Friday, February 26, 2010

Nick Simmons and Incarnate...

WTF was I thinking?

I've never been a big KISS fan. I am however a big fan of the A&E reality show, Family Jewels featuring KISS front man Gene Simmons and his family. My wife got me to watch a couple of episodes and it wasn't long before we were both regular viewers thanks in no small part to Sophie and Nick, the two children of Gene Simmons and his romantic partner Shannon Tweed.

Unlike so many reality shows revolving around celebrities and their families Family Jewels hasn't been a dysfunctional tale of alcohol and drug induced delirium. Gene Simmons and his family have been a shining example for those of us in the "Nation of Rock" to rub in the faces of christian conservatives and gleefully proclaim, "We're not all pot heads and wastrels! See, we have values too." Sophie and Nick Simmons have served as proof that we of the Nation of Rock are just as capable of raising good children as any of our bible thumping counter parts.

When I heard that Nick Simmons was producing a comic book under the Radical Publishing banner I was more than a little interested in seeing what he had to offer so I added Incarnate to my pull file and waited to see what he had to offer the comic book world. I liked the series from the very first book even though I'm no lover of Manga and by the end of the third book I was a fan of Incarnate and looking forward to more of Nick's work. I'd been impressed with both his pencil work and writing abilities.

Then came the story this afternoon of his plagiarism. I've seen the panel comparisons and the overlays and yes, the evidence is pretty damning. I don't know what Nick was thinking or why he did what he did, but if he's an individual of even half the character he appears to be he's regretting the mistake and wishing he'd never made the errors in judgment he's being publicly vilified for at this moment. It sucks to be Nick Simmons right now and I'm sure no one is torturing him more than himself. Well maybe his sister, Sophie or his famous dad, Gene...

Jesus, it must really suck to be Nick Simmons right now.

I think this mistake is the exception to his character and not the rule of it. He's young and who among us did not pull some fairly boneheaded stunts of our own when we ourselves were young? Unlike a lot of people I don't think Nick Simmons is either a douche or a scum bag. He's a good kid who made a dumb mistake, but he certainly isn't evil incarnate. I think people need to call him out for his actions, but let's not forget that at the end of the day he's still just a kid who did something stupid and there's no need to crucify him for it.

I'm still a fan of this kid and I hope he mans up to his actions and apologizes for his lapse in judgment and grows on to have a good career in the comic book industry or whatever endeavor he undertakes with the rest of his life.

Look, I'm a lot older than Nick Simmons and I'm still making mistakes. As much as I hate to admit it, I still haven't figured everything out and I still manage to stumble over the simplest of things on a daily basis. I guess I can take some measure of solace knowing I'm just as human as someone as famous as Nick Simmons.

Nick, hold your head up and don't let this keep you down. Be humble, be truthful and the furor will die away. Just learn from this mistake and don't let it happen again. Okay?

Friday, February 19, 2010

After all, what's wrong with a little kiddie porn?

Laura Hudson
(Fighting for our right to own and enjoy child pornography.)

I recently found myself engaged in a difference of opinion involving Ms. Laura Hudson (Comics Alliance) and her support of Lolicon Manga. Ms. Hudson is seemingly of the opinion that free speech and personal liberty are in danger of forever disappearing if a genre of Manga involving illustrated tales of sexual activities between adults and children are deemed illegal and possessing such materials made punishable by imprisonment. Ms. Hudson also appears to believe that those of us who disagree with her "educated" opinion would use such a ban on lolicon Manga as a starting point to strip away all of the civil liberties we in America enjoy today.

Thankfully such extremist beliefs did not win the day when our country was creating laws to abolish slavery, child labor or rape. Each of these laws striped away a personal liberty from any number of individuals and yet far from being diminished, the character of our country was actually strengthened and the quality of our democratic union greatly improved by these restrictions.

Ms. Hudson says, "Thoughts are not actions, drawings are not people, and believing that someone might commit a crime is not the same thing as someone doing it." (Italics mine.)

I would agree with her up to a point, but even the most rudimentary of psychological schools of thought will agree that thought and action are connected. Ask any black person or Jewish Holocaust survivor if the impact of a racially motivated action is lessened because it is "only an illustration". Ask any therapist in America what they'll do if an individual begins handing in drawings entitled, I want to kill my wife and children. The patient may not actually be committing the crime, but the attending therapist will treat the drawings as a sign of potentially harmful action and they'll call the police. There are many institutions that understand what Ms. Hudson does not, "some ideas are very dangerous" and that whatever form of media they manifest themselves in they are not a sign of healthy attitudes.

Ms. Hudson continues, "The most important difference between child pornography and drawings, of course, is that making child porn involves the abuse of real children, while drawings are not people and so creating them involves no abuse. Real people also have actual ages, whereas drawings do not, and thus the difference between an adult and a child." (Italics mine.)

Now, I'm not sure what actual people having actual ages and drawings not, have to do with the difference between an adult and a child, but birth certificates have no affect upon the impact either filmed or illustrated pornography is intended to have upon the viewer. Pornography is pornography. Creating Manga designed to cater to a taste for sexual intercourse with children is obscene, exploitative and degrading. It is abusive in nature and perverse in content. There is nothing nurturing, educational or scientific about it. Its sole purpose is titillation and to suggest other wise is lunacy.

Ms. Hudson says, "This is obviously adult X-rated content, and no one is suggesting that it be made available to children."

Duh, thanks for understating the obvious. Of course no one is suggesting selling this type of material to children. The producers of kiddie porn know who their target demographic is and they write the words and provide the accompanying illustrations to reach their intended reader/viewer. I doubt there are very many children looking to spend their weekly allowance monies on kiddie porn instead of Pokemon cards. Any idiot knows this, well almost any idiot.

