Category Archives: Politics

Dragon Con 2014: U.S. Rep John Lewis and Andrew Aydin Discuss March

Congressman John Lewis was joined by his co-author Andrew Aydin to discuss their graphic novel March at this year’s Dragon Con. We’ve got audio of the panel which was moderated by Tom Heintjes, publisher of Hogan’s Alley magazine.

(via Cartoonician)

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There’s a Klingon Running for Senate

David-Waddell-jpgYou might remember politician David Waddell. He made national attention when he resigned from the Indian Trail town council, writing the letter in Klingon. For those who might not know, Klingon is a language (and alien race) from the science fiction series Star Trek.

Now Waddell is an official write-in candidate for U.S. Senate in North Carolina. It took him about four months to collect the 500 signatures needed to be recognized in the race. Candidates who aren’t able to collect the signatures have their votes not counted. There’s actually two other official write-in candidates so far.

Waddell is a former Repbulican and left the party due to the party’s nominating rules. He felt they were changed to keep candidates like Ron Paul from “having a chance.” Waddell is running as a constitutional conservative advocating for a shakeup of the status quo and advocating for limited intrusion from the federal government.

Brazil’s Politicians Channel Superheroes

While here in the United States politicians tend to hide their goofy side, in Brazil, it’s a whole other situation. There, politicians have no problem channeling their inner superhero to court voters. Via the New York Times, there an auditor flies through the air like Superman, shooting laser beams from his eyes while using font last seen in He-Man. The candidate for a Catalão City Council seat dressed as Spider-Man and vanquished scoundrels in striped prison uniforms with well-aimed body blows.

This is all a move to cut through and grab voters’ attention. With over 20 political parties, you need to do whatever you can I guess.

If only our elections were this entertaining.

Doraville, Georgia SWAT Think They’re the Punisher

I was watching Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and while he was discussing the militarization of police he showed a controversial training video for the Doraville, Georgia SWAT team. Oliver highlighted the video used heavy metal music, and started off with the Punisher logo…. what!?

Well I did some digging, and found out, according to this CBS 46 Atlanta news report, the video was modified adding heavy metal music and the logo by an individual…. which the Doraville police then posted on their Facebook page.

Tip for the police, when looking for comic characters to emulate, the Punisher is not one of them, and linking to videos like this isn’t the best of ideas. There’s that whole vigilante killing thing you’re supposed to be opposed to.

Check out the full video below.

They Speak English in What?

storm“What country you from?”  “”What?”  “What ain’t no country I ever heard of. They speak English in what?” Samuel L. Jackson’s memorable phrase from Pulp Fiction is humorous but also highlights an interesting aspect of pop culture when it comes to our own perception of other places in the world, including through the medium of comics.

In the ongoing wake of All-New Marvel NOW! the first issue of Storm was recently released (the second issue is in stores this week), the first for the heroine in her own self-titled series. After surviving a brief encounter with a tidal wave, Storm finds herself in the small country of Santo Marco. Santo Marco has some history with the X-Men and by extension Storm, having been the small country which the Brotherhood of Mutants once overran and ruled before being driven out. Storm arrives to find herself welcomed by the locals, some of whom seem to worship her. Soon the army show up and engages in some subtle sabre-rattling against the heroine informing her that she cannot use her mutant name, as mutant names are not allowed, and then informs her that mutants aren’t Storm_1_Preview_2allowed either. This leads to her departure and inevitable return to stand up to the army brutes.

It is an interesting episode and one which digs a little deeper than most comics do for context. Instead of some supervillain having a plan to destroy a city (or the world) the threat here is not something which can be easily overcome. There is no power punch or melding into shadows which will help the island of Santo Marco, instead it requires a long-term approach, and to its credit that is part of what Storm returns to do. Before the army intervenes she is seen helping to clear the beach of the village from debris.

An interesting question though is where is Santo Marco? The medium of comics has a tendency to make up places as a necessity to replicate modern conflicts, but is there any benefit in that? Based on its name and the representation of its setting, Santo Marco would appear to be either in the Caribbean or in South America somewhere, but its name is generic enough, as is its setting, that it could really be anywhere in the region (or even potentially further away.)  DC Comics does a similar thing with some of its own countries – in the 1980s Kahndaq became a substitute for Iraq and later the home of Bane became an equally obscure and non-existent country known as Santa Prisca.

In current events right now, the world is seeing a fairly tumultuous period, with tensions running high in Gaza, Iraq and Ukraine, while in North America, usually considered benign by world standards, the race riots in Ferguson are igniting an underlying dialogue which is rarely spoken about the state of racial relations in the United States. Ferguson is an especially interesting case though, as many have heard of Ukraine, Iraq and Gaza, but how before last week had ever heard of Ferguson? Other than residents of Saint Louis, the name probably meant nothing and might have been mistaken for a number of other things than an actual place.

Comics is perhaps more than most mediums one of absolute escapism. There is very little basis for superheroes exhibiting super abilities as it relates to the modern world in most senses. Is the realm of escapism so entrenched though that it is unable to tackle current events in their actual setting? In a historical perspective of the medium, the answer would be no. One need not look farther than the first appearance of Captain America to see that heroes could and did attack real world problems (even if at the time that this was being used partially as a propaganda tool.)  There are two approaches to the problem of the non-places. The first is that they don’t exist and therefore they don’t actually represent real-world problems, and by extension that they are more easily disregarded as just more comic fluff. The evil dictators and army generals are just exaggerated versions of real life people, and the caricatures are so over-the-top as to be unbelievable. The second approach to this would be that the in being nowhere that these places could in fact be anywhere.  That Santo Marco could be Gaza or Crimea and that it forces people to think outside the box of what they perceive to be the ills of the world.

