Comics Are Liberal? Try Again.

Another day, another “conservative” complaining that comics are too “liberal.”  Bleeding Cool yesterday gave space to Darin Wagner who went on a pretty well articulated rant about how comic books are too liberal and that he has less and less to read.  The fact is, Mr. Wagner is just wrong in his argument.

The crux of the argument is that comic books are bleeding readers because they’re “too liberal.”  As usual, a conservative decides to mix up causation and correlation.  There’s numerous factors that affect the sales of comics, the story is just one of them, but that’d actually mean people are picking up comics and then putting them down, that first part is just not happening.  Comic sales were up in 2011, when it was too liberal according to Wagner.

The humor of it all is that Wagner ignores a basic tenant of conservatism, allow market forces to decide things.  Comics aren’t shedding readers because they’re too liberal, it’s an issue with distribution and competition from other forms of entertainment, but who said conservatives were consistent in their thinking.

Comic books have a long tradition of politics, even with super heroes.  The early strips during the beginning were commentary on castes and society.  Those little scamps running around tin can alley?  There was some deep material there about social structure and class.   Wagner writes:

The first comic book superhero, Superman, fought a liberal/social agenda in his first stories.

He also cracked down on crime and later wasn’t exactly progressive when it came to depicting women.  But even then, Captain America, who has sat on all sides of the political spectrum, advocated the entry of the United States into World War II a year before Pearl Harbor.  Early Batman is a vigilante bucking the system to fight crime using his money to get around what the government can’t do, a very conservative principle.  There’s also the recent issue of sexism in comic books, not exactly progressive or liberal.  I’m sure Wagner also thinks the media is liberal.

The fact is, there is conservatism in comic books, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Bill Willingham’s Fables series is conservative, Holy Terror, The Infidel, The Infinite, hell there’s works of Ayn Rand in graphic novel form.  The fact is Wagner thinks comics should be apolitical or fit his world view.  Conservatives are supposed to be FOR freedom of speech, not condemning opinions.

Wagner picks and chooses a scene in an issue here or there.  Each week 100 plus comics are released, how many of them espouse a political viewpoint?  A few?  Who cares!  Read the other 90 something comics.  I don’t stop reading comics when someone is conservative.  I like to hear the other side and differing opinions.

Wagner gives these two examples:

Wonder Woman looks at the interior of the mall and likens it to a temple. Superman replies “Yes, for those who worship their credit cards.”

and

“…your childhood favorite grumbles about his/her country’s dependency on oil or how inherently dangerous oil drilling is to the environment and how it’s not worth it..”

So if these are liberal stances, then consumerism and credit card debt, not being energy independent and destroying the environment are conservative principles?  Many conservatives cried foul when Superman denounced his US citizenship as anti-American, ignoring that it was to be able to spread American values globally easier without causing the United States diplomatic issues.  That’s liberal?

What Wagner really is talking about is this study, which says people rarely seek out differing political viewpoints.  We like to live in a bubble that fits our worldview.

The re­search­ers found that peo­ple are on av­er­age about twice as likely to se­lect in­forma­t­ion that sup­ports their own point of view as to con­sid­er an op­pos­ing idea. Some, more closed-minded peo­ple are even more re­luc­tant to ex­pose them­selves to dif­fer­ing per­spec­tives.

But this statement is what really annoys me:

It’s happening more and more over the last dozen years: The people behind the scenes allowing their personal politics to bleed through into the stories of otherwise apolitical superheroes whose adventures are meant for everyone to enjoy.

It is not a right to have all media to be enjoyable by all people.  You have no right that entertainment fits your worldview.  That comic book characters should be drawn the way you want them to be drawn.  Artists and writers are hired, it’s their prerogative as to what’s put to paper.  It is then our choice, as consumers, to choose if we want to purchase the items.  That’s capitalism.  The fact is, comic sales rose last year, very much on DC’s shake up which is cited a lot in Wagner’s piece.  Can we make the argument then that liberalism in comics increased sales?

If Darin Wagner is this same person, he’s a comic book writer himself.  If he thinks there should be “conservative” comics, then make them.  I always think this is the proper response, especially for one who has created comic books.  Stand by a conservative principle and let your project sink or swim based on market forces and leave it to the consumers you think are being neglected.