Friday, August 5, 2011

Real World Tragedy and Webcomics

The recent tragedy in Norway, with all the shooting and such, got me to wondering how Scandinavia and the World reacted to it.  The answer:  It didn't.  Instead there was a comic about why everyone spoke English and something related to the Thing.

That's not an unexpected reaction, honestly.  Despite the fact that most artists live in the real world (I say most because some of them I wonder about), reflecting real events in their comics is often something that is simply not done.  Oh there will be the occasional strip dedicated to the event, encouraging charities or putting thoughts and prayers with the victims, but overall, these events almost never effect the actual comic itself.

That's not to say they won't later reference it.  Doing that in an effective way, however, is really, REALLY hard.  Making it part of a story is even more difficult.  So I'm not surprised that it doesn't happen often.

So if I'm going to talk about these kinds of tragedies, then I might as well go for the big one, September 11, 2001.  I hate discussing it because A)  It took place close to my birthday and B)  I hate how it was used as an excuse to fuck up my country (the USA, to be clear).  Neither of those is the topic of the day, of course, but when it comes to comics featuring references to it, there aren't many I can think of.  It probably doesn't help that I wasn't reading many webcomics at the time, and my natural tendency to skip over comics featuring the subject when reading archives really doesn't help.

Still, there are two comics where the inclusion of references to that event are quite clear in my mind.  And the first is Jack.  Yes, Jack.  Jack is the comic that when I think of awkward execution of reasonably interesting ideas, or comics featuring lots of furry porn.  Not that I think of lots of furry porn, it's just full of it.  It also features a September 11th reference more prominently than most other comics I've read, and one that sticks out in my mind.

Because it put the twin towers of the World Trade Center in Hell.  Now before you over react, the point was that it was an epicenter of despair, and used to mentally torture people. It was more used as part of the setting, rather than some political or moral statement.  It worked, in a comic where so many things didn't quite worked, it fit.  It's still Jack, of course, and why I'm not linking to the strip itself.  That and I haven't been searching through the archives for it.

The only other reference I remember is in The Pain.  The Pain is mostly a political cartoon and the comic I have in mind was released a year after the fact.  On one had, it's probably MORE offensive than Jack's take on it.  On the other hand, I find it probably the funniest strip in the entire comic.  It fits the sense of humor of the comic very well and I for one love it.  Like most of the comics in The Pain, the comic comes with an artist's statement which makes clear the point:  "A year seemed like long enough to wait, and the media coverage is likely to be relentless, maudlin, and tacky enough to make a single innocent snicker on The Solemn Day a welcome relief."  I couldn't agree more.

Now, of course there are other comics that put up their dedications, I'm sure, but I don't recall them.  These ones stand out because they AREN'T dedications, but actually part of the comic.  It can work, yes, but it's also hard to do and will most assuredly rub some people the wrong way.  It's the chance people take when covering a tragedy of some kind. I think it's why most artists don't do it.

Anyway, that's enough for this week.  Until next time kiddies. 

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