Nostalgia Is Anathema To Evolution

By | Thursday, October 11, 2012 Leave a Comment
I stumbled across this PvP strip from back in April...
It was actually the first two panels that struck me. "You're just trapped in nostalgia. Nostalgia is anathema to evolution." I don't know exactly what prompted Scott Kurtz to write that, but he's got a good point that is often ignored in fandom.

I happened to catch something from an older comics fan on Facebook in which he had nothing good to say about Mike Grell's Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters. He felt that Grell completely screwed up the character that had such a great history under the likes of Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams.

What seemed to be lost on him, though -- at least at an emotional level; I'm sure he was intellectually aware of this -- was that the O'Neil/Adams version of Green Arrow was a complete overhaul itself! The angry progressive attitude was completely new to the character in 1969. He had a 28 year history prior to that which bore little resemblance to the goatee-wearing liberal he was known to be throughout the 1970s. What the commenter was, interestingly, reacting to was that Grell's interpretation was different than what he considered the "definitive" version, despite the fact the character had spent more time NOT being that fondly-remembered version. He was letting nostalgia color his view of Grell's work, seemingly oblivious to the inherent idea of Longbow Hunters being a deliberately "mature" re-interpretation in response to The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen from the previous year.

There's no reason to completely neglect the past and/or ignore memories of things you enjoyed. But nostalgia is when you focus on the memories of being happy or doing well; it's not actually being happy right here and right now. If you're that inwardly focused, it's more difficult to see what's coming and, therefore, more difficult to adjust course accordingly.

I ranted a bit the other day about Stephen Pastis' willful ignorance of webcomics, and I'm wondering now if there's some nostalgia factor involved there. He's well-known to have been a huge fan of Peanuts and I can't help but think that maybe he's trying so hard to follow in Sparky's footsteps that he can't see that the path in front of him has changed. He can't evolve because he's too wrapped up in nostalgia.

Like I said earlier, I don't know Pastis. I'm really just spitballing here as far as what his thinking might be. But he doesn't have quite the really long-term career investment in newspaper strips as, say, Mort Walker or Dean Young, so I just don't get why he's so invested against the web... especially since it helped launch his career as a cartoonist!
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