So a few people emailed me asking me to say something about Warner Todd Huston’s screed about the issue of Captain America where the tea partiers are shown in a less than sympathetic light. Individuals unfamiliar with Warner Todd Huston may need to know that this instance probably represents the apex of his influence as a professional complainant, as Warner Todd has previously complained about all sorts of other things and nobody has ever taken him seriously. However, Marvel Comics is now owned by Disney, which means that Joe Quesada – never exactly one to court the dislike of anybody other than the dedicated fanboys who will buy comics regardless of how many times he makes Spider-Man sell his soul to save an old lady – apologized immediately, because maybe Disney would fire him or something.
(I jest, of course. Let’s be honest: it makes sense for Marvel to apologize because it’s not worth the hassle of Sean Hannity crusading against them. It likewise makes sense for Ed Brubaker to apologize, because regardless of his personal beliefs he’s got a family to feed and there are more important things to go to bat over than a page out of a licensed character comic book that got some cretins’ undies up in a twist.)
This is a multipart saga, so let us begin.
1.) Warner Todd Huston Is Angry About Captain America #602
Warner Todd was very angry about this issue, and the reason he is angry is this:
In it the current Captain (there have been a few of them, apparently) is on the trail of a faux Captain America that is mentally deranged and getting chummy with some white supremacist, anti-government, survivalists types going by the name of “the Watchdogs.”
That “white supremacist” thing is a sticking point for Warner Todd, and it’s part of the reason he’s an idiot. Here are all the quotes from Captain America #602 wherein the Watchdogs are referred to as white supremacists:
(sound of tumbleweed drifting through empty town)
…oh wait, there aren’t any. Now, granted, the Watchdogs were introduced in 1987, a year after Warner “I Know All About Comics, Dammit” Todd says he quit reading them, so maybe he’s not aware that the Watchdogs, while always overtly right-wing and “traditional values”-y, were never actually portrayed as racists. (Mark Gruenwald, as I recall, wasn’t comfortable portraying them as such.) Similarly, in this issue, there is not one mention of the Watchdogs’ attitudes towards race.
Werner Todd is inferring motivation, plain and simple. He sees a mythical organization of baddies modeled after right-wing extremist militias and assumes they must be racist. There is literally not one thing in the entire comic where you can assume anything about the Watchdogs’ or protestors’ racial beliefs based on their actions. You have to want to see it.1
But there is more:
The Captain tells him, “no it’s perfect… this all fits right into my plan.” After this we find that the Captain’s plan is to send the black man into a redneck bar to pretend to be a black man working for the IRS and to get everyone all mad… because… well, you know that every white person is a racist that hates black civil servants, right?
It feels a bit oversimplistic to point out that Bucky’s plan is actually to draw the attention of traveling Watchdog recruiters by pretending to beat up a civil servant and be all “I hate the gubmint” while they’re watching – because the Watchdogs hate the federal government, you see – but amazingly, Warner Todd was unable to figure out this actually pretty simple bit of plot. Now, granted, Ed Brubaker didn’t write in some expository thought balloons saying things like “Must make this look good… so the Watchdogs notice me and ask me to join them!” but then again I guess he made the mistake of writing above a sixth-grade reading level.
So, there you have it, America. Tea Party protesters just “hate the government,” they are racists, they are all white folks, they are angry, and they associate with secretive white supremacist groups that want to over throw the U.S. government.
My word, why would anybody ever associate tea partiers with racism? Why would anybody dare suggest that extremists might try to infiltrate the tea party movement for the purposes of recruitment? (I’m not even gonna bother collecting hyperlinks about tea partiers being “angry” or mostly white, because seriously now, come on.)
2.) Carla Hoffman Decides To Be Reasonable With A Jackass
In response to Marvel’s nigh-immediate capitulation to Warner Todd’s offense that a portrayal of a tea party rally would even dare hint at tea partiers being slightly racist rather than upstanding moral whatevers, Carla Hoffman wrote a response, to which Warner Todd immediately wrote both a patronizing comment wherein he was offended that Carla hadn’t heard of him and he did too know about these here comical books, and then, not satisfied with that, an additional blog entry, because he decided that Carla was a stupidhead.
This is mostly Carla’s fault for treating Warner Todd as someone interested in discourse. She made this mistake because Carla, at root, is a nice person who wants to get along with everybody. I, however, am not a nice person and I do not give a tinker’s cuss if I get along with Warner Todd or not. The man is a pustule on public discourse and should be treated as such.2
3.) Warner Todd Escalates
Anyway. After Warner Todd complains about how liberals are stupid and self-righteous and don’t understand complex concepts – and how come they don’t just talk politely to old Warner Todd anyhow? – for a few paragraphs, he gets into the meat of his diatribe.
