I must admit that though I learned to read sometime between four and six, I learned to read Disney comics. it was easy, after having the stuff read to me so much to sort of remember the words that went with the actions.
My brother did character voices, which made it easier to remember. After that I read Disney comics whenever I didn’t have much mental space for anything else. This is weird since — unlike my kids — I never got into “people” comics, which included mystery comics (really big in Portugal) and romance comics. As for superhero comics, I liked Superman. Also, for a brief time there was a comic series that might have been Brazilian or Portuguese (or at least I haven’t been able to trace it in the US) called something like Heroes of Atlantis. When Atlantis was doomed, a few people managed to save themselves in a secret base under the North Pole, while most of the survivors descended into barbarism. Over time the ones preserving civilization (and living essentially forever) become “gods” of ancient myth and go around the world, doing good and having adventures. By the time I read that one I was deep into mythology, and I liked the not-quite resonance, which you often also get in fantasy and science fiction.
But the duck comics remained favorites, because they’re introductions to “geek culture” as well as very easy to digest. Whenever I was “fried” (and given my school load, I was often fried) I’d read the comics.
Years later, in the US, I found myself with the problem of getting younger son to read. Because verbal is not his main thing, he managed to get past the complexity of books he could actually read. What I mean is, he was at a level to read picture books, but they bored him stiff. His mind was not interested in simplistic plots told in five pages.
So I thought of Disney comics. I went through the net looking for who was publishing the comics then. And I found that the company was going out of business and for 2k they’d sent you a copy of every book they’d ever published in like 10 years.
Well, I didn’t have that, but I had $500 which bought something like 1 thousand assorted comics. I remember the day the box was dropped on the patio. It was… interesting. It worked too. Within a year my boy was reading for fun, and getting upset because the comics didn’t last long enough, which is when I introduced Heinlein juveniles. In the process I renewed my love for the comics, and his older brother became a fan too. We still go into old comic stores and look through the used “trash” comics bins for old Disney comics. It’s a part of our ritual in any new place.
So since my
babysitters husband and sons decided I’ve been overexerting (they have some support for this in the fact that today I felt seedy as heck) and because the wild Sarah of the West is hard to restrain, younger son unearthed his carefully boxed collection and is letting me read it.
Yes, there is a point to this post. Hold on, okay?
I like the really old comics — Carl Barks and Floyd Gottfredson and also Don Rosa, who is my sons’ idol — not so old as to be the daily strips or to have Mickey run around with only shorts, but old enough to have fun adventures. Stories where Uncle Scrooge and the boys tumble into Atlantis were my first introduction to the mythical continent. And Gottfredson wrote good mysteries with an edge of the fantastic for Mickey.
Now, I’m not going to say that all of the modern stuff is dross. Obviously it’s not, though some of the writers seem to aim more at… well… children. While the animal comics were always interesting for children, they always had more depth than that.
But a lot of the modern comics are from Europe and… oh, wally wally wally.
I think there is a reason these companies that publish the comics tend to go under when they start de-emphasizing the old stuff and pushing the new translation-from-Europe.
First, let me say that like all the other geek interests, from SF to gaming, Disney comics are our people. In face when I first bought the old comics, I giggled at finding many familiar (fan and author) names in the letters to the editor.
And I think like the other parts of geekdom they were invaded by SJWs, only earlier, and through a strange route.
You see, in Europe most people read Disney comics. Omnibuses(eseseses) of various kinds are published all the time, and they’re sold in train stations and airports. Most of the writers are therefore European. And Europe, poor sods, swallowed the SJW thing hook line and sinker much earlier and deeper than we did.
(I blame it on the shock from WWI and WWII. But really, their schools teach stuff like patriotism is bad, making money is bad, etc. etc. etc.)
Anyway, when companies get the Disney license in the US they tend to first publish the classics, then slowly move on to European translations. Then they go under.
Since mostly when I re-read (and there are hundreds, and I hadn’t touched them in 15 years) I read one or two and then store them again, I hadn’t noticed the pattern. But I’ve spent days reading them, in order.
The recent ones don’t get thrown across the room only because they’re younger son’s and he’s parsnekity.
But… I reached the culmination of a story and the hero walks away from a deal that would make a miserable little village rich because “money is bad and would just give them problems like ours.” Then there are avowals that Scrooge would never deal in guns. And…
And I realized the problem with the modern stories from Europe is not that I disagree with their “morals” (I mean, Scrooge keeping all his money in a megabin was not exactly a moral I agreed with either) but that they’re no fun at all. Just when the action gets serious or the dilema important, instead of solving it, one of the author-puppet characters, which are usually the “women” or the “kids” stand up and do a little speech about how righteous they are. Everyone agrees. The end.
