Monday, September 22, 2008

Quote of the day

"Some readers claim they read comics merely for escapism, so they don't have to think about reality. The ultimate escapist fantasy would be cosmic-level tales featuring such heroes as the Siliver Surfer or the New Gods. If the escapist philosophy of readership held true, they would be among the most successful characters out there. Instead their solo books inevitibly crash and burn due to low sales, irrespective of the quality of the individual work."

---Peter David: Writing for Comics with Peter David


Joe Maurone said...

Hmmm...Landon, are you baiting me here? (For the uninitiated, I have a little website called ;)

Actually, I agree more than I disagree. While I think the Silver Surfer is a character with a lot of humanity, he does prove the exception to Peter David's statement, and does so by addressing the very theme of alienation.

And while my Spaceplayer music project uses spacy imagery, I take after both Ayn Rand AND Pink Floyd in stressing the metaphor. Rand wrote that the best science-fiction or fantasy works as metaphor for real-life events, and Pink Floyd moved away from the "space-rock" tag to more "wordly" humanitarian themes. DARK SIDE OF THE MOON is uses the moon as metaphor for lunacy, a dark eclipse of all the things the sun has to offer, and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" addresses the loss of the "ultimate" space cadet, Syd Barrett, who, sadly, did get lost in the escapism. My own project works with that rock instinct to get lost in space; there are plenty of songs by artists like Black Sabbath, Floyd, Smashing Pumpkins and David Bowie and Elton John about leaving Earth, some of them as beginnings, some of them as ends...I take up that theme of the lost space cadet to say "ok, what happens next?"

And that is where I differ from David. I've worked out the "lost" aspect; having learned the lessons that Syd never did...I've even found my way back to Earth from time to time...;) The problem is, there's a reason why we leave to begin with! Sometimes is because of a bad situation, sometimes it's the simple wanderlust of youth, but also the more mature need to explore and grow. Rand's characters in ATLAS SHRUGGED had their "Galt's Gulch," Columbus had his Nina, Pina, and Santa Maria...and Neil Armstrong had his one giant leap for mankind. And let us not forget the mission of the Enterprise to "boldy go where no man has gone before..."

Landon Erp said...

Lots of good points Joe. Now I feel guilty for cutting off the following paragraph where he pointed out what was necessary to draw people in (something that actually ties into their lives).

But I tend to agree that pure escapism has very little draw. Sci-Fi and fantasy holds my interest least when it obsesses over its internal rules and forgets anything human or emotional.


Joe Maurone said...

To each his own, I suppose...I personally like the imagery, the "larger than life" aspect. (Hell, it doesn't get much larger than the cosmic!). Interesting thing about some of those characters, such as ETERNITY or EGO, the Living Planet, is that they become anthropomorphological representations, which need a human context.

I don't know that I worry too much about "internal rules...". If I watch THE TRANSFORMERS or STAR WARS or such, it's pure candy for me to see big robots and lightsaber duals. Like Rand wrote: it's not about the LITERAL translation, it's the "sense of life" conveyed. And I agree with Rand when she writes: "It is only the superficiality of the Naturalists that classifies Romanticism as an 'escape'; this is true only in the very superficial sense of contemplating a glamourous vision as a relief from the gray burden of 'real-life' problems. But in the deeper, metaphysical sense, it is NATURALISM that represents an escape-an escape from choice, from values, from moral responsiblity."

It doesn't matter if the setting is the Victorian Age or the Space Age, the people African or Alien, five fingers or ten, it matters what the story's about...the sense of life projected: can we or can't we? Should we or shouldn't we? Will we or won't we?

Joe Maurone said...

I was thinking about this today, in the dentist's chair, as he was sticking needles in my mouth and drilling holes in my teeth and doing other awful things...anyway, I was thinking about this today, and realized that what wasn't mentioned in this quote re cosmic heroes was the religious metaphors of Galactus and the Silver Surfer, Adam Warlock, etc.. I find this omission interesting given the fact that these characters seem to work best as religious metaphors, but we (here) didn't connect the idea of religious characters and stories as "escapism."