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COMICS ARE FOR KIDS?

We hear it all the time: we need to have comics for kids. There aren’t enough comics for kids. Aren’t comics supposed to be for kids?

I used to believe these things. Used to feel that having kid-friendly comics was an important necessity in order to keep the medium healthy. Now I think it’s bullshit. Comics are bad for kids.

You heard me: comics are bad for kids.

Stop calling me “Wertham.” I don’t come to this conclusion because of the reasons you think. It isn’t because the Wonder Dog ate Marvin and Wendy, nor is it because Frank Miller decided to have the bad guys called Batgirl a cunt. No, comics are bad for kids because of the message that most of them actually do push across: that good wins, evil is defeated, and everything will be alright with the world.

I started reading comics when I was four or five years old, and one of the first things that attached itself to my psyche was the moral certainty that comics presented. Spider-Man and the X-Men may have taken some hits, but eventually, everything worked out for the best. Normalcy resumed, the Good was back in control, the world moved along properly. Even if evil got the upper hand for a little while, it was an imaginary story, or time travel set things straight or something. Again- moral certainty reigned.

And I held onto that moral certainty in my own life. In 1992, I remember the flood of relief when Clinton won the election and the last remnants of Reagan’s destructive America went out the door with the elder Bush. My childhood felt validated. The Good was back in control. It was all going to be okay.

Then 2000 rolled around and it all went to shit. A stolen election. The next year, the worst terrorist act in history perpetrated against us. A phony war followed, thousands of my fellow citizens dead, hundreds of thousands of civilians in graves next to them. More election fraud loomed with Diebold. Our culture has devolved to the point of making stars out of the mediocre and talentless, while greatness flounders on the fringes, unable to find a toehold in the collective consciousness. A hurricane destroyed one of our greatest cities. A tsunami damned near wiped out an entire country. The global environment continues to rebel against our human presence as even more hurricanes have taken paths of super-destruction this very year. And now we have another election, featuring the senator from my state, who has already been relegated to second-class citizen on his own ticket because of the VP choice forced on him, and the first black man to have a chance to win the highest office in the land.

And while I have no problem telling you that I am obviously a Democrat, I will also tell you this: I no longer contain the slightest bit of certainty that anything will ever be okay again. No matter who wins this election. I think human society, and the planet we live on, have become so fragile and broken, that we are past the point of no return on putting things back on the right path. Not without a MEGA reboot. Is that cynical? You bet your sweet ass.

So are comics for kids? No. They present such a warped picture of the world that they may just be as destructive as Wertham tried to tell the world, but for an entirely different reason. Why should we offer our children false hopes?

Is there any reason for hope, period? For any of us? Can anyone tell me that?

Anyone?

Marc Mason

 



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