Debate and Discussion

Comics and Politics don't mix
Lonnehart at 8:28PM, Jan. 13, 2009
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This is my own personal opinion anyway. Then again, I guess it could be done just for entertainment, but it won't help you get elected.

So why do I feel this way about the subject, well…

Way back in the late 80s, while I was in high school there was an election campaign going on. All the local senators were trying to get re-elected to office. One of them did something that he thought would help him. He hired a cheap artist to draw a comic for him (the guy wrote it). He depicted himself as a local superhero fighting the local evils. He attacked the cable company, the power company, many of his opposing centers, and even several of the shopping malls(I don't remember what prompted him to take on those establishments that have no apparent connection to politics). He then had a cheap printer make copies which he sent to every taxpaying mailing address. I saw this comic when I was just starting out in that hobbie and realized it was just very VERY BADLY DONE.

Anyways, election time came around and by a landslide….

he lost.


Since then I avoid comics that attempt to pass their political views to me through its pages. I prefer comics to stay in the realm of entertainment. Last thing I would've wanted to see during the last election was a superheroic Captain Bush fighting evil in tights. eww..

Er… what do you think? Can Comics and Politics really combine? (and I apologize if this doesn't really belong in this forum).
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ozoneocean at 12:56AM, Jan. 14, 2009
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If it's basically propaganda, then I agree with you. That's usually crude and obvious when it's done in that form in the way it tries to get ideas across.
Religion too, it can be extremely creepy and offensive, the way that tool Liefeld did a comic about Jesus attacking the Greek Pantheon, or those horrible Chic tracts.

But ordinary comical cartoons that have political commentary are great! Left OR right-wing, they can be informative of people's views on things without bashing you over the head. And there are dramatic comics that have political messages that are done well too… Something like V, Maus, or Where the Wind Blows for example?

It's only really overt propaganda that's the problem, or when someone is just foisting their opinion on you too forcefully through the work.
 
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Faliat at 1:10AM, Jan. 14, 2009
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I think it's based on just how tastefully portrayed the political issue is.

To be honest, you probably already have read a comic/graphic novel with political overtones that you've liked. They're everywhere. And some of those political ones are extremely well known within the medium. It's just that the political part is so subtle or interesting to the reader that it's easy to forget that it's a political comic at all.

Or maybe I'm just picking up on them more since my upbringing has been very politically charged?

Call that jumped up metal rod a knife?
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Mr Lostman at 1:29AM, Jan. 14, 2009
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Sore Thumbs isn't a superhero comic, but it's pretty tasteless.
Blood Martian Flowers. Occasionally updates.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:07PM
bravo1102 at 5:38AM, Jan. 14, 2009
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There are plenty of very successful political comic strips. Doonesbury?

As for comics in political campaigns? Doesn't really work except to ridicule the oopponent.

As political commetary? Doonesbury, Zippy the Pinhead, Life is Hell and so many others. Indie comics from the 1980s-90s that a friend wrote for. The socially conscious comics of the 1970s? How about return of the Dark Knight and The Watchmen?

It goes back to Punch. Long history.

last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
StaceyMontgomery at 6:28AM, Jan. 14, 2009
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It works great when it's done well, like anything else. Passion for the subject can bring out the best of a creator. Really good stuff is generally more than just “entertainment” - it has something to say.
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ozoneocean at 6:36AM, Jan. 14, 2009
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It doesn't work well when its propaganda though and that's really what Lonnehart is talking about. Overt propaganda usually fails.

…or it works, but not as a comic or an artistic work, since that's not the point of propaganda.
…although Leni Riefenstahl (among others) proves me wrong about the art thing. Crap :(
Damn Nazis. -_-
 
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SpANG at 8:24AM, Jan. 14, 2009
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ozoneocean
It doesn't work well when its propaganda though and that's really what Lonnehart is talking about. Overt propaganda usually fails.
Usually. But there are exceptions. Like Alex Ross' work. Very popular, highly lucrative to him. The images inspire certain feelings for people, but they are clearly propaganda.



The thing is, he's never said which way his politics lean. And if you think about it, the exaggeration of the images may be the point he's trying to convey about peoples' perceptions.

But had Obama endores this T-Shirt and sold it on his own website? It would have been bad for him. I think direct connection to any of stuff like this is the death of a political carreer.
“To a rational mind, nothing is inexplicable. Only unexplained.”
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bravo1102 at 9:08AM, Jan. 14, 2009
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Well done comic propaganda is fine as long as it is entertaining and as Stacey said well done. Like various pieces of Nazi movie-making. Many WWI & WWII posters transcend the simple propaganda value and have become art.

