[an error occurred while processing this directive] Celebrating Five Years of Pushing Comix Forward [an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]

9.02.2005

CBG's Marc Sobel on Comics and Katrina

What's wrong with me tonight?

I can't get into any of my new comics. It's not that there's anything wrong with them. It's me. I'm distracted. I'm introspective. I'm depressed.

For some reason, tonight I feel ashamed at the amount of money, time and energy I spend on comics. The endless reading stacks. The writing of reviews. The hundreds of bookmarked websites. The bagging and boarding. The never-ending debates about the merits of each and every issue as if it mattered at all. Is this what God put me on earth to do? Is "pushing comix forward" a noble pursuit to dedicate my life?

Even as CBG celebrates its fifth anniversary, a real achievement in the ever-shifting landscape of the comics internet, I can't escape this overwhelming sadness. The pictures from New Orleans are devastating. I have never seen anything like it, and this is from someone who stood less than a mile from the World Trade Center on 9/11 and watched with my own eyes as the buildings burned and crumbled.

The damage left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is unfathomable. Bodies floating in the water, families begging for help, refugees stranded in the Superdome and on roofs of buildings, entire neighborhoods submerged in floodwaters, anarchy, lawlessness, looting and violence as people struggle to obtain basic necessities that for their whole lives they had taken for granted.

Why do things like this happen? There are no answers. The earth is a dangerous place. History is filled with these kinds of tragedies. It was only 9 months ago that the tsunami wiped out a quarter of a million people in Southeast Asia. Before that, the earthquakes in Turkey. All are painful reminders of just how fragile life can be. For all our technological advances, we're helpless in the face of such incredible force.

But if you think about it, this kind of thing happens in comic books every week. There are thousands of examples. Just a few months ago in the pages of Aquaman, a fictional San Diego was completely sunk into the ocean. Practically every issue of most mainstream superhero comics portrays similar stories of near catastrophe averted. I myself have written an apocalyptic story.

But why are we so fascinated with our own destruction? What makes us buy these same clich├ęd stories over and over again?

I think deep down we're fascinated by these doomsday scenarios because they remind us that there is a higher power, however indefinable, that keeps us from ever gaining complete control over our lives. Obviously superheroes are not God, but in a way, they are. In their fictional context, they're who we turn to when we are unable to protect ourselves from things like Hurricane Katrina. They're expressions of our morals, our values and our beliefs. In the real world, we turn to comic books to escape the pain and stress of everyday life. It's not a coincidence that so many comic collector's identify with painful childhoods where their only escape was the four color worlds of Marvel and DC.

I am not advocating that anyone stop blogging, reading, writing, drawing or collecting comics. In fact, when real life offers such anguish and sorrow, it's only natural to want to escape into that simpler world, a world where Fill-in-the-Blank-Man would have swooped down at the last second and blocked the levees of New Orleans himself, averting the crisis that now consumes our headlines.

But tonight I find little comfort in my comics. For once, the escape feels hollow. I am unable to distract myself from these feelings of anger and helplessness. I can only pray that the residents of New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast receive the help and support they need to restart their shattered lives. I hope that, if you have not already done so, you will consider donating to the many relief organizations that have setup special funds for the victims of Katrina. I won't bother listing specifics, since there is so much information on the web, a simple Google search will lead you to hundreds of worthy organizations.

In the meantime, I wish all of you out in the blogosphere peace, safety and security. Take care of yourselves and each other.

1 Comments:

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

Well said.

9:01 AM  

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