Sunday, 15 March 2015


Though I am certain that this history and resulting reputation is only all to painfully familiar to the initiated, I must admit that it was not until fairly recently that I discovered, to my intense delight, that the stories and characters of comic sagas could be remarkably well depicted, complex and visionary as any genre (in fact I suppose, calling it a genre, rather than a mixed-media, a vehicle for presentation, only contributed to that prejudice and dismissal), I think that this review from Vox presents a quite lucid look at the context and hysteria that diminished and declawed the artform, which has only recently and as a force-majure been brought back around in public perception. I cannot say exactly when I began to make this rediscovery for myself, reaching back to a golden age, but it was sometime between the great rebranding that came with making the format sound more adult with “graphic novel” and before the breakout of the cinema-franchises. I did receive a a bound volume of Flash Gordon classics and was really surprised to find that there was more to the story than portrayed in the space-opera or in the funny pages.
Because H did not know this character, I researched also the German equivalent, Perry Rodan—who was possibly leaning more towards Buck Rodgers but also really original and innovative in his outlook. The rise of McCarthyism and inspired patriotic fear of Communist subversion, coupled with the growing audience share of network television, however, quickly caused writers and publishers to comply with new standards or face the consequences. Seeing their retinue severely curtailed (no sexual innuendo, no supernatural beings, no corrupt officials or crooked politicians), comics became relegated to a less sophisticated readership of children and adolescents (though surely there more impressionable lot and there was not doubt a lot of guarded allegory to be found still). Having the rough edges sanded away, though there were still many true-believers and the origins endured in a canon that’s recently enjoyed a resurgence.