As for comics used in a political campaign; best used to make fun of the other guy. Used as commentary and even satire on the opponents' positions. It sure beats the usual political junk mail.

I'll never forget the great comic “Florio's” Waffles in milk that was put out when Jim Florio ran for governor in NJ. Made the campaign memorable. The presentation was great, well done and utterly hilarious. :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
StaceyMontgomery at 9:21AM, Jan. 14, 2009
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And let's remember that MOST of the bad comics - which is most of comics, after all - are not pushing an agenda, so that's not the main source of bad comics anyway.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:55PM
Hawk at 9:31AM, Jan. 14, 2009
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Various comics make it clear that comics and politics can “mix”… But I agree with Lonnehart, I don't want to see politics in the comics I read. I hate comics that get preachy. It's one thing if it's a political cartoon, but it's entirely different to be reading a medieval fantasy adventure and have them get preachy about a modern issue in a sly way. I don't care if it's even something I agree with. It just seems tacky.

I try to keep political messages out of my comics. I don't feel like it's my place to tell people what to believe when they come to my comic to be entertained.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:46PM
SpANG at 9:45AM, Jan. 14, 2009
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bravo1102
Well done comic propaganda is fine as long as it is entertaining and as Stacey said well done. Like various pieces of Nazi movie-making. Many WWI & WWII posters transcend the simple propaganda value and have become art.
On the other hand, some do not stand up to the progression of time and tolerance:
LIKE THIS (NSFW)
“To a rational mind, nothing is inexplicable. Only unexplained.”
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StaceyMontgomery at 10:35AM, Jan. 14, 2009
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Thank goodness Art Spiegelman missed this thread!
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:55PM
the2ndredbaron at 1:07PM, Jan. 14, 2009
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What about Boondocks? I might have spelled that wrong, but surely that would be a succesful political comic. As far as political issues in comics, outside of politics themselves, what about Harry Osborn being on drugs? Or Speedy? Looking at this forum it seems that it comes down to this. It's either done right and it works or it's done wrong and it fails.
I might not nessicarily agree with the messages but I think Pride of Baghdad and The Ultimates are both succesful political comics.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:15PM
Lonnehart at 2:46PM, Jan. 14, 2009
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What I'm talking about are comics that are written by politicians (senators, governors, Presidents, Dicators, etc…) who have no idea how they're supposed to be done. The guy I mentioned wrote the comic, then dictated how the cheap artist should depict what he wrote, then he got it printed in black and white and had it sent to every taxpayer's mailbox. All the stuff I've seen in this post so far are political comics done by people outside of the political arena (that's how I see it). Now if Bush or Obama wrote a comic about themselves as superheroes and about how they'll save the world, I most likely won't read it….
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:38PM
the2ndredbaron at 2:56PM, Jan. 14, 2009
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i wonder how often that happens
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:15PM
bravo1102 at 3:40PM, Jan. 14, 2009
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Hawk
I try to keep political messages out of my comics. I don't feel like it's my place to tell people what to believe when they come to my comic to be entertained.

Oh well, there goes my idea to have an evil king who's fond of torture played by my George W. Bush figure.

I'll use my POTC Orlando Bloom figure instead.

]What about Boondocks?[/quote
I was thinking of “Boondocks” but I couldn't remember the title of the strip.

Politicians don't think to write comics. Their campaign people may, like my Florios example. I wish I'd kept it. His governership was just like the comic.

Knowing politicians and government people, I could say they aren't that imaginative, but having talked to a few at various occasions, more likely they wouldn't see it as professional. It would undermine their campaign. Lonnehart you cited one example and he failed badly. I can't remember any others except to put down opponents. That I've seen done. Usually written and executed by the campaign people, not by the pole himself. That's political suicide. It is too easy to expose oneself to ridicule.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
kyupol at 6:44PM, Jan. 14, 2009
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I actually like reading comics that have political themes in them and I think, drunkduck needs MORE COMICS LIKE THAT. It doesn't have to be an outright political strip with a punchline. It can even be a story format or something.

even if I disagree with certain things they're saying.

Why?

Because it gives me another perspective on things. It gives me the opportunity to study them and what makes em tick. I'm a fan of studying the human mind and politics and society and how everything works. At the same time, it can give me ideas as well.

Since then I avoid comics that attempt to pass their political views to me through its pages

If you saw the latest Batman movie, it IS a propaganda piece. And not only that.

You are literally being bombarded through the media, education system, hijacked religious institutions, etc. with a matrix of propaganda.

So if they can do it, why shouldn't I?

