Posted byat 17th November, 2008
Barack The Barbarian – by Mike Gold
Brainiac On Banjo #93
Comics creator supreme Timothy Truman took great pride in the fact President-Elect Barack Obama is – or at least was, before he got busy – a fan of Conan comics. Timothy writes Conan and was a community organizer on behalf of the campaign. Even though “comics creator supreme” sounds like a Baskin-Robbins flavor of the month.
That’s pretty cool, although I wonder what comics Still-President Bush reads. Brother Mike Grell suggested Jughead. I think he identifies more with Moose, but he wishes he was Reggie. Brother Grell further suggested Dick Cheney’s favorite would be Richie Rich. Perhaps, but it gives lie to the theory that Richie’s parents murdered him and, in death, Richie became Casper The Friendly Ghost.
I think Cheney would be reading The Shadow, although I regret to suggest it. Bush… probably Lobo. There was a moment there when he thought he was Steve Canyon.
I wonder if Republicans, as a group, read comics as aggressively as Democrats. Those who are right-of-center can act out their power fantasies in real life by going to gun shows and controlled phony hunting trips and doing their Monty Python-like war reenactments. In the days after the Obama election, gun dealers reported a run on their inventory. Some were afraid Barack would somehow ban or confiscate guns. I guess they’re used to our Still-President ignoring the Constitution and just assume the new kid would do the same. Others are afraid of a socialist uprising, no doubt led by Bill Ayers. I worked with Ayers and his buddies back in 1969. Trust me. The Right has nothing to fear from Bill, neither then or now in his pre-geriatric moments. They got tired of breaking windows a long time ago.
I knew one guy who actually owned a tank. When I asked him if the guns worked, he just smiled. I thought about Jeb Stuart from Bob Kanigher’s The Haunted Tank in G.I. Combat. Jeb was the World War II tank commander who took tactical advise from the ghost of a Confederate general. Then I left.
For those of us who are left-of-center, we read comic books because our hand’s-on power fantasies aren’t as easy to come by. I remember a Phil Seuling New York convention about 38 years ago at the height of anti-war activity and the hippie culture. A bunch of comics creators were on the panel, all male, all with long-hair and contemporary dress, most espousing support of causes that were popular at the time. They were asked if they could resurrect any comics character, which one would they choose? The overwhelming majority said Blackhawk.
Now, I’m a Blackhawk fan myself and I prefer the WWII and Korean war stuff with sultry villainesses to the aliens and monsters crap that ruined the character in the 60s. But I think it’s a bit idiosyncratic for those of us who were of the peacenik culture to wish to be involved with such a concept. An international team of men who lived on their own island with their own air force and ultra-powerful ordinance who zipped around the world dethroning legitimate governments with whom they disagreed – and did so three times every month? That’s just a little bit to the right, don’t you think?
Gene Siskel was the biggest Conan comics fan I has ever met. He used to buy his comics from my pal Larry Charet at his Chicago comics shop. He purchased three copies of each title. It’s hardly surprising that a movie critic would be in to comics – his arch-enemy Roger Ebert is also a comics fan. When we put together the first Chicago Comicon, Ebert called to ask me to set up an interview with Harvey Kurtzman. I asked if the Sun-Times was going to run it; he said he hadn’t pitched it, but it’ll wind up somewhere. He just wanted to interview Harvey.
So I’m not surprised to discover that our new president is into Conan. Better he should let out his aggression that way. I know I do. According to the Huffington Post, Barack is also a Spider-Man fan. That’s cool, too. Spidey is comics’ ultimate power fantasy.
However, I can’t help but wonder – if Obama’s a Conan fan, what’s his position on Red Sonja?
Industry vet Mike Gold continues to edit those wonderful new comics at www.comicmix.com and is proud to announce the beginning of The Pilgrim, by Mark Ryan and Mike Grell. Something about revealing where Osama Bin Ladin is really hiding.