Sanctimony is a plague of the modern era.
Back in the day sanctimony was something that either made you a look-out at the end of a very sharp spike or an unpopular pope. Or, I don't know, got Prohibition made into an amendment. Nowadays it's the bread and butter of comments threads and people with too much time on their hands and too little of a poli-sci degree (or too much of one). The empowerment that comes with the internet has done a lot of great things, but it has also spawned a culture of people who feel entitled to tell everyone how something offends them or how it might offend someone else (despite not being involved at all with the group they're defending).
This sort of thing might come out of a positive place (“might” is the crucial word), for the most part, though, it comes off as boring and reactionary as the dumbest parts of the internet you can imagine and as close-minded as the people they're attempting to harangue.
I'm sure the past was full of people whining about how offensive things are. In fact, there must have been. If the internet has proven anything, it isn't that people are getting worse or that they're getting weirder, it's just that they're visible now. It is just that in the past, at least then they were somewhere else and speaking in, I don't know, Swedish or some other ungodly language, and we didn't have to hear about it (because of that pike I mentioned earlier).
I say this then, with a heavy heart: I want to stop seeing violent comic book covers.
You hear that? Stop it. Just stop it now.
Enough of children holding bloody knives (or palming severed heads). Enough eyes sewn shut. Enough guts. Enough of David Lapham getting work. Just put it all to bed, will ya? I'm trying to buy a comic book here and you're up there lopping off heads and laughing. Except that you can't laugh because your throat is impacted with maggots and sick and it's only 2.99 to buy into this Degas-like excercise in living poetry. It's rarely what I need more of in my life.
I mean, okay, we've got a lot of vampire books, some blood is going to happen, I'm not a madman here. There has to be exceptions. And zombies on covers are fine (even if that means that there's a zombie comic inside). Guns in general are fine, I guess, since it's really only the guns next to exploding heads that kind of gets to me.
But my problem really isn't with the kinds of grotesque covers that, let's say, a Raphael Albuquerque comes up with, because he has a sense of what makes good design and good art. The rest of the shit I see is just sub-1980's VHS shlock that only the dumbest, most black metal shirt wearingest middle schooler would ever fall for (and God knows the comic book industry would be better for it if more of those kids showed up every Wednesday). It's not just unpleasant art, for the most part, it's just bad art.
Maybe I'm just old or maybe I'm just enlightened enough to realize that this is a bunch of hackneyed, overcompensating prison tattoos playing at being art. Or maybe it's both. Or maybe it's just the second one twice.
The world is depressing enough as it is without me having to stare at horrifically cynical comic book covers. We live in a world full of bombings, corruption, the New York Yankees, and an Entourage movie to deal with, I don't need bad art knocking on my head every Wednesday to remind me that the world sucks. I can do that on my own time.
I think what offends me is that most of the covers that I'm complaining about aren't from very accomplished artists. They aren't a Mignola or a Fabry or a Johnson, so they gussy it up with something some dummy is going to pick up. “A guy vomits out the bullets he's been shot with! Brilliant! Everyone at my imaginary adventure society in the alley will sure get a kick out of this!” I guess I wouldn't be so exhausted or annoyed if any of these things actually looked like anyone gave a fuck about what they were drawing.
I mean, severed heads are something you should be committed to if you're going to stick your name on a picture.
“Well, don't look at them?” you say. “Why don't you just not buy them and shut up about it, old man!” Well, that's a good point, but I have a better point: Fuck you.
All I want to do is buy my Garth Ennis comic book where he strangles a guy with his own intestines in peace. I'm an American citizen. I pay taxes. I vote and I'm barely a criminal. I should have the privilege of not having my comic book store drenched in blood and guts.
You know what the really depressing part is? That I feel the need to say this. Don't put fucked up shit where other people are going to see it. Children buy comic books. Parents buy comic books. People who aren't into piss-soaked teeth bullets buy comic books. Sane, healthy adults sometimes accidentally buy comics. If I'm some irksome minority that wants to take away everyone's fun, then the opposite amount of scorn should be aimed at the types that want to flood the shelves with horrible art. We shouldn't let shitbirds of any feather crap on our parade (the parade is society).
I'm not so worked up about all of this as I am tired, because I don't want to put an end to this sort of thing entirely, I'm just asking for a basic call to decency. I feel tired that I have to ask for this. I feel tired knowing that it won't matter (especially here, on this blog). We don't have to stop telling stories about murderous hobos collecting child hands or pretending to murder a man's children and surrogate father as a goof (and that's just Scott Snyder), I just want people to shovel less crap into the world.
If I have a basic philosophy at all is that you should try to not make things worse for other people. You don't have to stop being who you are or become some positive force in the world, I just want you to not make it hard for other people. Do your thing, don't fuck it up for everyone else if you can. It works for doctors alright. Do no harm. Words to live by.
The alternative to me not complaining is someday sitting in this world that we're wallowing in, lettiing it soak into our pores, and throwing up our hands and saying “Well, it's just the way things are!” and fuck that whole genera of shit.
I guess it must work if there seems to be so many. Actually, you know what? That's the most depressing thought in this whole mess.
SIDE NOTE: I considered posting pictures of some of the things I'm irritated with, but then I thought "Fuck them." Even for a guy with maybe five readers that seems like too much exposure for the kinds of books I'm talking about. Also I am lazy. There's always a second installment, right?
SIDE SIDE NOTE: I now realize what this should have been about the whole time: Dark Place.
Damn. What am I even doing here?
EDIT: Goddamnit, why the hell are those videos not embedding? The world needs to know about Dark Place!