21 May 2005

Would I Be Upset If Someone Flushed An Issue of Batman Down A Toilet? (CS)

Not too long ago, Micheal Chabon posted in his blog a response that he wrote to a New York Times Book Review that went unpublished. I found it particularly interesting as one of the most well thought out and reasoned defenses of comic books as a medium that i've seen in a while.
I thought it really great where he took to task the common idea that comics are a base medium for cynical or even depraved impulses:
As for comics, one has only to turn to the characteristic output of Marvel Comics, for the period from about 1961 to about 1975, to find not an expression of base and cynical impulses but of good, old-fashioned liberal humanism of a kind that may strike us today, God help us, as quaint, but which nevertheless appealed, in story after story, to ideals such as tolerance, technological optimism, and self-sacrifice for the benefit of others.

I always felt that I learned some of my greatest lessons through comic books. Many of these lessons are ones we find unfortunately absent from society and our leaders ("with great power comes great responsibility" comes to mind... as does the unwavering committment of the majority of comic book heroes to not take a life). Comics even, especially these days and perhaps particularly within the realm of capes and cowls, provide us with the idea that the "good guy" is not always right. Various heroes and their differing outlooks on the world can come into conflict. The big boy scout that is Superman often comes into conflict with Batman and some of his questionable tactics who in turn is a bit too conservative and shady for the Green Arrow. It doesn't make one more or less right or just than the other of course.
I'm not about to put comics on the same level as some of the great philisophical and ethical works in history.... But they sure are easier to digest than Republic or Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

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