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
I do think kids are reading more, thanks to J.K. Rowling and the (wonderful) Harry Potter tale. The trick now that that Harry Potter is done is to keep them reading. And I would just like to see more comics out there that help capture the beautiful imagination that kids are capable of.
First of all, Barry Goldwater?? Really? Barry Goldwater was emblematic of the “really not-so-innocent-age”? He is the man who was subjected to one of the most malicious negative ads ever by Lyndon Johnson as likely to start a nuclear war. Remember the little girl plucking flower petals as a mushroom cloud erupts on the horizon? Johnson thought that was a great ad. Goldwater was also one of the men who convinced Nixon to resign. A guy I used to work with told me that people told him if he voted for Barry Goldwater in 1964 we would be at war in Vietnam. He said, they were right. He voted for Goldwater and we went to war in Vietnam. Of course that didn’t have anything to do with Goldwater who lost in a landslide.
Secondly, don’t worry. People ARE marching in the street. There have been marches on 1/24/09, 2/27/09, 4/15/09, 7/4/09, 9/12/09, 11/5/09, and 3/14-16/10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_Party_protests
We were lied into Iraq more blatantly than we were ever lied to about Vietnam. The intelligence agencies of the UK, France, Germany, Israel and Russia all believed Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. The fact that he destroyed them because he feared the invasion does not mean the war was based on a lie. He had them once and had used them on his on countrymen. Do you think this was a greater “lie” than the Gulf of Tonkin incident in which President Johnson said, “For all I know, our Navy was shooting at whales out there.” And that, in “1964 CIA agent S. Eugene Poteat was asked to determine if the radar operator’s report showed a real torpedo boat attack or an imagined one. … In the end he concluded that there were no torpedo boats on the night in question, and that the White House was interested only in confirmation of an attack, not that there was no such attack.
We’re building infrastructures and schools in Afghanistan while our own bridges and roads are collapsing and our school buildings are rotting. This from Investors.com:
“ ‘We have deferred tough decisions,” the president said last fall, and “our shortsightedness has come due.’
But inflation-adjusted infrastructure spending climbed 23% from 1990 to 2007, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Federal, state and local governments spend a combined total of more than $356 billion a year. It was 2.4% of GDP in 2007, not far from the 3% in 1960, when the U.S. was first building the interstate highway system.”
And most repugnantly: 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.
Criticism of the president has nothing to do with his race. This is a vicious tactic intended to blunt any opposition to his policies. Republicans oppose Democrats and Democrats oppose Republicans and that has always been the case even when all the politicians involved were the same race.
All that said, I agree with you about Grant Morrison and Action Comics #1.
“Criticism of the president has nothing to do with his race.’
So that ‘he was not born here’ bullshit and Glen Beck saying Obama ‘hated white people’ and the posters at some Tea Party rallies depicting him as a monkey was because he was a democrat?
So-when I was stopped outside of MY Beverly Hills home and questioned by the police who did NOT believe it was MY house until they saw my address on my license was because I’m a democrat also?
Shit-if I knew I could avoid ‘fitting the description’ by becoming a republican then sign me the FUCK up.
George, the paisley sun that shines on your house must be beautiful. Wish i could see it.
Unfortunately, i dwell over here in this boring place called “Reality”.
??? I didn’t write anything in my post that isn’t/wasn’t based in reality.
Kids are different now, too. They see the world as it is, or at least the ones in New York do (which is the only focus group I have).
Oh, and also, there’s this: http://www.theawl.com/2011/09/a-report-from-the-o…
Ideally, I think mainstream Marvel and DC titles used to have something closer to an equilibrium that could potentially appeal to a broader audience. Neither the hyper-watered down idea of “kiddy” not this Rated R horrorporn idea of “adult”. If the successful animated series based on DC characters can keep a balance that works for network kids tv and still appeal to young and old alike then why the hell do the comics make it an absolute choice between to extremes?
Classic comics had kids as a target audience but always an awareness of adult readers. It allowed a comicbook to grow with a reader. They could come back to same issue years later and pick up on things they didn’t before.
If you’re doing Justice League for example I think that you can have action, drama, all the things either a kid or an adult looks for in a superhero comic but keep it to more or less a PG level. Then if you just really need your superheroes served up “adult” well then that’s what something like the Authority is for isn’t it?
DC and indeed the entire industry needs to stop trying to use Watchmen or the Authority as a style-guide for the entire genre. Do we really need body horror in a Green Lantern comic?
Obama “not being born here” is no less bullshit than “Sarah Palin is not the mother of Trig”. Google “George Bush monkey” and have a look at all those images.
Being harassed by the police is not fun. I know because it has happened to me also. I got a ticket for something is didn’t do, went to court, the cop lied about about it, I had to pay a fine. Yes, I’m sure it happens to black people more often and I do not excuse it. But implying racism is behind the opposition to Obama’s policies seems intended to stop any criticism.
A monkey image takes on an entirely different meaning when attached to a black man. The Palin ‘Trig’ example was a momentary silliness and had no where near the venom the Right Wing nationwide witch hunt the Obama ‘was not born here’ issue did. I’m not saying that racism is behind all the opposition to Obama but it’s crystal clear it’s behind some.
And I’m not saying that racism is entirely absent from some of the opposition, just that there are real and justifiable reasons to oppose the president’s policies that have nothing to do with his race. Mindy’s original post said that “Republicans can’t stand that the black guy in the White House isn’t the valet.” and I couldn’t let that pass unchallenged. It was so unfair.
And the Palin/Trig maternity issue, while silly, was not momentary. It is still going on.
Yes, Martha, I knew about the Wall Street march, and I do know there are isolated marches and protests around the country. But back in the 60’s it was mass protests and mass student demonstrations and just a different feeling, that “We, the People” could actually DO things. That’s not there now. Although the way things are going….
And yes, I know kids are different now. After all, I raised one. And I didn’t try to keep her unaware of what was going on in the world, or shelter her, or keep her a child. (As a child of divorced parents, being raised by a single mom, she had a pretty good idea that life wasn’t “Ozzie & Harriet.” But I also gave her books to read like Peter Pan and comics like Power Pack. I’m just saying, for the generation(s) coming up after us, who are so tied into the world, a world that’s especially lousy right now, I think they need some, well, “light.” J.K. Rowling did it with Harry Potter–and there was plenty of darkness in the Potter books–but there was always light shining through the darkness.
Let’s wait and see if the “light” shines through Grant’s “dark” Superman.
Matt, I agree with you. Listen, I like a bit of darkness. I always have. (I always thought that Return of the Jedi should have opened with Luke having “gone over” to the dark side to be with his Dad…and the “Return” would have been both the return of Anakin AND Luke…)
Kids need to know that the world isn’t “a bunch of roses” and sometimes when life hands you lemons, there’s nothing to do but to suck up the sourness. (Fuck that lemonade, man!)
I just think there needs to be more balance.
George, in regards to the Tea Party, yes, I’m sure there are good, honest people who aren’t racists and who just want better things for this country in it.
But go read THE RISE AND FALL OF THE THIRD REICH. Especially the “RISE” chapters. There are parallels. Scary parallels.
Believe it or not I’ve found I have some very good friends who are Tea Party members. What makes me nervous about the party is when there is no outcry from the rank and file when some extreme members do or say something scary.
THAT’S a reason to fear the party.
“…good men do nothing.”