The Snark Files: Beating the Betty White Horse To Death
Many days, we will find ourselves in heated debates with the uninitiated when it comes to the general quality of comic books. Yes, super muscular guys in spandex parading around in violent battles with other super muscular guys and overly boobed chicks in impossible costumes isn’t what we’re calling haute artistic visual fiction. But we’ve got those pocket references ready for the nay-sayers, don’t we? Watchmen. Sin City. Maus. Ghost World. Justice League International… And then they drop a bomb on our argument. They’ll reference a comic they heard about on the nightly news, or in the “lifestyles” section of the paper, or from some pinko-liberal-starbucks-blog they read on their iPads whilst they wait for a triple-grande-non-fat-latté. And with the mere mention of that book, our arguments are as potent as a pinch of salt in the ocean.
Now, gentle reader, what book could I possibly reference (without even reading it mind you) to encapsulate the entirety of how low we can go, when it comes to our sequential funny books?
Why, I direct you to Bluewater Comics’ Female Force: Betty White.
Yup. The fine folks behind the Justin Bieber, Sarah Palin, and forthcoming Fame: The Cast of Glee comic books is releasing a biographical comic book about America’s favorite only living Golden Girl, Betty White. Now, before you ignite your flaming arrows, let me be clear: I love Bette White. She was hilarious in the aforementioned ‘Girls, as well as numerous other sit-coms. Her recent turn as Facebook-demanded Saturday Night Live Host was one of the better shows of recent memory. Hell, even her cameo in last week’s Emmy show was adorable. But seriously… a comic book bio? Allow me to fire up the rant and raving engine.
Let’s lay out some ground work first. I love comics. I love kitsch.
Men in tights? I own thousands of books with ’em. Indie rags about real
people, with nary a ‘laser-gun’ in sight? I cherish them. Historical
fiction and creative non-fiction comics? Jew Gangster, Kings in Disguise, and Stagger Lee
are some of the finest books on my shelf. But aside from getting on the
band-wagon before her star fizzles faster than a can of pop left out on
the counter… Bluewater Comics, and their line of “pop-culture” books
are supposedly “bringing new people to comics” by touching on the pulse
of what people kinda think is relevant. Well, no offense, Blue Water…
but do you think my mother, a huge Golden Girls and Mary Tyler Moore
fan is going to walk into the local comic shop for a chance at reveling
in 32 pages of a career retrospect, when more words are probably sitting
on the Wikipedia? I’m not here necessarily to debate the sales figures
Bluewater might be enjoying by putting out a book like this folks…
I’m turning my hands up to the sky and asking what is it possibly adding
to either Bette White’s mystique, or comics in general? Like I said,
I’m all for kitsch, but this isn’t even close. This is milking the cash
cow before it dries up and dies. And I wag a big finger of shame for it.
want to capture the zeitgeist and actually make the use of the comic
medium matter? License The Golden Girls property, and launch a
mini-series… taking the senile squabblers and send them to space. Give
Bette a magical medallion and AARP card, and have her fight injustice.
Shoot her with the same Arnim Zola / Darkseid time bullet / laser eye
blast that sent Captain Batman into the past, and let her relive her
career in an epic graphic novel! Don’t just wrap up her life in 32 neat
pages, and collect your 4 bucks so the tragic hipsters who ironically
buy it just dump it in the back of their Honda Civic Hybrids, next to
the MGMT digital download cards, and organic cotton messenger bag
purchased at the last Burning Man.
The idea here is simple
enough: Comic books allow us an amazing amount of creative freedom in
both structure and narrative. When you’re gonna whack the pop-culture
piñata, I implore you to do so with a wink and a knowing nod… not with
your hand out for for the quick grift.