ENCOURAGING EXTREME INDIVIDUALISM IN PURSUIT OF COLLECTIVE GOODWILL
Sunday, June 11, 2006
A few new items of possible interest within our nearby circle of web acquaintances:
20th Century Danny Boy, from ACAB's Daniel best, is shaping up very nicely with excellent new content. One is an entry telling of a Tricky Situation he encountered at the Mega Toy Swap Meet in Australia - and another has a few good words to say about Norm Breyfogle's Forum, alongside a jolting reminder that Flaming Sword Forums has inexplicably returned to life over the weekend (barely naked, however as the forum design template appears to have vanished and a default template automatically taken its place).
This is a good opportunity to note the relative difficulty Rabble-Rouser experiences under the operational servitude of Google's Blogger. Though greatly appreciated as a free blogging module, Blogger suffers its share of server difficulties, which at times adversely effects personal time constraints any web orator might be working under. I've looked into an alternative solution and have discovered that Silver Bullet Hosting, where our site complex resides, actually offers a wide range of content management software with server-side functionality, as part of the web-hosting package. The software being presently considered to replace Blogger, offers much flexibility and efficiency, making it uncertain the site complex needs to remain defined by the current blogging limitations it operates under. Perhaps this means yet another entirely new web site and forum, with a new thrust and look, coming soon to michaelnetzer.com.
Another item at 20th Century Danny Boy is a compelling entry on Degrees and Censorship. touching on the potential ramifications of an incident such as the one Taki Soma has suffered. The entry brandishes the controversial artwork used to illustrate the Open Letter to Chris Staros, alongside the censored version of it, which have since been removed from our server.
Elayne Riggs' Pen-Elayne on the Web, notes the volume of entries at Rabble-Rouser regarding the Brownstein-Soma story. It appears that even she may find it difficult to keep track of the count. Elayne also reminds me that I've promised her to tell, in an upcoming entry, of my recent journey across the Judea Desert. Hoping for the opportunity soon.
Guy LeCharles Gonzalez'Comic Book Commetary has moved and is undergoing major structural and facial revision. Much good fortune on the road ahead to building this compelling web presence.
Tim's Blog Fest, from my Detroit high-school years friend, Tim Gasco, is on a drawing spree. Last August Tim told of our renewing contact and how that has inspired him to more actively seek his own personal ambitions and return to drawing. I've recently promised him that I intend to discuss the promising new artwork he's producing. Though the time-constraints I'm under now have made this difficult, it hasn't been forgotten. Coming soon.
A gratuitous shout out to Chris Williams, the talented webmaster of excellent visual sensitivity at Zeus Comics, located at the Turtle Creek Village complex in Dallas, Texas. Chris contacted me with an observation of a typographical error on a recent entry at Rabble-Rouser, which was promptly corrected. The web site he administers for Zeus Comics reveals a thriving enterprise that has earned numerous awards and hosts a wide range of merchandise and activities, including the Cape 2 Dallas Convention; Comics; Toys & Statues; Magazines and TPBs; DVDs as well as a thriving forum... and much more. Well worth an electronic visit, or even a personal one for those in the Dallas region. Thank you Chris, for the heads up and the warm sentiment expressed for Rabble-Rouser.
The following items are not current, nor even remotely recent but they've fallen between the cracks of my last absence from web activity - and have not yet been reported here.
Warren Ellis' web site comment section from March 23, 06, hosts a comment about an article at Flaming Sword relating positively to the more liberal stand on the issue of abortion. The source link of this comment led me to Total Eclipse, carrying an Israeli server hosting domain, total.eclipse.co.il. Shay, the commenter and man behind the Israeli site, appears to have a keen eye for good art and culture, marvelously adept with cutting edge web-development tools and a prolific writer providing a rather sophisticated venue for contemporary thought. Directly in my backyard, imagine. Well worth a look.
The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies places me on its Arts and Letters Council, alongside Will Eisner, David Brenner, Judy Feiffer, Janis Ian, Yaakov Kirshen, Adam Kubert, Joe Kubert, Michael Moorcock, Archie Rand and Lore Segal, amongst a host of other notables in the cultural arts community. I do recall being asked to join the council by Rafael Medoff Ph.D., Director of the Institute (and accepting), several years ago but this is the first I've noticed the institute's web site. I'm left wondering though, if all those in the above list will also be considered crackpots now?
It has been brought to my attention that the controversial artwork originally appearing here at Rabble-Rouser, depicting the assault on Taki Soma as reported by her, unjustly compromised the good reputation of the organization which hosted the Mid-Ohio Convention.
