A Spoonful Of Sugar (NTR #12)

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Now That's Rich #12 - with guest appearance by Charles Joseph

Kids needlessly swear a lot these days. My sister and her friends for instance, fuck this and fuck that, thatís all the muffled sounds I hear coming between the wall between my sisterís room and my own. I donít mind profanity. I donít by any means encourage it; it does have its time and place, but by all means shouldnít be used needlessly and without reason. Sure if youíre pissed off or something, then you have every right to go nuts, but else it comes off as a forced delivery and something that couldnít be believed however hard you tried. I also think I noticed it and decided to write about it because Iím slightly dismayed that kids whoíre 11 or 12, even younger use it like itís nothing, like itís an everyday slang term for our hellos and good byes. ďI gotta get the fuck out of here. Iíll see you around.Ē Profanity itself, especially the extremes have been watered down in western society. Look at current movies, not so late night TV and comics. Sure, there are still ďViewer Discretion Is AdvisedĒ warnings and ratings in all mediums, but they are ignored or passed off by the majority of the population. No one cares anymore. Itís a reality of life. Watch what you want to watch without restriction. Let your kids grow up too fast; let them see the world for what it truly is. Why bother to retain what little childhood they have left? Why bother censoring a world they will enter and come to accept a few years down the road anyways? Whose right is it to show a liarís existence? A liar can only lie so much until the truth seeps through, spilling his guts all over your newly vacuumed carpet. What a shame about the carpet though. It was new and everything!

Now fuck off, will ya?

If youíre anything like the people I know and the people they know and so on, then something like the above fragment means next to nothing. Call it societal imprinting on a developing consciousness. Better yet, call it brainwashing. Has more of a direct connotation. Nice and squeaky clean. SQUEAK SQUEAK! Day in, day out weíre fed a spoonful of the sweet sugar of profanity until there is a break-even point where it doesnít matter anymore. Or so it may seem.

The more colloquial, the more laid back, the more open minded folks who have ended up living amongst us will take this with a grain of salt and take an objective stance. Observing the way people are, what motivates them and why and more importantly perhaps, where peopleís decision making stems from, I find fascinating. Subjective people who also fortunately live among us (well, weíre all subjective, just some people tend to see things more clearly than others) will take a different stance on things. Historically, people with ties to religion for example, are not by any means necessarily ignorant, though limited in their perceptions of the world. ďThe book says it is true so we will follow it and believe it because in all fairness we believe there is nothing else to believe in, nothing else to depend upon.Ē Individuality, the freedom to think and act by oneís own will is solely determined by how an individual grew up and who, through circumstance, influenced a personís way of thinking the most. You may believe that you think and act on your own, and it is true that to an extent you do make your own decisions, but psychologically the rationale behind your decision is influenced by some secondary, subconscious power. Logic oozes from somewhere, the influence of your friends and family, your faith in a higher concept. I find itís the writerís primary responsibility to comment on the way one perceives the world. How a writer chooses to present it should not matter. As long as an idea is conveyed in a way that it can be understood effectively by an audience, thus making the audience affected. By all means, donít dumb your work down for the sake of reaching a greater audience. Follow your own creative vision, live your own life and write on your own terms. Or else, get left behind, trampled and unhappy with nothing to show for your hard work. It wonít be worth looking back years from now with regrets that you succumbed to the will of another individual without reason.

Profanity in literature, in any medium has its place. It is used as emphasis, as shock value and to, on most occasions provide a reinforced sense of characterization and realism. In past stories that Iíve written, I have tended to use profanity in ill sense. Sometimes I still do. Iím trying to break that habit. Itís difficult. Sometimes you get so caught up in your own work that nonsensical things blind you. Striving for objectivity is the most challenging thing I have ever done with my own writing. Before it used to be the process of willing, almost forcing myself to sit down and write that proved most challenging. As of now, I am glad to say that I am way past that point. I gladly sit down and write because I know it makes me a little happier. Finding what makes you truly happy on the other hand is the greatest challenge of all and one which may never fully reveal itself.

Yesterday, a Thursday I went with Graham, my good friend and proofer of this here column, to the comicís store. We love the journey there and back and the comfort of going to the greatest place to be, especially when we should be doing other stuff. The store has atmosphere, decent music and the people who run it are the best of the best. It may be the closest store in our area, but if it were shit, then Iíd go somewhere else to buy my comics. He ended up picking up the latest issue of Agent X which I havenít been able to read yet, and I, to my great surprise, picked up three great stories. The latest New X-Men and this and last monthís issues of Alias.

Grant Morrisonís run on the title has seen its ups and downs but this particular issue, brought the quality in both the writing and art to its former glory. I like the occasional introspective character study and here we get a good one featuring Cyclops and Wolverine. I liked the focus on the use of the two characters and the singular setting throughout the entirety of the issue. Cyclopsís inner struggle regarding his relationship with Emma Frost and Jean Grey and leaving the Xavier institute for his own reasons, and the contrast of Wolverine providing support and friendship. It was a very quiet issue, filled with introspective moments balanced out with the appearance of Sabretooth for comedic relief. One of the most coherent, touching comicís issues Iíve read in quite a while. The premise of the running plot too, sounds interesting but alas, I will keep my mouth shut. Donít want to spoil it.