Its all but natural for a comic artist to incorporate their political and philosophical views into their comic. That is why I highly encourage everyone here to do the same thing.
NOW UPDATING!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:26PM
Senshuu at 4:13PM, Jan. 15, 2009
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I never liked politics-related things, except in a few extraordinary cases. Comics as well.

But, I did want to read that one Obama/McCain comic that came out last year, even if it did look 95% boring. %D

A politician randomly having a comic made is probably just as bad and pointless as every random webcomic made by bored highschoolers out there, and it'd be a pretty great thing if a politician actually took the time to have something creative, good, and enticing made, rather than flat propaganda that isn't really going to convince anyone.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:27PM
SpANG at 11:40AM, Jan. 16, 2009
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Hawk
… I hate comics that get preachy. It's one thing if it's a political cartoon, but it's entirely different to be reading a medieval fantasy adventure and have them get preachy about a modern issue in a sly way. I don't care if it's even something I agree with. It just seems tacky.

I try to keep political messages out of my comics. I don't feel like it's my place to tell people what to believe when they come to my comic to be entertained.
——————————————

Shakespeare plays are highly critical of kingdoms and aristocracies.

THE WIZARD OF OZ is suspected to have referenced several political issues of the late 1800's

V For Vendetta is a hard-handed look at the Thatcher Administration (and probably the Bush Administration in the movie)

STAR WARS has a pretty heavy political message about the Vietnam War.

THE DARK KNIGHT is considered by some to symbolize America (BATMAN being America).

TRON had deeply religious connotations.
——————————————

All I'm saying is that if an author feels a certain way, it will come out in some way or another. Repression of feeling is ingeniune. OF course, the best writers can make you think about something without you even knowing. ;)
“To a rational mind, nothing is inexplicable. Only unexplained.”
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Hawk at 12:42PM, Jan. 16, 2009
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You're right, there are some great masterpieces in the past that have pushed an agenda… even if only slightly. And I won't fault them for it, since I've enjoyed many of them. Thinking back, The Watchmen was quite political in nature, too. I should clarify that what bugs me is an agenda being pushed in a way that it detracts from the story or overall message of the work. Or, when it's presented in a pretentious or hypocritical manner. Here's one specific example in the middle of an awful Doom comic. Another example would be a few anti-McCain/Palin jokes in cartoons like Family Guy and American Dad. Even though I was an Obama supporter, I felt like it was tacky to try and sway votes through an un-funny gag of comparing McCain to Nazis, rather than exposing a real flaw in the candidate.

I guess I just need to side with what other people are saying and agree that it's all in how you present the message.

I was careful to say that I try to keep political messages out of my comics, because you're right, an author's beliefs do tend to seep into their work whether they intend to or not. I've noticed a sort of anti-big-business theme emerging in my own comic, even though it's not something I'm specifically trying to push.
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the2ndredbaron at 12:57PM, Jan. 16, 2009
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http://splashpage.mtv.com/2009/01/15/obama-amazing-spider-man-issue-fist-bumps-media-heads-to-third-printing/

speaking of politics and comics I don't know if this has been mention yet but I felt it fit.
 
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Hyena H_ll at 1:46PM, Jan. 16, 2009
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I'll agree that in contemporary times, making a comic solely to promote a political candidate comes off as pushy, creepy, and falls into the realm of “Gee, you sure are totally out of touch with your target demographic, bub”. Plus they're usually written terribly, with wretched art.

But historically speaking, it's only been the past couple centuries that political information/ propaganda has been distributed in written form. Until recently, most common folks weren't literate. Popular images, printed cheaply and circulated among the lower classes, have informed political, religious, and social opinions for centuries. You can argue that comics have their origin in the illustrated broadsheets of the late middle ages and the political illustrations of the 17th and 18th centuries. So I wouldn't say that comics and politics don't or shouldn't mix. The results are just sometimes… bad. ;)
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DAJB at 1:55AM, Jan. 20, 2009
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I'd say that comics with a political message can be good or bad, just as much as any other type of comic.

The problem with most “agenda-driven” comics (political or otherwise), is that the writer/artist is often far more concerned about pushing his/her message down the reader's throat than about making a good comic. I know a lot of people like V for Vendetta, for example, but - to me - it's Alan Moore at his most heavy-handed and unsubtle. Reading it is like being stuck on a train with a bore who spends the whole journey ranting about what he thinks is wrong with the world. In the end, he convinces no-one because you just tune it out.

Maus on the other hand is so well-written that, despite it's message, it's a good (dare I say enjoyable?) read. So is Persepolis. Reading that will teach you far more about Iran than any political speech but, because it has so much heart, you scarcely realise you are being educated.
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kyupol at 7:17PM, Jan. 20, 2009
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While my comic “MAG-ISA” has been considered political by some people, I must say though that I've refrained from putting “IN YOUR FACE” kind of political stuff that feature real people and real politicians.