Though the use of the convention's name on said art (which is no longer viewable on Rabble-Rouser) was intended as a point of reference, as it was also used by mainstream industry journalists, dubbing the incident Mid-Ohio-Gate - I would hope the convention organizers will accept this expression of regret for any misrepresentation of their name which could've been construed.
The Mid-Ohio Convention itself, a fine institution promoting the comics medium in the Mid-West Buckeye state (home of the world renowned Cedar Point Amusement Park and birthplace of no less than 7 United States Presidents), was not the scene of the heretofore reported assault. The Mid-Ohio Convention organizers are no more responsible for this association with the incident, than the management of the Watergate Hotel were for the one which in reality did take place on the famed premises under their jurisdiction, denoting a mass institutional cover-up of criminal activity and the hierarchical protection of top executive personnel.
Our two most vocal critics, Heidi MacDonald and Graeme MacMillan, both linked to it without much comment, though the former conveniently condenses it to perhaps its least important point, while the latter curiously links to Heidi's earlier misleading screed that attempted to discredit Buzzscope while not referencing his own similarly harsh commentary on the situation. I suspect The Comics Journal's recent update might have come as a bit of a surprise to both of them, realizing the case wasn't anywhere near as closed as they apparently thought. Imagine that?
A sobering observation indeed, and perhaps a good cause for reflection on the manner in which the incident has been covered in the comics media. Not only by Heidi MacDonald and Graeme MacMillan, however, but by other pivotal journalists and creators as well. The likes of Matt Brady, Rich Johnston, Joe Quesada and Jim Valentino, amongst some others, who rushed to defend the accused in the incident, and did so at the expense of the victimized woman whose primary concern is that a more tragic future occurrence is prevented. The subliminal condemnation of Taki Soma in the unbalanced statements and commentaries they gave, considerably contributed to misleading public opinion, diminishing from the traumatic results of an assault on a presumably innocent woman amongst us, who continues to suffer the tragedy.
On a relevancy, Mr. Gonzalez notes the efforts put forth here at Rabble-Rouser to help change this perception:
Meanwhile, Michael Netzer is on a one-man crusade to defend Taki for his [not unreasonable] perception of the unbalanced coverage the story has received ever since Brownstein was outed by the Journal as her alleged attacker. He's particularly tough on Chris Staros and Heidi MacDonald. Apparently the guy has a reputation for being something of a crackpot, but his postings on this particular subject have been mostly reasonable, especially compared to the hysterical and/or hypocritical posts of some other uninformed and/or clearly biased spectators. Of course, in comics, being considered a crackpot is pretty good company to be in, joining the certifiable likes of Alan Moore, Grant Morrison and Frank Miller, so more power to the guy.
Though I have not always enjoyed the reputation for being something of a crackpot (at least not for the first several years of my comics career in the mid 1970's, having little cognizance of the arguably sane profession I was emerging into), I must admit that I've grown rather fond of having it. I do, nevertheless wonder at times, what exactly it is that I have earned this reputation for?
Could it be perhaps, the not completely unintentional perception I give the comics community of a prophetic role I envision (which has withstood the test of time, when considering the scope of the comics industry in the mid 1970's, at the onset of this journey), not only for myself but also for the comic book creators and the Superhero mythology within the world of pop culture? Would it perchance be the flamboyant appeal of a self-reluctant and publicly-cast comics messiah working diligently (and with noted success in the meantime) to garner support and enthusiasm for such a vision? May it conceivably be the glorious events I've foreseen, leading to the toppling of our civilizational infrastructure by a world-wide, media-driven, socio-political-economic revolution, awaiting us all around the corner? Or might one entertain the probability that it is fueled by my assertions, from nearly 30 years ago, about Titan, the moon of Saturn, (which NASA has recently released supporting evidence for) as being our next primary goal in the colonization of our solar system - a rich world sporting rivers, mountains, clouds and an ocean, along with a few additional surprises soon to be revealed?
I must confess that it all remains a great mystery to me. But until an answer begins to make itself more evident, I can only express warm gratitude to the likes of Guy LeCharles Gonzales. Not only for the encouraging support of the efforts on behalf of Ms. Soma, but primarily for taking the lead himself and for the marvelous struggle for truth and justice which Taki Soma, Ronee Garcia Bourgeois, Buzzcope, and himself continue to wage in the face of rather overwhelming opposition.
As for being placed in the company of such notables as Alan Moore, Grant Morrison and Frank Miller... well, I humbly thank you for the sentiment, Mr. Gonzalez, but I remain somewhat uncertain that it's truly appropriate.
Though it conceivably bears further consideration... if I may allow myself to admit.
