I have this overwhelming urge to write some sort of "mission statement" for this column and, while I wrestle with it, here's the message board post which triggered that urge.
It was posted by STEVE ATKINS on November 5:
Where am I?
Actually, I am new to this board. I know I am here.
I am just unsure of what is going on.
It seems that when I went to bed, I had a country I could (with a few exceptions) be proud of, I had heroes that I could look up to, and I had SOME degree of financial security.
Or maybe THAT was all a dream I was having...
I have watched the movies coming out of Hollywood:
Either same-old-same-old formulaic crap or really horrible remakes of films and TV shows.
I have read the comics:
The heroes I grew up with have been destroyed by ignorant companies trying to chase after a demographic that no longer cares about them while alienating the very fans that keep them afloat.
I have watched the TV:
Annoying sitcom stupidity or the latest version of a "reality" show (which never shows the boring parts...the REAL "reality").
I have listened to the music:
Formulaic nonsense. Even the so-called "rebellious" bands are following formulas.
I have witnessed politics:
If I WAS dreaming, let me go back to sleep.
If I WASN'T and this is the REAL world, would somebody tell me where I am?
I am NOT familiar with THIS PLACE at all!
I don't think I can boil down my mission statement to an easy-to-remember sound bite, but I can work my way towards some blessed brevity by responding to Steve's post note for note.
I am here at the World Famous Comics website darn near every day with a new edition of this column. I write about comic books and whatever else concerns/interests me.
Outside of cyberspace...
I am here in the Medina, Ohio home I share with Sainted Wife Barbara and our teenagers Eddie and Kelly. Medina is a small city of an unfortunately conservative bent; we face most of the problems you'll find anywhere in the country, albeit on a somewhat smaller scale. We can also count on enough strange goings-on I have taken to describing Medina as "Rome, Ohio," a reference to the wondrously quirky Picket Fences TV series of several years ago.
I share Steve's confusion over our nation. How could so many overlook the lies, the incompetence, and the "moral values" which don't stand up to the reality and any form of logic known to man? I'm sure those who voted for George Bush had their reasons, but it sure looks like abject fear and blind faith carried the day for the Republicans...if, indeed, it did carry the day.
Alarming questions are being raised. I'm not going to discuss them today, but I am going to direct you to a pair of commentaries worth reading.
My friend MARK EVANIER holds forth at his NEWS FROM ME blog on the irregularities of the November 2 election and on what he wishes John Kerry had said the following day. Go here...
Heroes are still in plentiful supply in this country, but the media spends too much time writing about faux-heroes and even more faux-government officials. In the future, I'll do my best to post links to stories about real heroes on my message board:
Other board visitors should feel free to post their stories of real heroes as well.
Financial insecurity? Oh, brother, can I ever relate to that! In case anyone out there was wondering...
Yes, I am available for writing assignments. I'm incredibly available for writing assignments. E-mail me.
My disrespect for Hollywood is legendary, as is my disrespect for comic-book writers who slavishly ape their favorite directors and screen writers and who would sell their mothers to be writing movies instead of comics. I wish them great success in Hollywood. Anything to get them out of comics.
That said, I love movies. In the past month, I have seen two exceptional and very different movies: SAVED! and TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE. Any year in which I can see movies like these, as well as FAHRENHEIT 9/11 and SPIDER-MAN 2 - to name two more - keeps me from writing off Hollywood completely.
This is where my fan heart lives. You'll not get a whole lot of argument from me when it comes to bemoaning the seeming legion of writers, editors, and publishers who don't have a creative clue as to who and what some of comicdom's best characters are...and who likewise lack the business sense not to debase and demean valuable properties for the short-term gain.
On the other hand, as I've said many times before, there is no better time than now to be a comics enthusiast. The sheer variety of content and format available is staggering. Classic reprints. Comics from across the ocean. Fresh takes on popular characters that respect what has gone before. Genres galore. Human interest. Comics for adults and for young readers. Yes, you have to look for the good stuff, but it's out there and it's out there in quantity. The search is part of the fun.
I watch too much of it, but I enjoy most of what I watch or, at least, enjoy the company of the family members with which I view it. I do watch real reality shows, such as news, sports, and the odd educational program. I don't watch phony reality shows, which I suspect are the ones Steve dislikes. The only sitcoms I watch are ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, THE SIMPSONS, and, on occasion, MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE. Reviewing TV shows here lets me claim my cable bill as a business expense.
I can't help there. I used to listen to music while writing, but, as I got older, I found it distracting. I'd like to get the music back into my life somehow. Until I succeed, I'll happily run guest reviews from my more musically-inclined readers. Keep them short (300 words) and remember that the guy reading them knows as much about music as he does string theory. I won't be insulted if you dumb them down a little for me.
I think we covered that above. My comments on political and social issues will remain a part of TONY'S ONLINE TIPS. No matter how many nasty e-mails I get from folks who have no more concept of what democracy is - and it takes to keep it strong - than I do of the afore-mentioned string theory.
Here's a hint for them:
Tomorrow is what's ahead of you...and it's gonna come despite your best efforts to stop it.
I think it's time for that mission statement.
TONY'S ONLINE TIPS is a nigh-daily column of news, views, and reviews with comics as its central but not exclusive focus. No one other than myself controls its content.
My unwavering goal is to entertain and inform you.
With the exception of Krause Publications, I'm not writing for any of the companies whose publications are discussed or reviewed in these columns. I think that's a damn shame.
Krause doesn't get a free pass, nor will any other publisher I may end up writing for in the future. That's not how I'm wired. Adults should be able to deal with that.
Art, even art created primarily to entertain its viewers, does not exist in a vacuum. It is a response to the world around us and a part of the world around us. That's all the justification I need to write about comics and real life in the same columns.
That covers the mission statement.
How do you like me so far?
Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back Wednesday with more stuff.
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.
ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.
TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?
THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.
FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?
FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.
Please send material you would like me to review to: