The was once a time when comic book writers were able to weave tales that turned characters like Spider-Man and Captain America into cultural icons. Creators may have touched on politics, but in general those who penned Marvel’s adventures transcended partisan hackery. They delivered work that resonated with multiple generations, which is one of the many reasons why Marvel Studios is an industry force to be reckoned with in 2017.

Somewhere along the line it was decided within the Mighty Marvel Offices that superheroes should be transformed from modern mythological figures into vehicles for forwarding a political agenda. They were diminished into little more than tools for political manipulation, and for evidence of that one needs to look no further than the work of Nick Spencer, writer of Sam Wilson: Captain America.

My latest YouTube video covers Mr. Spencer’s savvy strategy and tactics for influencing culture through comic books, which seems a bit similar to those employed by comedian Jon Stewart. As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section blow. I’m always interested in hearing your opinions on the writer at hand or the industry as whole.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

5 comments

  1. Once upon a time…

    Even when you picked up an issue of the ‘liberal’ X-men, you were invited in to their world. If you were intolerant, they were going to show you why you shouldn’t, but more importantly…you weren’t the bad guy, The X-men rarely dealt with the everyday bigots of their world, and when they did it was with an understanding that they were misunderstood. You had truly evil men, like the sentinel builders…but these were supervillains, extremely dangerous people. Even other superheroes were portrayed as somewhat prejudiced…but not evil or hateful in intent…and over time respect would appear between them. They appealed to the those of us that wanted to be understood even though we were different, it’s what brought me in, it’s what brought many of us in.

    The End.

    Now…

    This is about cultural isolation. To come in, you have to speak the right language, and think the right things. If you don’t, you are one of the Machine Men from Charlie Chaplin’s speech in The Great Dictator, and an opponent of liberty, love and happiness. To give consideration to your thought process is to give a step to evil. There is no learning, there is no growing, there is no …progress…you are one of us, or one of them. Your only recourse is to accept what we say, and to promote it. These heroes are for us. For people like us. Your heroes are villains. You are not welcome here, don’t read our books, don’t get inspiration from us, be isolated from us. If you are a believing Christian, Republican, Trump voter or even white male with the wrong thoughts…you are an Americop, a machine man, a purifier…and one day it will be acceptable to torture and murder men like you because you are an unfathomable evil.

    The End.

    Spencer is aware of this change in focus…and wants it.

  2. I suspect a large part of the reason why Nick Spencer, Dan Slott, Mark Waid, etc. can act the way they do is because conservative/libertarian/alt right types are either silent or out of the industry. Sure, there are people like Ethan Van Sciver or Chuck Dixon, but those people are the exception, not the rule.

    Look at what happens when the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund supports Simon and Schuster’s decision to publish a book by Milo Yiannopolous.

    https://www.bleedingcool.com/2017/01/07/the-internet-responds-to-the-cbldf-support-for-milo-yiannopoulos-publisher/

    Put more simply: in terms of politics, the comic book industry is basically a giant circle jerk.

    Because of that fact, conservative/libertarian/alt-right types will probably never be hired in the industry. Someone will have to make the comic book version of Vox Day’s Castalia House, although someone who does that will need to have a lot of cash…

    1. “Put more simply: in terms of politics, the comic book industry is basically a giant circle jerk.”

      Agreed.

      “Because of that fact, conservative/libertarian/alt-right types will probably never be hired in the industry. Someone will have to make the comic book version of Vox Day’s Castalia House, although someone who does that will need to have a lot of cash…”

      I’m not up on the publishing world (I should be), but couldn’t Castalia House start to slowly dabble in graphic novels? It would only be able to publish the best of the best, but I have to imagine that if it did that then it would get the ball rolling.

    2. “I’m not up on the publishing world (I should be), but couldn’t Castalia House start to slowly dabble in graphic novels? It would only be able to publish the best of the best, but I have to imagine that if it did that then it would get the ball rolling.”

      Vox has said he’s not interested in making comics. Part of it is that it’s difficult to get artists to do spec work for free. He also probably doesn’t have the time to get the knowledge he needs to judge in detail what works and what doesn’t in comic form.

      Additionally, it’s really expensive to make comics relative to prose. For reference, Todd Allen gives an estimate of $500/page (!) for paying the writer, penciller, colorist, inker, and letterer.

      The average DC comic has 20 pages of art, so it’s $10,000 an issue. The average Marvel comic has 22 pages of art, so they’re about $11,000. That’s just for the creators and not including printing, shipping, promotion, etc.

      I also suspect that if he did publish a full graphic novel, it wouldn’t have the sales velocity to actually make a profit. That’s just a guess though., based on Bookscan data and my own admittedly limited knowledge.

      That’s if he decides to publish in America. In France and the rest of Europe, it would be slightly different.

  3. I tend to take a more generous view of the Bombshells (that is, I thought that it was at least a gesture at fairness). But I agree that the Americops are really troubling. Even taking into account real instances of police brutality, there is nothing like the Americops in the real world.

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