Daniel Best, founder of Adelaide Comics and Books, announced recently on his blog that his book in production, covering the life and times of the beloved silver age veteran artist Jim Mooney, has been scheduled for publication in early 2007 by TwoMorrows Publishing. Alongside Partners for Life, his previous book on the famed Ross Andru & Mike Esposito team, the announcement heralds the coalescence of a series likely to become of the more memorable in the industry's history.
Featuring a comprehensive overview of Jim's life and career, the book will surprise many. Discover just how Jim grew up with his own island. Find the connections between Jim and Bob Dylan and Clark Gable. See how Jim features in a night-club brawl with Errol Flynn. And then there's the comic books! The Legion of Superheroes. Supergirl. Spider-Man. Batman. Superman. Dial H For Hero. Son Of Satan. Man-Thing, Omega The Unknown and a cast of literally thousands.
Peppered with remembrances from some of Jim's closest friends and co-workers, the book is a must for anyone who wants to know more about the man. Read all new material from Tony Isabella, Fred Hembeck, Steve Gerber, Gene Colan, Richard Howell, Mark Ellis, Bill Schelly, Roy Thomas, Joe Sinnott and more, a comprehensive checklist, plus previously unpublished art from the collection of Jim Mooney and all new, unseen collaborations featuring original Jim Mooney art inked by Norm Breyfogle, Bob Almond, Mark McKenna, Jim Tournas, Richard Howell, Joe Sinnott, Michael Netzer and more.
All this and an introduction from Stan 'The Man' Lee himself! Watch this space for further news and updates.
A hearty congratulations to Daniel and best wishes for smooth sailing ahead with the continued production work. The Jim Mooney pencils on my drawing board, awaiting to be inked for the publication, will not tarry much longer in light of the good news.
Heidi excerpts the revealing update (noted here 4 days ago) in Michael Dean's excellent (and mostly ignored) coverage of the Taki Soma/Charles Brownstein controversy, indicating the re-opening of a police investigation into the incident. Perhaps appropriately titled Grope-gate Update(intermittently Mid-Ohio-gate) - arguably, not merely for the association with mass institutional cover-up and attempted protection of top executive personnel.
Heidi is concise and brief in her comment on the statement at Buzzscope:
Guy LeCharles Gonzalez writes up the results of his "investigation" at Pop Culture Shock, and the big reveal is that they aren't going to be writing about it again, since the matter will now be decided in court -- where it should have been decided all along.
I've known Heidi MacDonald for several years now, as we share a presence on a closed email list-serve discussion forum for comic book creators and professionals. She's always precise, witty, and a warm-hearted peace-maker amongst a group which can sometimes engage in somewhat enthusiastic quibble over matters of grave importance to the community. Heidi also reported several supporting items about Flaming Sword activity at The Beat last year - and it's due to this special friendship and concern (and even a reciprocal endearment) that I turn her attention to the misleading appearance of journalistic sour grapes, which resonates from her comment.
The big reveal in Mr. Gonzalez' statement is not that they aren't going to be writing about it again. They haven't been writing about it anyway, since coming under attack by the comics press for initially breaking the story, in which Heidi herself participated rigorously. The big reveal in this statement is that Guy LeCharles Gonzalez and Buzzscope stand by Ronee Garcia Bourgeois' reporting of the incident, take to task the industry press for criticism of her journalistic abilities, and inform us that several other victims of Charles Brownstein's behavior are awaiting on the sidelines, prepared to testify against him, in the eventuality that Taki Soma's effort to renew the police investigation reaches the courts.
That is perhaps the subjective, but nevertheless truly big reveal of the Buzzscope statement.
However, there is another misleading appearance of journalistic sour grapes, possibly one which borders on a mistaken appearance of hypocrisy, in Heidi's statement. Based on her previous commentary, it may be slightly disingenuous to support the notion the the matter will now be decided in court -- where it should have been decided all along.
If such is the case, Heidi, and I truly believe you feel this way, perhaps this is a good time to reflect on the manner in which you also contributed to the public admonishment of Ms. Bourgeois and Buzzscope, when it was revealed that the accused in the incident is a good friend, whom you've known since the age of 15. Your coverage of the story, helping others give the appearance of a cover-up, and subliminal condemnation of the victim in the court of public opinion, as your archives show, is extensive.
I believe everyone who read the above items remembers your transition from open support for the victim, in the first - to the condemnation of the principal figures and those who initially reported the story, in the last - when the identity of the accused was revealed as a long-time acquaintance with whom you share a special friendship.
For the sake of the appearance of journalistic integrity, Heidi, which I know you possess in great abundance, and otherwise display with incontrovertible grace - perhaps an open reflection on the above, with your readers, will help wipe away the perplexity raised by your most recent comment.
