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NUM-INOUS COMICS PT. 2

This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

"RACIAL OTHER" MYTHCOMICS MONTH

Noticing that Black History Month has begun once more, I wondered if I had enough material to do my own very loose version thereof. The short two-part answer is (a) I have plenty of "racial myth" material to do mythcomics on this theme for this week as well as the next three, and (b) I don't think I have nearly enough corresponding material for null-myths on the same theme.

Dealing with (b) first:

There have been a lot of mediocre and/or offensive racial images throughout the history of comic strips and books, but I'm not interested in following the lead of knee-jerk ideological criticism. The mythcomics project  is focused upon studying the many ways in which comics narratives use symbolic discourse, both in consummate and inconsummate ways. I've called to mind many bad stories that use racial images of one kind or another, but they're usually bad in a way that doesn't involve any complex symbolic discourse. The one major exception is the PLASTIC MAN story analyzed here. Building on my knowledge of what little political content manifests in Jack Cole's published work, I think that the "Great Warrior" story shows Cole conflicted about the marginalization of Native Americans while seeking to validate the U.S. power structure, and that mixed message led me to classify it as inconsummate.

But most racial images in the comics are too simplistic to bear analyzing. I couldn't even find any complex racial images in my review of the SUPER GREEN BERET comics; these stories were inconsummate largely because of the creators' misguided attempt to meld the wacky whimsy of Golden Age Captain Marvel with a homage to a Green Beret who went around fighting not only modern wars but also wars in other eras. So I will either (a) not bother to analyze any null-myths this month, or (b) choose to expatiate on themes having nothing to do with racial myths.

On to (a):

There are a fair number of consummate myth-comics on this topic that would fill the four weeks. Yet I rather like the idea of being more general in my approach, by dealing with an assortment of "racial others" as they have been defined by contrast to Caucasian Americans. And no, not just Caucasian American males: the considerable quantity of women who venerated Mitchell's GONE WITH THE WIND ought to be enough to implicate white women as having participated in all manifestations of racial myth in American culture. I would say that in many cases American Jews have been subsumed within the sphere of American Christians and have responded to the "racial other" in largely covalent ways.

Since I'm writing about art rather than history here, I'm primarily interested in the way that creative minds have chosen to play with the images of race. This means that even some images may have a mythic complexity even if they are not viewed as empowering by real-world members of various ingroups. But offending people has never stopped me before.

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