Recently while I was teaching my cartooning course at the Rochester Institute of Technology, one of my students had to excuse himself to attend to a personal matter. His friend, a soldier who had served in the Afghan War, a man who had dodged enemy fire abroad, had been cut down in Las Vegas by a hate-filled gambler possessing an arsenal that would have made him the envy of the Taliban.
I was thinking of this while reading comments you’ve made lamenting that Netflix is making the Punisher (a Marvel Comics character you’ve helped popularize) too “politically correct” in their new TV series. (For those not in the know, Frank Castle, aka “The Punisher”, is a gun totin’ anti-hero who hunts underworld scum with a ruthlessness that makes Harry Callahan look like a florist).
You expressed concern that in the TV show, the Punisher will not be stalking his normal prey of Mafiosos and narco-terrorists, but will instead be the victim of a shady government conspiracy involving the CIA, Homeland Security and, we can be sure, the highest levels of power. Your comments came just as the events of Las Vegas were forcing Netflix to push back the premier date for their TV series out of respect for the dead, and Marvel to cancel a Punisher promotion at the New York Comic-Con.
The problem, as you see it, is that in our current environment it is considered impolitic for a white man to lay waste to minorities, as the Punisher would have to if he were to take on a realistic cross-section of the criminal community. I am not entirely hostile to your point. Hollywood often attempts to “punch upwards” by casting organized criminal gangs to look as diverse as the crew of the Enterprise, and frequently replaces foreign terrorists with less offensive cracker rednecks. However, if the idea is that white, conservative gangsterism is bogus, I think it is up to the likes of the Bundy Clan and the frat boys of Charlottesville to stop feeding that stereotype.
But the reason I am writing to you is because, in all this commotion, something I consider newsworthy nearly slipped through the cracks. While the slaughter in LV was creating political shock waves that reached to the highest levels of Netflix, you were blazing a new trail for good old-fashioned white machismo in comic books.
As you are quite open about being politically “to the right of Genghis Khan”, it is not shocking to hear that you’ve signed on to write a new comic book series for notorious right-wing author Theodore Beale, who pens under the name Vox Day. The project, called Alt-Hero (after the “alt-right”, of course), is currently raising its loot through a sketchy crowdfunding platform whose other fundraisers include campaigns to pay the legal bills of a man accused of threatening a mosque and one to raise money for the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer.
Teddy, of course, is literally to the right of Genghis Khan, with two feet planted firmly in the Reichstag. He is completely unambiguous about his contempt for human dignity, referring to blacks as a “sub-species” and “half-savages”, while his political mission statement declares “We must secure the existence of white people and a future for white children”, words extrapolated from Mein Kampf and which, in a slightly different form, comprise the “14 words” referred to in the neo-Nazi code word “1488”.
Quite a dog you are lying down with, Chuck. But his fleas are in a category all their own. I posted a few critiques of Alt-Hero on Beale’s website and was instantly branded a (((jew))). But perhaps the best window into the soul of his audience comes from a comment, directed at me, which claimed that Alt-Hero exists “…as a fuck you… to everything you stand for, to everything in the world you love and respect…Everybody in the world hates you bastards so much that that they will love hearing us say ‘fuck you you worthless hipster SJWs’ over and over and over again”.
(Jesus. I knew Teddy was an enormous fan of Anders Breivik, but I never imagined that they gave the man Internet access!)
Markku Kopenen, head honcho at Castalia House (the Finnish-based publisher of this intended project) was scarcely more genteel, telling me that I am the sort of person their fans “loathe so much that they are willing to give us thousands of dollars just for us to piss in his Cheerios.” In other words Chuck, be sure to include some fetish content in your script.
You, like Theodore Beale, are incensed over what you see as the comic industry’s diversity-obsessed climate. You wish to wring the pussy juice out of comics and free them from political correctness, from turning white heroes black and turning male characters female. You blame the souring comics market on Muslim Ms. Marvel and the “Milkshake Crew”. In reality, the true blight on the industry, if you ask retailers, is the unending parade of first issues, money-grabbing gimmickry like lenticular covers, and corporate vampirism from entertainment giants who see the comic book side of superheroes as nothing but a vestigial organ meant to feed their movies, television shows and video games.
But if you gave Blackbolt a megaphone he couldn’t scream “asshole” as loudly as your new project does. Alt-Hero features a bimbo dressed in a Confederate flag and a white vigilante who clobbers immigrants threatening little white girls before turning them over to ICE. I can only imagine what the celebrated co-creator of Bane will concoct! A ‘roided-up soldier who mows down Syrian refugees before they can “colonize” Europe? A man who can transform into a living border wall?? Anything is possible with the magic of comics!
Which brings me back to Stephen Paddock, The Punisher of Las Vegas.
Chuck, with tragedies like Vegas certain to continue rolling across our great Nation, I would like to suggest that your creation for Alt-Hero be a hero who is truly politically incorrect, who will do the things that only the bravest person would do. This hero would be called “The Silencer”.
The Silencer’s weapon is a tube of Super Glue. His gimmick is that after a fictional American shooting spree, he travels around the country, finding every “law abiding” gun collector, hunter, sportsman and average Joe — the gatekeepers of the gun culture — and seals their lips shut so that just ONCE, instead of shooting their mouths off like the very weapons they worship, they would be unable to give voice to their hyper-stimulated sense of persecution, their castration fears, and their precious need to own every instrument of slaughter they can get their hands on, as well as every accessory to make them ten times as deadly.
Instead, in silence they would be forced to consider their roles as customers, as fanboys, as gunfags, in propagating all of this unbelievable, unending carnage that is plaguing our country, the very insanity that YOUR cartoon Punisher wants to avenge. Because the real Frank Castle — soldier, son, good guy with a gun — lies dead on the Las Vegas strip, Chuck.
If there is one criminal constituency being protected by the powers that be that has yet to face the music, a class that could benefit most from a politically incorrect kick in the balls, it is America’s law-abiding gun cult.
Chuck, If you truly wish to rescue comic books, then instead of offering your services to the type of punk-ass feeb whose jaw Batman was born to break, you should start by rescuing the next generation of comic book artists who need to be in my class practicing their anatomy and not attending funerals caused by people who want dumb, blunt, solutions to their fears, people who seethe with hatred at blacks and immigrants and queers and crowds of strangers when what they ought to be doing is learning to roll with life’s punches.
Jason Yungbluth is a cartoonist and a short glass of Pepto Bismol. Read his comics at Whatisdeepfried.com.
Next: The Menace of Doc Vox!