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Sunday, October 16, 2011 

Mark Sable admits he found The Big Lie horrific

The Comics Reporter ran an interview with Mark Sable, the writer of comics like Grounded, and among the subjects brought up was Rick Veitch's 9-11 truther screed The Big Lie, which, amazingly for someone whose own politics seem to skew to the left, he found disturbing:
SPURGEON: In other interviews you mentioned you have a special sensitivity to 9/11 and issues of terrorism and violence of that sort. Do you think comics has changed because of 9/11? Has comics and comics culture changed because of that event?

SABLE: It's an interesting question. The answer is yes and no. I think it's the same for the country. The biggest issue I have with 9/11 is that I know there have been negative changes that have had an impact on people around the world, but I still feel it's something that people forget.

Maybe that's a bias of having been in New York when it happened. I remember within a few days in New York... Manhattan is like 12 miles long. I go to visit an ex-girlfriend on the Upper West Side, and it was maybe 24 hours later, and people are out drinking, and the bars are open uptown. If you had come back in a time machine or whatever, you would have no idea from just looking at it that 3000 people had just died downtown. And I was like, "Wow, if that's what's happening in New York, than in the rest of this country this feeling of everyone being nice to each other is going to pass." Maybe I'm not being fair to the people who were out that night. Maybe they needed to drink more than everybody else in retrospect. But it really left an indelible mark.

There were clearly comics that were 9/11 influenced. Obviously you had those tribute books and some really maudlin reactions that really pissed me off in the beginning from superhero-type things. But then you had Ultimates and Civil War that were clearly influenced by it. It's interesting, because I just read -- and this is where I'll get into trouble, because I try not to say anything bad about other creators or their work, mostly because who am I to say something? -- that new Truth book just came out from Image. The Big Truth or The Big Lie?

SPURGEON: The Big Lie.

SABLE: I bought it, and I'm mad at myself for buying it, because I knew it was going to get me mad. I applaud Image for publishing it, because who else has the balls to do that? And they're both creators I admire: Rick Veitch and Gary Erskine. That said, it was just horrifying to me.

I got some exposure to those Truther people when I did Unthinkable. The idea of Unthinkable -- in case the readers don't know what it is, and maybe this means I fall into the horrible 9/11 exploiter category even though I hope I don't -- but the idea of that came from real life, where after 9/11 people were saying "Oh my God, this is something like out of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie or a Tom Clancy novel." The Department of Homeland Security took that really seriously, and formed a think tank made up of a screenwriters and novelists. Basically the idea was to come up with worst-case terrorist scenario, with the idea if that we come up with them before the terrorists do, then maybe we can do something about it before the terrorists implemented these plans.

My idea is what if a writer joined that think tank and then years later the ideas he came up with started to come true. For me it felt far enough away from it. In that universe I felt that 9/11 happened in the way it happened in this one. I had some things to say about -- whatever, this sounds terrible -- about geopolitics and terrorists. It allowed me to do the kind of espionage book I wanted to do. Looking back -- it's a couple of years now -- I wish I had executed it better.

This is what always pops up in Google, and I hate it, but something happened when I was in the middle of that series. The first issue was out and I have the script for the second issue. I had a very unusual flight path, because I was going to, of all things, a bachelor's party in Amsterdam. I was flying from LA to New York, then to Amsterdam, then to some other European cities, then to Vegas. It was definitely something that should have raised suspicions, and it did. They pulled me aside.

They saw the cover of Unthinkable #1, which has like jihadists with AK-47s on it. Then they started reading the script. This was shocking to me. Every other word in #1 was "9/11" or "terror." So they detained me. They pulled me off to the side and questioned me about it. It's funny, looking back now, because I was trying to explain to them that a) comics could be about things other than superheroes, that was hard enough, and b) that people actually wrote comics [laughter], that the characters didn't make up the words themselves. That was quite a battle there.

