Smallville, by Martha Thomases

Martha Thomases

Martha Thomases brought more comics to the attention of more people than anyone else in the industry. Her work promoting The Death of Superman made an entire nation share in the tragedy of one of our most iconic American heroes. As a freelance journalist, she has been published in the Village Voice, High Times, Spy, the National Lampoon, Metropolitan Home, and more. For Marvel comics she created the series Dakota North. Martha worked as a researcher and assistant for the author Norman Mailer on several of his books, including the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Executioner's Song, On Women and Their Elegance, Ancient Evenings, and Harlot's Ghost.

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16 Responses

  1. Linda Gold says:

    Great column Martha. I too grew up in a small town . It measures a mile by a mile and my graduating class was the largest ever at 100 people. I learned a lot of good values there and some hard lessons about trying to be yourself when that was different from most everyone else. At 18 I left for NYC, the only place I ever wanted to live growing up. I found a lot of good people with good values there as well and no one who would have approved of what was done to rape victims in Wasilla.

  2. Anonymous says:

    My first teaching job was in a small town. Everybody told me I didn't have to lock my doors. Then I came out one morning to find my car door hanging open. Kids in the playground probably had some fun looking through it. The professor's son who cat sat for me also stole from me on a regular basis. Guess I wasn't paying him enough. Jews had to drive an hour to the nearest synagogue. At least the Catholics got mass from a visiting priest…on Saturday night.My favorite small-town movie is "To Kill a Mockingbird." It shows both the good and the bad and has the kind of hero I admire, someone who articulates values I share and sticks to them when things get tough. I doubt if Atticus Finch could make it today in national politics.The Other Frank Miller

  3. John Ostrander says:

    Great column, Martha. There are good and bad people everywhere — including in the Big Cities. Trying to foist "small town values" as being superior is just another way of trying to divide people in this country — make it "us" vs "them" within our own borders. We're all US. Heck, I even know some good Republicans.

    • Joe in Philly says:

      "Heck, I even know some good Republicans."I'm glad someone does.

      • Mike Gold says:

        I suspect John's thinking about the old days when anti-Daley politicians were thought of as Republicans. Sadly, John's mistaken. During those thrilling days of yesteryear, there were no Chicago Republicans — only Democrats who ran as Republicans in the mayoral elections to cop some free meals. The last time a Republican was elected mayor of Chicago was 1927, and he (William Hale Thompson) was the most corrupt of the bunch.However, he wasn't stupid. Mayor Thompson once threatened to punch the King of England in the nose if he were to dare to come before him at the Chicago city council. Amusingly, said king had no such plans.Why is that smart? Chicago had one of the highest concentration of people of Irish heritage in the world. Including Ireland.This is why John and I often wax poetic about our home town.

        • John Ostrander says:

          Actually, I was thinking of Richard Ogilsvie (mis-spelled but i'm too lazy to look it up at the moment) who I liked at the time. But most of the Republicans I like are not politicians — they're just voters who happen to be Republican. Like a lot of my family. Oddly, a lot of those are voting Obama this time.

  4. Elayne Riggs says:

    A real winner of a column, Martha! As a city/suburbs gal I've always kind of romanticized small towns. Robin grew up in English villages (their equivalent of small towns) so I get a lot of the feel for that second-hand, but I must imagine it's nothing like living there. I'd guess that most people who grew up in larger places romanticize smaller ones and vice-versa, the grass always being greener and so forth.

  5. Alan Coil says:

    I've lived in my present location for about 6 years. I have locked the door to my vehicle maybe 10 times. Small towns are usually safer because evetybody knows everybody else. It's when you don't know your neighbors that it becomes easier to disrespect them.I've lived in small towns of less than 5000 people for almost all my life, but will be moving shortly to a city. With the cost of gasoline, I'm just too far away from the action.

  6. Michael Davis says:

    Maybe the best article I have ever read on the topic. Damn-I hate giving other people props. That said-this was freakin great. Hey-let's you and me move to a small town!! Won't that be fun?

  7. Chris Gumprich says:

    It's not the neighbourhood, it's the neighbours. Excellent column!

  8. Gil says:

    Fantastic column! I couldn't agree more!All the best to you, neighbor!

  9. FangsFirst says:

    Wait, seriously? Someone considers 100,000 a “small town”? That’s a city, gosh darnit. When you’ve got 6 high schools and 10 television stations, you’re not even close to a small town. It’s a very small city, certainly…but not a small town. In 100,000 people you actually kept track of the best quarterback or what have you in town? All of them saw you fall on your face at prom?


    I went to high school in a COUNTY that has a population of under 40,000, and a single high school for the entire county. THAT is a small town (and not even close to the smallest!). The town has a population of 15,000 for the record. I lived in a town (which I left for the 15k town when attending high school) which had a population of just over 2,000.

    That’s a town for ya. Even the 15k is technically still considered a city.

    Just saying. I was shocked when the television Smallville’s population was given as 45,000–and they suggested it was easy to sort through 45,000 people! Good grief, even living in a more heavily populated area now (and having grown up in one prior to high school) I cannot imagine I’ve met 45,000 people with even just time for a name from them…

    If you want to talk “Small town values,” they tend toward gossip conflicting with secrecy, backstabbing, and ruthless competition.
    Mind you, there are the positives, like a sense of unity, but that’s about it.

    • Martha Thomases says:

      There are more people in my zip code than there were in Youngstown when I was growing up. And only three television channels. But I take your point. That's why I qualified it as a "large" small town.