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April 06, 1980 - Image 13

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-04-06
Note:
This is a tabloid page

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Page 6-Sunday, April 6 980-The Michigan Daily

7*

9

-w

w

The tchigan Daily-Sunda'

Books

rN

As for a place in the art world,
comic books seem relegated to
the neighborhood candy stores.. .

An energy crisis in
the Bush camnaign

p

/; J . .

- - - - - - -.- - - - w- - - w
E

By David Bowman
COMIC BOOKS ARE DYING. Well, maybe not
comic books of the caliber that delights the minds
of pre-pubescent readers who save their nickels to buy
them from the candy store each weekend. But comic
books as art-those that appeal to the intellectually
sophisticated (i.e. over the age of majority) are pretty
scarce these days.
Ten years ago it looked as if comic books were un-
dergoing a metamorphosis. Comics were shedding that
roll-em-off-the-presses mundanity they'd had for
decades. Characters became more intricate;
superheroes like the Neal Adams-drawn Green Lan-
tern and Green Arrow tackled such socially-relevant
issues as drug abuse and political corruption. But this
growth was stunted by the mid-1970s. It seems, since
then, that comics have lost that ability to adapt to the
changing times.,
(The changes that have occurred in comic bookery
are depressingly typical of the past decade: The price
of your average book has soared from 15t to 40¢, while
inversely, the number of pages has decreased from 20
.
44
~f
i
to 17. The actual printing has changed little, however;
thin, cheap paper and the confines of a very limited
four-color printing system have left comics looking
exactly as they have in the past).
Since I began reading comic books during my pre-
seventies adolescence, I've gone through some'
inevitably complex and significant personal growth.
Meanwhile., comic books, as one of my pet passions,'
failed to make any parallel transformations. When the
evolution that seemed guaranteed by the magazines'
Watergate era social commentary failed to material,
David, or Clave, Bowman is a grad-
uate from the University's School of ;
Music. He has been a collector off
comics for a long time!

inabilityto reproduce minute detail, and the set num-
ber of pages in each book.
Then there's the Comics Code Authority, which ser-
ves as a censor by reading over each comic and placing
its seal of approval in the upper righthand corner of the
covers to assure parents that their children are indeed
purchasing "wholesome" comics. Deadlines are also a
problem. Many comics are published monthly, and it is
difficult to keep up artistic quality with that schedule.
Finally, the comic book industry has been losing its
best personnel. The most creative minds-such as ar-
tists Barry Windsor-Smith, of Conan comics, and Neal
Adams-invariably leave their jobs and take their
talents elsewhere. The reasons for this migration
vary: Sometimes the artists and writers find the pay
too -low, sometimes they become bored with drawing
the same characters day in and day out. Often, their
ability simply transcends the medium. So the least in-
novative workers, who tend to stay on, fill the racks
month after month with worthless reams of superhero
banality.
The writing quality has become especially
depressing of late. Marvel's Trio, written by Roy
Thomas, is a prime example of the downhill trend. The
plots are crammed full of characters and complicated
to the point of incomprehensibility. Recent issues have
contained an overabundance of gods (Asgardians,
Olympians, Eternals, and Celestials), wearing a good
gimmick to the ground.
There has been a continuing effort in some sectors of
the industry to produce adult-oriented comic books
outside the jurisdiction of the Comics Code Authority.
These comics usually appear in. magazine format
-black and white, with only occasional full-color
pages-and though they've been marginally successful
in sales, they've been for the most part artistically
Comics to8

By Michael Arkush
IEEP IN THE HEART of the
midwest, the show opened.
Jammed into the ballroom of
a es Moines hotel, the second
American political miracle in four
years made his stunning debut. With
the rave reviews just recorded, the New
Face of 1980 jogged into the room to
take his bow. The show had been a suc-
cess. The audience couldn't stop the
applause.
This was Iowa, and the star was
George Bush. On that night, he had
achieved the impossible by beating
Republican frontrunner and party god-
father Ronald Reagan in the state's
caucuses. Emerging from complete ob-
scurity, this maverick from Connec-
ticut had just captured first place in the
year's presidential primary circuit.
With'-the first victory firmly in his
grasp, the star came out to address the
fans, counseling them that the fight had
only just begun, but that the future
looked promising. Bush seemed almost
to be two men up there on victory night:
There was the Knute Rockne element,
the coach giving a pep rally to his sup-
porters, but the candidate also showed
signs of General George Patton, the
bold leader, serious about the fight
ahead. "I feel we have the momentum
now, and we can take this thing across
the nation. We're building, and we'll
keep fighting till we win. It's about time
America had a president who could
lead it," Bush said, glowing with pride
and optimism.
Jumping off the stage to huddle with
the troops, General Bush looked like a
formidable challenger for the presiden-
cy. He was relatively young (55), he
was well-educated, and he had an un-
matched list of credentials. He was
going some place. He had Momentum.
Fourteen hundred miles and five
weeks later, it was all gone.
Several events during that interim
period can be blamed for the Great
Collapse-the Nashua debate, the in-
fluential Manchester Union Leader's
support of Ronald Reagan, and
Reagan's return to campaigning-but
the rise and fall of George Herbert
Former Daily editor Michael Ar-
kush has spent the past two months
on the bus with George Bush and
the other presidential primary can-
didates.