Graeme McMillan, Fanboy Rampage founder who recently joined The Great Curve, which now resides at Newsarama, has commented on the statement. His blog entry can be readhere. He also mentions the "somewhat unconstructive" commentary on the story at Rabble-Rouser. It's not clear, however, to what degree of being "unconstructive" he alludes to with the term "somewhat".
For those who understand the significance of Mr. Gonzalez' statement and remember Mr. McMillan's magnetic appeal with comics fandom, both these occurrences are a good indication that the tides are beginning to change and a more balanced coverage of the story is now more likely to find its way into the industry press.
This is also an indication that the conditions which brought about the production of the disturbing art depicting the incident, are also changing. In the interest of a more appropriate representation of Taki Soma, a new illustration has been produced to replace the former. The entry brandishing the censored version has also been updated.
To the comics journalists who say that a woman shouldn't become sloppy drunk and enter into a hot tub in her street clothes... Isn't it indicative of her sound judgment that a woman did not remove her street clothes and enter into the tub in her underwear? Isn't it indicative that though a woman drank, she didn't become sloppy drunk and that if a man who was with her attempted to molest her, that he'd be the only one of whom it should be said of as being sloppy drunk?
To the comics journalists who say that people who jump to conclusions about an anonymous identity who isn't specifically named in an opinion column, have the columnist to blame... Should not people take the responsibility for their own over-enthusiasm, instead of blaming the opinion columnist?
To the comics journalists who blame a woman for trusting a revered comics organization and not rushing to bring criminal charges against an assailant it employs... Isn't it a sign of concern and goodwill that the woman wished to save the comics community and its revered organization from the controversy of a publicized legal proceeding?
To the comics journalists who believe that a man of executive position who behaves inappropriately and endangers innocent women - needs help and should be punished... why do you give your readers the impression that it's his word against his victims' and that he doesn't deserve further punishment?
To the comics journalists who believe an accused sexual predator understands his mistake and is not likely to repeat it... Why does the accused publicly state that he committed no crime and accuses his victim of lying about the incident?
To the comics journalists who believe an accused sexual predator need not lose his employment position in a revered comics organization... Is it truly your duty to use your columns to protect a friend's employment position?
To the comics journalists who believe an accused sexual predator need not lose his employment position in a revered comics organization... Do you truly believe it's appropriate that an accused sexual predator continue to direct an organization which defends the comics against charges of obscenity?
To the comics journalists who believe further pursuit of a case would result in failure for the case, hurt for those involved, and a lot of lawyers better off...Why do you silently accept the present failure for the case and hurt for those involved?
To the comics journalists who condemn making assumptions and leaps of logic in journalistic reports... Why did you not investigate the principal figures yourselves and gain more facts upon which to base your commentary?
To the comics journalists who believe a sexual assault on a woman must be tried in a court of law and not the court of public opinion... Why did you contribute to the shaping of public opinion that no significant injustice has been done by a sexual assault and allowed the assaulted woman to be tried in the court of public opinion?
. . .
To the comics journalists who are offended with artwork displaying a sexual assault on a woman... Why did you not express such disgust in your columns about the actual sexual assault on a woman which you commented on?
Cliff Biggers is nothing if not a splendid inspiration. From his biography at Comic Shop News:
Cliff Biggers has been an avid comics fan since 1959, when his parents bribed him with a stack of comics in order to convince him that a tonsillectomy wouldn't necessarily be a Bad Thing (it was, but the comics were still pretty nifty). In the 1960s and 1970s, he was involved with a number of comic book and science fiction fanzines; from 1975 to 1979, he and Susan, his wife, co-published an award-winning fanzine, Future Retrospective. In 1978, he took charge of the comics section of Dr. No's, which he and Ward Batty acquired in 1981. In 1985, he began producing a store newsletter that eventually paved the way for his and Ward's launch of Comic Shop News in 1987. Cliff did some comics work for Boffo Laffs, co-created the comic After Apocalypse with Mark Bagley, and co-created, with Brett Brooks and Dave Johnson, "The Earth Boys," an offbeat adventure series that appeared in Dark Horse Presents. He also writes for The Comics Buyer's Guide. In his spare time, he teaches high school, hoping to turn the youth of today into the comics fans of tomorrow.
His reviews and commentary also appear regularly at Newsarama.
I've known Cliff peripherally since the comics convention days of the mid 1970's. I've also had occasion to engage in some discussions with him on the web (forums, newsgroups, etc...) over the last 10 or so years. Though our paths have been elusive of late, my memories of every encounter with him left me with a sense of grace. Cliff is thoughtful, insightful warm and respectful. In truth, while there have been times when most of the comics community displayed an estrangement at my nearby presence, this was never the case with Cliff Biggers. He transcends the industry small talk and relates to people and issues individually - based on his own personal encounter - and not the community buzz syndrome which appears to affect so many. This grace he bestows on his environment, I hold to his evident virtues.
