Martha Thomases: Fanboys In Congress
Because it is an election year and I’ve given money to candidates in the past (and foolishly included my phone number with the donations, because I’m an idiot and also it’s required by law), I get phone calls from people looking for more money. Most often, these calls are from organizations or PACs, but sometimes the actual candidate picks up the phone to call me.
Mostly I dismiss the calls from organizations because they are annoying and I don’t want to encourage them to keep calling me. However, ever since my pal, Ed Sedarbaum, ran for office and told me how difficult it is to make those calls, and how great it is when someone will listen, I cut the individual candidates some slack. I listen. I engage. And, when I can, I make a pledge.
What does this have to do with comics? I recently got a call from Nate Shinagawa who is running for the U.S. Congressional seat for the 23rd district in New York. I’m sure he got my name from Eric Massa’s list, because Massa is from the same aea and I liked him a lot before his shenanigans got him into trouble.
Anyway, he introduced himself, and then we started to talk about Superman.
It turns out that Nate is a big old fanboy. He started reading comics around the time the Death of Superman story was playing out. He explained this to me in case I didn’t feel old enough.
We chatted for a far longer time than I suspect he allotted for me. We talked about comics, and I explained to him my theory that Superman is, at heart, a New Deal Democrat. To put it in a perspective more appropriate to the 21st century, he’s a superhero, sure, but he also demonstrates that the things that make us different from each other are what make us valuable, and we should use those things to make the world a better place.
So I’m not surprised that people who like superhero comics are occasionally inspired to live a life of public service. Most famously, Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy is a Batman fan. I’m sure there are Marvel fans in politics, and conservative candidates who are comic book fans, but its unlikely I would come across them. I hope they found something equally valuable in the stories they love.
My point is that, like all art forms, graphic storytelling can inspire people. And the more commercially successful it is, the more people it reaches, and the more it can inspire.
Saturday: The Return of Marc Alan Fishman?