Social Change Via Comics

By | Sunday, March 11, 2012 Leave a Comment
The notion that comics can have an impact on our culture is hardly new. Sadie Hawkins Day was introduced in Al Capp's Li'l Abner back in 1937. Bert the Turtle taught kids how to "duck and cover" in the 1950s. Jack Chick has been converting heathens to his particular brand of Christianity via Chick Publications since 1970. And comic fans are still painfully aware of news headlines that continue to harken back to decades-old Batman adventures.

Comics are, of course, an art form and act as both reflector and commentary on the culture in which it is produced. Comics of any given era look like comics of their time precisely because they are. Even the most forward-thinking, progressive creators have to use the aesthetics and language and technology that's available to them at the time in order to get their message across to readers. Watchmen, while still lauded as a great comic, is very rooted in the mid-1980s environment in which it was created.

Similarly, the culture we're in right can be seen in the comics that are being produced. I predicted a general tonal shift back in 2008 and I don't think I was that far off the mark. The comics of a few years prior to that felt different, I think, than the comics we're seeing today.

One change I'm always for (and there always seems to be far too little of it) is tolerance for others' views. I finally got a chance to read Craig Thompson's Habibi today, and there's a lot in there about respecting others regardless of their social status or background. Well, there's actually a lot in there about NOT respecting others because of their social status and background, but it's depicted as wrong and that you should avoid any people who behave that way. In fact, the only characters in the book who go on to a lead happy, contented lives are the ones who are more open and accepting of others.

A subset of that tolerance issue that's circulating these days is marriage equality. It's shown up in editorial comics and some webcomics, but it has quite gotten enough momentum to make a big statement in print comics, I don't think. One book, though, that is trying to say something is Little Heart, an anthology being funded through Kickstarter that I only just learned about...
With this book, our desire is to help get people talking about marriage equality. Little Heart was not created with the idea to shove any ideology down your throat. Instead, it was created to illustrate that relationships and love should be left to individuals to discover on their own. Our hope is that, this is exactly what this book will allow us to show.

Should we raise enough funds for this project to be a success, a portion of the proceeds from sales of the comic will go towards the non-profit [MN]Love -- allowing them to keep fighting for marriage equality, tolerance, and love.
The book is very close to the end of its pledge drive and needs a little more help to make it the rest of the way. I've backed several Kickstarter projects before because I thought they sounded cool or looked neat, but this is the first one I've seen that really is trying to make a difference. The radically socially conservative agenda that's being hammered through any number of venues (especially in my neck of the woods) these days is, to me, frightening to say the least and I'd like to support anyone who promotes the notion of "live and let live".

There's just a few days left on their Kickstarter campaign. I'm sure they'd appreciate any support you might provide.
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