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I’ve got a lot on my mind tonight!

First, H’s epic overview of Infinity Inc. continues at The Comic Treadmill, and, as always, when the man talks about Roy Thomas/Earth-2, I listen, and am moved to respond! Let’s do it point-form, shall we?

1. You win H, Infinity Inc. IS the worst team name in the history of comics. I’ve ruled Big Jim’s P.A.C.K. ineligible, since it was just a stupid toy line–I don’t think anyone ever wrote/drew adventures for Jimbo, the Whip, Warpath, and Dr. Steel… at least I hope they didn’t! Of course, there’s always Team America to consider…

2.Yes, Issue #2’s confrontation at the “MacTavish” restaurant was awful, and it pained me to read it. I’ve always loved the ol’ “super-heroes at the all-night cafe” scenario, but clearly, the spectacle of “Elvira bugging the freaks” pales in comparison to the immortal X-Men #47 (wherein Hank McCoy makes short work of a “motorcyclist” named “Cairo” while a guy called “Fat Man” chants poetry), and the even more fondly remembered X-Men #31 (written by Roy himself), in which “Bernard the Poet” hits on Iceman’s date Zelda, and has his espresso frozen but good. Both of these mutant classics are set at the “Cafe-a-Go-Go” (which ranks a close second to “The Coffee Bean” as my favourite Silver Age locale… Yes, I’m a troubled man–I’m fascinated by super-hero comics, but I have no interest in fight scenes, except insofar as they can be read as expressions of something other than mere playground scuffling!)

3.Speaking of fight scenes, Infinity Inc. #2-4 has way too many of them, and none of them make sense–which contrasts sharply with the first issue of the series, so promisingly free of fisticuffs, after the initial battle/misunderstanding…

4.About Norda–H, I’d love it if you found something in Alter Ego regarding Roy’s intentions with that character. As always, I was just guessing yesterday…

A Note on all of this “Team Comix” stuff

I usually don’t get involved in the whole “how do we save comics?” thing because… well… I don’t have any disposable income, and I don’t buy new comics, so who cares what I think, right? As I’ve stated previously, I’m not particularly interested in comics as a medium, and I had never participated in the sub-culture (outside of weekly trips to the comic store from about 1987 to 1991), until I started this weblog.

Now, Dirk Deppey has been very busy lately, talking about the pernicious effects of the Direct Market upon the prospects for diversity within the medium, and I don’t suppose I can fault him–after all, he’s got a personal interest in seeing that his company’s product gets maximum exposure. However, what all of the “comic stores are killing comics” people seem to ignore is that most “comic stores” have never been “comic stores” at all!! In Montreal, we’ve got retailers with names like “Captain Quebec”, “Heroes and Villains”, “Super-Heroes”, etc–do you see what I’m saying here? They are “genre stores”. We also have bookstores that specialize in stuff like New Age material, and Sci-Fi. I don’t have any interest in either type of book, and I wouldn’t set foot in either establishment–but I would never dream of telling the owners of these stores to ‘diversify’ their product! They are specialty shops!!

It seems to me that a lot of the griping is being done by people who went to comic stores as kids, and have now, for whatever reason, “outgrown” the super-hero habit (which they associate with children/immaturity), but wish to continue frequenting their fondly-remembered childhood haunts… Solution? Make your local super-hero guy sell (and promote) Drawn & Quarterly titles! What? That’s like becoming a vegetarian and then insisting that your favourite burger joint start selling samosas…

I wouldn’t have bothered with this rant, except that I read this coment/exchange, on the Comics Journal Messageboard in fact, and I felt it needed seconding:

Do you think the lack of confident males (creators/creations/community) in alternative comics could be the reason why alternative comics haven’t taken off in the mainstream as well as we all would like?

Define “mainstream”. The bookshelves at the mall up the road are groaning under the weight of the latest restocking of JIMMY CORRIGAN.

Yes Dirk, there is a “mainstream”, and I think it’s safe to say that those vital waters don’t flow through your local “Fortress of Comics-Dude”. That’s just a backwater (a fascinating backwater, as far as I’m concerned, but we all know I’m peculiar). At a “mainstream” store–like my place of work (a medium-sized genral bookstore located near a university), for instance–the Graphic Novel section is likely to have 20 copies of Louis Riel, or The Acme Novelty Datebook, Jimmy Corrigan etc for every super-hero TPB(we don’t even stock Watchmen!)–and forget about finding any Marvel Masterworks or DC Archives… What I’m saying is this–I shed no tears when “Nebula Books” went out of business, why do you care if the super-hero guys go under? There will still be outlets for Fantagraphics books…

