Mindy Newell: Je Ne Suis Pa Charlie Hebdo

SoBigYesterday I had a thought – which I do have on occasion.

I have always considered myself a “socially conscious” comics writer. This means that, if you look over my body of work, you will notice that I have told stories that, in one way or another, reflect “real world” events and the consequences of those events on my characters. Notably, of course, in my 1986 Lois Lane mini-series about child abduction and abuse, “When It Rains, God is Crying” (coincidentally edited by ComicMix’s Robert Greenberger when we were both working for DC, he an editor and me a freelancer), but also as far back as “Moon River,” my first story in New Talent Showcase, an admittedly tyro effort to portray the outcome of a closed, dictatorial society on an individual. And of course there was “Chalk Drawings,” which I co-wrote with George Pérez for Wonder Woman, which was a story about suicide.

These efforts do not make me Edna Ferber (a member of the Algonquin Round Table, a group of renowned and influential New York City writers, critics, actors, and wits who gathered at the Algonquin Hotel every day for lunch from 1919 to 1929), whose “socially conscious” novels include, among others, So Big (1924), for which she won the Pulitzer Prize, Show Boat (1926), which was adapted into a musical by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein, and Giant (1952), which was made into a movie directed by George Stevens and starred Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean – his third and last role before his death by car accident – who did admirable jobs in a no-way-was it-as-good-as-the-novel script adaptation. So Big was about the war between art and finance, Show Boat was about the racism between black and white and its price, while Giant dealt with the racism between brown and white, the antipathy between cattle ranchers and oilmen, and, as well, the clash between liberalism and conservatism. All are issues we face today.

Nor am I Laura Z. Hobson, whose 1947 Gentlemen’s Agreement attacked post-World War II anti-Semitism in the United States. It was made into a film produced by Darryl F. Zanuck, who, according to Wikipedia, was approached by Samuel Goldwyn and other Jewish filmmakers. They asked him not to make the film because it could “stir up trouble,” and feared that Hays Code enforcer Joseph Brown would not allow the film to get by the censors because of his openly known anti-Semitism. But Zanuck essentially said, “Fuck him,” and the film went on to be nominated for eight Oscars and to win three – Best Picture, Best Director (Elia Kazan, no stranger to controversy), Best Actor (Gregory Peck), and Best Supporting Actress (Celeste Holm). Just a brief aside here: in my not-so-humble opinion, John Garfield should have won a Best Supporting Actor for his role as Dave Goldman, a Jewish WW II vet and best friend to Gregory Peck’s main character, journalist Phil Schulyer. Oh, and young Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap’s Admiral Al Calavicci and Battlestar Galactica’s Brother John Cavil) played Schulyer’s son.

But, getting back to my original sentence, in which I said I had a thought…

Am I still listed in the phone book?

Of course it sounds silly. I mean, who uses a phone book these days?

But the point is, how easy am I to find?

And the answer is: All too easy.

So what if I offended someone out there? Certainly in these past two and so years I have stated my opinions loudly and frequently. And I’ve done the same on my Facebook page.

Is it that inconceivable some one could decide to meet me in the parking lot at work, or in front of my apartment building, or even in my apartment? Some one with a pathological chip on his or her shoulder and a knife or a Luger or a Kalishnikov?

Or maybe while I’m shopping at the Jewish deli?

No, I’m not inflated with self-importance.

No, I am not Edna Ferber or Laura Z. Hobson. Neither am I Lawrence Wright or Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein. I’m not Maureen O’Dowd. I’m not Rachel Maddow. I’m not Chris Matthews or Ed Schultz. I’m not Megan Kelley or Sean Hannity or Ann Coulter. I’m not Jon Stewart. I’m not Steven Colbert. I’m not Louis Black or John Oliver or Bill Maher.

I’m not Thomas Nast. I’m not Art Spielgman and I’m not Jules Feiffer. I’m not Nigar Nazar of Pakistan.

I’m not Alan Moore or Neil Gaiman or G. Willow Wilson.

I’m not Mike Gold or Denny O’Neil or John Ostrander or Marc Fishman or Martha Thomases or Michael Davis or Emily Whitten or Bob Ingersoll.

I am Mindy Newell.

Je ne suis pa Charlie Hebdo.

But I could be.

We all could be.

And so could you.