I sought out younger son to discuss this. He said “oh, yeah. The problem is I don’t think they know how to have fun. The whole concept of “writing something fun which might have a moral in it” evades them. They think lecturing people and preening on their superiority is fun, so they don’t get why you wouldn’t ENJOY being lectured.”
It was a bit of a shock, because it made sense. These are people whose idea of “fun” is “being good little girls” (even the boys. Particularly the boys) and being praised for it.
They honestly have no clue how one would have any enjoyment of life on one’s own. Fun must be had in the fashion currently approved of by the “better people” — this is, I think the reason why their doddering presidential heir presumptive thinks adults in the US need “fun camps” to regiment them into having fun.
We’ve often referred to lefty politics being a sort of religion, but the sad thing is that it’s not even an inner improvement religion, but the sort of religious practice you do in public so others might admire you.
Realizing this brought to mind years back, when for reasons known only to the psychiatrist I’ll eventually have, I found myself as a member of a Romance Writers’ group (honestly, the kids were little, we were (very) broke and I hoped to be able to write the stuff because it made more than SF ever did.) When talk turned to heroes and characters that are ideal, I mentioned that my favorite type of man is the one who is introverted enough in the beginning of the book he might seem uncaring, until you find out that while he might despise beggars or phony “needy” people, he’s been secretly giving money to help single mothers with small children, volunteering at a school for disadvantaged children and giving poor people business loans to start their own business.
I expected maybe disagreement, but what I got instead was screaming and yelling and telling me my idea of a hero was “plain mean” and so was I. Apparently these people thought what your left hand did without the right knowing was not only NOT more laudable, but was mean. To be a good man/good person, you had to do the approved charities and TALK ABOUT DOING THEM AND ABOUT WHY YOU WERE SO GREAT FOR DOING THEM.
I still don’t get it, but I guess in a universe where lecturing people is the only worth in a story, bragging of your charity is the true charity.
None of which is going to convince me to like their “approved” stories; make me believe the color/gender/orientation of the author is more important than the writing; or give a good goddamn about their ideas of good and evil.
I have considered stories outside my opinion/comfort zone, and sometimes changed my mind because of a story (gun control. Red Planet.) BUT the story was first of all fun in the sense of being a narrative with beginning middle and end. And then it had a message woven through, in a way that when I put the book down and thought about it made me consider the author’s point of view.
Now, I don’t require a message to enjoy a story. My favorite (Don Rosa) Uncle Scrooge story is one in which under attack by Magica DeSpell, Donald and Scrooge forget the funniest things. (The story is, I think, called Forget It.) The spell is that if someone says your name, you lose all memory of the thing they mention next. So when Scrooge says “Donald, open the door” Donald loses all memory of “doors” and can’t figure out how to get out of the room. And when Donald shouts “Uncle Scrooge, the Stairs!” Scrooge forgets how stairs and falls.
Now, the story does have a message, though never brought home: in the end of the story Donald can’t walk or talk, so Uncle Scrooge, who also can’t walk, uses him as the log for log rolling and to stop Magica stealing the #1 dime. So there is a “never give up, never surrender” moral to it.
Is that why I like it? I don’t think so. As a woman who is both enamored of words and scared of dementia, I found the premise turned something I flinch from as terrifying funny, which is one of the keys to humor, of course.
Now, the moral didn’t hurt. The same sort of story that ended with “We must destroy all machines and live as primitives” as a background moral would probably spoil my enjoyment of it somewhat, though I might still like it at the “gag” level.
However, the same story with Magica taking time in the middle to explain that language is patriarchal oppression (in a non-funny way) would get tossed against the wall (and then I’d explain it to younger son.)
Is there anything we can do to redeem these people who think preening and doing the “approved” stuff is the “only” fun?
I don’t know. I can’t even conceive their state of mind, so it’s hard to think how to reach them.
I guess I’ll keep writing stories that are both fun and non-preachy, even if there tends to be a background moral.
Eventually they’ll get tired of things that fall into their hands tanking and find something more in line with their talents. Preaching or forming the convent of our lady of perpetual redistribution or something.
And meanwhile the rest of us will ignore their careful gatekeeping and read and write and have fun too.
… or I will once my
jailors family lets me up and allows me to work again.
Until then, there’s Disney comics. I haven’t even broken into the stock of Mickey Mouse from when Mickey ran around chasing ghosts with guns the size of his head.
And Carl Barks and Don Rosa often have more explosions than a Baen book. Sometimes even rockets.
And hopefully next week I’ll be able to write without passing out for hours at a time.