Of the two approaches, the end result probably comes down to the individual reader. Some readers look for pure escapism in comics and don’t want to face real world problems when trying to escape.  Others look for something deeper in their reading and look for more connections. Interestingly though, that both possibilities exist is an indication that the comic book companies are trying to play the middle ground, being neither too ignorant nor to divisive. Perhaps once again the bottom line determines the finished product, but I think in either case that it is time for the valuable medium to stop playing pretend and to get real.

Comic Pros Speak Out on Ferguson

With news locked down, reporters being arrested, air travel over the area blocked, and protests being met with guns and a militarized police, Ferguson, Missouri should be the center of national outrage and discussion after the police shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown.

The discussion that’s lacking in national media is instead being held on social media being passed along from eye-witness accounts on the ground. While a city is in chaos numerous “comic professionals” took to Twitter to raise awareness, and vent their frustration at absent leadership, and heavy-handed military response police.

Below is a sampling of the stream that filled our feed. We want to thank everyone who is speaking up and standing up for justice. Many individuals don’t like to mix politics and business and as many use their Twitter feeds mostly for business, they are putting themselves out there.

There’s not many things that are clearly right and wrong, this is one of those few instances when things are pretty clear. If you’re unaware what’s going on, please just do some simple Googling, get educated, speak out, and get involved.

Ready 4 Vader 2016? The Sith Lord Polls Better than Potential 2016 Presidential Candidates

On Tuesday FiveThirtyEight released a poll on various Star Wars characters and how popular they are. Jar Jar Binks is the most reviled character in the series. That’s not surprising at all. But, with a net favorability of -8 that makes the least likeable character still more popular than the U.S. Congress, which currently has a net favorability rating of -65.

What’s fun though is The Washington Post decided to compare the favorability of all of the various Star Wars characters with that of potential 2016 Presidential candidates and other well-known politicians. Not shockingly, there’s a lot of Star Wars characters who might have a good chance getting elected.

Darth Vader has a net favorability higher than all of the candidates and he killed younglings! Emperor Palpatine also has a better result than the majority of the potential candidates. I base that on the fact he could efficiently get the Death Star built.

Check out the full results below and get ready for Ready 4 Vader, Darth Vader for President!


PETA and Bluewater take on SeaWorld at SDCC

Tens of thousands of individuals head to San Diego this week for the geekfest that is San Diego Comic-Con. And while much of the show will revolve around fantasy entertainment, that doesn’t mean some real world messaging can’t be included too. As fans de-plane, the first thing that they’ll see won’t be a promo for The Avengers or The Walking Dead but a huge graphic cartoon of a captive orca with SeaWorld‘s CEO in his mouth. The provocative display, which urges convention-goers to steer clear of SeaWorld because of marine-mammal cruelty and confinement, is a joint project between Bluewater Productions and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).

The installation cost $24,000, and greets passengers on their way to baggage claim at the center of Terminal 2 at the airport.

Bluewater designed the cartoon in the wake of last year’s hit documentary Blackfish. The film—viewed by 21 million on CNN alone—explored SeaWorld’s capture and confinement of orcas, which led the whale named Tilikum to kill three people.

The documentary isn’t without controversy, and ever since SeaWorld has been in damage control as attendance has dropped since.


Marvel, “A Propaganda of a Cult of Violence”

406px-VanguardWhen it comes to censorship, Russia loves their crack downs. Russia’s federal media watchdog is investigating Marvel comics as a “propaganda of violence.” Part of the issue is the comics “denigrating Soviet symbols.” Via The Moscow Times, Roskomnadzor, Russia’s media watchdog is investigating the superheroes. All of this stems from a complaint from a distributor called Rospechat who cited “violence and cruelty” in the comics.

Part of this is over Avengers #1 from August 2014, which has Soviet symbols, likely involving the character Vanguard, who is affiliated with the Winter Guard, a group of heroes based in Russia. Vanguard sports a Russian hammer and sickle on his chest.

It’s likely Marvel will receive a warning. If it receives two in a year, they’ll have their license revoked. The publisher Egmont, operating under an agreement with Marvel’s parent company Walt Disney, still intends to release the comics next month, but most likely with the Soviet symbols removed.


ISIS Calls for the Killing of the Creator of The 99

Dr. Nayef Al-Mutawa has 99 problems and ISIS is one. The creator of the comic/cartoon series The 99 has been deemed “slanderous to Islam” by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria as well as Al-Qaeda. The terrorist group has taken to social media calling for the assassination of the creator. Al-Mutawa has defended the work, even going so far as receiving clearance from sharia scholars who said the comics do not insult Allah or Islam.

Al-Mutawa is taking the threats seriously, going as far as seeking legal action against those behind the Twitter account. The Kuwait Times even said:

The head of the Human Rights Basic Elements Society Dr Yousef Al-Sager stressed that such fatwas must be issued by courts because it is very dangerous to follow fatwas from such anonymous social media accounts.

The comic was created to present a positive portrayal of Muslims, and provide Muslim children positive role models with each character embodying a pillar of the religion.

In March, the series received a fatwa against it and in February the series was highlighted in a positive way by the United States’ State Department. When the series launched it was attacked by the right as a way to indoctrinate children into Islam among other claims.

We hope Al-Mutawa remains safe and sound.

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