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Blog Entry, Comic Books, Uncategorized

The Voice Behind the Curtain: Comics and Political Discourse

With the Fourth of July right around the corner I thought we’d go a little political and partly patriotic for Friday’s post. Earlier this week we reviewed ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction and talked about  the implications of the ethical messages in the story.  This got me thinking about a growing trend in the comic book medium which I find very promising. Comic books are starting to become stronger as a channel inviting political discourse and debate. A lot like novelists such as Margaret Atwood, Ray Bradbury, and Robert Heinlein did, comic book writers are starting to use their medium to comment on current political issues and climates. What is amazing to see is that these messages are growing more proactive as opposed to reactionary.

Are comic books becoming more proactive in entering into political discourse? When there is political scandal such as “Weiner-gate” or the situation at Abu Ghraib it is easy for the media to react to that event and put their own spin on it. It’s when a piece of work not only comments on the climate but actually starts the debate shining a light on a particular issue that wields real power. Looking back to ZMD, it not only brings out questions about biological warfare and the ethics of war. Yes, war has ethics and anyone who does not believe so should never be in control of a combat unit. I have never served in the armed forces but I know enough from my father and others who have served to understand that if the man making the decisions has no ethics then we are doomed. ZMD paints this kind of a picture in the use of zombies as a weapon. It also brings to light the question of whether the military has the right to experiment on soldiers. Especially those who died in combat. Comic books are not stopping at just the politics of war either.

Another book that read recently was Once Upon a 2008, a graphic novel that portrayed the 2008 Primary Election from Hilary Clinton’s perspective but in a world where the Monarchy never went away from the United States, or anywhere for that matter. It’s a good read and we’ll be posting a full review of it soon. This novel goes into depth evaluating the backstabbing and turmoil that played out in front of the cameras, but in an entertaining fashion that even someone who doesn’t follow politics could enjoy. It also poses some ideological questions about the ultimate result of the election as well. This brings another example to mind as well.

A couple of weeks ago we posted about Superman renouncing his United States citizenship and what the meant to us a culture. It plays in well with this topic because that decision was not reactionary, it was proactive and it influences what the mainstream media reported.

Our culture is on the verge of a new age.  We are going to see more and more instances of Geek and Gamer culture taking the reins and directing where the mainstream goes. It will be gradual, but I am very confident that it will happen. It will be works like ZMD, 2008, and the others that go beyond the capes and cowls of superheroes to bring a message of value to the readers to plant that seed of change.

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Discussion

One thought on “The Voice Behind the Curtain: Comics and Political Discourse

  1. This country has a very long tradition of using cartoons to be a mouthpiece for political and social commentary. i believe it was only in the last 100 years that it started being a medium for more fantastic adventures, but the political undercurrent has always been there. Look to Green Arrows books of the 1960’s or Marvel’s books. there were characters very much built around ideas like black power and Vietnam. I’m glad as well to see politics making its way to the front again. However, I think that as with all things, there should be some balance as to the slant of the stories. More people than not who are involved with the creation of these works tend to skew left on the political spectrum. With a young impressionable readership, it could be a very easy step to go from entertainment to soapbox propaganda.

    Posted by artistdoug | July 31, 2011, 12:05 pm

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