On -isms: Tricky Topics

By | Thursday, August 07, 2014 Leave a Comment
Comics, as you're no doubt aware, can tackle all sorts of issues. Sometimes they're at a small, personal scale and other times, they're writ large. Sometimes they're clouded in metaphors and other times, they're made plain as day.

One of my favorite things about comics, I just realized though, can also be something of a detriment. I like that, in comics, the creators' personal vision is (generally) very much in evidence on the page. I don't like movies and TV, in large part, because there are too many people adding their voices to the mix, putting their own spins on the original author's message(s). How an actor speaks a line, or how a director composes a shot, or how a lighting director stages his equipment all influence how the end result turns out. Not to mention the other actors, cameramen, prop designers, wardrobe people, sound crew, musicians... All of these people working on a project tend to, in my opinion, dilute whatever the original creator was trying to say. Comics, with fewer people impacting the end product, generally have a greater singularity of vision. The audience gets a message that's much more closely connected with the original author. (I'm generalizing here, of course. There's exceptions to both sides.)

The problem, however, is that this singularity of vision often means that counter-arguements to the author's points tend to be a bit flimsy. They put straw man characters in place so their protagonist has someone who works in opposition to them for the sake of the story, but they're ultimately pretty shallow and disingenuous representations of an opposing view. Jack Chick's "Chick Tracts" are famous for their laughably obvious straw man arguments.

So when Gibson Twist started a discussion between his Pictures of You characters about abortion last month, I wasn't expecting much. Particularly since the primary character arguing against abortion is a man. Narratively, of course, that makes sense, but you can just read a newspaper on almost any given day to find some idiot male politician making absurd claims about female reproductive rights with blatantly hole-riddled, contradictory statements. Personally, I have little interest in seeing this repeated in my entertainment.

Now, I should clarify that I fully support a woman's right to choose, but I am saddled with a Y chromosome. I'm sure that's bound to influence my thinking here. Twist is also saddled with a Y chromosome, and I expect that's influenced his writing. But with those caveats noted, I think he's done a very fair job of presenting both sides of the abortion debate, raising legitimate issues with valid thought-processes behind them on both sides.

Now, Michelle seems to be the winner of the arguement (at least as far as the story is written now) which would imply Twist sides with her. And my bias towards woman's rights could mean that I see Peter's counter-arguements not as straw man ones because they're only marginally stronger than something in a Chick Tract, when in fact they're barely gossamer-thin and wouldn't actually be used by someone seriously arguing against abortion. And both of those could play into why I think Twist is presenting the issue successfully here.

But it seems to me that Twist is at least attempting a sincere effort to address a delicate issue that gets both sides fired up pretty easily. He appears to have done some research, whether specifically for this strip or through some connection to real events in his (or a close loved one's) life. It's not an appropo discussion for every comic, of course, but I'd sure love to see more people at least try to put in the care that Twist seems to be in making sure that their personal beliefs don't blind them to the legitimate justifictions others have for completely opposite beliefs.

The "From All Sides" storyline that Twist is using to discuss abortion begins here.
Newer Post Older Post Home