Cliff also maintains a personal blog, Not Much'a Nothin' (presently sporting a wonderful and sentimental item about window exposure in the modern home). I discovered it recently, noticing he'd written an entry titled It's a Big World After All... commenting on a Flaming Sword item about Neal Adams' science project . Well recommended reading, as is his entire blog, due to the insight felt in everything he touches. While few in the comics give serious consideration to Neal's science work, Cliff weighs in with his impression without qualifying an acceptance or rejection of it. He simply comments on how such work appears to be affecting the presentation of modern science theory. By simply giving it a valid place amongst other ideas, Cliff moves far ahead of many who reject it flippantly because it rubs the grain of convention.
Cliff Bigger's blog profile, however, is the major thought provoker there:
I discovered comics when I was 4; discovered the Beatles when I was 10; discovered fanzines when I was 12; met Susan when I was 15; got married when I was 17; began teaching when I was 21; died when I was 46 (but I got better!).
While the choppy pacing and lead-in to having died at 46 resonates of the type of profile humor that's very common on the web, it didn't seem appropriate for the more level-spirited Cliff whom I'd come to know. Cliff is certainly not lacking of a sense of humor, but rather simply possessing a more intellectual ability in expressing it. The direct shock value writing style in this profile doesn't match any other writings of his. This little issue nudged at me persistently during my recent visits to his blog.
So, while skimming the archives today (and enjoying every moment of it) I came upon an entry, I Know What It's Like to Be Dead... Yes, of course, I soon realized the reason for my previous perplexity. Cliff wouldn't lightly jest about something as serious as having died. We now learn that he had suffered a heart attack six years ago and in reality, clinically departed from amongst us for as long as Seven entire minutes, at least...
...And then Cliff Biggers RETURNED TO LIFE!
Yes, dear readers, our very own Comic Shop News messenger extraordinaire is a resurrected man of wonder! No less, perhaps than the Man of Steel himself at the hands of DC marketing shenanigans, or Ra's Al-Ghul through his legendary Lazarus Pit. Everything now falls into place and this long overdue item, six years in the waiting, can now brandish the title above and tell this remarkable story.
You are indeed a big inspiration, Cliff. Your next post In My Time of Dying... left no doubt as to the effect this experience has on you and how it alleviates any concerns you have about death. It's the way we should all live our lives, actually, if we're to live fully. As if we have no concern or thought of death awaiting us at any time around the corner.
So, when the wiseguys and scoffers chuckle in ridicule at my slowly-materializing ambition to raise an army through a world-wide-media-socio-political-movement, with which to battle the Tyrants of Faith and Oppression... and when they snicker at my claim that I'll give myself in to a public execution at the hands of the Pope himself - and when they squirm in disbelief at my knowledge that I'll survive it by returning to life after 3 days... well, when the scoffers scoff, I can now be on even more certain footing with my answer to them:
If Cliff Biggers can do it....
It's nicer than ever to have you with us, Cliff - splendors of gratitude for the devotion and inspiration.
I've received several correspondences from industry professionals, publishers and journalists, advising me that the artwork representing the Taki Soma - Charles Brownstein incident is gravely offensive and should be removed from the site. Some of the correspondenses developed into lengthy discussions concerning the issues represented and material from them compiled into the To the Comics Jounalists... entry. The controvercial artwork has now been replaced, as reported in Changing Times.
I would only hope the CBLDF Board of Directors, headed by Chris Staros, will ponder the reason for the production of the disturbing art and consider taking necessary steps to reversing the unfortunate conditions which led to its creation.
This summer, Chris, you stand before the most significant crossroads of your career in the comics. As publisher of Top Shelf Productions, you've placed the culmination of a career effort behind Alan Moore's controversial Lost Girls, and stand behind it with a $200,000 printing investment, one of the largest in the history of the industry for an independent venture of this kind. Your support of this significant work is well placed. The message Alan Moore brings with it is worthy and needs to be voiced. Lost Girls is expected to encounter significant opposition from certain social sectors and your ability to defend it legally will ultimately decide whether Top Shelf will survive the pseudo-moral onslaught which awaits it. As President of the CBLDF, you also command the institution which will wage the inevitable legal struggle you'll face.
The shadow which hovers over the CBLDF, the Charles Brownstein - Taki Soma incident, threatens to destroy everything you've worked for as a publisher and president of the fund. You cannot raise a flag for freedom, truth and justice in one hand, Chris - and support a grave injustice with the other.
