Journal

Comics! Perfect for propaganda!

Posted on by Joshua Dysart Posted in Comic Books, Cool Stuff!, Journal | Leave a comment

Two new comic book properties have been announced in the last week.

1) The United States Army has declared it’s looking for a ready and able comic book creator to execute, in the mainstream style, a product that will help win over the “hearts and mind’s” of the Arabic youth.

2) A Columbian artist named Rodolfo Leon has announced that he will be publishing a superhero comic staring Pope John Paul II, in which the late Pope will rise from death with newly granted super powers to aid in his continuing struggle against Satan.

First the Army’s

The book will be based on the adventures of “security forces, military and police, in the near future in the Middle East” and will be put together by those lovable leaflet droppers, music blarers and cognitive game players of the army’s 4th Psychological Operations Group. It’s the brainchild of the US Department of Defense’s Central Command, “which is responsible for US security interests in 25 Middle Eastern and Arab nations,” according to the BBC article linked above.

So, being a professional comic book creator, I’d like to pitch my idea to the marketing gurus at Psy-ops.

Our setting is a utopic, westernized Middle East. Yet, despite this perfection, a cadre of hyper-violent, hi-tech, and unintentionally sexy, fanatics with nebulous fairy-tale motivations plague the daily lives of its good citizens. There must be little or no mention of religion in the comic, however the Americans will all wear small, barely noticeable, gold crosses � there, of course, will be no Jewish Americans depicted.

What do you think, Pentagon? Will it fly?

From their description, it sounds like the Army wants to promote the emergence of a strong culture-wide military fetish in future generations, not notions of truth and justice.

For instance, the list of requirements the Army is looking for in their future comic book creator is “experience of law enforcement and small unit military operations – along with a knowledge of Arab language and cultures.” Let me tell you, I know a lot of comic book creators, but I don’t know that one. I can’t imagine who would take this gig? Some ex-navy seal probably. The one who never got a book deal and now needs extra-cash to supplement that �military-contractor� income he gets.

The BBC article also mentions that an Egyptian publisher is starting a line of Arab superhero comics, which I imagine will be a sort of slightly westernized take on their own iconic symbols of power and responsibility. Sort of like jazz played with a tabla, rababa, mizmar and tambourine.

There you go, Army� a little friendly competition. But don�t worry, you�ll shock and awe the hell out of those fuckers in that there “free-market”! It’ll be mad-sick, yo! You’ll print six times the copies that the Arab publishers will, and you’ll do it on the taxpayer’s dime. Then you’ll undercut the Egyptian publisher “Wal-Mart” style! Why not! Dick tells cunt what to think! Whitie tells Blackie what to think! Apollo tells the sad bastard with the gimpy leg what to think! The Catholic Church tells the poor what to think! Why shouldn�t the United States Army tell the Arab kids what to think? Isn�t that how it works, Psy-ops? Why the hell would they need role models presented to them from, and by, their own culture? Besides, every good American sporting a faded “A vote for Kerry is a vote for Al Qaeda” sticker on his truck knows that the Arabs just want to make comics about “Captain Car-Bomber” anyway!

For a time in the early 90’s the only widely published children’s book about Hercules in Italy was the Disney film picture book. You know why? Because Disney’s children’s book division pummeled the shit out of the Italian youth book market! So go get ’em, Army!! I’d like to hear those liberals bitch about not getting enough state sponsored art now!

We’ll win the post-war Iraq the same way the Chinese finally and fully won Tibet. The Chinese didn’t succeed in taking that mystical and timeless land because of the pacifism of the Dali Lama, or the complex prison system housing a huge portion of the Tibetan population, or the oppression of free speech, or the fear Chinese soldiers command in the streets, no� it’s the bling, baby! The bling! Their youth have started moving to major cities! Where they have cell-phones and video games and jeans! China wins!! End of saga! All we have to do is occupy Iraq for 25 years, feed ’em apple pie, pro-American comic books and access to digital porn and they’ll be just as void of revolutionary ideas as Americans are! Hop to it, boys!

But wait, that�s not all…

Another mighty notion has surfaced in Columbia!

THE INCREDIBLE POPEMAN!!

That’s the actual title! And it’s not satire! It’s a comic book featuring the Pope as a superhero!

This from ABC News�

“In the comic book, the pope dies and is reborn with superpowers beyond the infallibility Catholic doctrine gave him on earth.

“Along with his yellow cape and green chastity pants, the muscular super-pontiff wields a faith staff with a cross on top and carries holy water and communion wine.”

It’s fantastic! Just what developing nations need! He’ll fight a war against Satan while condemning homosexuality, telling people in overpopulated regions not to use condoms, and reminding little girls that they’re just not good enough to grow up and be Pope themselves!

According to the article, the late Polish pontiff will be “meeting comic book legends such as Batman and Superman to learn how to use superpowers to battle Satan”. I imagine he’ll reprimand Batman for his hyper-violent solution-solving techniques, but Superman – who was created by two Jewish kids desperately trying to assimilate in early 20th century America � he’ll simply gush over. Too bad the creators are in Hell now (or do Jewish people just go to Purgatory?).

And why, you ask, is all this happening in comic books?

Because it’s the poor that need to be whipped into line, damn it!

