Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Paper Comic DeathWatch: Democrats of Doom

If you've been keeping up with the US Presidential Primaries, the one thing that seems to be clear is that this year is the Democrats really seem to be upstaging the Republicans as far as media attention goes. It's very possible that the Democratic Party may be able to use this momentum from the primaries to get into the White House.

And if they do, that will be very bad for Paper Comics.

For those of you outside of the US, the American political parties boil down to two groups. Republicans (conservatives) and Democrats (liberals)

Now before I get 1000 emails explaining why my simplified definitions of the two groups is wrong, let me say that's typically how they are viewed, and whether I'm right about that has no bearing on today's article, so let's all agree to disagree and move on. :)

Okay, where was I.

Oh, that's right. Why Hillary will be the Doom of Paper Comics...

I would like to submit to you that some of the best comics have come from times when they were written by liberal individuals reacting against conservative US governments. And inversely, some of the worse comics have been written during times of liberal US governments.

Let me *prove* my point...

Back in the 1970's Richard Nixon, a staunch republican, was President. During the 70's we got Jim Starlin reacting to this *oppressive* political climate with this guy:


And while many of you may remember Starlin's fantastic run on Adam Warlock, how many of you remember this run, written during the 90's? (When the Bill Clinton, Democrat, was in the White House.)


See Adam smiling?

I'll go on record now as saying if you've written a comic that has Adam Warlock smiling (and it's not because he's found a new way to kill himself.) Then things have gone HORRIBLY wrong.

But there you go. A perfect example of just how badly a happy liberal climate can mess up comicbooks. I can see I haven't convinced you. Let me give you some more examples...

Here you go. Who can forget the King of the Marvel Hippies Steve Gerber and his classic creation - Man-Thing:


Note: If you were a parent who gave your kids this Book and Record set, What the hell were you thinking? Seriously, It's Fun to Read As You Hear somehow doesn't line up with Night of the Laughing Dead, now does it?

Anyway, Man-Thing, as well as Gerber's Defenders, was just chock full of great hippy musings. I think part of the charm of those comics was seeing Gerber wrestle with anti-establishment storylines and counter culture topics while working for Marvel.

As such, the Man-Thing sort of became a benchmark for quality for the Marvel Monster books of the 70's.

On the flipside, what did the Clinton years bring for poor old Man-Thing?


That's right, it burns, it burns, but not in they way it's supposed to!

Really, I challenge you to find a worse comic cover NOT printed in the 90's... I can't comment on the quality of the story, but the particular Man-Thing run only lasted about 8 issues, so I think it's safe to say it sucked.

Okay, how about this. In the 70's Rich Buckler kept us mesmorized with his innovative and gripping story of Deathlok, a cyborg superhero fighting in a corporately controlled future.


However, in the 90's, stories with Cyborg Superheroes weren't quite as innovative or entertaining...


Mired in Destiny indeed.

I bet Stan Lee could come up with 1 million cover blurbs without ever using the word Mired.

Okay, here's my final example. Avengers during the 70's.


Avengers during the 90's (remember The Crossing?)


And Avengers during the Bush Era...

TheUltimatesSo, now that I've *proven* my point, I think we can safely accept my theory that quality in comics is going to take a nosedive if a Democrat gets into the White House. And for every Mage or Marvels the naysayers to this theory might bring up, I can easy point to a Clone Saga or Extreme Justice.

So, if paper prices continue to increase, and story quality declines, then paper comics are going to be looking at at least 4 years of declining sales.

Want to prevent this dark future? Well, if you want more Reagan Era Watchman/Dark Knight quality coming from comic publishers, the choice is clear.

Vote Republican. :D

PCDW points: 100.

Note: I'm voting for Obama if he makes through the primaries, so please spare me your anti-Republican tirades. :)


Caine said...

I want to say that I love your comics and am a regular reader of your blog (as Caine and Blaque Saber). I don't think that you're being fair with this post. Let me explain my points.

You posted:
"Anyway, Man-Thing, as well as Gerber's Defenders, was just chock full of great hippy musings."

~You're referencing a time in U.S. history that was unique. Nothing like it had happened before (to that level of intensity anyhow) and nothing probably ever will again (who's to say really?). The "hippy" period you speak of had great effects on all walks of life which did carry over into popular media such as comic books and those effects are likely never to be duplicated again regardless of who is in office.

"I think part of the charm of those comics was seeing Gerber wrestle with anti-establishment storylines and counter culture topics while working for Marvel."

~With your second statement, What I hear is that there won't be any need for anti-establishment or counter culture stories to be written when and if the dems take the office but you can't make that statement since the new millennium is not the 80's and the situations challenging the world today are different and more complex then twenty years ago. Who's to say that there won't be a culture to write about in an anti-establishment sort of way hear very soon with colning, diy, ipods and the like?

~ Also, the comic book community as a whole is larger and more diverse today then it was 20 years ago which has to bring about not only more poor comics but great comics as well.

~Lastly, I don't think its fair to put whom ever wrote the Cable storyline (Fabien Nicieza??) up against Stan Lee who (almost) single handedly created the modern comic book industry as we know it. No one could stand up to that.

Keep up all the great work that you do.

Philip Looney said...

Genius Jim. Genius.

Chris Sims said...

By that rationale, Jim, Civil War should've been the best crossover of all time.

Instead, it was Civil War. I call shennanigans!

Dr. K said...


I think you're absolutely right, and this argument can be extended beyond the world of comics to pop culture in general. Look at 1989: the greatest year in pop culture history and the beginning of the first Bush administration. We had movies like Do the Right Thing, Drugstore Cowboy, Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Mystery Train, My Left Foot, Crimes and Misdemeanors, etc. Plus great albums by Lou Reed, Neil Young, and others I can't remember off the top of my head.

Sequential Minded said...

sorry but if your theory was corrected we should have been flooded with great comics for about the last eight years.

But if your theory is correct I should point out that even if the stories get worst under a liberal president. Sales of comics will go up.

think about it. the 90's was a boom period.

so vote Obama and comics sales will explode because of a better economy (which means people will have more money to spend on comics)

good comics will still be around. But just like today (and the 70's) you have to weed out the bad stuff to get to the gold.

JimShelley said...

@sequential minded - we'll see - I'm actually very interested in seeing what happens to not just comics, but the economy in general after this next election.

joe said...
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