MINDY NEWELL: Comics Are For Kids?
There’s a great interview with Grant Morrison on the website of Rolling Stone magazine. The reason I bring it up is that I’ve been thinking about last week’s column. The more I thought about Action Comics #1, written by Morrison, the more I really liked it.
But I’m an adult.
I’ve been a fan of Grant’s since his debut on this side of the pond as the writer of Animal Man back in the 80s. It was a book that I adored. But Animal Man was under the Vertigo imprint, whose aim was to bring a sophisticated, i.e. adult, audience and slant into the comics industry – at which it incredibly succeeded, of course. In fact, if I remember right, the “hook” for the entire line of Vertigo books was sophisticated horror.
But I’m an adult.
And the Vertigo books aren’t for kids.
I grew up during the Silver Age of comics. When Lois was constantly getting into jams thanks to her penchant of trying to discover Superman’s secret identity. When Jimmy was constantly being exposed to some weird amulet that turned him into Elasti-Lad or a giant turtle or a bearded man. When Perry smoked cigars and yelled “Great Caesar’s Ghost” all the time. When Supergirl was alive and acted as her cousin’s secret weapon. When Superboy was a teenage Clark Kent living in Smallville and had a secret passageway and robots to cover his “tuchas” when he was away on a mission and his parents were alive and Lana Lang was his sweetheart. When Kandor was in a bottle. When the Legion of Super-Heroes travelled through time in a bubble. When the “editor’s note” would inform me that the sun was 93,000,000 miles away from Earth.
Okay, it was a more innocent age. Well, not really. There was the Cold War and the U-2 incident and the Korean War and the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis and Barry Goldwater and the John Birch Society and “advisory troops” in a country named Vietnam. The Suez Canal crisis.
It was the Mad Men age.
And then we all grew up to be Mad Men.
The assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The assassination of Martin Luthor King. The assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Women’s rights. The Black Panthers. Newark, New Jersey in flames. The Weatherman. The Vietnam War. Tricky Dick. The Chicago Democratic Convention. Dan Rather being manhandled and dragged off the floor of the convention center. Cops in riot gear beating up college students. The Pentagon Papers. Pot. Hash. Timothy Leary. Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. Tune in. Turn on. Drop out.
The thing is, I think all those people marching and rioting and fighting and reacting to what was wrong in the world, what they did, what we did, was because we were raised on the ideals of what America was supposed to be about, what we really did believe, growing up, America was about.
I look around now, and I wonder, why aren’t people out on the street marching in the hundreds of thousands protesting? Angry people march. Angry people riot. Angry people force change.
Six out of 10 children are living in poverty in this country. In fucking America, man! Why aren’t their parents out there marching? We were lied into Iraq more blatantly than we were ever lied to about Vietnam. Why the fuck aren’t we out there marching? We’re building infrastructures and schools in Afghanistan while our own bridges and roads are collapsing and our school buildings are rotting. Why the fuck are we not out there marching? Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, the Koch brothers and about 10 other Wall Street operators are speculating in oil prices. Why the fuck aren’t we out there marching? The President lets the Republicans walk all over him and the Republicans can’t stand that the black guy in the White House isn’t the valet. Why the fuck are we not out there marching?
What has changed?
I don’t know. I honestly don’t.
But I’m sad, and I’m scared. Really scared.
Superman used to be written for kids. As was Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane, and Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, and Supergirl, and Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Grant is a great writer. Grant is a brilliant writer.
Grant is not a writer for kids.
And Action Comics #1 isn’t for kids.
TUESDAY: Michael Davis