Recently, there’s been another outrage outburst in the comics community. A woman criticized a sorta shitty comic cover, and naturally, she was threatened with rape. It feels…
Ulisas Farinas has written a pair of impassioned articles about the normalization of depictions of violence against women in comics and, more recently, underlining the self-delusion inherent in the recent posturing made in response to the rape threats against Janelle Asselin, a comics culture writer who had the temerity to criticize a Teen Titans comic book cover for being dumb (heads up, True Believers, those comics are dumb!)
It’s an undisciplined but honest pair of articles, and he makes some thoughtful points, like
As an adult, I see men all around me, who write violence, who draw violence, who have never been infected (sic) by violence. Most women you know, have been victims of some sort of violence from a man. But where is Batman and the battered woman? Where is Captain America and the saddest conversation you can have with a girlfriend? Where is all the heartache, the pain, the disgust and the powerlessness?
And on the … well, christ, on the pointlessness of trying to shame bad behavior out of folks…
A man tells a woman he’ll rape her because its the only thing left where he can still have power. You ain’t gonna shame no dude into stop doing that. Shame is exactly why he does it. Dude knows exactly how offensive he is being. And if it offends his dude friends? They think, “That’s cause they’re little bitches too, so fuck them. I bet they can’t get laid, so they just pretend to be feminists to hang out with chicks.”
They don’t know what rape is, except from what they’ve learned from TV, comics and movies. They know that its extremely shocking, and so they can always rely on it to end the conversation.
As a reward for writing these articles, Ulisas been gifted with a lovely bouquet of “UNH ACTUALLY MEN GET RAPED TOO YOU KNOW!” responses, with such suddenness and ferocity that you’d think these guys were competing for the Gold in Missing the Point (I suppose I can inoculate myself against the same thing by adding: he never said they didn’t). He’s been given the greatest gift of all, being proven right by nimrods.
You know that joke - a woman is crying because she’s just received word that her sister and nieces died in a boating accident, and a guy walking by interrupts her; “Uh, excuse me, but men drown too, you know.”
The title of your Winter Soldier post summed up my thoughts exactly. Holy fuck but it literally looks like a cable drama (Joss Whedon needs to be strung up for allowing that lighting to become a thing). You're wrong about Iron Man 3, though; it's totally a Shane Black movie, just not enough of/a particularly good one. Still the most watchable of the new batch.
The thing I like about Shane Black movies (and some other 80’s action movies to a lesser extent; but at least Die Hard, which is perfect)— and I think what modern blockbusters have strayed from to their detriment— is the heroes are Messed Up. They’re not okay; society doesn’t really have a place for them— Geena Davis in Long Kiss Goodnight can’t be a homemaker because she’s a killer, Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon can’t be a family man like Danny Glover because he’s lethal and also a weapon, Downey Jr. in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang has one of my favorite things where he says something like, “I’m not saying it’s normal— I’m not saying I’m normal”; etc. Modern special effects blockbusters don’t have those kinds of characters— it’s all Chosen Ones and prophecies and all that crap, instead of Bill Murray in Meatballs. I don’t know why— this country got more evangelical? People got less accepting of actual outcasts (the nerds never won)? No clue.
I identify with fuck-ups lots, for obvious reasons, so that is the kinda stuff I’m into. And so, Iron Man 3— if it had any of that to it, I missed it. The fact it was set at Christmas didn’t mean much when fundamentally, I felt like the stuff I think of as being his real hallmarks wasn’t there, the stuff I get into. Downey Jr. had a “nervous condition”, they tried to jam in a neuroses, but it never felt all that real and I don’t remember it getting resolved in any meaningful way…
And the ending, I just remember it all being special effects and Gwyneth Paltrow’s weird stomach. The idea of the main character having to defeat the bad guys in order to be in some way healed wasn’t there (which I think is how his other movies have ended, the healing power of violence— Bruce Willis being gloomy all movie and then finally being happy enough to dance a jig because he threw a guy onto helicopter blades). Take away the main character healing and/or coming to grips with his world (e.g. Mel Gibson having to beat up Gary Busey outside the family home) and it’s just… What’s there to root for without that stuff? I don’t know. Not much. So for me it always felt authored and muddled by executives, and consultants, and whatever, more than anything, like with all those movies. For me, it’s not a “real Shane Black” thing in the ways that count. It’s just the movie I’m hoping helps him get to make real Shane Black things again because … The Nice Guys is a pretty fun script that’s just lying on a shelf somewhere, so…
This clip from the radio show won’t end up on The Chronological Superman for a few months, but I just listened to it for the first time a few days ago and had to share it.
