I didn’t just stumble over this image (left) at Fortress of Fortitude. I’ve been seeing it for a while now. I’m sure that, now that it’s out, the endorsement of a fictional character will give Obama the nudge he needs to win the Presidency. Just like when it happened in 1952 for Pogo. Hopefully Obama’s term or terms in office won’t end as badly as it did for the ‘possum. I’m sure just the mention of the Albert Alligator Incident will be enough to remind us of what this country and the Lower Middle High School lost on that faithful day. Me, I haven’t been able to eat butterscotch since I learned. Or ride a bus. Or tie my own shoes.
This, though, is not why I write to day.
Instead, let us look at this essay from Fortress of Fortitude. In it the writer (the Fortress Keeper) details the reaction of comic book fans to this news. As always, we see fandom split into the “aginnits” and the “forrits”. The latter howl how the creator of the comic (Erik Larsen) has made it his soap box, pushing his political views down the innocent reader’s throat. The former cheer on the bravery they’ve seen in the presentation of this cover. They howl worse than a couple of banshees fighting over who gets to stake out the O’Malley’s place. Such sound a fury, signifying nothing.
Let me whisper a little something in your ear in this paragraph: I don’t care what Larsen does with his comic. Savage Dragon could be rooting for the Red Sox or pitching for Wheaties on that cover, it wouldn’t matter a jot. His comic, his cover. He could cover it with squiggles and that would be fine with me. Had it been, say Spider-man or some other comic book character I actually gave a damn about, endorsing Obama or McCain, I’d feel the same way. All this cover really is is the answer to a trivia question. Maybe not something even that important.
Turning back to the essay now. As noted there, comics have always had a political agenda. Which is true. Reading the Stan Lee run on the Fantastic Four, for instance, and you see a lot of heavy preaching going on. As the Fortress Keeper points out in his essay, other writers did the same thing. Hell’s teeth, Charles Dickens was doing something simular in England over a hundred years ago. Writers like to think they can cause change with their words. And sometimes they can.
The real problem with this cover is that it’s damn boring, if not foolish.
As a kid, I went for the action covers. The covers that promised an exciting or funny story. This cover? Tells me nothing about the story inside. Two guys just standing there? Dull as dirt. Plus you already know who Savage Dragon is going to endorse, thus killing whatever suspense that point had. Larsen could have maybe milked that a little bit. Made it look like a Sophie’s Choice moment. You know Marvel would have done it, back in the day.
As an adult, the entire thought of reading more politics turns me off. Obviously this isn’t the case with everyone (according to the cover, the issue has already been reprinted once). To me, though, it looks like Larsen’s going to lay on his support with a trowl. I get enough of that with the news, thanks.
Both points make me think that Larsen’s choice in covers is a little foolish. The big point, though, is this thought: What if Obama isn’t any good? What if he’s a stinker? Now Savage Dragon’s linked to the guy. How wise is that?
Now of course this last point probably never entered Larsen’s head. He no doubt believes in Obama. Perhaps he’s even right to do so.
I wouldn’t have done it. I’m not planning on push specific issues with my writing, period. I might, if I think it’ll be interesting, and I know my personal politics will probably come out in my work whatever I do. But other wise, no. No thanks.
Maybe this makes Larsen braver than I. Maybe he’s more foolish.
All I can say is that, with this cover alone, Larsen has about as much chance of me buying his comic as Pogo does becoming the next President of the United States.