The decision made by the board of directors of the CBLDF, to protect Charles Brownstein when it was believed no charges would be brought against him, was ill-fated from the beginning. Because of it, an innocent woman was compromised and a stain has been cast on this much revered organization of the comics industry. An innocent woman has been besmirched in the comics media because she came forward in order to protect potential future victims of such assaults. No one, Chris, not even yourself, can guarantee that the next time Charles Brownstein drinks one too many beers, the results of his behavior will not be far more tragic. No one should be expected to give such a guarantee when the accused himself refuses to face what he's done forthrightly - and in turn, accuses his victim of lying in order to conceal the truth about it.
In an update to his article at TCJ, Michael Dean reports that "Taki Soma has re-contacted police and, with the help of Ken Lillie-Paetz, is looking into the possibility of re-opening the investigation into Brownstein's alleged 'sexual imposition.'" Knowing you understand the sensitivity of such a situation, it should be clear to you that Taki Soma's silence in the matter, since the CBLDF decision to maintain Brownstein's position, casts an ominous cloud over the expected legal struggle the CBLDF must wage for Lost Girls. Knowing also what's at stake, I'm certain you realize that the controversy over the CBLDF supporting an accused sexual predator will not help the organization on the road ahead, in its crucial hour.
The dire concern with the way the incident was handled rests within the statement Charles Brownstein gave to the investigative team hired by the CBLDF and to the comics media outlets. Believing, as the police report had indicated, that no witnesses came forward to support Taki's claims of sexual assault, Charles testified to a dilluted version of the incident, implicating Taki with having lied about the extent of his alleged crime. The investigative team brushed off witnesses' testimony they received of Brownstein's behavior, believing no legal charges would be brought against him. Imagine, Chris, the doubt this will cast on the integrity of the CBLDF, when the truth of these events becomes known. Imagine all this coming about, coinciding with what's expected to be a highly publicized legal struggle, awaiting the CBLDF with Lost Girls.
I know it is not an easy decision you face. You're a man who wields considerable power as publisher of Top Shelf Productions and President of the CBLDF. With great power, however, comes great responsibility. Your responsibility to the comics industry which you represent, demands you clean this stain away. It demands you clean away the stain which has blemished the pages of the CBLDF and threatens the demise of everything you've worked for at Top Shelf. It's not only, however, for the sake of the comics industry, Chris; not only for the sake of the fair legal representation which Lost Girls deserves from the CBLDF; not only for the sake of the survival of Top Shelf Productions - and not only for the sake of Taki Soma, the woman of valor who suffers the injustice.
But for the sake of freedom, truth and justice, Chris - which the CBLDF and yourself stand for.
One side of the family was Baptist, the other was Methodist, my parents converted to Judaism and sent me to a Catholic school. This basically means I can guilt in three different languages. My world revolves around my son and what I can do to make the world he enters the best that it can be.
In desiring to help bring a better world for the children, Rene reaches to define and comment on the media publicized issues of social and political relevance, which together contribute to the general decline we see all about. But in a moving entry on the very human side of Jesus of Nazareth,An Oldie But a Goody for Mother's Day, her motherly instinct takes over to reveal a rarely perceived facet about a man widely elevated to Godhood and stripped of any semblance of the basic human qualities we all know he must possess, and which his very own mother had nurtured:
Imagine a woman coming to grasp the full impact of what was going to happen to her son, not looking at him as the Son of G-d, but as the baby she had nursed and loved as she taught him to walk, to talk, to feed himself. Her son that she loved as only she could. Knowing that on some day, in the not so distant future, he would start down the path that would eventually end in his painful death.
If you were a parent, would you be able to deal with the possibility of that future day after day? And yet, Mary did more than just accept it. In John 2 we see evidence that she encouraged Jesus to take those first steps. And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, WOMAN, WHAT HAVE I TO DO WITH THEE? MINE HOUR IS NOT YET COME. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. John 2:1-5 On a light note, it's amusing to see that even the mother of Jesus sometimes had to put up with the biblical equivalent of "Ah Ma, not now!"
Just as Abraham was asked to sacrifice his beloved son, Mary had to, in her own way, built the sacrificial pyre. Mary could have taken the passive role that would have been perfectly acceptable for that time. Instead of sitting by and hoping that her own bitter cup might pass her lips, she actively celebrated her promise to G-d by assisting her son in starting his mission and being there at the end. Thus she showed a most magnificent love for her God, her people and her son.
I'm always moved by this very Jewish view of the more human Jesus and Mary. It doesn't happen very often that Jews openly speak about it. The Christian world prefers to keep the Christ figure raised high into the Clouds of Heaven stratosphere, and maintains a God-like image of Jesus the man, where any mention of his humanity, is immediately perceived as heresy.