Ms. Hudson states, "the fundamental principle of free speech is that people have the right to express and read what they choose whether other people like it or not."

Maybe to the adolescent mind this might appear to be a valid interpretation of the "First Amendment" but clearly she's neglected to research either the amendment or the history about its creation. Intelligent scholars and informed adults understand that the amendment is just as concerned with what is considered acceptable speech and what is not considered acceptable speech.

Last but not least, Ms. Hudson says, "And I'm secondarily concerned because it can be a very subjective thing to decide whether an imaginary character is a minor or adult. How do you tell the difference between a character who is 17 or 18, particularly in a genre with the "younger" artistic conventions of manga? No one should go to prison over such a subjective judgment."

In Japanese culture where Manga is an accepted artistic and literary device, Lolicon Manga is looked upon with disdain because the average Japanese citizen, unlike Ms. Hudson, has no difficulty in understanding the illustrations contained in Lolicon Manga. They know kiddie porn when they see it. For Ms. Hudson to assert that We're just to ignorant to reach the same decision with our own eyes is ludicrous. And I'm not sure what intellectual limitations Ms. Hudson may suffer from, but even if I wasn't one hundred percent sure of exactly what the illustrations were portraying, I could probably read the written content and confirm my suspicions one way or another. Duh...

Right now the comic book landscape is dominated by individuals in their early to late twenties. I am continually perplexed by their opinion of what constitutes adult behavior and interests. Apparently Ms. Hudson seems to believe that the average American citizen loves nothing more than sitting down after a hard day at work and enjoying a warm slice of apple pie and a rousing book of kiddie porn. She seems to believe that this activity is such a normal part of American life that she has decided to champion the cause and fight for our right to possess and enjoy as much child pornography as our hearts may desire. I'm sure the vast majority of us feel ever so grateful for her actions on our behalf.

Well, maybe just a very small percentage of select individuals...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

We are family...

Seriously, people are gonna start talking...

And when they do, I hope they realize just what a great bunch of people are running the Dark Horse organization. Is anyone starting to get it yet? They really do care about us; the readers of comic books. And it isn't just any one particular demographic either. From the youngest to the oldest amongst us. Male and female alike. Dark Horse truly understands that our shared love for comic books is a common bond that brings us together as a family.

Isn't that what we are when you think about it? Who else gets us but each other? Who else can you sit around and talk too for hours about all things Star Wars or Buffy? Issues? We've got hundreds of them bagged, boarded and tucked away in long white boxes. It's a passion with us and it's something that gets beyond the individual differences between us and sits us down together to share a common experience, the reading of comic books.

Let me tell you something about my brothers and sisters at Dark Horse. They don't just love their comics, they love everybody's comics. In almost every conversation I've ever had with anyone at Dark Horse they're as quick to mention their competitors books as they are their own. I'm always amazed on Wednesdays when I'm talking about what Dark Horse books I'm planning to pick up that day just how many suggestions they offer about books that aren't even their own. That's a genuine love for comics. I can't imagine Dark Horse ever asking me to rip the cover off of a competitors book because that's just not something family does to family.

What Dark Horse is doing right now isn't just a contest, it's the creation of a family album. It's a tribute to the most important member of the comic book family, we the readers. I'm proud to be a member of the family and I'd like to meet as many others of you as possible in the upcoming months. Please send in your photos and introduce yourself. As for me, my name is Dirk Bauman, I love Dark Horse and I love comic books.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Even grizzled old bikers know...

Dark Horse, when you care enough to read the very best.

"Top Ten Reasons Why Dark Horse is my favorite Valentine."

10. They still have room in their books for fan letters.

9. They have lots of great contests with cool prizes.

8. They love talking comics with their readers.

7. They have the best website.

6. They have rockin' free comics at Dark Horse Presents.

5. They have amazing talents like Mike Mignola, Scott Allie, The Hernandez Brothers, Guy Davis and many others working to produce the very best comic books in the world on a monthly basis.

4. They're really easy to follow on both Facebook and Twitter.

3. They're a fine bunch of bowlers. (Who knew!?)

2. They're home to the legendary, Diana Schutz and she knows excellence when she sees it.

1. Because I say so! And I know what I'm talking about...

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Smart, contemporary and darn funny!

Okay, I'm a big enough man to admit I'm wrong. It doesn't happen often, but when it does I'm perfectly willing to man up and admit it. So here goes. I was wrong, not all web comics suck. Thanks to a new buddy of mine who's been making some pretty good recommendations about things I might be interested in checking out, I have at long last been directed to a truly well written and illustrated web comic, applegeeks.

Written by Ananth Panagariya and illustrated by Mohammad F. Haque, applegeeks is a sophisticated and polished running commentary on everything Hip in American culture today. From the latest in technological toys to what's hot on television or in the movie theaters applegeeks has something to say about a variety of hot topics. And they're laugh out loud funny!

At the heart of applegeeks is a story about a group of young kids trying to find their place in the world while mastering the technology driving the culture around them. Armed with an impressive array of Apple hardware, laptops and cellphones there's no problem too big for these stalwart adventurers to handle. This is social networking at it's best and an adventure not to be missed. Teen angst has never been more fun.

Thanks go out to my bud, "The Sock Monkey of Love" for pointing my browser in the direction of this amazing web comic. Dude, you always seem to know where to find the good stuff...

If you're like me and just can't get enough of the goodness that is applegeeks online you can always check out these amazing TPB collections of applegeeks here and here. Trust me, it's the most fun you can have with your I-Pad turned off.