Give Chuck Dixon and Paul Rivoche a lot of credit. They certainly stepped outside the box in an effort to promote their new book, a graphic adaptation of Amity Shlaes’ THE FORGOTTEN MAN, by attacking comic industry liberals in their Wall Street Journal OP-ED piece, “How Liberalism Became Kryptonite for Superman.”
They managed to generate a lot of interest and even had the opportunity to tout their book, published by Harper Perennial, on FOX NEWS!
Thank God that most of the hardcore conservatives that pay attention to these narrow-minded resources couldn’t care a rat’s ass about comics or they would have seen through the thin veil of deception that is so brilliantly dissected by Janelle Asseline in her Comics Alliance piece, “Superhuman Error: What Conservatives Chuck Dixon & Paul Rivoche Get Wrong About Politics In American Comics.”
In their effort to be Uber Americans by defending the Political Right, Dixon and Rivoche tread on one of the most valued American liberties that comic creators have fought decades for, the right to freedom of speech and expression which is protected by the First Amendment.
Their endorsement of the Comics Code Authority, which was a direct product of McCarthy era conservatism and possibly the most strict code of censorship of any American medium, flies in the face of anyone who truly loves and values the most basic and fundamental principles of freedom set forth by the founders of this country.
It was particularly odd that both gentlemen conveniently ignored the comics history of the 1980′s where creators rebelled against the big publishers of superhero comics and defined the potential of the Direct Market by working with Independent publishers that defied the rules of the Comics Code Authority.
Both Dixon and Rivoche saw their first works published by Independent publishers in 1984. (not the 1970′s as stated.) Chuck Dixon’s EVANGELINE which, originally published by Comico, told a tale about a nun with a gun that was an assassin for the Vatican.Canadian Paul Rivoche illustrated Mister X published by Toronto based Vortex. His story was about a mad scientist that induced his own perpetual sleeplessness with a fictitious drug. These were not comics that any of the Code publishers would consider touching at the time!
It is ironic that these pioneers of “moral ambiguity” in comics should be so vocally opposed to its current existence in the medium!
The success and proliferation of similar independent projects eventually led to Marvel and DC’s softening and ultimate departure from the Code. This was an orchestrated effort to compete with and eradicate Independent comics publishers who had gained substantial market strength.
The market dictated the newfound liberal mores with which comics were created! If audiences did not clamor for these new “left-minded” ideas we would all be reading comics with the seal of approval on it today. Worse, comic books would most likely have faced an inevitable extinction.
The comics of the 90′s that the two chose to credit with the moral departure were created by a wave of young talent that cut their teeth reading comics and being inspired by the likes of Dixon and Rivoche. These upstarts recognized that it was time for a jailbreak and sought to distinguish themselves as the New World Order in comics.
Dixon and Rivoche are among many creators moderately associated with the old guard, despite their groundbreaking achievements, to be trampled by the inmates intent on running the asylum, finally free of the restraints of oppressive censorship (a page torn right from Dixon’s own Batman stories.)
Jerry Ordway has similar gripes but does not blame left leaning politics in his plea for work, Life After Fifty.
For many, like Ordway, it is rather an overwhelming lack of respect and appreciation for the contributions of creators that in the past would have been revered industry-wide.
Fortunately the Independent movement (not just of the 80′s and 90′s but that of the 70′s Underground Movement, the Web Comic Movement of the 00′s and the current Digital Movement) has solidified the rights that creators have to express themselves freely through the medium of comics. There is a now place and an opportunity for any kind of comic regardless of “right” or “left” leaning politics. This is good for everyone, especially those with idealistic American values.
Without this new, expanding market for comics there would be no publisher that would have been interested in THE FORGOTTEN MAN, a comic not about superheroes and not targeted specifically at children. That would be a real shame.
Dixon and Rivoche should have remembered their true roots and celebrated their masterful execution of their own creative rights rather than endorse a close-minded, faux conservatism that could potentially crush other creators’ rights to freedom of speech and expression in a new witch-hunt reminiscent of the one perpetrated by Dr. Fredrick Wertham that led to the development of the restrictive Comics Code Authority.
Dixon and Rivoche need to ask themselves which Right is more important; the creatively inhibitive conservative views of the Political Right or our Inalienable Right to free speech and expression that has given comics the opportunity to flourish?
Making Comics Because We Want to,
A true, capitalism-endorsing conservative would let the market decide.