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Wednesday, July 02, 2014 

Chuck Dixon explains what he thinks about politics in superhero comics

Dixon was interviewed by CBR about his newest Alien Legion miniseries and Winterworld, and also told them what he thinks about injecting so much leftism into corporate owned superhero comics:
You got a lot of attention recently for an article in the Wall Street Journal that discussed the phenomenon of a liberal bias in comics. It seemed like the point you and co-writer Paul Rivoche were trying to make got lost a bit in the shuffle. What did you hope readers would take away from the piece?

The point that Paul Rivoche and I made in the article was that there seems to be a liberal or left-wing bias in superhero comics, and it leads to characters being portrayed in a morally ambiguous manner. In addition to some purely political material appearing in mainstream superhero comics. Specifically superhero comics. If you want to put politics in your own comic, go ahead, that's a great thing. But to put it in mainstream superhero comics and use them as a platform for your own political views is something we object to. And we object to it from both ends. We don't think these characters should be used for anyone's point of views even if they agree with us.

When I wrote these characters, I didn't have them present my political views or any political views at all other than their own that are part of their character. Such as Batman is anti-gun. I wrote a lot of anti-gun speeches for Batman that were well-justified and compassionate. I am not personally anti-gun or anti-second amendment, but that's the character. You don't write it different than what's established. That was basically our premise, that these were iconic characters shared by generation after generation and should be pretty much just left alone as good guys and bad guys.

So you're not saying there should be more conservatism to "off-set" the liberal bias you talk about?

I would certainly welcome more conservative people entering comics publishing, but to do works like "Forgotten Man," a book Paul and I worked on, not to do "Superman" with one superhero arguing one political side and another arguing a different side. It's just not what they're for. They're supposed to be escapist. We read this stuff to get away from that crap not to read more of it.
That makes some sense. To be sure, there are some issues that can be brought up in mainstream that don't qualify as political per se, like drug addiction, a problem that should concern everyone, but there's others that do count as political from a leftist view, such as refusing to take down despots overlording in third world countries like Iraq, and turning backs on those who suffer the worst from dictators, both physically and economically. And if anti-war positions and disrespect for the best of American values are all modern leftist writers are going to concern themselves with, then they'll only succeed in wrecking many good casts in superhero and sci-fi tales. That includes stories where the messages are metaphorical just as much as those based on real life situations.
Do you think the article was misinterpreted by the comics community?

Yeah, I think so. They took it from the headline. I think the headline was rather unfortunate that they assigned to it. Something using liberal as a pejorative, which we didn't do in the body of the work. And it had a paywall, so people were only able to read the headline and a couple lines. Then they assumed what it was about from that point on. Plus it's the Internet and people just base stuff off their assumptions anyway. [Laughs] You can't win there. But it certainly sparked a discussion. And I didn't troll the Internet looking for hate but what reached me was supportive even if people disagreed with me. They were supportive of the discussion.

It was interesting to do. I was in the Wall Street Journal and that's pretty cool. And then the subsequent appearance on Fox News. It's always cool to be on TV. Get a peek at what that strange world is like. I think the Fox thing fired people up even more because certain people just hear the words Fox News and they just lose their minds. We basically just reiterated the same thing we said in the article. That we wished there wasn't as much politics in superhero comics. In superhero comics. I keep stressing superhero. Mainstream, action figure, kids wearing pajamas with their pictures on them. Those guys. Because I keep hearing I don't want any comics to be political and I never said that. Paul and I worked on the "Forgotten Man" which certainly has a political point of view but we didn't put Batman in it.
Some leftists had their minds made up from the very start what they thought of Dixon's view, and some can't seem to stand the Fox channel either, 15 years after it went commercial. But how to get the mainstream companies to stop approving of all this leftist nonsense in their products? The only way to truly accomplish that goal is to buy them out from the conglomerates who own them.

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Dixon is right. Creators are free to create their own characters and strips, and use them to express any political opinions they want. But they should not use established (and often iconic) characters that they did not create and that they don't own.

I'm not sure about the idea that "Batman is anti-gun." The character occasionally carried and used a gun in the earliest (1939-40) stories. After that, he didn't, but that wasn't because of political correctness. It was part of DC's across-the-board policy of toning down violence in comics, once they realized that most comic book fans were kids twelve and younger. In the early 1970's, when comics began to move left, Batman and other heroes began to adopt an overt anti-gun attitude. (Along with a PC attitude in general.)

And Dixon is also right about the knee-jerk reaction to any mention of "Fox News." That network has been demonized by the leftists, who will not tolerate the existence of even one media outlet that doesn't follow the PC party line. If Fox reports that 2+2=4, Mark Waid and Dan Slott will be on Twitter the next day, ranting that 2+2=3.

Well, Superman was created by two leftists who wanted a hero for the little guy. Superman's creators had him fight the KKK, right?

Wonder Woman was created as a political statement that women were equal to men (if not maybe a little more superior ;-). Her creator is very specific about her creation.

Captain America is pretty obviously political with a character who fights for the U.S.A. against its enemies.

The X-Men represented an oppressed minority that struggled to fight for survival and integration.

The whole concept of superheroes as vigilantes is a political statement. Are they defenders of the average person facing tyranny of an uncaring oppressive regime or one that provides little justice where an outsider must come in to fight for justice or...?

The Three Musketeers is centuries old. It's a grand adventure but it's also intensely political. It's a French novel written by man who experienced racism for black ancestry, a man who's father rose to fame as a general but was felled by prejudice and circumstance. Dumas injected his life and his father's life into his works.

Anon @ 4:19, Superman vs. the KKK was a radio serial, not the comics by S&S.

And Wonder Woman, not so much about equality. There's a reason why she carried a lasso, wore slave manacles, and always seemed to wind up getting tied up. Avi covered this a while back.

I have no problem with superheroes (or any form of entertainment) being political. But by "political," I don't mean "insulting half or more of your potential audience," which is what happens today. Consequently, you'll lose me as a customer.

Escapism sells better than flipping the bird to people who might otherwise buy your product, but if you want to lose money, no skin off by back.

...and then what? Replace it with rightist nonsense? The time for politics in entertainment is over: left, right, or center, politics + entertainment can only equal trouble.

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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