Tagged: Charlie Hebdo

Mindy Newell Is Trekkin’

Have you heard Star Trek Continues? I happened to discover it just today, as I was surfing the web this morning. It is an award-winning …well, let me quote from the site itself:

Star Trek Continues is a critically-acclaimed, award-winning, fan-produced webseries… the brainchild of long-time Star Trek: The Original Series fan – and producer, director, actor, voice-actor, musician – Vic Mignogna.

Star Trek Continues is proud to be part of Trek history, aimed at completing

the final two years of the original five-year mission. After mounting a successful Kickstarter campaign, the show is already making waves and attracting guest stars such as Michael Forest, Jamie Bamber, Lou Ferrigno, and Erin Gray – as well as cameos by Star Trek alums like Marina Sirtis and Michael Dorn.”

It really is absolutely captivating. Mr. Mignogna is perfect – and I mean perfect! – William Shatner as Captain James Tiberius Kirk, down to body movements and personal tics. And Chris Doohan is the living embodiment of Lt. Commander Montgomery Scott, Chief Engineer and Second Officer of the Enterprise. Then again, he should be. Mr. Doohan is the son of the late James Doohan, who, just in case you don’t know, played Scotty in the original series. (Fun fact I discovered on the website: Chris Doohan first boarded the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC1701 in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and continues to do so, up to and including Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness, in which he appeared in a scene with Simon Pegg, a.k.a. the “new” Scotty.

Everyone is perfect in their roles, costuming, and make-up; except for, I have to say, Kim Stinger as Nichel Nichols as Lt. Nyota Uhura. Her 2014 hairdo and voice and physicality does absolutely nothing to remind me of Ms. Nichols or Lt. Uhura. She is the only one who takes me completely out of the spell, out of my “ suspension of disbelief.” She might as well be a new character.

Still, if you’re a Star Trek fan, you must check this website; all the music and sound effects of the original are incorporated into the series and even the special effects are so seamless and could easily “melt” into any of the episodes on your DVD set.

•     •     •     •     •

The reverberations of the attack on Charlie Hebdo continue to dominate the news cycle, even pushing the opening bell of the 2016 Presidential race here in the States to the second or third news story – yeah, here we go again – Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, and Mitt Romney (!!!) are all “exploring” the possibility of running – but as I read websites and newspapers and watch the news stations, I’m realizing that it’s about more than the right to free speech. It’s also about the rise of violence against Jews in France over the last decade, coinciding with the rise in the French Muslim population.

The history of French cooperation with the Nazis during World War II (aside from the Free French, who made valuable contributions) does not put that country of the list of “Righteous Gentiles“ at Yad Veshem, the Holocaust memorial in Israel. Historically, France has been the center of European Jewish learning and assimilation into the greater society; after the French Revolution Jews were emancipated, and Napoleon deconstructed the ghettos.

Today the Jewish community in France numbers between 500.000 and 600,000. But over the last few years there has been a huge exodus as increasing anti-Semitism fostered by the French Muslim population has become a palpable threat, with almost 8,000 occurrences since 2000, including one very large and violent event last July in which 200 Jews were trapped inside a synagogue while the demonstrators outside shouted obscenities and threatened death.

This is why the French police and security offices have been protecting Jewish neighborhoods and sites in Paris and around the country since the assault at Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cache kosher deli, including schools and synagogues.

*sigh* And the story of Cain and Abel, and Isaac and Ishmael, just keeps on trekkin’.


Martha Thomases: What It All Means

crumbBy the time this column runs we may have some other, more fresh horror than the terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. Certainly, those of us who love comics will have read myriad opinions on What It All Means, and, perhaps, we will simply want to talk about something else.

Tough noogies. I’m going to talk about the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

First of all, I want to be clear. I am totally in favor or freedom of expression. I support all kinds of anti-censorship organizations, including but not limited to the American Civil Liberties Union and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Nothing that I say should be interpreted to mean that the journalists, editors and cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo were in any way, shape or form responsible for the terrorist attack against them.

