WINTER TOUR ’08 BEGINS HERE, PRELUDE:
Harvey Etter, Special Correspondent, Jersey Prophet & old textfiles guy. Formerly “The Master.” On the razor’s edge of 30.
Corner of Hollywood Boulevard & Gower, having just tread upon many a Celluloid Hero.
4:15pm, Saturday, December 1st, 2007.
The best writing on the web about Steve Ditko’s Mr. A are here, here, and here. If you have no idea who the hell Steve Ditko is, or what Mr. A is, these posts are the place to start. They’re worth it.
The above is a sixteen-panel page. It’s lively, incredibly paranoid and entirely of itself. Despite their failures at story-telling and entertainment, there’s never a doubt that every page and panel of Mr. A brings us into a unique world. I consider this an achievement of some kind. But I’m not sure of what.
Much has been written about Alan Moore basing the character of Rorschach in Watchmen on both Mr. A and The Question, a pre-Mr. A creation of Ditko. In its own way, Watchmen has a political agenda as extreme as Mr. A– the difference is that Moore’s politics are better disguised and on the side of pinko liberal righteousness, while Ditko is unafraid of seeming nuts. The narrative functions of Rorschach and Mr. A couldn’t be further from one another– Mr. A is a walking cipher, a morality tale that will mortally wound if he encounters a violation of his complex, yet painfully convoluted, code of justice.
To Ditko’s immense credit, there is never, ever a sense of wish-fulfillment in Mr. A.’s brutality. Rorschach, on the other hand, is the Dark Antihero at its most fully realized– the fascist vigilante appealing to the reader on a gutter level, inviting us to take a pleasure in the directness of his methods. I find that Rorschach destabilizes Watchmen– either you have a pinkboy liberal fantasy, or you write a gritty revenge comic. You can’t do both without compromising the moral purpose of your book. To any who would argue, I say: let us not forget the identity of the One True Soul in Watchmen, nor his noble reward.
Ditko’s concerns are entirely different– not crime, not man’s inhumanity to man, but the violation of a Randian Moral Code. Even if his beliefs strike me as an insane, I’m willing to take Mr. A at face value, and acknowledge that Ditko’s motivation, and its philosophical underpinnings, differentiate his work from the revenge fantasies of the decades that followed.
I’ve long believed that the 1980s rise of the Dark Antihero had more to do with the drug & crime epidemic of US Society than any real trends within the comics industry other than a disproportionate number of creators living in NYC, the epicenter. Is it any surprise that Giuliani Time killed the beast? Despite Ditko’s residence in Nuevo Gomorrah, his work clearly rests on a different foundation than the impotent rage of writers, artists and readers beset by a crime epidemic that they can not affect.
Drudge in Hollywood
On Steve Ditko
From Sunset Blvd
Welcome to Kurdistan