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Be Different!

New Worlds Comics - Be Different!

“Superhero Stories Are All Wrong” – Mark’s Story

Remember why you liked comics in the first place?

Our Comics Empower Project continues!

This time, Mark tells his story:

Comic books were always a part of my life.

As a young boy I read the Beano, then graduated to reading the more ‘adult’ 2000AD.

I read them for the same reason that any young boy reads comics, as a means of exploring the wider world outside of his little town, little hopes, little dreams.

They told me that the world was bigger, that there were possibilities for me outside of my familiar surroundings.

As I grew into my teens I became obsessed (like most UK boys growing up in the 1980’s) with all things American.

American culture was cool, exotic, their heroes had big muscles and their girls were very, very pretty.

Along with American football and the A-team there was Marvel comic books. Spider-Man was my favourite, but then again, of course he would be. He was a teen who looked a little bit like me, but he had spider powers, and a hot girlfriend for some inexplicable reason. If he had a chance, then surely I did as well, right?

After my dalliance with Spider-Man came to its natural conclusion I moved into young adulthood with Alan Moore’s Constantine and Neil Gaimen’s Sandman.

I was a young, lost adult and these books offered me something that was lacking in my own life. They offered magic, and a sense that there was beauty in the mundane, and let me tell you, I was more than familiar with mundane during this time of my life.

As I continued into adulthood, moving from unfulfilling job, to pointless college course, back to another depressing job my comics (and other ‘proper’ books) became even more essential to me. The great big world had shrugged its shoulders and apathetically passed me by, so back to the comics, where there was still life, still possibilities.

I began to read again as a disappointed, depressed and lost adult and I could pretend that I was still a child again.

I wasted years reading the same kind of Marvel and DC comic books that dominate the market today. I got up to date with the Avengers, with Iron Man and was excited when they made movies about the books that had a bit of money behind them and actually looked pretty good.

But then I woke up to life, and my relationship with comic books would never be the same again.

My university education hadn’t helped me at all. My Marxist text books, my keen interest in feminist studies, it all lead me to nowhere, just feelings of guilt for things that I hadn’t even thought about, let alone done.

I was confused. I was a good person, and yet here was my life, empty, with nothing to show for it but years of sitting on the sidelines, of reading comics, of reading books, of passing college courses, of being nice, of being kind and considerate. So why the empty feeling?

The comics weren’t giving anything to me anymore, nor were the books, so I put them all down and decided to look at something new. To my immense surprise I found it, and continue to find it each and every day. So what did I find? Don’t worry, it wasn’t religion, it was truth or the search for truth at least.

I found people who had broken out of the restrictive left wing educational paradigm, people who rejected Marxism, Feminism, Liberalism and wanted to carve their own path, rather than follow an old ‘progressive’ route that led to Russia, China and every other totalitarian ‘left’ leaning state. I discovered ‘alternative’ names like David Icke, Michael Tsarion, Mark Passio, Alex Jones, James Corbett, Jordan Maxwell and countless others.

I put away my preconceptions, listened, read and learned and then wondered (very loudly) why I hadn’t heard about any of this information during all of my years at school, college and university and all of the countless hours I had spent reading two or three newspapers every day. It was an eye-opener, my world-view 180-degree changed, and I started to see things as they really are. Then I went back to my comics and I read them with completely different eyes.

Why were they not talking about important issues? Why were they so obsessed with race, gender and sexuality when these issues only serve to separate us from each other? Why were they not talking about the US invading Iraq based on an obvious lie? Why were they not talking about Saudi Arabia and their role in 9/11? Why were the superheroes acting like US soldiers? Why were all the heroes acting like cops? Why was anarchy (which just means freedom from state control) always portrayed as a great evil? Why were villains still robbing banks? Surely it was the banks robbing the people, not the other way round? What was happening here?

This wasn’t right, and yet whenever I read comic book reviews on the Internet they wouldn’t even bring up all of the contradictions that I was reading in my comic books. So, I did what had to be done. If nobody else were prepared to speak uncomfortable truths about mainstream comic books then I would have to do it for myself.

So I set up my blog, and started to review comics from the perspective of freedom, of saying whatever I wanted to say. I began to use my comic book reviews as a platform to discuss issues and ideas that interested me even more than the comics themselves. The point of the review became not the comic book itself, but the ideas that were being expressed within that comic book. My analysis of artwork, panel layout and narrative structure became secondary to an ideological analysis of the text. Many of my reviews ceased to be reviews at all, instead they were opportunities for me to discuss what I was learning as I broadened my horizons and learnt more and more about how the world actually works. I began to question everything, and that is what I continue to do today.

My blog also contains my own original fiction writing and as I continue to expand my intellectual horizons I can envision it beginning to take on a lot more subjects other than comic book reviews. The blog has given me a platform to rail against what is lacking in contemporary comic books, but also to celebrate the rare book that does attempt to deal with some of the issues of our post 9/11 world. I am now rapidly reaching the stage where I need to concentrate on my own original fiction work. I have read and reviewed a lot of books, so perhaps it’s time I stopped criticising and started to put out some substantial product of my own.


Find out more about Mark on Facebook, Twitter, or his blog.

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Category: Comics Empower