That should be obvious, but here in New York, respectable news media seem to accept police union boss Patrick Lynch’s contention that Bill de Blasio is responsible for the murder of two police officers because he stood next to Al Sharpton.

Neither do I want to argue about what is and isn’t funny. I have my ideas, and you have yours. While I might be able to persuade you that my point of view is reasonable (and vice versa), I can’t make you laugh when you are not amused.

Having said that, I want to talk about my perspective on what is funny. In general, I think the point of humor generally and satire specifically is to ridicule people in power. To me, pointing out that the emperor walks around with no clothes, that’s funny. Pointing out that the peasants walk around with no clothes is just mean.

(Obviously, that isn’t all that contributes to my personal sense of humor. It’s just what is relevant to this issue).

So, as you might guess, I didn’t find a lot of the “offensive” cartoons very funny. Part of it may be that I’m American. Part of it may be that I didn’t live in Paris in 1968, the era in which Charlie Hebdo was born. It isn’t shocking to me for someone to make fun of the Pope, or Israel, or Islam.

And I was bothered, somewhat, by the crudeness of the portrayals. Although there is a persuasive argument against my feelings, I still felt a racist undertone. Again, that could be a cultural difference between France and me.

I don’t want to use the word “should” when I talk about humor. “Should” is the antithesis of humor. And still, I may have to in order to make the points I want to make. Because I think a large part of the audience for those cartoons missed (what I consider to be) the point, and thought they were laughing at those ridiculous Muslims.

French Muslims don’t have a lot of power. It isn’t funny (to me) if they aren’t wearing any clothes. Drawing a caricature of the Prophet to rile them up is pretty much childish. Not worthy of a death sentence. Not worthy of any legal censure. But maybe worth a conversation, over coffee and/or brandy, about what the cartoonists wanted to say and what people perceived them to be saying.

Joe Sacco, in this comic, illustrates the issue for me. We are free to say/draw/publish/play whatever we want. A thoughtful adult tempers this freedom with some thought about how our free speech is understood.

Using stereotypes is a convenient shorthand for humor and other kinds of communication. I grew up with a father who told Polish jokes. I’ve sat around many a bar table listening to (and telling) blonde jokes. These are (comparatively) harmless. However, Muslims are not all the same. The shorthand of stereotype in this case works against not only Muslims, but all of us.

One of my favorite musicians, Billy Bragg, said on his Facebook page “Thus we extend the hand of friendship towards moderate Muslims only to slap them in the face in our determination to offend them in the name of free speech. In doing so, we legitimize the rantings of extremists who say that Muslims have no place in Europe. Radical Islamists are already declaring that this week’s cover of Charlie Hebdo is ‘an act of war.’

“If we genuinely want moderate Muslims to be part of our community, to stand beside us against the extremists, then we have to start a process of building trust that will involve listening to their concerns. That’s not ‘self censorship’, it’s respect – the very thing that civil society is based on.”

Free speech doesn’t mean we are not each responsible for what we say. It means we are more responsible, because we can’t blame our imprecise language or inarticulate ideas on anyone else.


Dennis O’Neil: The Bigger Picture

RushdieI thought maybe I’d write about that humdinger of a cliffhanger the creative folk at the Arrow television show left us with a few weeks ago. I also mulled doing a brief piece on Leslie Thompkins who, in the person of Morena Baccarin, popped up in another show, Gotham. The Batman mythos’s resident and, I’m afraid, token pacifist might be worth a few hundred words and maybe will be somewhere down the line.

But now, this week, Monday. . . Je suis Charlie. It is somehow pleasing to type those words.

Certainly, you know the story by now. No need for a rehash here. And my fellow Mixers have weighed in on it and you can see what they had to say someplace near where you’re reading this. I have neither facts nor speculation to add to what’s already been given wherever you go for news.

