Friday, November 17, 2006

Goodbye To Comics: Interlude

Goodbye To Comics: Interlude

I listen to a lot of Christian programming -- I know it wouldn't seem it based on my writings, but I do. I listen to the Christian programming because the religion provides the only real solace I can get sometimes when I face or think back to certain life situations. I mean, according to logic I should be as mad as hell a great deal of my time. But Christianity is illogical. It says that we have to love the people who have done us wrong and believe that whatever crimes they have committed will be addressed by God. It's very comforting, and it actually works.

But sometimes, I do wonder if the suggestion to "do nothing and let God take care of it" works in the service of the actual people pulling the strings. I mean, what a great way to keep oppressed people passive.

Then there is this question. What if you are sure that God (the Universal Deity, The Great One, The Big Cheese Upstairs) wants you to actually be active and confront the wrongs that have been done to you? What if you feel that God actually wants you to write this all out?

Yesterday, I felt very strongly that God wanted me to write this all out -- perhaps just to get it out of my system.

My whole life I have had the desire to reveal the hidden, to shake out dirty laundry, to bring glossed-over wrongs to the light. This, as you can imagine, is a thoroughly unpopular and quite frankly dangerous position to have.

I have noted throughout my life a deep aversion in society to saying the truth and a great reward for telling lies.

As I child I was admonished to "never tell anyone what happens in this house," even if, in retrospect, some of it needed to be told in order to get some outside party to fix things.

As an adolescent I encountered the usual suspects of disgusting adult individuals who would make lewd sexual innuendo or overtures and caution: "now don't tell anybody about this!"

As an adult things become a bit more covert. You observe that there are unsaid policies of silence regarding bad behavior in exchange for rewards. Your reward for continual silence might be tangible, like a promotion or bonus, or it might be intangible, like being allowed in certain social circles. Or there just might be the implicit understanding that during the next series of job cuts your ass might be gone.

But whatever happened to Truth, Justice, and the American Way?

Sometimes I fear that the system I just described IS the American Way.

I just read this article in Vanity Fair condemning the "smarties" who knew early that the Iraqi war was doomed. They were chastised by the author because though they were in positions of influence and had the vital information, they chose to remain silent because their silence was beneficial to their careers. Yes, Colin Powell is a great guy -- but he didn't make it a point to blast the war that he later said he knew was faulty. He kept quiet because he knew his political career would be damaged by not towing the party line. So thousands of troops die in the service of his silence. So how great really is Colin Powell? Or any of the other people who kept mum as to keep their reputations intact?

The American Way.

When I told my lawyer that the most important thing for me was to "tell my story," she wondered why I couldn't just dig a hole, scream into it, bury it, and go on with my life.

I don't know. I was made this way. Ask God. Maybe it's a defect, like a club foot.

And though the Old Testament is very "do what I say and don't ask questions," the New Testament is very much about running around and exposing hypocrisy and pissing people off.

There's nothing passive about storming into a temple and overturning tables.

My key mistake was that I was too passive about the bad behavior of others. And my even graver mistake, the one I believe sometimes is the main reason behind my Own Personal Hiroshimas, was buying into the devil's bargain of silence for reward.

It's a devil's bargain, make no doubt about it. It is what has kept generations of abuse, oppression, and crime intact -- not so much the Big Bad Guys, but the Unassuming Quiet People.

But the real test, of course, is to maintain such a noble standard of living NOT when one has nothing, but when one is immediately faced with losing everything. Would I be able to pass that test? I honestly don't know. I've failed that test before.

In the meantime, I don't think even a hole as big as the Grand Canyon could hold my voice in.


  1. Hey

    Forget the old testement, it's some good stories but it's an old covenant. The new testement is where things stand now so turn over tables and shine a light on injustice and know God loves you and I for one think you're a heck of a human being to write all this down and deal with it the best you can.

  2. Speaking truth to power is always difficult. I think some people feel choosing their battles is a better tactic for changing things than always being confrontational, and others are just afraid to lose privilege or, let's face it, survival income. I'm probably in the latter category. I consider myself scrupulously honest to a fault, but as I've gotten older I've also learned how to "withhold information" and keep my mouth shut in order to, for instance, make my day job easier and be able to carry on with my non-work life in some measure of security thanks to the income it generates. Theoretically security shouldn't trump truth, but we're not living in a theoretical world, and I like to have money for food and shelter and whatnot.

  3. This nearly made me cry with the truth of it.


  4. "But sometimes, I do wonder if the suggestion to "do nothing and let God take care of it" works in the service of the actual people pulling the strings. I mean, what a great way to keep oppressed people passive."
    I dunno. I've spent most of the last 35 years involved to varying degrees with the Jewish Carpenter, and I don't see any place where he says that.

    I think it's more like "if you can't do anything about it, God will take care of it." He says "vengeance is mine," but not leting people get away with evil isn't vengeance; it's vigilance.

    If you can stand up and tell the truth, yell your head off.

    I admire you to no end.

  5. I have suffered from similar urges to cut through the crap, clear the air, tell it like it is, let it all hang out, and virtually everytime I've given in to it I've paid the price: Lost employment, ostracism, ridicule. Sometimes I got away with it, rarely (if ever) profited from it. Standing up to bullies has mostly just rallied other lesser bullies to their sides. Still, I can't seem to help myself...I keep on doing it. Although I have gotten sneakier about it.

    I think this account is a truly worthwhile effort. I'm glad you have this need to search the truth. I'm starting to get old and tired, so it's up to the young'uns to carry on.

    I stopped reading mainstream comics virtually the day that I started working in mainstream comics, so I'm unable to reference the specific events to which the author refers. I don't know what story involves the rape of a well-known female character or what company published the story, so I'm at a loss to guess at who we're talking about here. I was briefly a professional (penciller/inker)in that field, and I found the in-fighting, carping, jealously, frat-boy cronyism, and sexism utterly revolting. The business rewarded every type of behavior that the stories it's creators published decried. I was finally freed from the dark kingdom by the comics implosion of the mid-nineties.

  6. Hmmm, is that you, Madeleine? I was paid for a cover for Acclaim back in '98 that was never used for the Classics Illustrated reprints: OUTCASTS OF POKER FLAT by Bret Harte.

    You can see my current work here:

    My most recent graphic novel is SADHU SUNDAR SINGH. Synopsis: the true story of a wealthy Sikh in post-Victorian India who becomes a penniless follower of Jesus Christ. Genuine signs and wonders follow this man of God as he brings the Gospel into then-forbidden Tibet and surrounding regions, often imperiling his own life. A riveting and unforgetable testimony.

    Best regards,

    A l e c <><