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Category Archives: Comics

The Lack of Ideological Diversity is Killing Comics

Okay, you’ve heard the refrain.

Guys like Ethan Van Sciver, Diversity & Comics, and Kasimir Urbanski all love to roast the more ludicrous efforts of the SJW’s within the comics scene. It makes for entertaining YouTube videos, that’s for sure. But Arkhaven comes onto the scene and suddenly they all want to run an angle on it claiming that these guys are just like the SJW’s except they’re just coming at from the opposite end of the political spectrum. Two sides of the same coin and all that.

Here’s why that’s wrong:

In the first place, the ideology the SJW’s are pushing is so incoherent, it isn’t really fair to characterize it with “politics”. And what they are injecting into the comics media is something fundamentally different from the way that, say, A Princess of Mars or Dune deal with political issues. Actual politics is really quite interesting– from the French and American revolutions to various civil wars throughout history… there’s a lot to it! But there really isn’t any substance to the SJW’s brand of so-called “politics”. There’s nothing to engage with. There’s nothing to have a conversation about. There’s no room for a different viewpoint on complex issues. There is only the opportunity for people signal their support for their freakish revolution as they tear down the cultural reference points of the people they seek to bully and humiliate.

Arkhaven is not doing anything remotely like that. In the first place, they are creating their own characters and settings rather than subverting longstanding icons of the field. And they’re doing it in such a way as to appeal to people that have been under-served by comics, movies, and publishing in general.

Ethan Van Sciver, Diversity & Comics, and Kasimir Urbanski have a particular narrow perspective on all this. It’s as if they would be content with the comics medium if only it were just a little bit less obnoxiously SJW. They are fine with the overall leftist tilt that could be taken for granted within the field throughout the eighties and nineties. And they are triggered at the idea of anyone violating the sort of boundaries and restrictions on expression that were laid down by the sort of people that take for granted that everyone on the right is necessarily boorish, déclassé, and hateful by definition.

But the problem with comics and media in general is that its creative palette has been artificially limited for so long, that people can’t even imagine what things were like when ideological diversity could be taken for granted as a given.

It’s time for that to change.

UPDATE: Kasimir Urbanski doubles down on the “Arkhaven is the mirror image of the SJWs” argument:

I don’t see what you guys are doing as creating “ideological diversity”. I have yet to see ANYTHING from the Alt-heroes previews that leads me to think that it will be even one micron more sophisticated in its propagandism for the ultra-reactionary Collectivist Right than, say, Ms.Marvel or She-Thor are shallow propagandism for the totalitarian Collectivist Left.

I want comics (and RPGs, video games, sci-fi, fantasy, film, novels and TV) that talk about politics, of any kind. I don’t want ANY of the above that are just PROPAGANDA.

My answer: People that would otherwise be systematically no-platformed by the left showing up, producing content, and reaching an audience by definition creates ideological diversity within the field.

 

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Quantum Mortis: A Man Disrupted #1

So my publisher is breaking into comics and their first effort has just hit Amazon. Needless to say, comics pros have not exactly sent out a welcoming committee in response.

Most of the backlash has been over the artwork, which frankly doesn’t interest me all that much. Judging by how far and how fast Castalia House developed up until they put together the cover of my book, I think it’s safe to say… regardless of what you think, they will learn and they will get better.

My interest in the matter is the content of the stories, and I think judging from Vox Day’s and Steve Rzasa’s other efforts it’s clear that they bring something to the table that comics today doesn’t have.

Does that matter…? Well it depends on whether you walked away and what it was that caused you to do so when you did. My addiction to science fiction stalled when I realized that dry tales of engineering fantasy were not my cup of tea. Reading through the magazines of the nineties, I opted to leave it altogether because hipster English majors writing about gay alien sex was not what I was there for.

But hey, there was still comics, right? I couldn’t stand what had happened to the X-Men and their spinoffs not long after The Fall of the Mutants. John Byrne’s Next Men kept me coming back to the comic shop, though. I found the whole Image Comics thing to be absolutely demented. Infinite Crisis was the last time I really remember paying attention to anything in comics. The various reboots of Blue Beetle and The Spectre left me more more than a little cold. But Bat Woman’s introduction was flat out absurd. I was done.

So yeah, as someone now mostly outside of the comics scene, I’m glad someone’s making an effort to shake things up. Speaking as a gamer, though… it especially warms my heart that it ended up being a Traveller fan that headed the charge.

 

Only Rebel Can Save Comics

Not sure what it is about this character that gets so many people’s panties in a bunch, but it’s real. Me? I can’t get enough of her. She’s just so danged fun!

And yeah, you can go read the pulps for yourselves and see all the things that could be taken for granted as normal back then that are utterly beyond the capacity of creators today to make. Chief among my favorites would be John Carter of Mars, the Confederate cavalryman whose increased strength at ability to leap prodigiously would provide the template for the rationale of Superman’s abilities.

It does strike be as being more than a bit odd: the number of things that are unthinkable grows every day. Far from the spirit of the “dangerous visions” of seventies science fiction, everything from Gone With the Wind to the Dukes of Hazzard is suddenly supposed to be across the line. This is a world where Apple and Amazon will ban historical wargames that utilize the Confederate flag.

Utterly asinine.