I was shocked when, in 1988, Salman Rushdie was condemned to death by the Ayatollah Khomeini because the clergyman and his followers were offended by Rushdie’s novel, The Satanic Verses, and spent the next several years under police protection. The ayatollah’s fatwa seemed to threaten not only Rushdie, but all of us tale spinners who are just doing our jobs, which happen to be making up stories and drawing pictures. Those massacred at the editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo were mostly cartoonists and we all know people like them – some of us are people like them. They are our tribe and slaughtering them was a deep and personal insult to us.

There’s little point in hating the murderers. They are ignorant and – cruel irony – they are doing what they deem virtuous. And look beneath the surface, beneath the unfamiliar rhetoric and alien ideology, and you can find men and women of our own kind who share the murderers’ attitudes and solutions. Anyone who wants to stipulate what others must believe and who wants to dictate what we can read and see and listen to and how we should dress and worship and love is not so very far from the barbarians and given the opportunity and a few assault rifles, who knows?

So, even as we grieve for our fallen brothers and sisters, we should not hate our attackers. You might remember the advice supplied by the Bible: “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you. . . ” I think that if you plumb them deeply enough you will find fear and we all know about that.

But we cannot tolerate their actions, either. We have to stop them. Let’s hope it can be done with no further suffering. Let’s hope that we can finally abandon what is obviously not working and find creative and merciful means to bring peace to the barbarians and to ourselves.


Charlie Hebdo – A King-Sized Tribute

Je Suis Charlie Jeff_Parker DustinYesterday we presented R. Crumb’s tribute to the murdered Charlie Hebdo staff. Today, we further illuminate this horrific tragedy by presenting a number of tributes by King Features Syndicate comic strip artists.

I should note that on its website King Features also offers numerous contributions from their editorial cartoonists. Unlike the strip artists who must turn their work in six weeks to two months prior to publication, editorial cartoonists see their work in print the next day.

As for Charlie Hebdo, their first post-assault issue was published today and released in France, as well as certain select other cities including Quebec, London and New York. Their print run was 3,000,000, up from their average circulation of 40,000 copies. They sold out in minutes, and that was after some newsdealers limited purchases to one copy each. Charlie Hebdo has since gone back to press.

First, we introduced this page with the work of Dustin creator Jeff Parker. Below, Snuffy Smith artist John Rose:

Je Suis Charlie Snuffy Smith

Next, Hagar the Horrible‘s Chris Browne:Je Suis Charlie Hagar

Followed by Bill Griffith‘s Zippy. The first balloon translates to “I Am Not Having Fun,” a twist on Zippy’s trademark “Are We Having Fun Yet?”

Je Suis Charlie Zippy

Next, Eric Reaves on behalf of the Hi and Lois creative team:

Je Suis Charlie Eric Reaves Hi & Lois

Rina Piccolo, from Tina’s Groove

Je Suis Charlie Rina Piccolo Tinas Groove

Jim Toomey‘s Sherman’s Lagoon

Je Suis Charlie Jim Toomey Shermans Lagoon

And finally, Mallard Fillmore‘s Bruce Tinsley:

Je Suis Charlie Bruce Tinsley Mallard Fillmore

John Ostrander: Close to Home

Shock. Outrage. Fear. These were my immediate reactions to the terrorist attack on the offices of the French satiric magazine, Charlie Hebdo, last Wednesday. This one strikes close to home, despite being in France. The main targets – and victims – were an editor and several artists at Charlie Hebdo and the reason given were Muslim outrage at caricatures of the prophet Mohammed, a big no-no in Islam. The magazine, the artists, were exercising their freedom of expression, their opinion, and it supposedly offended some radical Muslims.

I don’t think that’s what is really going on. I think that’s the excuse.

There is a purpose to terrorism over and above the act itself, over and above the shock and horror of the violence. The site Terrorism Research says “Terrorism is designed to produce an overreaction and anecdotally, it succeeds at that almost all the time.” The ultimate target of the terrorists are not the initial victims but the general public.

Think back to 9/11 and the World Trade Center. Think of the time when the first plane struck. The second tower was hit slightly later – time enough for the news cameras to be there and capture it. Remember how the images of video played and re-played.

