Spring is about to be sprung. Even us concrete-bound New Yorkers can tell. The first sign comes from the Mr. Softee trucks. Although one has been parked at Sixth Avenue and West Fourth Street all winter, we now find lines of people waiting for that first sweet taste. There are notices tacked to street lamps, announcing “No Parking Saturday” because there will be street fairs. When the days get longer and warmer, New Yorkers thoughts turn to socks for a dollar.
It is after I notice these cues that I notice more traditional signals. Tulips and daffodils start to push through the soil (a sight I find oddly sexy). Trees bulge with buds about to bloom. Forsythia is the market leader, the early adapter to this new day.
The thaw is invigorating. More sun means more heat. As the snow and ice melt, long buried piles of leaves and dog poop are revealed – and not just visually. The sweet smell of rot permeates the air, competing with the constant smells of curbside hotdogs and urine.
While I’m not much of a capital-C Communist (I did used to live on a commune, so I can’t deny the lower-case appeal), I always liked the quotation from Chairman Mao’s little red book, “Let a hundred flowers bloom, and a thousand schools of thought take root.” Although I suspect he didn’t mean it this way, to me, Mao’s version is a more visually appealing version of the First Amendment. In the spring, it’s inspiring to watch the new greenery, and hope each new blossom might be a new idea.
What brings this to mind is the new (and final) issue of Special Forces, Kyle Baker’s brilliant series for Image. On the inside back cover letter page, a Mr. Douglas Evans, from Victoria, Texas, berates Kyle not only for his point of view on the war in Iraq, but his choice of subject matter. He says, “Why make fun of America, why not satire North Korea (where people are starving to death because of their dictator) or the Muslim world (where a young girl was beaten and raped for sitting with a guy alone in a car) do lies sell better than the truth?” (Note: this is the same punctuation as in his letter.)
Kyle Baker is not a jukebox. You can’t put in your $2.99 cover price and make a selection of topics, and expect him to produce. He’s an artist, and he tells the stories that inspire him. Luckily for us, his interests are varied, and he can do comedy, drama, long-form and short. If you don’t like Special Forces, you might like Nat Turner, or the The Bakers.
If Mr. Evans wants to see a comic book mini-series about North Korea, perhaps he should write and draw one. No one would stop him. If he can’t find a publisher, perhaps he could publish it himself (as Kyle Baker did for several of his own books, including the aforementioned Nat Turner and The Bakers). If his story was compelling to a large enough audience, he would break even, possibly make a profit. In our capitalist society, this is what the marketplace of ideas is all about.
If Mr. Evans instead chooses to tell the story about the Muslim world, where girls are raped for defying their gender roles, perhaps he will also consider the examples of women raped in our own country, for walking outside after dark, for wearing stylish clothing that a man might find sexy. There are thousands of women raped – and murdered – for defying social convention, and their attackers often get away with a slap on the wrist, or no punishment at all. As we discussed last week, the penalties are even less if anyone rapes and murders those who present themselves as women, without necessarily having the coordinating equipment.
I suspect, in this parallel world where Douglas Evans makes comics inspired by the rape of young Muslim women, that he won’t include my counter-examples. That would be his right. It would be my right to offer him this counter-examples to what I’m inferring is his thesis, just as it is his right to call Special Forces “anti-American propaganda.”
Kyle includes the news articles that inspired each issue. Perhaps Mr. Evans will do the same. If he can’t back up his assertions with facts, we’ll know his arguments are driven by emotions, not facts. If this were the case, it would no’t make them invalid, but it would make them less credible.
Let’s disagree, and let’s argue, but let’s not tell our artists what to create, or our seeds what to sprout. Let a hundred flowers bloom, and let it be Springtime real soon.
Media Goddess Martha Thomases hopes that the change of seasons means the job market heats up, too.