New Gods for Old; Women Who Work in Comics

Over at Comics Alliance, an essay by Chris Sims on why the archetypes running loose in Jack Kirby New Gods can trouble our thoughts thirty years after they first appeared. "[Darkseid's] actions are geared towards conditioning people to embrace and exploit their own base hatred and fear. That's how he wins and remakes the world in his own image... devoted not to death but to Anti-Life... a slavery that masquerades as freedom by allowing its victims to give in to the dark side of humanity. [Darkseid] is a villain who exploits the small selfishness that we all see, experience, and even commit on a daily basis and shows how it all adds up to towering evil, and that makes him one of the most genuinely terrifying villains in comics."

Pursuant to an earlier conversation with friends, there's also a short list of prominent women working in comics-- my own favorites, like Amanda Conner, Gail Simone, Colleen Coover, a mention of Karen Berger's importance as an editor on Sandman-- and some I'd never heard of, like Emma Rios and Ramona Fradon. In the appendix of David Hajdu's The Ten Cent Plague, roughly half the artists who lost their jobs in the Wertham purge were women. The only one I knew as a child was Marie Severin on Dr. Strange; at least two generations have no idea the big studios used to cater to all readers, and they've never quite recovered.

Kirby and the splash page for the first episode of New Gods; Amanda Conner, one of my imaginary girlfriends, and her take on Supergirl and Power Girl; Colleen Coover on an unintended side-effect of four color printing.

Opinions are Like Assholes

Charles de Gaulle is supposed to have thrown up his hands and asked of the French,"How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?"
I'm starting to wonder about the United States-- how can you govern a country with 300 million opinions, half of those uninformed, half-baked or selfish-- but every single one of them convinced that they're righteous and deserving of the same respect?
During an NPR story on the Three Cups of Tea controversy, a woman called in to attack the expose because it came from "journalists, elitists and intellectuals" who only wanted to tear down someone who'd actually "done something" for girls in Afghanistan. It startled me, because she used the same malediction and emotional straw men you'd expect from a teabagger on a scooter.
When archeologists of the future sweep away the rubble of the American republic slash empire, will they find the same chemicals in the water supply that destroyed the Roman ruling class? There is learned speculation that the bizarre behavior at the top of the Roman social structure was caused by lead and mercury in the glazes used on aristocrats' tableware.
I don't think it's lead in the water supply that's making us stupid and mean-- we test for that, surely? Or is wickedness contagious, like the social breakdown observed in a crowded rat cage?

Commonplace Book for March 2011

"The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule."
-- Walter Benjamin

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." -- Sinclair Lewis

“Now that blind ambition no longer carries the slightest taint and the term "sell-out" holds no meaning, now that earnest young men sing not of love but of ‘want(ing) to be a billionaire so frickin' bad,’ now that narcissistic outbursts and trips to rehab are tantamount to self-promotion, now that, on blogs and Facebook and Twitter, millions of self-branding voices cry out and are never silenced, now that reaching for the stars is encountered less, by young people, as euphemism than high-priority action item, it may be time to question, at long last, the reigning ethos of super-sized individualism.... Warrior-speak is so much the common lexicon of reality TV that each on-camera confession could stand in for any other: She wants to win at all costs. He's not going to give up, no matter what. She doesn't care who has to eat dirt along the way. The parlance of high school football coaches and insurance salesman has become the native tongue of cable TV.”
-- Heather Havrilesky, in a review of Limitless, a film of Alan Glynn's novel The Dark Fields

Now I will tell Meader’s story; I have a moral in view.
He was pestered by a grizzly so bold and malicious
That he used to snatch caribou meat from the eaves of the cabin.
Not only that. He ignored men and was unafraid of fire.
One night he started battering the door
And broke the window with his paw, so they curled up
With their shotguns beside them, and waited for the dawn.
He came back in the evening, and Meader shot him at close range,
Under the left shoulder blade. Then it was jump and run,
A real storm of a run: a grizzly, Meader says,
Even when he’s been hit in the heart, will keep running
Until he falls down. Later, Meader found him
By following the trail – and then he understood
What lay behind the bear’s odd behavior:
Half of the beast’s jaw was eaten away by an abscess, and caries.
Toothache, for years. An ache without comprehensible reason,
Which often drives us to senseless action
And gives us blind courage. We have nothing to lose,
We come out of the forest, and not always with the hope
That we will be cured

-- Czeslaw Milosz

“Economists long ago tried to justify the vast inequalities that seemed so troubling in the mid-19th century—inequalities that are but a pale shadow of what we are seeing in America today. The justification they came up with was called “marginal-productivity theory.” In a nutshell, this theory associated higher incomes with higher productivity and a greater contribution to society. It is a theory that has always been cherished by the rich. Evidence for its validity, however, remains thin. The corporate executives who helped bring on the recession of the past three years—whose contribution to our society, and to their own companies, has been massively negative—went on to receive large bonuses. In some cases, companies were so embarrassed about calling such rewards “performance bonuses” that they felt compelled to change the name to “retention bonuses” (even if the only thing being retained was bad performance). Those who have contributed great positive innovations to our society, from the pioneers of genetic understanding to the pioneers of the Information Age, have received a pittance compared with those responsible for the financial innovations that brought our global economy to the brink of ruin.”
-- Joseph E. Stiglitz, ”Of the 1%, By the 1%, For the 1%”

“You go to war with the liquor cabinet you have, not the liquor cabinet you wish you had.”
-- Memzilla, commenter on Wonkette