There are videos connected with the attack on the offices of Charlie Hedbo and they are being re-played as well. I know when I see them, when I think about the attacks, I am enraged and part of me wants violent terrible revenge. That is not the better angel of my nature and I know that.

As a writer, I put my protagonists through hell because that process strips away the layers and reveals who they really are. My tenet is that if something is true in writing, it is because it is true in life. We may think we know how we would react in a given situation but, until that moment actually arrives, we don’t really know.

As a people, as a civilization, we are in that situation now. As I write this, the French police report that terrorist sleeper cells in France have been activated over the last 24 hours. CNN reported that a senior U.S. law enforcement official said “This isn’t going to end.” Nor do I think it will be confined to France; I think inevitable that the attacks will come to our shores as well. After all, we are “the Great Satan.” How will we respond? In the past, we have responded with Abu Graib, the war in Iraq, the cells at Guantanamo. Is that who we are? Is that what we must become to survive?

I am a pop culture writer and I tend to have violent protagonists. They don’t turn the other check and often seek revenge. I could be accused of promoting that viewpoint with my work; I like to think I’m allowing people to vent that anger through fantasy rather than advocating the approach but perhaps I’m just being self-serving. I also know, however, that all the characters that I write are damaged and scarred by their approach and I hope that I write them that way.

In our lives we can’t control what others do; we can only control – hopefully – our reactions and how we respond. In the same way, we cannot control or even prevent what these terrorists do; we can only choose how we respond.

It will come down to this – how much are we willing to sacrifice to feel safe; how much are we willing to endure to be free? We might think about Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address with which Steven Spielberg chose to close his remarkable film, Lincoln: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive. . .to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

If we cannot, then the terrorists will have in fact won.


Mike Gold: Blowin’ People Up, Just To Make A Point

Charlie HebdoYes, I know. Our columnists here at ComicMix used to be pretty damn political. Eventually we drifted too far off of our happy little pop culture topic, and we retrenched. Well, sort of. Martha, Michael Davis and I moved our noisy political stuff over to www.MichaelDavisWorld.com . Therefore, at the outset I am telling you this column, delayed somewhat by my blind anger (thanks for filling, Emily!), is completely on topic.

You’ve probably heard about the bombing of the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo by militant Islamists. Two gunmen stole a car, drove up to the paper’s office in Paris, and started blasting away on their AK-47s shouting “We have avenged the Prophet.” Then they split the scene, postponing their visit with their 72 virgins.

As of this writing, 12 people have been confirmed dead, including the editor, two policemen, and noted cartoonists: Stéphane “Charb” Charbonnier, Jean “Cabu” Cabut, Georges Wolinski, and Bernard “Tignous” Verlhac. Another 11 were wounded.

I’m not going to tell you a bunch of stuff you already know. This sort of thing has become all too common. Besides, comic book fan Salman Rushdie said it better than I ever could:

“I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. ‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.”

Our fearless disrespect. Every once in a while, a writer knocks out a phrase so perfect that I think I should retire.

I wonder how the late Mad Magazine publisher Bill Gaines would have responded. He was a libertarian from back when the word wasn’t jingoistic. I knew Bill some, and my guess is that he would have been really pissed. He would have felt a kinship with the staff and talent at Charlie Hebdo… or so I think.

Now here’s the funny part of the story. Somebody reading these very words right now is thinking “It can’t happen here.” After two bombings at New York City’s original World Trade Center, a bombing at the Pentagon, a bombing of a child care center in Oklahoma City, various individual serial bombers like George Metesky and John “Ted” Kaczynski, the bombing of the J.P. Morgan bank on Wall Street, the bombing of the Los Angeles Times, the armed attack on Congress by Puerto Rican separatists… it most certainly can happen here.

Fortunately, we’ve got an outfit that helps – helps – protect cartoonists here. It’s called the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. They do excellent work. I am proud to be a supporter; if you’re not already, you would be too. Check out their web page. They cover international incidents as well as domestic; today Maren Williams wrote a great piece about the Paris attack.

“Funny” doesn’t make you safe. Ask Lenny Bruce.

It’s time to stand up and be counted.