This, naturally flies in the face of Jesus' presence in the world and the few times he himself spoke of this issue. One such instance in the Gospels tells of a woman addressing him as "Good Master" upon which Jesus replied, "Why do you call me good? I am not good. Only God is good!". In the Book of Revelations, when the resurrected Christ appears to John on the island of Patmos, John falls before him to worship and Christ immediately implores him to stand up, saying: "See thou do it not, for I am of your brethren the prophets, worship God."
These two instances, amongst others, point to Jesus rejecting that he be elevated to a position of Godhood, as the Church has done with him. Just the opposite is true, actually. By doing so, the Church nurtures false holy pride, division and strife in the world over an issue which Jesus himself wants not part of.
Why is it that you so blatantly disobey your declared master, all ye hypocrites amongst the Christians? How long will the atrocities you perform, repeatedly, in the name of Jesus Christ continue, Pope Benedict XVI, before the cries of the innocent children who suffer at the dark clouds you bring are heard? How long before judgement comes upon all who take the Lord God's name in vain?
Not very much longer at all, believe me. Awaiting around the corner, actually.
I recently came across the web site of Ken Lillie-Paetz, Monkey Pharmacy, while investigating the Charles Brownstein-Taki Soma story. Ken has been named as Taki's friend, who came to her aid and forcefully pried Brownstein from her, releasing her from his bodily grip, at the Mid-Ohio Con incident. I'll not discuss this issue in this item and prefer to leave it to an upcoming entry. For now, let's simply get to know Ken a little better, shall we?
As it turns out, Kenneth Lillie-Paetz is quite the comics writer in his own right. Two projects he nurtures, Monkey In A Wagon vs. Lemur On A Big Wheel and Elsinore, first published by Alias Enterprises and Devil's Due, respectively, have received very favorable commentary from industry reviewers. Below are a few:
I haven't yet seen either of these works, but the ideas put forth in the reviews and promotion, combined with the imagery from Elsinore, show a prolific and innovative approach to a subject very dear to me. I did, however, peruse his web site and found Ken to be a creative soul struggling with the basic issues of survival in a situation that may not appear to have dealt him a very good hand to begin with. The following is from the about section of his web site:
Monkey Pharmacy was formed, during breakfast, in 2003, when MP's Prime Minister (Canadian for "President") Ken Lillie~Paetz decided that he was not in nearly enough debt and wanted to free himself from the last remaining vestiges of optimism he had about the future. Under the assumption that the Apocalypse would surely happen before the banks and credit unions caught on to what he was up to, Lillie~Paetz quickly threw an enormous amount of borrowed money into what would surely be a never-ending sinkhole for cash.
Thus Monkey Pharmacy was born and miraculously brought into creation (and, even more surprisingly, publication) the comic books "Elsinore" and co-creation "Monkey On A Wagon vs. Lemur In A Big Wheel" (in partnership with the incredibly funny, and ever so dreamy, Chris Moreno). Astounded by the shocking news that some people actually might enjoy his cryptic and entirely incoherent ramblings about the evolution of madness and the destructive capabilities of amusing animals on stolen kiddy wheels, Mr. Lillie~Paetz immediately fell into a deep depression and decided to become a recluse and hide from the world. Sightings of a strange creature roaming the remote areas of Northern Ontario, Canada, wearing a straw cowboy hat and a bathrobe, awkwardly trying to maneuver across the frozen tundra with a miniature dachshund and a two-four of Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale, are most likely just a hoax.
For the purposes of sales and promotion at comic book conventions, however, an almost-realistic human automaton was created and sent out to replace the real Mr. Lillie~Paetz. Armed with the prime directive of bringing Canadian beer to deprived Americans, the "Kenbot" has become beloved by all within the industry.
Monkey Pharmacy will continue to produce virtually undecipherable works until its inevitable and long over-due demise. But of course all of those involved with Monkey Pharmacy are pleased to have you along for what should be an incredibly short ride.
CAVEAT: Purchasing the products produced by Monkey Pharmacy will not in itself lead to the end of humankind. While this is surely a sign of the upcoming Apocalypse, Monkey Pharmacy and its affiliates can not be held responsible for life continuing without some catastrophic event to obliterate us from existence.
The hand that Kenneth Lillie-Paetz has been dealt, which also enshrouds him in controversy over the Brownstein-Soma incident, appears to include a witty ability to express himself, a clearly evident talent in comics storytelling and a fresh approach to writing that makes for an enriching reading experience. It's slightly evident that he has suspended activity on his web site since the recent publicity. I would only hope that this unfortunate incident, which is far from being resolved, doesn't impede the inspiration and development of this very talented writer who brings such wit, humor and prolific creativity to the comics.
The comics craft would suffer a terrible and immeasurable loss if this were to truly be the case.
