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Wednesday, August 02, 2017 

Now here's an odd one...

In recent weeks, a case came up at Chicago's School of the Art Institute where a professor who's into comics was antagonized by some LGBT activists who disliked his topics, later leading to his resignation. While certainly their tirades were unfounded and thin-skinned, the choice of the prof for one of the books to research or promote was eyebrow-raising. According to the Chicago Reader (via College Fix):
Two days after the first incident, during a discussion in his other class, Comic Book: Golden Age to Comics Code, a student launched into what Bonesteel describes as "a long diatribe about perceived anti-Semitic attitudes" of the author of an assigned text, the well-regarded Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book, by Gerard Jones.
First, it's regrettable Mr. Bonesteel chose to make the work of a man recently arrested on charges of child porn storage on his computer into a subject of his class panel discussions. For heaven's sake, how many people seem to not keep up with the news to know these things? At the same time, while I'm sure the dummy who quarreled with him about the book wasn't being altruistic, I can't help but find it fascinating whether Jones, with his leftist politics and recent police record, could harbor viewpoints degrading to Jews. Could Men of Tomorrow have anything like that inside? My best guess is probably not; it's not like most industry insiders who turn out to be scumbags are always going to be that obvious, and to be sure, as awful as Bill Cosby turned out to be, even he probably never said anything directly offensive about the communities he was trying to appeal to over the years. But that doesn't mean he couldn't harbor atrocious views about the Jewish community, or the members who were instrumental in building a medium today's managers aren't grateful for. The sad reality is that people who commit scummy acts involving children could be just as accepting of anti-semitism and misogyny, which can combine together hand in glove.

I guess that's why it's surprising the "student" in question didn't object based on what Jones has been known for since the beginning of the year. The following paragraphs could give an idea why:
According to Bonesteel, the first incident occurred on December 12 in his course the Present and Future of Outsider Art. During discussion of a theory that connects the most striking feature of Darger's work—the prevalence in it of little girls with penises—with possible childhood sexual abuse, a transgender student objected.

"The student said there was no proof that Darger was sexually abused, and therefore I was wrong in proposing the theory," Bonesteel says, adding that he agreed that there was no proof, but said many scholars thought it likely.
So let me get this straight. The transgender student took issue with a mere theory that artist Henry Darger could've been a victim of sexual assault. But he wouldn't complain about how Jones is suspected of the same, and certainly implicated himself in keeping child pornography on his computer disks. I think that says all we need to know about what kind of scumbag Mr. Bonesteel was dealing with, and whom no sensible person should have anything to do with. If I were in that class and discovered he was citing the work of somebody who scuttled his reputation as badly as Jones did, that's what I'd want to confront the instructor on, not something the book Jones wrote may not actually have inside. If anybody had brought up Jones' new police record, that could've caused embarrassment for the right reasons. No doubt, there's plenty of academics in the past 3 years who're reluctant to make Bill Cosby's and Stephen Collins' resumes subjects of class assignments in a positive light because those two would-be entertainers desecrated their own products with their backstage monstrosities. And IMHO, if any academics are aware of what Jones was arrested for, that's why they shouldn't use his stuff for their lessons, because he basically invalidated it.

I certainly do agree that Bonesteel was sadly the victim of selfish creeps who weren't being altruistic. Yet it's also most unfortunate he chose to make use of a history book written by a man who turned out to be a disgrace and whose stench will take a while to clean off the books he tainted with his felony. Still, that the "student" didn't seem concerned about what Jones was charged with does tell quite a bit about what his POV could be when it comes to topics like sexual abuse.

And what if it turns out that, whatever the content of Men of Tomorrow, it's not the most accurate history book on comicdom? A man as moonbatty as Jones isn't somebody I'd count on to have a fully authentic view of the medium. And after what he was arrested for, that's why his books aren't bound to be well regarded in the future.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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