I should start this discussion by saying that there isn’t anything wrong with enjoying comic books, even as an adult. They can be fun, for sure. But to imagine that comic books offer anything other than lowgrade entertainment is laughable. Comics are not high art (in fact, most of them are horrible even as graphic art) and they most certainly do not equal anything of the sort of deep, consequential literature. Comics are a childish, formulaic, lowest common denominator form of entertainment. It doesn’t make them evil or useless or bad necessarily. It just makes them low-end, fun. They are nothing to be taken seriously. If you are someone that lives for your next comic, or you want to claim that comic books are “art” worthy of serious consideration… you need to get out of your parent’s basement a little more often.
First off, the incidence of a “parents’ basement” joke (with improper use of an apostrophe, way to go you professional writer you!) should be the first and most obvious sign that Warner Todd is a hack of the first degree and that this moment of accidental relevance is indeed the pinnacle of his professional life, and that should make you feel sad if you are a good person. I am not an especially good person, so it makes me feel dark and demonic glee.
Secondly, the fact that Warner Todd declaims comics as “horrible even as graphic art” just goes to show you that he’s an ignoramus who doesn’t know anything about the form generally. But maybe you want specific proof that he’s an idiot in this regard? Here you go:
Let’s start with the visual. Graphically, it isn’t very well drafted. It does have the benefit of being created in the semi-realist style that began to be popular in the 1980s, though, which instantly makes it better than today’s comics drawn in that horrible Japanese Anime/Manga style that has so pervaded the comic book industry of late.
Overcapitalized and barely coherent attack on manga aside, this is excerpted from Warner Todd’s very very long and very very stupid review of Watchmen. Yes, folks. You got that right. Warner Todd thinks that Dave Gibbons’ art on Watchmen “isn’t very well drafted.”
This is the point where you have to just kind of stare. It’s like somebody professing to know a lot about literature and saying something like “Dostoyevsky, he wasn’t really much of a writer” or how they’re very knowledgeable about classical music and saying “Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony? Nothing really special about it.” It’s not that they’re advancing a contrarian opinion, because there are a number of very reasonable critiques one can make of Watchmen – it relies too heavily on a knowledge of the form and is self-referential, Alan Moore is sometimes too self-indulgent in his asides, the pirate story as allegory is forced – but saying that Dave Gibbons’ art and layouts are bad is just so fucking ignorant of the form itself that you have to immediately disqualify the speaker as knowing a damn thing about comics generally, no matter how many comics he collected back before 1986 when he quit collecting.3
(ASIDE: Other things Warner Todd does not like about Watchmen include: Nite Owl not being able to get it up initially for Silk Spectre, Ozymandias winning, the comic’s underlying belief that in order to be a superhero there has to be something more or less wrong with you, and the two Bernies being “unlikeable characters” because they’re Americans being written by an Englishman. No, really. He says all of this. Really, if you want to see the most trite, lazy comics “analysis” I’ve read in quite some time, do yourself a favour and click the link. We could totally have a contest! “Stupidest Thing Warner Todd Huston Says About Watchmen.“)
Anyway. Enough about Warner Todd and Watchmen, the point of which is merely to illustrate the depths of his know-nothingness. Let us continue. After Warner Todd complains at length about Carla saying “welcome to comics” and how he had tons and tons of comics back in the day (which was twenty-five years ago)
The “letter” was written by one Carla Hoffman and is replete with uninformed assumptions, hackneyed pop psychology, all wrapped up in a total failure to observe the first tenet in journalism: contact your subject before you write anything.
I can’t think of anything I’d want to do more than contact an over-ripe douchebag like this guy!
Again, Warner Todd is taking offense that Carla didn’t bother to do her research and find out that he used to read comic books twenty-five years ago so of course he knows everything there is to know about comics. Instead, Carla merely assumed that Warner Todd’s inability to actually discuss the comic in question, combined with his show of naivete over there being multiple Captain Americas, meant that he was unfamiliar with the current state of comics and comic storytelling. I wonder why she thought such a thing!
Of course, this uninformed assumption shows her arrogance. You see, because I criticized the comic book she assumed that I couldn’t possibly have ever liked comics.
No, Warner Todd. She wrote that because she’s polite, and because your argument was whining bullshit with little to no basis in reality dependent on your projection. Carla, being nice, made the assumption that you were ignorant rather than stupid and/or intellectually dishonest.
Unintentionally funny was her prosaic proclamation that the Internet spawns “strong opinion” as if my piece was merely that, yet her’s isn’t.
DEAR “PROFESSIONAL WRITER” WARNER TODD HUSTON: Please learn how to use a fucking apostrophe.
Also, Carla’s piece might be opinion – sure it is – but “strong?” She used very mild language. She didn’t use any invective or make a single personal attack – you finding ways to be insulted by her essay doesn’t count, Warner Todd – or indeed do anything other than say “you took it one way, but isn’t it also possible to read it this way?” That’s not “strong.” That’s mild. You know how I know it’s mild? Because she didn’t start making fun of your name and calling you “Weiner Todd,” which I am certain happened to you in high school in between vigorous masturbation sessions over a copy of Vampirella, wherein you had two, count ’em TWO, letters to the editor published.