I tweeted about it. That got me some press. There was some interest from Truthers in terms of doing this radio interview. That scared me. Right before I went on the air I started to look up the host and there was some really racist stuff there -- Obama with bones through his nose, and Zionist-occupied government stuff. I felt trapped into doing this interview, and it was really nerve-wracking. The point of all this being is that I'm familiar with the arguments the Truthers make, but they don't hold up to even the smallest amount of scrutiny. You can watch five minutes of Loose Change and you have enough to pick apart all their arguments.

So it bothered me that this Big Lie book came out and they're propagating this argument that's pretty demonstrably false the same way the birther argument was false. I don't think you have to be liberal to feel that way. I think most thinking people agree about that.

Beyond that, if you look in the back of the book it has the wall of 9/11 with all the names on it. There are names of people I know. That felt horribly exploitative. If you actually read the book, they keep hinting that Steven Spielberg is involved. I'm sure it's not what the creators intended, but somehow all these conspiracies come back to the Jews: that the Jews were warned not to be in the World Trade Center that day. I'm sure that's not what they mean, but just talking about a filmmaker named Steven, that's a signal they may not have intended but that's how I'm reading it. It gets me really mad.

I guess comics has changed to the point where I don't think that book would have been published at the same time as those 9/11 tribute books. Maybe that's a good thing in a certain way, that it's maybe now a little bit less sensitive of a topic. I don't know. I think this stuff just washes over society in general. The book that I thought handled 9/11 the best was Human Target, a run called something like "The Tattered Man," an arc that had to do with somebody they thought had died in 9/11. I thought it was tasteful and kind of provocative, and that's a hard line to walk.
It's pretty surprising that someone who's produced an indie comic, "Graveyard of Empires", whose premise still strikes me as very ludicrous, morally equivalent and potentially insulting to the US army, and even wrote an item for DC that ties in with Identity Crisis, which is very likely a metaphor drawing from the same sick notions as 9-11 trutherism, would have the courage to admit that Veitch's screed is a bad lot and even reveal a few more disturbing details about the story structure. Who knew it would be that tasteless, and exploit real life people even by name.

Regarding his argument that you don't have to be liberal to feel as mad he does, I thought that was the other way around - you don't have to be conservative to feel as furious as he does, and recognize that the conspiracy theories truthers make are phony. Maybe it's high time he started communicating with conservatives (except for any who identify with the awful Ron Paul, the bad apple in the GOP who accepts and indulges those kind of horrific conspiracy theories), if he hasn't done so yet.

We can certainly thank Sable for having the guts to tell just how badly Veitch and company have stumbled. At the same time, it won't make any questionable storyline he's written any better, and sadly, even if he didn't contribute to 9-11 trutherism per se, he might still have contributed to some pretty grimy moonbat mindsets. If Sable doesn't want to end up on that level, that's why he'd better start reviewing his whole approach and figure out if he's engaging in the same kind of ideas the truthers would embrace.

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I didn't find it particularly courageous at all. Notice:

1. He agreed to go on with 9/11 troofers supposedly before he knew how sick their beliefs were. Then he did some research and, instead of canceling his appearance, went through with it.

2. He applauds Image for publishing blood libel like its big lie book.

3. He found it anti-Semitic, but he's "sure that's not what they mean."

4.He consistently apologizes for not being in lock-step with the crazed left.

Not especially courageous.

I think if you're going to see anything with heavy-handed political subtexts coming up it may be in Watchmen 2 which may involve Liefeld?! Hope you will do a post on the Bleeding Cool rumours from this past weekend, with a DC staffer who said that the Watchmen 2 prequels plus a 2 year crossover event at DC next year would 'break the internet in half.' I bet you there will be some cognitively dissonant preaching in Watchmen 2, while the nuts and bolts reality of building the nihilistic flames around DC's heroism will climb ever higher through 2012-14. Some think that Didio will lose his job over DCnU; I think he'll stay put and will intensify the madness. The DCnU is just an appetizer.

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