Comic books transmit information in a way no other medium currently does. They are low-tech and easily disseminated amongst impoverished populations. Total literacy is not needed to receive a great portion of the comic book’s transmission. And comic books are a three-pronged narrative attack. Images placed in sequential order visually stimulate. Simultaneously, the floating text engages the reader’s semantic fixation, something particularly present in the young (till the aggregate culture beats that brainy shit out of ’em so they can be sold sneakers). And when used properly, the words and text juxtapose to create a third meta-story. By this logic, a comic book has three separate ways to communicate subtext.

It’s the perfect propaganda tool.

Two new comic book properties poised to hit the global market. Each one has something to preach, something their creators desperately believe in. Both will be about freedom from evil and tyranny, both will be about being good and struggling to do the right thing… and both will be completely toxic, shallow and empty of any attempt to fundamentally explore the nuances of the complex world in which their audiences live.

I realize that I am judging these works before I see them, something that infuriates me when done by the religious right. However, I understand comics to be a dynamic force for skipping metaphor across the surface of the collective consciousness, and I can’t possibly see how either of these ideas will be anything but a dark and manipulative use of that force.

Peace.

Holland(shrunk).jpg
Holland Grecko, lead singer of The Peak Show. A great, and now, sadly, defunct, Echo Park band.

WRITE HONESTLY

Posted on by Joshua Dysart Posted in Journal, Writing | Leave a comment

This state of beauty.
What is so confusing about it?
Why does he push it away?
Why not just play at it?

I told him not to hesitate.
He didn’t listen.
He’s extracting himself from all the best scenes.
Nothing great is possible now.

ClanBreccia.jpg
Master horror illustrator Enrique Breccia and his son, extraordinary colorist, Martin. Descendants of the famous, Argentinean Breccia art clan and the visualists behind the recent incarnation of Swamp Thing.

I don’t know who the drunk asshole doing the bunny ears in the back is.

CLARA AMONG THE ZOMBIES

Posted on by Joshua Dysart Posted in Journal, Writing | Leave a comment

In tune with the skin of magic,
She forfeits youth to a larger song.
This morning she meditated along the coast,
Her tender thoughtfulness aimed toward the ocean,
Praying for passion while watched closely
By drug assuaged fantasies of rape.

Walking home,
Chilled by gloom despite the hot
Summer December day,
A handsome grin introduced himself.
“Your hands are so cold,” she said,
Reluctantly shaking his paw.

They orbit her,
Soiled, enthusiastic, hip, hearty, reckless, dashing;
Sample her supply of paradise,
Wonder why she pipes of sadness.
Each one wants to thrill her
With garage sale hearts and hyphenated poems.
“Don’t be sad,” say the lonely, the ready for battle,
The tied up inside.

The bluebird has sarcoma,
Hacks up little briquette bits of lung
First thing in the morning.
Clara is sacred and hounded,
Clara is profane and preferred.
Clara is mocked for her visions of a better Lithuania
And cannot be bought by the steel tycoon
Who watches her roll past his office window
On a gliding kick of melancholy.

Mike Wellman of Atomic Basement Pimps “TEX!” at the San Diego con., Summer of 2004

First post

Posted on by Joshua Dysart Posted in Journal, Writing | Leave a comment

I’m trying to climb out of this deadline hole on the Richard Corben script for Swamp Thing #20, but I’ve felt like shit all day and mostly slept. Now I have a strong and sudden urge to start posting to this site. Procrastination is the writer’s worst enemy. It doesn’t help lube up the old creative machine that Corben is a mad genius and a legend either, in fact, it makes getting to the task of writing a script for him downright daunting.

This weekend was the LA Wizard World convention in Long Beach. I have no pictures of it because my digital camera broke in San Fran last month at Wonder Con. Please forgive. Long beach was cool though. Hung with friends, made new ones, all that shit. Survived it easy enough.

But I only barely survived yesterday. Bright eyed Andy Lee and mischievous Kenneth Lillie-Paetz came by to poke around my pad and ended up launching me on an entire day of toxin imbibing (I knew I was in trouble when Ken rolled in with a bottle of Disaronno at fucking noon). It was great fun though; I never get to spend time with comic book friends away from the con madness. At some point we ended up in a shaded courtyard off the beach, drinking wine and watching Andy being filmed while he painted on this chick’s handbag. It really doesn’t get much cooler.

About the time I got those cats on a plane, Charles Brownstein from the CBLDF sent out a transmission telling me his airline had screwed him out of a flight. He was stranded in Santa Monica. So off I went to a blues bar next to the evil cardboard empire that is the 3rd street promenade to meet him. The spiral of substance abuse was impossible to deny at that point. By 3:30 AM I was exhausted, stripped of paint and pouring myself into a cab, desperate to get home and crash.

Now I’m just trying to make it from “Once upon a time…” to “The end” in my script while the buzzards pick at my bones. At least the unusual rainy season is tossing another storm at the Southern California coast. It was awful nice to nap away the day while the rain shuttered against my windows.

It’s late, and the rescue helicopters are pounding the rubbery black sea with their harsh searchlights and gasoline breath. Hope everybody’s okay… if they’re not, then at least the brine will eat well and be able to marry their sweethearts.

Despite this entry, I promise not to make my journal just some murderous log about my useless day-to-day existence. I’ll try to keep it lively. Politics, poetry, photographs, web comics, that sort of stuff. We’ll see how it goes.

But for now I hear a distant lullaby sung on a restless wind, calling me off to dream of rain. Goodnight.

Detail of my apartment.

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