entertainment blog, and not a \”great, yawning, fat, and happy American people\” blog–is that I think the time for inspiration is long overdue.

    do I need it? Not really. do others? Maybe. Does it matter? NO.

    If Jack Kirby crawled from his grave to volunteer at his local Democratic phone bank, I guess that\’d be great. But if he wrote and drew Captain America Beats The Shit Out Of The Neocons And Their Puppet, that would KICK ASS. And inspire. And document the era far better than Civil War will.

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