You know, I've been thinking of putting a scene in MAG-ISA that is set in the July 2008 Bilderberg meeting.

In it, Alex Jones is suppose to be marked for death. His assassination is suppose to be carried out by a reptoid assassin. The reptoid is gonna disguise itself as one of the “spooks” guarding the place.

Then the reptoid is gonna look Alex Jones in the eye. Its reptilian eye is gonna go sort of doujutsu (taken from Naruto. The eye techniques like sharingan and byakugan) on Alex. So Alex Jones will just drop dead of a heart attack.

But before the transfer of negative chi completes, Claudita is gonna do something to counter that attack. Claudita happens to be blended in the crowd of protesters and she sneakily uses an identical eye technique. The reptoid ends up temporarily blinded and is forced to retreat. Assassination attempt failed.

And nobody knew it ever happened except the high level Bilderbergers and their Demon and Reptoid accomplices.


I had to scrap that because its just too obviously out in your face and directly political. And its not really my style featuring real life politicians and public figures in my comics. :)

NOW UPDATING!!!
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Aurora Borealis at 11:58AM, Jan. 27, 2009
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Going to touch on several points in one post:

1) Welllllll, as I come from Poland, I have a bit different view on politics in comics. See, since we were under influence ot the soviet union, the overall outlook of the ruling party on comics was that they were “evil imperialist things” and basically to have published any comics whatsoever you had to do some comics that supported the official history, point of view etc. So you had comics that showed how great the “civic militia” is (sort of police, except controlled by the ruling communist party), comics praising our achievements in sports and comics about ww2 that always had to show the soviet army as great and wonderful friends of ours (totally omitting the fact that they originally allied with nazis AND that during that time they managed to kill 40 thousand polish soldiers and officers).

And you know what? Thirty years after most of these are still entertaining. Sure, I wouldn't teach history from these things and some are pretty badly written, but some were pretty good.

2) As for V FOR VENDETTA, it's only doing what good SF is doing. Exaggerating things to talk about modern times. And yes, I enjoyed it.

3) As for comics done by politicians. Can't be done properly UNTIL a comic creator gets elected or something. You had actors and wrestlers in politics, why not pencillers and inkers? :)

4) Oh, and since I touched upon Alan Moore. Brought to Light. Half of it (it's a flipbook with two separate stories) is by Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz.


Wikipedia
Shadowplay: The Secret Team written by Alan Moore and drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz with an introduction by Daniel Sheehan (general counsel of TCI). It covers the history of the Central Intelligence Agency and its controversial involvement in the Vietnam War, the Iran-Contra affair, and its relationship with figures like Augusto Pinochet and Manuel Noriega. The narrator of Shadowplay is an aging anthropomorphic American Eagle, a bellicose retired CIA agent.

It was Moore's first major work which was not superhero oriented, it was highly praised for its storytelling and Sienkiewicz's sometimes brutal art. Moore received praise especially for blending the sometimes overwhelming mass of details into a coherent and effective story. Over the years there have been rumours that Moore was unable to travel to America due to the CIA being annoyed at his story in Brought to Light. However this was proved to be no more than a rumour and the real reason was due to Moore not renewing his passport.

The story of “Shadowplay” is of an unseen character (presumably representing the oblivious American public in first-person view of the reader) in a bar, where he is approached by a man-sized, walking, talking eagle. The eagle, from the emblem of the CIA, proceeds to drink alcohol and, in a drunken stupor, divulge all the bloody details of The Agency's sordid past. Early on a reference is made to the number of gallons an olympic swimming pool can hold, and the fact that an adult human body has one gallon of blood; from then on, the victims of CIA activities (directly or indirectly) are quantified in swimming pools filled with blood. Sienkiewicz's dark, erratic, and blurry images keep the mood of Moore's narration (through the boozing eagle) unnerving, and hazily nightmarish.

There's also a great spoken word cd version of that, brilliantly voiced by Alan himself.
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NickGuy at 2:53PM, Jan. 27, 2009
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disagree






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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:15PM
lemon_king at 9:05PM, Jan. 31, 2009
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Of course they mix. Political cartoons are a godo way for the author to ecpress their opinions in a non-serious way.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 1:34PM
anise shaw at 10:26PM, Feb. 2, 2009
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wait wait wait, wasn't politics the birth of cartooning?
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:53AM
Backstaber at 6:59PM, Feb. 4, 2009
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I prefer comics that are free of political issues, if not having only slight referals to events that have occured. Cause honestly, some events that happen in politics are just comical in nature. XD
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:15AM

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