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After the Golden Age by Alvin Schwartz
Giving a glimpse into the formative years of comics and beyond.

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AFTER THE GOLDEN AGE for 05/08/2000
Column 52

Off again into the great silence.

This past week especially. The week before, it seems everybody made an effort to respond to my comments. This week, as though exhausted with the effort, everybody faded away. But Justin tells me you're out there. He can tell how many hits this segment is getting. And you're even buying copies of my book, An Unlikely Prophet which seems to be holding its own on Amazon, thanks to you. The publishers certainly aren't doing much for it.

But what about me? I need to find the traces of living humans on this column. I need those questions, comments, even complaints. Maybe I'm talking to the wrong audience.

After all, I don't go into great detail about comics. As you well know, after the Golden Age, I did a Rip Van Winkle and didn't emerge from the strange world I discovered outside of comics until Rich Morrissey showed up and dragged me back out into the light of day.

So I'm again having second thoughts. Maybe my heavy handed guff is too much for this site. Tell me it isn't and I'll continue. One of the things I'd like to continue with soon is the medical and genetic evidence that pretty much explodes the myth of the sexes. Yes-did you not know that sexually an awful lot of us are carrying mixed up male-female genes which in the rest of the world is acknowledged by the way they accept these differences, but here in North America, especially among the doddering meatrheads in Congress, they've been trying to pass laws that act as if genes don't exist and that all the x-chromosomes and the y chromosomes don't make for neat little packages clearly distinguishing one sex from another. But congress is trying to override nature with some new rules. Next thing, we'll have a gene police. As soon as they can figure out how to arrest errant genes. But-anyway, that's for another column.

Still another column is one on the new missile system the pentagon is trying to build to knock down minor attacks from rogue states-keeping the munitions plants really busy, and setting up an actual system where because it only\ works against minimal attacks by rogue states, but is, in fact, guaranteed to force every nuclear power of any size to keep adding to their nuclear stockpile until it's big enough to get through the minimal system. So the minimal system will have to be maximized a little bit, and next thing you know, we're in a full fledged arms race again. That's what I also meant to deal with soon. But. of course. you say, this doesn't have anything to do with comics and I say comics is the best place in the world to deal with it because the medium is far freer to express these things and deal with relevant matters. And, in fact, it's my formula for making comics relevant again, and maybe injecting new life into the moribund medium. We had only one Doonesbury and one Peanuts- but there are new possibilities and new ideas of this sort all around if the hidebound editors would only loosen up a little bit and take on some real world problems. Not just cleverly written psychological studies as have been done with Batman, for example, but the kind of tough, outspoken, in your face kinds of stories that gave the cartoon, especially the political cartoon such an important role all over Europe and America.

Maybe we need smaller, more independent publishers. Maybe we should start on the web if the fat cats like Time Warner and Disney et al are afraid to touch subjects like these. Maybe a littl.e bit in the movies. But only sharp, pointed, no-pulled-punches cartoons can really do the trick. It's really part of our tradition. And now, with Superheroes to help us, maybe we can give those critters a lot more relevance by having them take on the larger problems.

Ny now,. everyone knows I'm something of a mystic. Jack Schiff once gave an interview about me in which he said I was terribly intellectual but- would you believe it?-I was a M-Y-S-T-I-C. And Jack was the comics version of the Village Atheist. He wouldn't believe anything was real unless it walked up to him and swatted him. I wonder what he'd make of things like superpositioning and being in two places at once-all respectable scientific ideas these days. But at least Jack was literate enough to argue his positions with enough presence to make for some interesting discussions. And we had lots of them and grew fond of one another despite our differences. But now, back to my mysticism- I'm not really much more mystic than the Sierra Club. I don't think we're big enough to destroy the earth, however, although the earth can easily get disgusted and heave us off. And, oh yes, I do indeed believe the earth is alive. I think the whole universe is alive. I even think the Big Bang is the cultural artifact of a science that now denies a gradual evolution in favor of huge intermittent leaps. And what better leap than a singularity like the Big Bang? Of course, once you believe that time is a one-way arrow, the Big Bang is both necessary and self-contrradictory. I have an advantage. I think everything is happening at once.

But all this having been said- is this the kind of column you want to be reading every week? Do you want to hear what sex REALLY is apart from the legislative flatheads trying to define it for us? Or figure out how to give our superheroes enough relevance to take on real problems and keep the comics from sinking ever further into irrelevance and desuetude?

Then write me at the Round Table and say so. And I'll take it from there.

Alvin Schwartz

<< 05/01/2000 | 05/08/2000 | 05/15/2000 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Round Table.

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