Friday Runaround – What Conservatives Can Learn From Comics

SUPERCONSERVATIVE

Paul Abbot, senior researcher to a Conservative MP writes for ConservativeHome writes about something that I’ve mentioned, how the essential superhero character is based in conservative politics. He writes;

the entire Batman franchise can be summarised: “if only we refrain from taxing billionaires, they will fight crime at night”. (Wealthy Bruce Wayne doesn’t have to pay mansion taxes in Gotham, and is therefore free to invest in his Batmobile.)

The message of Superman is as follows: “skilled immigration is good, if newcomers will adopt Western values.” (Superman becomes a flag-waver for liberal democracy, and is weakened only when he is reminded of his alien home-world in the form of Kryptonite.)

The theme of Judge Dredd: “The state’s first duty is defence, especially of minorities and the vulnerable.” (As social order disintegrates in the future, Judge Dredd must dole out harsher and harsher “fixed penalty notices” in Mega City One, to protect ordinary people from thugs, corrupt local bureaucrats, and technological pressures.)

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The point is that comic books win by capturing the terms of debate. Ideas are crystalised as characters, so there is no rhetorical ground left for your opponents to stand on. The three comic franchises that I started with – Batman, Superman, Judge Dredd – all take a kernel of Conservate philosophy and weld it relentlessly into a compacted doctrine. The meaning of those characters is unspoken; hiding in plain sight. Audiences do not even realise it, perhaps. But the fact remains that the Batman series has done more to defend free market economics and the concept of “the good rich man”, in the popular mind, than all the think-tank pamphlets of the last 30 years.

I’m not sure that’s the best reading of Judge Dredd. He is the bad guy after all.

U-PAY

Neal Adams and Kevin Smith will be speaking at a travelleing event, UCreate, inspiring people to create comics and break into the industry – for a price. Their first event is on Free Comic Book Day in New York City at the Apollo Theatre. UCreate is looking to recruit new creators to work on their comics. But you’ll nee to buy a ticket…

MARVEL LIMITED

TechCrunch slates the Marvel Unlimited App.

The so-called Marvel Unlimited has a list of limitations that are sure to take the wind out of any comic fan’s sails: the catalog of titles available in the app is severely dated, for instance, with the newest titles available coming from around mid-year 2012. And Marvel limits how much content you can store offline at once to a paltry six titles – hardly adequate for a six-hour cross-country plane ride, for instance. For access, Marvel is charging $10 a month, or $60 for a year as a limited time offer.

FAMILY MATTERS

While Wired PRs DC’s new family-centric comics blog.

The site will be kid and parent friendly, bringing together DC’s top stars — Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman — to provide family-oriented projects, activities, crafts and more fun. It will also include news and contests, like the recently announced nationwide contest with Capstone, Be a Super Hero. Read! in which students in grades 3-6 are encouraged to write about the real heroes in their lives.

VALIANT? RETRO? REALLY?

Kotaku looks at Valiant’s new retro-game app to launch their Harbinger Wars crossover.

It will be a free download available on all iOS and Android platforms. Further levels, weapons and characters will available as in-app purchases; they will be released in tandem with each new issue of the Harbinger Wars mini-series. The primary playable characters will be Bloodshot and Peter Stanchek (from Harbinger) and both will have access to a variety of weapons and abilities.

I blame Wreck-It-Ralph.

WHAT IS IT WITH BOTTOMS?

The Collegian searches for “butt kicking women” in comics.

DeConnick’s writing, along with the work of rotating artists, has brought new life to the character. The popularity of the new “Captain Marvel” series has reached such heights that many on the Internet consider themselves a part of the self-named Carol Corps, while they and others create many pieces of clothing and costumes from the comics for cosplay.

THE WOMEN OF TOMORROW

supermakhOn International Women’s Day, France 24 looks to the extreme harassment of women in Egypt, and a comic book saviour.

Supermakh — or, Superman with an Egyptian twist. Dressed in white underwear and a floral motif cape, the comic superhero is fighting against Egypt’s rampant sexual harassment of women

Makhlouf’s virtual superhero has already made a difference in the real world by helping to publicise the ordeal many Egyptian women face daily.

Drawing on Supermakh’s popularity, Tok Tok zine published a special issue last year addressing sexual violence against women.

Supermakh is due to reappear in Tok Tok’s April 2013 issue, which will deal with the story of a woman politician in Cairo: another taboo Egypt’s new superhero is set to break.

MARZ ATTACKS

Ron Marz continues to share the HEAT hate.

Conventions, especially larger ones, are like family reunions. You get a chance to see old friends, and meet new ones, many of whom you only see at cons. Not long ago, some cowardly pro, hiding behind the name Truman Sterling, wrote at another site that “…everybody is nice to everybody else at conventions. Even fellow professionals are nice to one another, even if it’s phony nice. Which I often find it is because it’s a small industry and invariably, people’s real opinions come home to roost. Over the years and with the number of people I’ve worked with on different books, I count less than ten people I consider trustworthy and genuine friends.”

Yeah, I call bullshit on that.

Presumably that’s all true for whoever “Truman Sterling” is, but it says a lot more about Truman Sterling than it does about the comics industry. In other words, if you don’t have friends in this business, and don’t trust people, it’s your fault, dude.

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