Okay, now about all of these

PETA pans

Listen, I’ve avoided going into any great detail re:my Animal Rights views here, because this is a forum for discussion, and, as Matt O’Rama (check the comments) and I agreed recently, you cannot debate first principles… Either you “convert” or you don’t, and that’s all there is to it. Yeah, you can convince someone to become a vegetarian through reasoned argument–the health benefits, the whole “cattle farming takes up too much space on the planet” thing–but that’s not what PETA is trying to do! They are aiming for gut-level assent to the proposition that all of the sentient beings on the planet have the right to be treated as ends in themselves. It’s not about “being nice to the animals” (any more than rights-based democracy is about being nice to the average citizen). It’s about accepting them as real. What kind of planet would we have if everyone made this leap? Who knows? I certainly don’t. But that’s not the point–and remember, I have no interest in trying to convince anyone reading this that my Animal Rights propostion is in any sense “correct”. We’re beyond good and evil here. I’ve made a radical choice. So have you. What I’m interested in here is the notion people seem to have that PETA could act in any way other than they do, and whether they should be prevented from disseminating their message.

Consider this:

Young children need time and guidance to be able to deal with the world’s ugliness. Even if you agree with these idiots, you cannot seriously think it’s ok to give this crap to a 7 year old kid.

PETA is off the planet with this shit, and if they put it in my kid’s hand while I was standing there (or any other parent reading this) they’d draw back a stump.

This is pretty typical of the response that PETA’s pamphlet has generated, and it’s disgraceful. When “Dave-in-Texas” says “Young children need time and guidance to be able to deal with the world’s ugliness”, what he really means is–kids should not be forced to think about horrors until they are taught that those horrors are not horrors at all, but merely ugly realities… At that point, the battle for conversion is already lost. Congratulations “D-in-T”–your kids will wind up just like their old man: ornery bastards ready to chop off the hands of any pamphleteers that disturb their tranquility!

We protect our children too much. Exposure to visceral images at an early age opens us up to a whole universe of radical choices, and offers up at least a possible opportunity for the excercise of free will (not that I really believe in such a thing… but even the staunchest Calvinist believes that the Word is an important trigger of “conversion”, despite the fact that “Election” is predestined. Believe me, I am not making a flip comparison here–in both cases, a complete “transvaluaion of values” is effected.)

So anyway, believe what you want. And certainly, I don’t condone any acts of violence Animal Rights people might commit. That’s just insanity, you don’t make change by terrorizing the majority. Change happens when the majority assents to it… Moreover, I don’t have the slightest desire to “convert” anyone, I like just about everybody, and I’m not suited to delivering harangues, but I do think that, in our society, we owe it to ourselves to make sure that the “means of conversion” remains operative, and protected from the kind of violence that people like this other Dave are wont to invoke.

This is NOT “psychological child abuse”, this is an image–and a message–designed to provoke an existential crisis, and, as Bill Sherman makes clear, the crisis need not lead to the resolution that PETA is looking for… Either way, it’s fine with me, I just don’t want to see our children “protected” from ideas until they’re old enough (and blinkered enough) to just explain them away… There are no easy answers, and there’s more wrong with the world than just “ugliness”. I’m not saying that my choice is the only one possible. I’m just saying–let your kids decide these things for themselves, and stop polishing the sharp edges off of reality for them. You aren’t doing anyone any favours…

Good night friends & happy new Year!
Dave

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9 comments

  1. I have never understood why people who sympathize with PETA, or people who think abortion is murder, are so quick to condemn violence, unless it’s a PR ploy. Once you buy these views, how are clinic-bombers or lab vandals any different from, say, John Brown or, to put it still more tendentiously, the resisters in the Warsaw Ghetto? If you think you live in a society of mass murderers than actions like this are irresistibly logical.

  2. Aaron,

    It’s not a PR ploy, believe me! (at least on my part) I don’t mind the analogy to the abolitionist cause (although, of course, this is a pretty different issue–for one thing, animals are not “rational” beings, and thus are not fit for citizenship. no one is arguing that cats should vote!), but please, let’s remember that most abolitionists, even the most strident ones, like Garrison and Wendell Phillips, refused to admit that John Brown’s way was the only way… I could talk about this for hours, but I won’t–suffice it to say, you don’t make the world a better place by adding to the death toll. As I’ve said–I like people, and I don’t have any interest in terrorizing them; on the other hand, I do live in hope that, in the long run, more of them will come around to my way of thinking re:Animal Rights. Like tolerance, this kind of thing cannot be legislated… changes like this have to occur deep in the mind, and they never will if PETA (and other like them) is prevented from reaching the very people who might be receptive (because they are young and have yet to settle on their first principles) to this plea. That’s all I wanted to establish.

    Dave

  3. You don’t get off quite that easy. The PETA position is that killing animals is murder, and that therefore any lab scientist who experiments on animals is a murderer, just like, say, Ted Bundy, and that anyone who eats meat or wears leather is complicit in this holocaust. Now, if you take that position seriously, then you must ineluctably conclude that most people are mass murderers or their accomplices. Which brings several questions to mind. Why do you stand idly by while this slaughter continues? Why do you condemn people who decide to take violent action against what they (and you) perceive as mass murder? How do you justify “liking” the rest of us, who not only refuse to resist this gravest of all evils but participate in it? Are you quite sure you know what side you’re on?