This is the broadcast from Christmas Day, 1945, the first Christmas Day following the end of World War II. Here, the show’s sponsor - Kellogg’s of Battle Creek - forgoes its usual advertisement space so that Superman himself (actor Bud Collyer, the voice of the Man of Steel for radio and cartoons) could offer Christmas wishes to his listeners.
More than that, though, Superman goes on to talk about tolerance, and good will, and the right that all men have to live free, unencumbered from injustice - It’s worthwhile to try to put yourself in the place of the audience of this show; an eight- or nine-year old kid, a family whose sons or fathers or brothers might just now be coming home from years overseas - if they were lucky - a world that’s celebrating having defeated a clear evil and now must redefine itself in peacetime.
It’s an oversimple speech, but touching. I won’t play this card often, but - I defy you not to choke up even a little when Superman speaks to you longingly of tolerance and goodwill.
Every fan of every character or storyline which has a multitude of incarnations across different eras and under different artistic direction has their personal favorites - you might prefer Star Trek in the Next Gen era, you might prefer your Connery Bond. When it comes to Superman, I love the character and the mythos across the board, but increasingly - as I listen to these old radio shows - I’m coming to realize that the Superman who most closely resembles my ideal of the character, of everything he stands for and the moral certainty he couples with uncomplicated, decisive action, is the radio show version.
Did Batman ever discover an element of his own, that you know of? Some kind of Batmanuim? Also, you gonna be at ECCC this weekend?
I will be at ECCC, but only wandering the floor come Sunday. I’ll draw pies for whomever can overtake and subdue me.
I know how you mean about superheroes who discover their own elements, but I’m afraid - the Batman Leads An Interesting Life feature on Gone&Forgotten notwithstanding - I don’t know near as much Batman lore as I do Superman, Shazam, Daredevil, Metamorpho, et al, so I can’t say for sure.
If he DID discover a unique Bat-element, here are the names I’d recommend for them:
After something like seven centuries of writing Gone&Forgotten entries, I am all but immune to truly awful comics; it has gifted me with an intellectual beekeeper suit in which I am protected from the stings of pap and tripe.
However, I have to admit, there are two insufferable things which supersede my defenses - the first, I abhor the merely typical. I have a lot of modern mainstream industrial comics thrown my way by pals with the insistence “But it’s REALLY GOOD” and I find it to be an amalgamation of references to petty nostalgia from shared childhood and a lot of “member dis?” in lieu of content, with keywords standing in for tension, or to put it more simply, the current runs of assorted Avengers and X-Men aren’t doing much for me.
The second thing is a lot of younger cartoonists are producing work which they seem to think is “comics” but which is actually just narrative text accompanying illustrations, boxed with panel borders (or sometimes not), and which drives me nuts. Comics is the synthesis of text and image, sometimes the juxtaposition of or unity of text and image, not merely text which could just as easily exist independent of the illustration but which what the hey, here’s some drawings to sidle up next to it, without which this would just be a perfectly readable but unremarkable blogpost.
Did Superman ever lose his powers for a couple issues and Batman had to train him to fight like a regular dude?
