Monday, July 19, 2010

Up, up... and away!

I guess that the first question on starting a new blog is what to do with it. In my particular case, it is a bit more complicated, demanding that I address two additional queries: why start a new blog when my maiden effort is so seldom updated? And why a blog about comics, something that I must stress from the first moment, I know nothing about?

Well, the answer is not really that difficult to grasp: this is not a new blog; this is just the comics version of HOUSE OF SIN. Not that I will spend much time dallying on the sexual lives of female super-heroes (moreover, because they don’t seem to have one), or braving the complex issues of those comic characters’s inherent sexyness (although I’ll do a bit of both). But, just as I enjoy the thrills of the “damsel in distress” in film and literature, I enjoy them as well in comic format. And like a great philosopher should have said, “with great power, comes great risk of being in distress”.

So… on to the second question. And to that one, there is a tad more complex answer. I’ve always enjoyed reading comics, although I had stopped doing it in the early nineties. Besides the usual European bandes dessinées, like Blake & Mortimer, Michel Vaillant, Bruno Brazil, Ric Hochet, Luc Orient, Tanguy et Laverdure, Morbus Graviis and the superb graphic novels by François Burgeon, I got hooked on Marvel and DC super-hero comics. Particularly on Berni Wrightson’s SWAMP THING, Win Mortimer’s SUPERGIRL (yes, the hotpants version), Claremont’s X-MEN, Miller’s DAREDEVIL and BATMAN, Byrne’s SUPERMAN and, above all else, Windsor-Smith’s CONAN and Frank Thorne’s RED SONJA. With the nineties and the ascension of the politically correct mentality, I found super-hero comics becoming too tame, bloodless and sexless, and became annoyed by the manga-derived visual style and the hyper-muscled and ultra-chiseled characters being drawn by almost every artist in DC and Marvel-land. So, with SUPERMAN’S DEATH I bid goodbye to comicbook-reading.

But, alas, with Bendis’s take on Marvel's ULTIMATE UNIVERSE and such events as ANNIHILATION, CIVIL WAR and SECRET INVASION, I became once more addicted to the four-color super-hero adventures. In order to get updated, I started reading older comics and browsing the net in search of more information. And that’s where I noticed something strangely familiar: just as it had happened with the detective, science fiction and horror novels, the great popular success of comics had drawn upon them the eager eye of ACADEME. Suddenly, comic book adventures are supposed to have a HIGHER MEANING, and a HIDDEN MEANING, usually pertaining, one or both, to the comic’s perceived deep seated misogyny and latent homosexuality. There seems to be a war being declared by pompous academics on large-breasted super-heroines, rape-fantasy fixated fanboys and aggressively anti-feminist comic-book writers and artists.

And I want to be a part of that war. Fighting on the side of the underdog. So, my voice will be the voice of the forever enthralled fanboy. Yes, I appreciate meaning in comics. But I don’t believe that such a meaning should have to be found in procrustean readings or the absurd application of dead Freudianism and stupid Lacanian pseudo-psychiatry. Comics, as is the case with any other form of popular entertainment, have great relevance as a corpus of works that embrace the whole imagination of the human race: its aspirations, dreams, desires, fears and nightmares. And besides that, it is entertainment. It is a way to free one’s inhibitions from the chains of social mores. The greatest battle of the super-powered individual is not the one against his foes, but the one he must do with his own inner demons. The ones that keep urging him to use – to really use – his powers to do as he deems fit. The reader doesn’t have to fight that fight. No, the reader can indulge. WE can indulge.

And we don’t have to be brow-beaten because of that. We don’t have to be told by some pompous and condescending “critic” that “Personally, I can’t in general understand how people who read superhero comics in general manage to do so without constantly pointing at the art and laughing out loud.” And we don’t have to tolerate the infantile moralizing that considers that a woman (and even a super-woman) is a “slut” because she participates in a threesome.

I guess, more than anything else, it was these two comments that made me put my fingers to the keypad again, for such voices cannot be allowed to speak alone. Somebody must point and laugh and deride, and debate them.

Fortunately, the internet is also awash with great and intelligent writing and criticism about comics. I can’t and don’t intend to single out all the ones to whom I feel most grateful for their insights, devotion and effort to keep interesting blogs (sooner or later, they’ll all be right there on my blogroll). But I cannot go without mention Gene Phillips’s THE ARCHETYPAL ARCHIVE. It was Gene and his brilliant insights that made plain to me that you can understand comics, enjoy comics, and recognize the value of comics without having to bend their true meaning and without the need to distort the creator’s intentions. You can be at the same time enthusiastic and objective about a comic-book joys and limitations. Gene certainly is that.

And so, here I am, and here are my intentions. I’ll be writing about the comics I enjoy, not with any academic pretentions, but only in an attempt to translate the joy I derive from comic-book reading. I don’t know how frequently I’ll post here. I do know I’ll be wrong many times. I hope you’ll enjoy it if you care to visit here from once in a while.

(And yes, I do love big-breasted and scantly-clad super-heroines.)

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I check out your new blog and find myself fulsomely complimented in the first post! That's somekinda cool; much appreciated.

    Yeah, political correctness bites, especially when it comes from pundits (cough, cough, Heidi McDonald) who act as if it's had no effect whatever and that mainstream comics are a constant assault on feminine sensibilities. Intellectually I know it's in the female genes to kick males in the butt and civilize them, but after a while every complaint sounds pretty much the same: Wonder Woman's bikini is on a par with the rape of the Sabine Women or something.

    I will say males make some horrible creative choices. I regard the dullness of 80s Marvel to be the fault of Jim Shooter, despite the fact that in his wilder moments the guy did some freaky fantasies.

    I definitely agree with your attack on stifling intellectuals, and Lacan is one of the worst. Freud's someone who's still valuable in special cases, though: I wouldn't mind seeing (or doing) a Freudian analysis of John Byrne!