In my mispent youth back in the Sixties I read a lot of comics. My parents would give me and my brother a dollar each as our weekly allowance and at 12 cents a comic we could buy quite a few, even more if we purchased them for a nickel each used at an antiques\junk store in downtown Paris, Illinois. The most sacrificial Lent I have ever made was in 1965 at the age of 8 when I gave up my beloved comic books for Lent! Back then comics were quite safe for kids. On the whole I’d say they were beneficial for me, extending my vocabulary, introducing me to literary genres such as westerns and science fiction and the writing sometimes was of an unexpectedly high level. Some of the artists who drew the comics were of high calibre. Steve Ditko for example, the original artist who drew Spider-Man, had a very effective and memorable style of drawing. I stopped reading comics back around 1972, although I do buy silver age comic compilations for nostalgia and I keep half an eye on the industry as an aspect of popular culture.
I was not surprised to learn that a current story arc in Captain America has the Captain taking on the tea party movement. Comic book artists and writers have skewed heavily to the Left since the Sixties. My first protest letter, my first pre-computer attempt at a blog post, was a letter I wrote to Marvel Comics in pencil in 1969 protesting a story line in which Captain America was turning against US involvement in Vietnam.
In issue 602 of Captain America, the Captain and the Falcon, a black super-hero, see a tea party rally and decide that it poses a danger to, well that is not precisely clear, although I assume it is dangerous to the government. Captain America hits upon the brilliant plan to have the Falcon pose as a black IRS agent and go to a red neck bar and stir things up. (Hmmm, apparently plots and story lines have gone into steep decline since my day!) The hoot about this is that as long as the Republicans had the White House, the comics were filled with paranoid story lines involving evil government plots. With Obama in the White House, it is now evil to protest the government.
This of course has caused a huge amount of controversy. When controversy rears its head the comic book industry has a traditional response: back down faster than a man who has forgotten his wife’s birthday.
Warner Todd Huston reports at Publius’ Forum:
There was zero discussion to include a group that looked like a Tea Party demonstration. Ed simply wrote in an anti-tax protest into his story to show one of the moods that currently exists in America. There was no thought that it represented a particular group.
And yes, what Ed said is absolutely true, he does shy away from labeling things and did exactly that in this instance. In Ed’s story, there was no connection to the Tea Party movement, that’s a screw up that happened after the fact and exactly what some people are getting upset about.
Where Mr. Houston [sic] is correct is in our accidently identifying in one of the held up signs, the group as being a part of the Tea Party instead of a generic protest group. That’s something that we need to apologize for and own up to, because it’s just one of those stupid mistakes that happened through a series of stupid incidents.
Naturally, Mr. Quesada claimed I was being “irresponsible” with my intimation that Marvel was painting Tea Partiers as racists. Of course, that is a bit hard to accept since the drawing of the protest clearly identified it as associated with the Tea Party movement and The Falcon character said he could not mix with those “angry white folks.”
Ed Brubaker, who wrote the story, told FoxNews.com he did not write the “Tea Bag The Libs Before They Tea Bag YOU!” sign shown in the edition, insisting that the words were added by someone in “lettering or production” just before being shipped to the printer. It will be changed in subsequent editions, he said.
“I don’t know who did it, probably someone who thought it was funny,” Brubaker wrote in an e-mail. “I didn’t think so, personally. That’s the sign being changed to something more generic for the trade reprint, because I and my editor were both shocked to see it.”
Even as writer Ed Brubaker admitted to Fox that he harbored anti-Tea Party movement sentiments, Marvel promised to remove the Tea Party reference in reprints and will avoid it in the rest of this story line.
I want to point out, though, that I never called for any retractions or apologies, myself. I merely reported the incident. If Marvel Comics wants to apologize that is up to them. And they have, at least for “accidentally” identifying the Tea Party movement in their anti-protest screed.
Some conservatives have fretted that left wing comic book authors are attempting to indoctrinate kids. That is not a concern. Comics at 3.00 to 3.99 a shot priced themselves out of the kid demographic long ago. People who buy comics are almost all males between 25-35. Comics as an influence on kids is something from my childhood and just is not an issue today.
One excellent comic I wish to note is The Lost Battalion. Featuring the World War II DC character Sergeant Rock, the comic book is by Billy Tucci, a former paratrooper who has written a gripping account of the rescue of the 1rst battalion, 141rst infantry, the lost battalion, by the 442nd regimental combat team in the Vosges Mountains in France in October 1944. I touched upon this battle in my recent post on the 442nd, Go For Broke. In writing the Lost Battalion Tucci had assistance from a veteran of the lost battalion and a veteran of the 442nd. His comic is a fine tribute to the courage of the American troops in that engagement, and demonstrates that comic books can still rise above mere hack work on occasion.