Iím always looking for that one great story. Theyíre very hard to find since not many people (especially me) have money to scour the industryís various good books. I know Iím missing out on some great stories every month just because thereís no money for them. Recently, I was excited to hear that Authority was going to be relaunched. I picked up the first issue last month and read the second issue this month and was severely disappointed. Unlike the original, it felt like a cheap rip off of a bad JLA story arc but with excessive, unfitting profanity and violence. The original Warren Ellis, Bryan Hitch, Mark Millar, Frank Quitely run on the title was fantastic, combining believability with extreme characters as well as introducing neat concepts of hopping between parallel dimensions. It had unmatched wit and humor. This new relaunch butchered any spirit that the original series had. Itís too bad they decided to bring it back and make such a poor effort in telling a solid story. Itís too bad that the characters have gone to waste. So, anyways, looking for that one great story and not finding it in the new relaunch of Authority, I kept on searching and found Alias. Iíd heard a lot of acclaim for the series and found both last and this monthís issues that started a new storyline. I was quite impressed. Perfect place to start as it has the main characterís origins all spread out. The street level perspective of the Marvel universe in the book is an interesting take. Should be good.

Following is my friend, Charles and his take on why he, being the on again, off again reader he is felt that Free Comic Book Day 2 failed this past May. Take it away:

Alright, Free Comic Book Day was in my ever so humble opinion, a failure. First, a little history might help explain my viewpoint; Iím not an avid reader of graphic novels, but I had, in the past, kept up to date with the various Spider-Man books, as well as a few other Marvel titles (this was back around four to five years ago). Up until recently this year, I hadnít done more than occasionally peruse my past issues, until my good friend Richard introduced me to some interesting trade paperbacks. Fables (I liked it, but it didnít have any lasting impact on me), Top Ten Vol. 1 (interesting, and I wouldnít mind reading the next one, but again, didnít really change my prior opinions on the comic form), but most importantly, Watchmen, which kept me riveted like no other comic I had read. Anyways, since then, Iíve gone through all eight Transmetropolitan trades, in a period of around two weeks; does that classify me as an addict?

Right, back on track: Free Comic Book Day. I noticed that it was coming up on a Saturday, having seen it mentioned on websites I frequent. So I decided to head over with a couple friends in the afternoon, and perhaps find something that would pique my interest. Much to my dismay, all that was left by that time was a large stack of Archie comics. I noticed the regular customers had entire packages of the comics set aside for them; but wasnít the goal of Free Comic Book Day to gain new readers? This seems to me to be one of the main problems with the way in which Free Comic Book Day was executed. It seems to me that a sufficient number of copies should have been around for new customers (then again, this was only from visiting one store). Now, onto the main problem, the comics themselves.

I ended up with a chance to take a look at the free comics, when, a few weeks later, a friend of mine decided to give a bunch of his away; nobody else seemed to care, so I ended up with a bunch of them, including some that I didnít really have an interest in reading (from the covers at least). Hereís a summary of those that I read, ranked from best to worst:

CG Entertainment - Way of the Rat #1: I had absolutely no interest in reading this one, but this is what FCBD should have been; a full length issue, designed to hook new readers. The actual comic didnít impress me that much, but Iím not really into the martial arts genre. I liked how there were interviews and other little articles at the end; this one had a lot of substance, and seems like the perfect way to gain new readers.

Image Comics - Leave it to Chance: Again, no real interest in this one, but at least it was reasonable in length, and felt slightly more complete than some of the others. Definitely not my thing though, had a very Harry Potter feel to it.

DC Comics - Batman Adventures #1: I used to read Batman (this had to be at least 6 years ago, probably more), and I enjoyed the cartoon series and the Burton flicks, so this was one of the books I intentionally took. First of all, apart from the childish tone, nothing really happened in this Ďissueí; very little took place, it was fairly short, and left off with a sharp ending, but not the kind which would compel me to read on. Even the sub-par, short, miniature Batman comic which was included in a video game magazine I read (to promote the new lump-of-coal-of-a-game Dark Tomorrow) did a better job of interesting me in the Batman comics.

Marvel Comics - Ultimate X-Men #1: This was the comic I was most interested in reading, but alas, I was let down. First of all, it was quite short. Second of all, it was just a poorly done rehash of a lot of what I, and probably every casual X-Men fan, had seen on the first few episodes of the cartoon series. Thirdly, you donít have a big picture of Wolverine on the cover, when heís only in one panel of the comic. Tsk tsk.

Avatar Press - Frank Miller's Robocop / Stargate SG1: This was by far, the worst of the bunch. Iím not a fan of Robocop, but after reading the interesting foreword, which hyped up the comic series as something special, I was let down to see that all that was in this ícomicí were cover art, a few disjointed pages from the first two issues, and what basically were advertisements for Stargate and Species comics. More advertisements than comic, a shame really.

Essentially, I see FCBD as a sheer failure; poor content, poor execution. Just lovely. Anyways, thatís merely my two cents.

Thank you Charles. And that does it for this instalment. Summerís just around the corner and schoolís out so the column will switch to its own weekly slot.

See you in a week.


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