Thoreau, Shakespeare & Comics

By | Friday, October 07, 2022 1 comment
You ever read Walden by Henry David Thoreau?

Don't bother; it's a crock of shit. I forced myself to wade through it when I was in my 30s and, despite how lauded it often is in literary circles, I found myself almost immediately disliking it. Thoreau struck me as a hypocritical slouch who wouldn't know what self-reliance or responsibility were if they spit in his face, made fun of his mother's army boots, gave him a wedgie and then beat him up and took his lunch money. You ever see that episode of Friends where the woman claims Dead Poets Society was a life-affirming film because she thought it was the worst piece of trash she ever wasted two hours on and she was going to spend the rest of her life trying to make up for that? That's my feeling about Walden.

Now, if you're interested in something philosophical in nature, I'll point to one line from William Shakespeare:
This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Act I, Scene III, Hamlet

Most of the speech from which those lines come from is advice a father gives his son, and most of that is rather generic. But what Shakespeare hits towards the end with these lines, I think, does get to the crux of living a life well-lived. If you follow your own path -- a path you actively choose, not one laid down by someone else -- and stay true to it regardless of obstacles or opposition, then your honesty with yourself will give rise to an honest life without regret or remorse.

I don't know that I'd go so far as to claim that I use those words as a credo of any kind, but I have spent a lot of time in my own head over the years and I have a pretty good grasp on who I am and what I believe. I live my life in a way that I can lie in bed every night, and go to sleep secure in the knowledge that I did nothing that day worth losing sleep over. I did my best, learned from my mistakes and, tomorrow, I'm going to do that again.

For the past several years, I've had an idea for a book rolling around in my head. I've done most of my research, and have a pretty good grasp on the subject. I don't know that it'd sell -- in all honesty, it probably wouldn't, given the subject matter: a largely forgotten comic book from the 1940s -- but it's something I'd like to do because... well, no one else is. I haven't yet sat down and written Word One, though, because I haven't really developed a good hook for it. A unifying theme(s) that tie the whole thing together. The best I've come up with is a straight chronological approach. It would work, I suppose, but... meh. I think I need a good hook for the whole thing and that's why I haven't started writing it yet.


I'm not sitting here complaining that I haven't done anything. I'm not making excuses to myself for not getting anything done. I've gotten compliments about this blog a number of times in how I'm not one to follow whatever the current comic topic du jour is, and how I speak to things that aren't necessarily popular within the comic community. And you know what that comes from? "To thine own self be true." I know who I am and what I like and where my interests lie. I don't especially care how expertly (or not) the Watchmen movie was made; I don't especially care what DC's next company-wide crossover is; I don't especially care who the next creative team on Uncanny X-Men is.

So I just write about comics' topics that interest me. If you'd like to come along for the ride, that's great! Welcome! If not, so be it. But, if you do get something out of what I have to say, I encourage you to think and talk about it more. I encourage you to get into your own head for a while and roll around the subjects I touch on here. Am I right? Am I wrong? Am I just spouting my own brand of blinkered, philistine pig-ignorance?

I've heard that Jack Kirby didn't want people to imitate him. He took it as a much greater compliment if his work inspired people to go off and tell their own story. Similarly, I hope my work gets you to think your own thoughts. I don't care if you agree with me or not, or respond or not, but take the time to reflect and make up your own mind. Just make sure it's your own mind.

"To thine own self be true."
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Mighty Hal said...

Interesting blog; I'm pleased to have found it. Please consider starting on your book about the '40s comic, no matter the approach. Self-publishing is a valid avenue these days. In fact, this week I bought a self-published book on Dave Hunt, an inker on multiple comic books. If the author had waited to find a traditional publisher (he tried), it would never have seen the light of day.