Daniel Best, of the best of friends and regular visitor to our comments page, founder of the creator driven Adelaide Comics and Books web site in Australia, vociferous supporter of the often forgotten creators whom modern times have passed by, activist for the benefit and encouragement of the comics medium and its creators on countless discussion forums and email-lists, humble believer in righteousness and courageous spokesman for truth and justice... yes the same Daniel Best is soon to be wed to his heart's desire, his beloved Lyndal.
Our heartiest congratulations to the joyous couple and best wishes for a fabulous Australian wedding event on the 9th of September, later this year.
We first met several years ago when Daniel contacted me for an interview for his ACAB web site. Daniel's spirit and introduction to the interview revealed a courageous man, unhindered by presumed convention or community peer pressure views. I soon discovered his persistent active foray into the comics web and publishing communities - and we've since become of the best of friends.
Daniel has co-written, with Mike Esposito, a valuable documentation of the life and times of the much loved and missed Ross Andur & Mike Esposito comics creator team: Partners for Life. He's currently producing a book about Silver Age legend, Jim Mooney and rigorously peruses the comics community, much like a well-navigated pinging emissary, actively supporting a wide range of creators, including such good friends as Clifford Meth, Norm Breyfogle and Gene Colan, amongst many others. A quick look at the lineup of creators he's interviewed, reveals the depth of Daniel Best's penchant love for the comics medium and its often passed-by creators of by-gone eras. A recent entry at his Twentieth Century Danny Boy blog, on Jim Mooney's Cat, tells of the his adorance to the very human side of the super heroes, as expressed in the artist's charming 1960 Supergirl comic book tale.
Upon my recent return and activity at Rabble-Rouser, Daniel has moved me deeply with a few words at his blog, that tell everything about the special friendship we share.
A pal of mine asked me recently in an email, "What is it about you and Netzer? Why do you like him? He's a nutjob!" Well it's true, Michael is a tad nutty, but then aren't we all? I thought about sitting down and writing a huge response about why Michael Netzer is misunderstood, why he gets a bad rap and why he gets picked on. I felt like writing about the good stuff that Michael has done. How he helps people. How he helped me by designing a cover to my Andru & Esposito book and refused payment. Michaels design helped sell the book to it's new publisher. I could write about how Michael is one of the most honest and pure people out there in an industry that has more than it's fair share of ego and people who'll insist they're great but aren't. I could mention his writing. His art...and that's where I stopped.
My pal Michael Netzer has returned with a vengeance. Excellent! Mike's always an interesting read as he doesn't hold back with his thoughts and comments. Another incredibly talented artist (and writer to boot, not to mention graphic designer) who doesn't work anywhere near enough for my liking, Netzer is fearless. If he likes you, and he invariably does, then he'll part the Red Sea for you. But if you wrong him, or attack his pals, then you'll soon know about it.Michael - it's great to see you back!
Who amongst us wouldn't feel majestically marvelous in such good company and warm regard? You're of the best of friends and a credit to the comics community, Daniel. Do maintain the great spirit and may you only have comfort and joy on the new road you walk with Lyndal.
Adventures into Digital Comics is a compelling work because of the all-inclusive line-up of comics creators it brings into its fold. The documentary is a compilation of interviews with the creators, which engulfs them in an aura of relevance and statesmanship within the developing electronic environment of the entertainment world. The film elevates the creators' voice into the Hollywood film culture community in a manner previously unimagined within the comics field itself. I look forward to the release of this project, coinciding with an increasing awareness of the special role comics creators are commanding in the world of pop culture. This particular interview I participated in, perhaps well exemplifies this emerging role and focuses on the potential influence the voice the creator community can have in the shaping of more widespread public awareness and opinion.
People will say he was a great craftsman, and they'll be right, but what Toth did was a little further along than that. Toth reached that scary point where it felt dangerous to look at some of his best work; you ran the risk of being pierced by a force that practically shimmered on the page, that inhabited every image, like a master chef's dessert so rich it made your eyes water in protest, or a singer's voice so pitch-perfect it made you want to leave the concert hall, if only to catch your breath. His handwriting exuded an element of purity in cartooning that could outclass other artists' fully-rendered sequential art. Toth's black and white work in particular displayed an almost transcendent understanding of drawn art as a visual story component. When we as readers come to a greater understanding of the effect that great art has on the reading of comics, Toth's reputation is likely to grow even larger than it is today.
The entire piece reverberates with ardent insight. Moreso, Tom compiled what must be the most all-embracing documentation of Alex Toth's presence on the web, before and after his departure. Tastefully chosen art, quotations, news items, blog entries and an extensive reference source link library add to make this a definitive must-see item. A sentimental and compelling tribute worthy of the Alex Toth legacy.