The Asshole Express Card, by Michael Davis
I wear Bat-Man and Spider-Man cuff links. I have dozens of watches that feature comic book characters. I’ve worn a Bat-Man tee shirt with an Armani Suit to a gallery opening. Hell, on occasion I still wear my Bat-Man sneakers I was given by Paul Levitz in 1989.
I hate to fly; I stay up all night before my flight so I’m knocked out asleep on the plane. If I can’t get to sleep I will take out some comics and read them until I get sleepy. On more than one occasion I have gotten looks from those sitting next to me that clearly showed me their disgust. Those I let go, too small throw it back.
Once a lady asked me “Why are you reading those silly books? You are a grown man; you should be ashamed.” I took out my calling card and presented it to her. My cards are doubled sided. One side says “Michael Davis, Ph.D;” the other side says M.O.T.U. and has my contact information on it. The lady asked me what M.O.T.U stood for. “Master Of The Universe,” I told her. She told me that was silly as well. She then flipped the card over and saw the Ph.D. Her face dropped. She said “Now that’s impressive.” I told her “No, what’s impressive is I learned to read by reading comic books and also learned not to judge others by my own stupid prejudices.”
She left me alone.
Yes, I’m a grown man with a Ph.D. That does not make me smarter than anyone, it simply means I’ve accomplished something of note in my life. No degree can instill in you the common decency not to impugn someone’s right to read whatever he or she wants. Hell, I should have whipped out some porn just to drill that point in deeper.
For over twenty years I’ve been talking about American comic creators and publishers standing up and taking the respect we deserve as an industry. Some of us do, and Frank Miller, Steve Geppi, Kevin Eastman, Mike Richardson, Scott McCloud and Peter David are a few that come to mind. Of course the greatest champion of comics as a TRUE AMERICAN art form was and will probably always be Will Eisner. However, these and other notable folk does not a movement make. I think what is called for is an industry wide movement to draw attention to the power and influence of comics in this nation.
I’m going to start by tearing up my American Express card. They have really pissed me off.
Yeah, I fully intend to leave home without it.
American Express is running a commercial that features an American businessman at a lunch meeting with some foreigners. The American produces a credit card that has a superhero on it. Immediately the foreign business people start talking about the American in their language, which the American does not understand. They are talking about how childish his card is and have a good laugh at his expense. They decide they don’t want to do business with him and abruptly end the meeting and walk out. The American is portrayed like a freaking dope as he says “I think that went well.” There is another person with him who then steps in and produces an American Express card. I am SICK of this kind of crap that portrays comics as just juvenile and the stuff of ignorant people who don’t know better. The latest assault coming from this discriminatory charge card company.
Membership has its privileges?
WHAT damn privileges? The privilege of paying your bill every month? American Express is not a credit card; it’s a charge card. You pay them every month or they come after you like anybody you owe money to. When they call your house looking for their money, what privileges are you enjoying?
Mr. Smith, this is American Express.
Why yes! Hello!
Mr. Smith, where the hell is our money?
But I’m a member. What about my privileges?
Your membership is revoked.
Wha…? I beg your pardon? I don’t understand.
Your membership is revoked, canceled, annulled, withdrawn, retracted, invalidated. You understand that?
But I’m part of the club! I’m important to you. I’M A MEMBER!
Pay us our money by end of business TODAY or you will be part of something all right. Part of our lawyers dragging your sorry ass into court.
Do you really think that Amex gives a shit about you? There is NO exclusive club, there are NO privileges the SECOND you miss a payment your ass is back to being a “townie.”
This ELITIST company ridicules OUR industry in a nationwide commercial that depicts comic books, its art and its CREATORS as a reason to pull out of a BIG BUSINESS DEAL. This says clearly we are not important, we are a joke. A stupid silly joke that WE DON’T EVEN UNDERSTAND because weare (according to this commercial) too damn stupid to understand.
Comics and related media generates billions of dollars worldwide. Do the people at American Express think that sum is childish? What would happen if EVERY person that makes a living in the comic book and related media tore up their cards, would they think that was a joke?
Well, I’m tearing up my card. It will matter not to them I’m sure. But I REFUSE to pay a fee to people who think my line of work is a joke. Maybe we should let Amex create some comics, TV shows, and major motion pictures based on money. Wow, our kids will LOVE that. OUR industry is responsible for some of the greatest icons the world has ever seen. Time Magazine came out with a list of the 50 greatest novels ever written. There were TWO graphic novels on that list. You know what that is?
As I said earlier, I’m a grown man; I make my own decisions. I do not need a membership and it’s bullshit fake privileges to make me feel important. My mother did that.
The sheer gull of this pretentious, pompous, and conceited company make me want to scream. They and companies like them make their money by leading people to believe their card, their cars, their watches will somehow lift you up above the regular folk.
How can these items do that? How can a car define you? If you steal a Lexus does the simple fact that you drive a Lexus define you? No, you are still a criminal. Your actions define you, how others relate to you define you. If your friends are ONLY your friends because you drive a Lexus, then you are a sorry sucker whose “friends” will abandon you the moment your car is taken back by the bank because you missed a payment. Ask most ex-heavyweight champions where their friends are.
I love Hip Hop but I want to vomit every time I see these videos that portray the rapper holding up cash and driving around in some $200,000.00 car. I could choke those guys with the gold chains they have around their necks.
They are saying “We got ours.” They are not saying “We are better than you.” In a strange but very real way these rappers are showing what is possible with love of your craft. Not what is denied to you because you don’t belong to an uppity club.
How many more news stories do we need about kids killing kids over a pair of $200.00 sneakers? If you want to buy your kid $200.00 sneakers, have at it. God bless you and your good fortune. But if you instill in your child that he or she is better than other kids because of those sneakers, then don’t be shocked when your child ends up being a self centered creep who gets his ass kicked when they pull that I’m better than you crap on the wrong person.
I’m fully aware that this may be a stupid thing to get so upset about. But I’m just sick to death of people who think they are better than you because they have something you don’t. This onslaught of stupidity has resulted in a United States class system that tells young people that “stuff” is what makes you who you are.
For all I know American Express has the highest respect for the comic book industry. This commercial may just have sprung up from an idiot failed comic book artist who now works at an ad agency. But they paid for it, so it’s on them. As I said I’m fully aware that this is a stupid thing to get upset about it. So be it. I’ll be stupid. I’ll travel that stupid road without American Express. Now that I think of it, you don’t need an American Express card when you travel; all you really need is a Visa.
Michael Davis will be all over the San Diego Comic Con, on panels and haunting the ComicMix booth. Drop by and say hello.