  4. Aaron,

    When asked to choose between those sides, I’d have to shake my head, with Sam Spade–and, if you, with Caspar Guttman, felt compelled to press the matter ask me who else there is–I’d say: “there’s me”. I dont occupy the “PETA position”–I’m just glad they’re around is all!

    When you’re talking about rights, it’s always a question of how best to harmonize some pretty incompatible things.

    For instance, when a person commits a terrible crime, they do not “lose their rights”, nor does the state “punish them” (we, as affective beings, may wish to punish them–but in our capacity as rational citizens, we know we have no right to that kind of sick gratification) . Rather, we are forced to take the terrible step of robbing murderers of their rights, in order to protect their future victims’ rights (we accept the fact of one murder as evidence of a predisposition to the commisiion of further acts of that sort). That’s not a cut-and-dried thing, and make no mistake, when you put anyone in jail, you’re doing a terrible (however necessary) thing to a human being.

    Now, when it comes to “Animal Rights”, what I’m saying is that I want animals to be treated as “ends in themselves”–I never made any statement about what happens to the people (like my girlfriend, whom I love very much!) who think differently. Frankly, that’s none of my concern. I’m not here to punish people. You don’t help animals by killing the people who have hurt them–you help animals by treating them with respect and doing what little you can to convince others that they ought to as well… That’s it! That’s my position on this matter! You heed the dictates of your own conscience, and you leave the rest up to “Providence” (but the lines of communication have to be kept open!)

    In case anyone’s interested–I blogged a bit about the complexities (and ongoing pains) of an Animal Rights commitment here…

    Dave

  5. David, thanks for letting me know you pulled my comments from another site (asmallvictory) and posted them here. I appreciate the “hey Mr. In-Texas, I responded to your comments if you care”.

    I don’t care much, but thank you for the opportunity to respond.

    You and others who share your opinion are entitled to them. I’ll grant you yours, hell I don’t even require that you grant me mine. I’m sure everyone reading this knows you and I do not share the same views about meat. Let’s set that aside, as I did in my earlier comment.

    Where you miss the mark is to suggest that I’m buying time by keeping this stuff (we’ve all seen it) from a young child until I can convince her that it isn’t really awful when she’s older. That a 7 year old child (I used a seven year old as an example, but mine are 13 and 17 now) should not be subjected to this, is in your view brainwashing, glossing over harsh realities of life that she should just “face up to”, because the nice people from PETA believe so strongly in their cause. Especially that their mommy is a bloody butcher of sentient beings. You even provide a “what the captain really means is” moment; what a handy device, you can tell everyone what I really mean because you know it better than I do.

    Bullshit.

    Young children are not prepared to handle graphic images of violence, particularly violence that calls their mother a “bunny butcher”. I would no more allow someone to hand them this pamphlet than I would allow a pro-life advocate to push images of aborted children in front of them. I wouldn’t let someone show them images of dead victims of an earthquake or flood. Of warfare. I’m sure the point is made.

    And as you point out, if the opportunity arose, I would be quite forceful in not allowing it. I’m sure you understand I used “stump” to make a point. But for the sake of clarity, I would kick their ass.

    David, you assert we protect our children too much. Well protect yours all you want. I will do the same. Neither you nor anyone else gets to decide what I permit my children to see and when. If you want to talk to me about your views, go right ahead. But if you want to terrorize my child, um, no.

    I never said PETA doesn’t have a First Amendment right to produce this and hand it out. They do not have a right to hand it to my kid.

    And while I recognize I don’t have a First Amendment right to stomp them into the ground for doing so, I will anyway.

    So, David, thanks again for the invitation. Have a safe and happy New Year. Oh, I am prepared to accept your apology for calling me an onery bastard.

    Dave in Texas

  6. Dave-In-Texas,

    Thanks for the reply, and I wish you the best–but you still sound ornery to me… I call ’em as I see ’em

    And I still say–if you let your kids see the news, or play video games, or read the Bible (which gets awfully grisly in spots), then you have no business refusing to allow your kids to think about what PETA’s got to say. (And if you don’t allow them access to any of this stuff, you’re just deferring the shock to a later date–why bother?)

    Oh! I know why! I hate to play “what the captain really means” again–but might I suggest that this protectiveness grows out of your own desire to enjoy beautiful, unsullied youth in the comfort of your own home? Why didn’t you just get yourself a doll, man?

    Dave

  7. It’s true–I don’t have kids… However, back when I was a child, I had the good fortune to be raised by folks who were too busy doing other things to notice what information I was exposed to, and I’m telling you right now–I feel fine!

    Dave

  8. Well, I think there is sympathy for the idea, but not for the action. For example, I wish people wouldn’t drive gas guzzling SUVs, but do not agree with the actions of those who burn them (and cause pollution by doing so probably)

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