Walker Bush goes much deeper than
that.
The script he followed from the
beginning was plagiarized from its
creator, Jimmy Carter, who in 1976
came from nowhere to win the Iowa
caucus and the New Hampshire
primary. The plan was first developed
by Carter's campaign strategist;
Hamilton Jordan, who believed that by
scoring early, impressive victories in
Iowa and New Hampshire, the can-
didate could quickly acquire national
media exposure. With the new
recognition, the hopeful. could
crisscross the nation knowing his
speeches would be broadcast to a
listening public. The early victories
also would encourage the influx of
campaign donations and volun-
teers-essential ingredients in a win-
ning formula. But in order to triumph in
Iowa and New Hampshire, the cam-
paign would need solid and effective
organization. Since both- states are
small, organization plays a key role, for
the results usually depend on which
staff works harder in getting its suppor-
ters to come to the polls.
In a caucus state, turnout is
especially significant. There is one
specific time slot in the day during
which a citizen can vote. Knowing what
that time is and where to go becomes a
crucial responsibility of campaign staff
workers. In 1976,while Henry Jackson
and Mo Udall were planning their blit-
zes for later in the primary season, Car-
ter stormed out in front in Iowa, win-
ning 27 per cent of the vote. An in-
dispensable part of that victory was
Carter's Peanut Brigade, a corps of 500
Georgian volunteers who lived for
weeks in the state to tell people about
Jimmy Carter. The candidate himself
spent many days campaigning there,
letting people know where he stood on
the issues. Campaigning as an outsider
against Washington, with a touch of
political evangelism, Carter took the
momentum from the first two states,
beat George Wallace in the south, and
rode a bumpy but successful ride to the
Democratic Convention in New York.
NCE THIS UNPRECEDENTED
climb to the top had been ac-
complished, stunned observers
reexamined the winning strategy. They
concluded the country was desperate
for a new figure, an unknown-an ac-
curate description of Jimmy Car-
ter-and that the Georgian's
organization and early momentum had

made him the darling of the media.
Everyone loved a story; Jimmy Carter
was a story. ..
By going all the , way, Carter
revolutionized the American political
process. No one before 1976 had begun
his campaign two years before the
general election. When Carter had
made up his mind to run for the
presidency, he was still governor of
Georgia, and Richard Nixon was still in
the White House.
Thus, in 1978, we saw Illinois Rep.
Phil Crane be the first to officially an-
nounce his ambitious intentions. The
pack soon followed until there were
nine serious candidates in the race even
before the beginning of this year. What
a remarkable contrast from 1968 when a national
Robert Kennedy didn't announce until spntionalu
after the New Hampshire primary. But spent too mto
tising, and to
despite Crane's early announcement, and New Han
only one man read the previous win- Baker is a
ner's script carefully enough to take had everythin
over the role. Starting in the summer of the hero of
1978, Bush was out there talking to far- Minority Lea
mers in Iowa. He was building an anti-SALT in
organization, long before most people now being b
had ever heard of him. Finally, afte
His stunning opening win in Iowa did Baker withdri
not cause the tremors among policy he left, thoug
analysts that Carter's 1976 successes flaw was his
had created. So dramatic was the shift friendly chap
in political dynamics that the analysts shirk his resp
were now well-accustomed to the Car- the campaigr
ter formula. "Organization is of the an unemplo
essence. You just can't work without it. presidency in
Look what happened when Ford wanted Bush was do
to enter the race a few weeks ago. He
couldn't come in because he was in the land
looking for an organization-he just miserably.
didn't have one. It takes at least two There see
years to build one," says University on just what
Political Science Prof. George the top: str
Grassmuck. ,Ihistory, and
While the Carter story could con- What sudden
ceivably be written off as an anamoly in of a darkhor
politics, the Bush emergence convinced range of spec
political scientists that more than con- Bush went up
venience, beginning a campaign two more dust wi
years ahead of the primaries seemed to hows and wh
be a new requirement for success. Ac- One inder
companying that conclusion was the One incider
stark reality that qualified aspirants Bhh " segineih
without a capable organization sink Bush was the
quickly out of the picture. Weephim an
John Connally and Howard Baker, Hampshire
two Republicans with outstanding per- Though it w
formance records, seemed in the Reagan and
beginning of the year to be the two with Reagan
the best chance of unseating frontrun-. publican co
ner Reagan. But their campaigns never' Reagan's inv
got off the ground. Connally spent more Bush refuse
than $11 million but could not establish

comics lost much of their meaning for me. The in-
stitution now seems destined to remain a mere
teenyboppers-only pop art form.
Part of the purpose of comic books, therefore, is being
sadly neglected these days; besides amusing children,
comics should provide an escape route for adults, a
vehicle by which they can return to carefree days of*
childhood. But the distributors seem to believe they
have more of an audience with children, and this has
left the adult reader in a position of rationalizing an art
form that in most cases is little more than idiocy by
their standards. Sure, there have always been comics
that were designed exclusively for kids (the Archie
series, the Disney characters, etc.), but these have
never attempted to draw an older audience. It is the
books that have tried for an adult readership that are
failing.
Comic book creators today are trying to appeal to the
widest possible audience. If both a child and an adult
can find the same comic interesting, the book has at
least one foot in the door of quality. There are comics
created with this idea in mind, intended to appeal to
different levels of intellect. Unfortunately, most
comics are cranked out with total disregard for in-
telligent readership. Or, worse yet, they pretend to be
trying to reach ad' lts as well as kids. The comic
creators who produce these ineffectual ditties are let-
ting us evaluate their role as artists through them. We
can do nothing but admit their artistic failure.
It's important when discussing the past ten years'
history of comic books to consider the reasons the in-
dustry has failed to mature. One of the greatest
problems in creating good, comics are the obstacles
inherent in the art form itself. Comic books are limited
as vehicles for expression anid artistry in several ways.
First, there are physical restrictions: the size of the
page, the limitations of the coloring system, the



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