Or, in other words: stop being a whiny-ass titty-baby, Warner Todd.
Apparently someone forgot to alert little Miss Hoffman that there haven’t been any “Pro-Bush rallies” since about 2003 when he last ran for president. Further, Miss Hoffman obviously has no clue that the Tea Party movement is just as mad at Bush as they are Clinton and Obama.
They were so mad at him that they sat on their asses for eight years until President Blacky McBlackerton got elected! That sure showed him. Of course, Carla wasn’t attempting to suggest that Tea Party rallies were explicitly pro-Bush rallies – why would anybody think that – but instead that the Tea Partiers, rather than being apolitical as per their claim, were merely an extension of Republican activism. Of course, reading that would require the ability to understand subtlety and nuance, which Weiner Todd isn’t good at except for when he’s trying to find proof that Ed Brubaker thinks tea partiers are racists.
Uh, no. Sam Wilson is not his “real name.” Sam Wilson is a character’s name. It isn’t a real person we’re talking about here. This poor young lady cannot tell reality from fiction, apparently.
Weiner Todd here feels the need to take a cheap shot at Carla, who was honestly nothing but pleasant to him. “Real name,” in this instance, of course refers to “Sam Wilson’s personal name, as opposed to calling him ‘the Falcon.'” I assume that Weiner Todd knows this, and had to sit back and have a good giggle in his study – fondly remembering his erotic adventures with Vampirella, who whispered in his ear that he was a true comics fan.
Anyway, there’s an awful lot more in this poor girl’s “open letter” that puts her in a pretty bad light for logic, intelligence, and delusion.
“…which I’m not gonna get into. No reason!”
Since right after her letter to me I replied. (You can see my reply here, too), let’s get to the unhinged, hatemongers that chose to reply to my posting after Hoffman’s.
DEAR “PROFESSIONAL WRITER” WERNER TODD HUSTON: Learn how to not splice a fucking comma.
But anyway, the rest of his article is just Weiner Todd whining endlessly about how commenters at Robot 6 weren’t nice to him after he shat copious and unearned condescension on Carla:
There were, of course, all sorts of distempered name calling and obscene language, the sort we’ve come to expect from the left. There was the ever common “asshole,” the varied spellings of “douche bag,” an occasional “jerk,” and “Nazi.” Even at least one “fucking clown” was thrown in for good measure. But remember, each and every one of these poor youngsters assumed that they were more open minded, nicer, more tolerant than that mean old Warner Todd Huston.
This is one of my least favorite tactics: the “barbarians at the gate” argument, ever beloved of conservative writers on the internet. “Oh my heavens! You have said a swear! That completely invalidates every single one of your points because you are clearly no gentleman, sir! Good day! I must exit before I come down with a case of the vapours!”
For the sake of illumination, let me present how Weiner Todd opened his essay attacking Carla:
These emails and replies to my comic book analysis really brought it home that to be a liberal you must make assumptions of your enemy so that they fit neatly into your preconceived notions of the world and you must never try to ask them any questions to determine if they really do fit into the box you’ve constructed for them. You must assume you are more grown up than those you attack. You must assume that you are more intelligent. You also must assume that people that like the same sort of things that you like must think just like you do. In other words, to be a liberal you must begin every discussion, every consideration of ideological premises, with the base assumption that all good people are just like you. Everyone else is venal, mean, stupid or low. Not just wrong, but evil.
I’m not sure what’s more impressive here: the sheer volume of projection on Weiner Todd’s part, or the fact that this is just a long series of personal attacks largely unjustified by the rest of his column where he then complains about other people’s personal attacks. For people like Warner Todd, “civility” isn’t anything to do with attitude or manners; it’s to do with specific words. It’s a set of rules – don’t say this, don’t say that, but this and the other are permissible – rather than a sense of respecting other people. When you understand that attitude, you understand a lot about Weiner Todd.4
- Now, granted, the Falcon is leery of hanging out with the tea partiers in the book. But guess what: Sam Wilson is a black liberal. Do you think black liberals want to hang out with tea partiers generally? I’m sorry, but when did we get so, ahem, politically correct as to demand that tea partiers be perceived equally by citizens of all colours and creeds as upstanding and moral figures in a work of fiction, and even so by fictional figures who would reasonably be leery of them were they real people? Warner Todd, you big ol’ Tolerance Bear, you. [↩]
- Also, he is the only guy I have ever seen who manages to look worse both with facial hair and without. If he is going to learn anything from comic books, it is the value of a mask. [↩]
- “Hey, guys! I know a lot about music! I stopped buying albums back in 1986 but I still know lots about them! Do you guys like Duran Duran? They’re pretty awesome, right?” [↩]
- And, one hopes, why I completely abandoned any attempt at civility after the first paragraph of this entry. [↩]