Oh yeah, a few times. The one which comes to mind was when a cosmic shaving cream machine robbed Superman of his powers and he had to go around dressed as Super-Nova, a crimefighter with a super-scientific cape given to him by Leonardo Da Vinci. He was eventually coerced by “Mr.Socrates” a “playboy arch-criminal” to try and kill Batman, but eventually it all worked out. Highlights: I’m pretty sure it’s the first time any reference was made to a “Kryptonian Babootch” and also Batman is super-blithe about asking Green Lantern to wipe criminals’ minds for no good reason.
“Now, everywhere we turn, from the lower echelons of Web entrepreneurs like Aung Than, who use it to cash in on their cartoons and pretend they are doing some vital service to mankind, to the upper atmosphere of privileged tech millionaires who urge us to “do what you love and the money will follow”, we are drowning in a flood of aspirational libertarianism. This is not the cruel, hard-edged objectivism of Ayn Rand that scorns charity and embraces social Darwinism; it is a feel-good philosophy of wealth as a byproduct of passion, always equipped with a quote from Einstein or Vonnegut or Deepak Chopra to ease our conscience about using capitalism as a method of spiritual enlightenment. It is a gospel of achievement, not of domination. It paints the lower orders not as moochers and leeches, forever begging their betters for a handout, but as non-creatives and under-achievers, whose greatest crime is not wanting it bad enough. But while it couches its message of attainment uber alles in (literal) terms of art, the message is essentially the same: you deserve success, and it is your talent that entitles you to it. And if you fail, it’s because you’re just not trying.”—
At what point in your artistic life did your style kick in ?
Whoo, hurm, um…
I think style kicks in as soon as the artist starts working - if the first thing you put pen to paper for is, say, manga swipes or Berke Breathed swipes or uncurated doodles, you know, that’s your style at that moment. Your style changes and bends and suits you better at one point than another.
I know friends of mine would show me things they drew “in my style” ever since college, and it always looked weird to me; flat, Hanna-Barbera noses, heavy black outlines, hands that looked like intestines made of concrete - but the artist doesn’t get to define their own style, right? Style is something other people decide you have, when you stand out enough for them to notice it, I reckon.
Personally, I only got HAPPY with my style about ten years ago, and every now and again I find a new corner of it to inhabit, to my delight. Some guy last year said my work reminded him of Joost Swarte, and the same day someone said it had a Mignola-esque quality, both of which I take as tremendous compliments, but I guess the question is: Is that my style or are those only the influences showing themselves?
Who do you feel is the most underrated Superman villain?
In terms of his recurring roster, it’s a tie between The Prankster and Terra-Man, although for different reasons; they keep trying to amp up the Prankster’s threat level when he really doesn’t need it, he’s fine just pulling complicated schemes that Superman can’t punch his way through. Conversely, Terra-Man needs to be amped UP, but everyone who handles him seems to be embarrassed by the guy.
I also think Amalak had a lot of potential, but mostly? Mostly it’s Super-Menace.
It’s got to be Superman Family #177 (June/July 1976 - or, possibly, Superman’s Girlfriend #53, although that’s less likely because that book came out in ‘64), because I remember really clearly reading the story below where Superman/Clark, Lois and Lana end up in some Viking village in a hidden English valley where local law requires that all women must be married, and so Lana snags Superman while Lois is saddled with Clark.
My family was moving from California to New York, and I have surprisingly clear memories of reading that story on the plane (at age 5 - probably because our heroes were ALSO on a plane at the time).
It’s one of those ghastly, hyper-corny, contrived Silver Age stories that nonetheless has one of the nicer final panels of your average Lois Lane comic:
What's this I hear about your book of story ideas? Where can I get one?
There’s a marble hourglass that commemorates the conclusion of the Battle of Pydna in 168 BC, located in the heart of the former Macedonian Empire. Spill the blood of a calf with a moon-mark on its left hoof at the vernal equinox precisely at midnight and an Eagle Gate will open in the barren Earth. Then you must descend the stairs for four miles, never looking back, until you find the B.Daltons. They got two copies left. Ask for Meryl, she knows where they are.