Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Fiona Staples
Shocking sights on TV screens, funny colours of blood and the best way to fight bigots. The London Graphic Novel Network takes on the second volume of Saga and asks: How effective are boycotts? Where do the wings come from? And is it worth trying to get Darth Vader to drink fair trade coffee?
So. Reading Saga Vol 2 I was reminded of the controversy that was kicked up by the opening image of SAGA #12 (that’s the one with the person screaming “Medic!”).
At the time things got a little heated because it seemed like Apple “banned” the issue in question because of the above offending image leading Brian K. Vaughan to write this little thing here: “As has hopefully been clear from the first page of our first issue, SAGA is a series for the proverbial “mature reader.” Unfortunately, because of two postage stamp-sized images of gay sex, Apple is banning tomorrow’s SAGA #12 from being sold through any iOS apps. This is a drag, especially because our book has featured what I would consider much more graphic imagery in the past, but there you go. Fiona and I could always edit the images in question, but everything we put into the book is there to advance our story, not (just) to shock or titillate, so we’re not changing shit.”
Which – like: oooooh. Interesting! Very interesting! Because – you know: comics and their ability to offend and things being banned and gay sex and oh my god – why is it ok to depict violence but not people being physically loving with each other and isn’t our society all messed up and etc etc.
Only – oops. It turns out that Apple didn’t ban SAGA #12 after all but rather (according to this thing here): “The problem was that this was less censorship by Apple, and more self-censorship by one of SAGA’s distributors on the App Store. ComiXology – one of the most popular digital comics aggregator operating on iOS and other platforms – confirmed its role in a blog post from its chief executive David Steinberger. “As a partner of Apple, we have an obligation to respect its policies for apps and the books offered in apps. Based on our understanding of those policies, we believed that Saga #12 could not be made available in our app, and so we did not release it today,” he wrote.
But that’s just adding unnecessary wrinkles, making things more complex when – come on! – the “Apple bans comic” story is so much better (altho (sorry everyone) I think I might agree with Stan Lee when it comes to reading comics on a computer: but maybe I’m just too stuck in my ways: I mean – according to a guest artist we had at the Barbican Comic Forum earlier this year: all comics artists draw straight into computers now anyway – so you know: we might as well just tear civilization down now and just stick it all in a tablet – right? WILL THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY YOU ANIMALS?)
Obviously the fact that the story of SAGA #12 wasn’t actually the real story (Apple didn’t ban it after all) makes me think of stories and how they work and what they mean to people and how – hey – come on: they don’t even need to have happened to have an impact. Richard Brody (who I think is my polar opposite in that I basically seem to disagree with everything he has ever written ever) wrote this thing called “Getting Jazz Right in the Movies” which is about how one of the things wrong with Whiplash (it’s a movie – you should watch it: it’s good) is that the story that motivates the characters isn’t even true (oh my goodness!) and instead is all like “Here’s the real story” and well – I mean – gosh: obviously the world would be a much more easily understandable place if humans were only motivated by things that are true: but well (looks outside nearest window) – I don’t think we’re quite there yet – you know?
Also yeah – spaceships made of trees, lying cat, cliffhangers and etc. I dunno: re-reading this again for like the what? Third time? I wasn’t as impressed as I was before? But maybe that’s just me? Or maybe Saga works best the first time round when it’s all shocks and surprises and cool bits?
What do you guys think?
I don’t have the book in front of me, so these are just random musings, but this book was great fun, as much on the first read as on the sixth (whatever I am up to now).
The picture of Alana resting on the gun turret and reading is one of my very favourites (qualified as there is such strong competition for that picture). The line ‘Cool, so glad I got to do all this in a towel’: also very funny.
And look! The robo-prince has literal blue blood, so whenever people talk about him being a blueblood/royal, they mean it literally as well as figuratively! They don’t make a big point about it, they can get away with what might have been a tired joke.
If I’m staring at the picture above, it is a bit odd that wings are like peacock feathers, but peacocks don’t actually fly with those, they are just an expensive, pretty, handicap to show off to the peahens. Maybe these wing just look like peacock ones. And that leads on to how weird the wings are in general, some from bats, some from birds, some from flies… maybe they found an abandoned space bio lab of ours with a DNA library and thought they looked cool. Maybe they had a lot of teleporters in use before deciding they were just too much bother. We first see Alana when she is mentioning fairytales, and she does look like something out of Midsummer Nights Dream and those fairies often do also have antenna. Maybe if the teleporter had scrambled antenna in, they’d have had something in common with the ‘horns’ and the whole war could have been avoided!
This was posted up in the London Graphic Novel Network facebook group and – seeing how I already mentioned the whole thing above – that it might have some relevance: http://loser-city.com/features/the-social-media-trials-of-hercules-queer-erasure-and-bullying-culture-at-marvel
Basically: Marvel made one of their bisexual characters (Hercules) into a straight character and this made people upset.
The thing I can’t quite fathom tho is: well – if Marvel want to be bigots / idiots / whatever: then why not just ignore them. I mean: trying to get a big giant multi-national corporation to be a little bit more right on is like trying to get Darth Vader to drink fair trade coffee – you know?
I think if you’re interested in social justice putting pressure on them to conform is important because they have the largest influence socially – of course it is only their bottom line that they’re interested in, but making noise and making allies who can similarly put pressure on is the only way you can achieve those SJ objectives.
An example would be changing attitudes to race – at one time in the UK shows like “Love thy neighbour” were popular because they expressed views that are now no longer socially acceptable – but this taboo-isastion of previously acceptable views would not have been brought about were it not for activists working to change that mainstream agenda.
Boycotts are effective, but only if the purchasing power of the marginalised group is large enough to have an effect on their bottom line.
People banding together in order to try to make the world a better place and big up SJ objectives = always a good thing (obviously obviously).
(On the facebook thread I mentioned before someone used the term “SJW” and I had to look it up – but I guess this is the future now where everything can be turned into LTTRS – LOL)
I guess the bit that I struggle with is the actual effects of it – I mean: it’s a giant tangle in my head making strange loops and paradoxes – because although I feel like it would be better if we lived in a world where SJ ruled the day and the long running supremacy of straight white men came to an end – I mean: why pressure Marvel (or any big company really – hello DC and Time Warner and Disney and etc) to be the ones who make that come about? I mean – if Marvel are being rubbish then erm: maybe stop reading Marvel? And not in a – oh yeah: that’ll show them and maybe they’ll change kinda way – but more as in: put good stories in your head – and if something is rubbish. Then well: drop and ignore it and maybe it’ll go away?