This sort of weird cultural aggression is not just dangerous and creepy. The sort of limitations on expression it embodies is absolute death to creativity and imagination. Sure, people are going to line up to explain that you really shouldn’t go out of your way to violate the demands of today’s commissars of correctness or the “normies” that live in fear of accidentally offending them. I would argue that those days are gone. There simply isn’t a whole lot of space to fall back on at this point. They’ve already called us every bad name they can think of. And far from being the sort that can simply live and let live, they can’t even be appeased.

The fact that something that would have been completely unexceptional forty years ago causes them to literally start shaking isn’t really my problem. But if that’s the way they want it, that’s the way they’re going to get it.

Hoth Ice Monsters Blitz Rebel Base!

Luke wasn’t the only one to get mugged.  It all started when a lone Ice Creature discovered what he thought was a Snack-Warmer.  It sure was hot inside the base, but the Taun Tauns were quite a delicacy:

 

He evidently went back to his buddies and let slip the news.  Soon, other Ice Creatures began to drop in:

 

When the Imperial fleet jumped in, a whole party of Monsters were trapped.  The Rebel leaders simply looked the other way when R2-D2 mercillessly taunted them:

 

These scenes were obviously cut from the film because they so clearly establish a moral equivalency between the Empire and the Rebellion.  It’s sad, really…. 

Well… okay… maybe it had more to do with the fact that these scenes do absolutely nothing to propel Luke, Han, and Leia further into the action.  Even worse, the ice monster sequence that did make it into the film was probably the worst special effect in the entire series.  All you see is this big arm at first.  (Woah!)  Then when he’s coming to eat Luke in the cave, he looks like this stupid unmoving maniquin that’s just being rolled along the passageway.  Barf.

No, but Luke, Han, and Leia are really what its about.  But just sitting back and watching the films again, I have to say that the plot is really lacking something there.  You know… the films really need an epic prelude that undermines the centrality of those three… and that establishes R2-D2 and Chewbacca as being the chief spys and the key movers and shakers of the entire Rebel movement.

No… no….  Nevermind.  That’s a really dumb idea.  Forget I mentioned it.

Comic Adaption Reveals Inner Workings of George Lucas’s Mind

The movie originally opened up with Luke observing the space battle above Tatooine, but the scene was cut because the hat he was wearing was just too embarrassing– even for the man who would later create Jar-Jar Binks!

 

We also would have gotten to see the “Toshi station” where Luke oh so wanted to go pick up power converters… but that scene was cut because Luke’s nickname was so irritating and also because Lucas later decided that a crystal ball did not fit so well with his vision of the Star Wars ethos: 

I had the Star Wars storybook as a kid and it also contained images of the following scene that hit the cutting room floor.  Man, I thought Biggs was cool.  I could not figure out why they cut him, but then in the nineties Lucas reinserted some of his scenes when he released the altered version of the film.  Oh!  The pain!  If only we lived in a world where Lucas had someone near him to tell him he was out of his mind….

You remember that scene with the shiny black miniature Death Star looking floating droid thing with a syringe?  I never could figure it out as a kid….  I mean here we are in this high tech supernatural universe and Vader can’t pull a Jedi Mind Trick while using some kind of high tech brain imaging.  No… we’ve got a floating death star with a syringe!  It just doesn’t fit.  Well, you should have seen what Lucas originally had in mind: a black droid with a mohawk and an earring!  “I pity the fool that don’t tell me the location of the hidden rebel base!”

He’s another lousy scene that should of stayed on the cutting room floor but that Lucas had to dig back up for his re-envisioning of the film.  At least you get to check out the frightening pre-slug Jabba:

And check out this rendition of the famous Remote and Blast Shield.  This image upset me even as a kinder-gardener with only a dim memory of the movie.  I guess the Marvel Comics artist lacked the necessary stills to pull this one off and had to make it up based mostly on the script?

And here’s the scene where Frodo is entering the Mines of Moria… oh wait… wrong movie.  You remember the scene where Chewbacca gets frightened and Han just randomly shoots his blaster down an empty hall?  It never did make any sense to me.  Apparently, Lucas originally had something different in mind there as we see below.  Hmm… maybe he was running out of special effects $$?

But if I was slightly confused by Han shooting down an empty hallway, I was quite perturbed by Obiwan Kenobi’s light-saber duel.  He just gives up!  He holds his light-saber straight up and lets Vader kill him.  Right.  (Luke, did Ben forget to tell you that not only do Jedi Knights venerate lying, but they are also heavy into ritual suicide.)  The comic book adaption of that fight is much better; Kenobi talks a little more smack and appears to go down fighting.  Here’s line that got cut from the film that puts one of Ben’s more cryptic remarks in context:

Here’s a particular juicy bit… in the earliest cuts of the film, Luke’s father was well known and well thought of.  Personally, I’d like to live in a universe where Ben’s not a liar, Luke didn’t kiss his sister, and where Vader was not Luke’s daddy.  This scene provides some evidence for those that think that things really were intended to be that way as the first film came together:

Here’s a scene that demonstrates how Lucas’s revisionism truly knows no bounds.  You can tell this is the revised adaption from 2006 because Lucas had Dark Horse comics remove the part where Luke screams “Carrie!!!”  instead he makes them put in some lame line about ‘Technicos.’  Right.  You’re not fooling anyone, George.  It’s bad enough that you’ve altered the movies, but could you at least stay out of the comic adaption and leave things be?