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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 09/03/2001
Volume 2, Number 18

Slowly, steadily surely, the parts are drawing together. In the beginning, we thought they were independent entities, things that had nothing to do with each other. But we were wrong.

We assumed that the differences were so significant that by moving from one to another, and still another, we were advancing ourselves and improving our condition.

We believed that we were lifting ourselves above our humble and often derided beginnings. We were escaping the ignominy of the comics trap.

But now, as we contemplate our possible moves, we note that all the different entities are coalescing. They are all becoming part of the same thing. Whichever way we move, we are still where we were.

Surely, by now, everyone must have noticed. How could we not notice? Comics are turning into movies. Movies are turning into comics. Both comics and movies are turning into best-selling books. And vice-versa.

Is there a meaning to be gleaned from this universal coming together? More and more I am convinced that there is. And here's how I would explain exactly what's happening.

Little by little we are packing up our hearts and our interests and taking leave of the world "out there" that used to be known as "the real world." "Out there", Nasty things are happening, judging by the old standards. Israelis and Arabs are getting more deeply enmeshed in war; China, who sells missile technology to Iraq and Pakistan, is being invited by President Bush to build more nuclear warheads in a quid pro quo arrangement that would gain Chinese approval for the building of America's vastly expensive, video-game concept of a missile shield to beat back the equally imaginary video game activities of rogue states like the ones to whom China is selling missile technology; the drug war is going to pot in more ways than one, some mysterious glitch in monetary policy is killing the economy and along with it the boomers hopes of an effective Social Security system; and while all this is happening, unrehabilitated and angry criminals are about to be released on an unsuspecting nation in numbers that will result in making the crime figures of a decade ago look like a summer shower before the real flood. And, over two-thirds of the TV audience for the BIG night ignores every bit of the above to watch the soap opera tussle between Representative Gary Condit and Connie Chung. Why? Because this is the only thing that matters, along with other titillations in the world of make-believe and celebrities. And most especially the world where that icky little thing we once called "pop" culture throws its own weight into making sure that we never trouble ourselves again with all that old "real" stuff. We're out of it, folks. It's gone. Welcome to the new world that we shaped all by ourselves where we can sit comfortably swaddled and titillated by absolutely nothing that matters any more. Welcome to the new world of Alternate Reality. We've really arrived.

And it's not as if we were cutting off controversy or ideas or discussion. On the contrary, everywhere a lively dialogue is taking place as we ask each other questions such as: "Are comics dying?" "Are movies getting too salacious?" "How does the book compare with the movie?" "Does the comic compare with the film version?" "Is somebody going to do a comic book version of Survivor TV?" And, oh, before I forget, "What do we do about Britney and all that exposed navel?"

And in the meantime, all that other nasty stuff on the outside, well, we're just not accepting it anymore. Not with all this great and exciting alternate reality around. And the Justice League of America taking care of things besides. So, the music goes round, and raps and karaoke's and hip-hops and rocks, rocks, rocks. . . . as we drift deeper and deeper into the long swoon of "Rock-a-bye-Baby."

--Alvin

<< 08/27/2001 | 09/03/2001 | 09/10/2001 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Round Table.

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