Thursday, April 06, 2006

Wide Empire of Sports pt. 2

Let's take a moment to revisit the exisential horror engendered by the last Presidential Election. It really shook my faith in America that it could have voted W back into office. I couldn't, and I still can't, think of any reason for this other than plug ignorance on our part as a culture. It seemed like something that required a response.

I didn't want to start making political art, because the very fact that I can't imagine a sane reason for voting for Bush is a pretty good indication that any political art coming out of me would be one-sided, strident, and, worst of all, didactic.

Politics were out. Ah, but History! History is interesting. History is narrative. And if we knew more history, we would surely make better decisions in the present, right? And comics are a great medium for depicting history in an immersive way. So, there it was: I was going to make History Comics and the world would become a better place.

And then, this job comes in to draw history comics for money! Comics that will be looked at by hundreds of thousands of middle and high school students! It seemed like evidence of some Cosmic Grace. The Forces That Be approve of my mission!

So, I get the first assignment. Roman Gladiators? Cool! I'd just recieved a big stack of reference books from Dover on Ancient Rome for another project I was thinking about. I'm ready and rearin' to open up the Roman Empire to youth of the Nation. But wait, what's this? They want it done as a parody of a Sport's Show? They're giving me suggestions for anachronistic jokes? Urine tests? Really?! Crap! They don't wany the comics to be educational vehicles at all! These comics are just "Yuks" to fill in between the real chapters! Comics don't need to be a distraction from learning, they can be an embracement of learning! AHHHHRGH!

I ended up trying to sneak educational content into the Yuk-fest that ensued. There's actually a fair amount of information on gladiatorial combat hidden in this strip. And, much to the credit of the editors at McGraw-Hill (and much to the credit of the cartoonists working for them who kept pushing the boundries of the assignments), as they saw more and more of what comics were capable of doing, they asked for fewer Yuks, and more content. Eventually, I found myself grousing in the opposite direction: How am I supposed to fit in any jokes when they're drowning me with facts?


knock on wood said...

honestly i felt like the last election was like a horrible choice of airplane food which made me want to vomit in a barf bag midflight.

Bush can be very scary and definitely unpopular internationally, and Kerry was too wishywashy which made people unsure about him leading our country in the middle of a war... We were screwed either way in my opinion.

Politics are always so disappointing... I like puppies instead.

knock on wood said...

"Comics don't need to be a distraction from learning, they can be an embracement of learning! AHHHHRGH!"

Thank you! some of my most vivid memories from my education before college are from illustrations accompanying text like in my Latin books. I learned tons from those drawings which I asked my teacher about... like why is that woman wearing a yellow toga? "That's actually the garb of a prostitute in those times"


Miras said...

It's raising heart, and depressing at the same time, to hear that politics, polititians, and the way our fellow countrymen make their choices is worldwide trauma...
What the heck is wrong with them people? Can't they listen to hear, look to see, and for their own sake; can't they REMEMBER what has been said and done? It's so easy. It takes only fraction of our brains... Umph!
Anyway, it's good that we, art workers (some, like one Joel, even workhorses), can just skip the anger, or dro(a)wn it in pictures.
And yes, I hope comics can teach. Or give the knowledge. It depends on us only. You do it right, Joel.
I had god laugh too, as usually

Anonymous said...

Facts are stupid things, Mr Priddy. Let me tell you a story to illustrate that point - let's say you've got an orange and I've got a thumbtack, no, wait, maybe I've got some gravel and you're a welfare queen?

OK, the point is, this country is damn lucky to have us. Or have had us, as the case may be; I look like the patron saint of hippies and communists compared to the current guy. That reminds me of another story...