You don't need a con report here – everything of any significance has been said at Pulse, Newsarama and here at Comic Book Resources. I was only in for a couple days, didn't attend any panels (except the Reassessing Stan Lee panel I was on, which was more interesting and better attended than I expected) or parties or even make it up to the secret Marvel hospitality suite, and didn't see (I mean I didn't even see) as many editors as I'd hoped, but got some business done for a change anyway, and thanks to Larry Young and Mimi Rosenheim, William Christensen and Diamond Distributors for their hospitality. The one thing probably not many people are going to mention is that the con is now too damn big, and I hear next year it's going to get even bigger, with plans to take over the scant remaining floor space and open a second dealer's room upstairs. The huge action there was in the many manga booths, and anyone who says there are no comics for kids haven't been paying attention to the hordes of kids – specifically girls – swooping in to buy up manga. For years it has been a tenet of American comics that neither kids nor girls buy comics, but, like most tenets of American comics, that turns out to have been sheer laziness on our part and now we're paying for it.
Courtesy of a tiny little low-res digital camera, here's this year's Comic-Con International – or some of it, anyway... (click to enlarge)
So in the last week I haven't paid the slightest attention to pop culture (if you can call attending the San Diego Con not paying attention, given that much of the programming time was given to promoting Hollywood stars and new movies, and much of my time involved chatting with producers). But it was next to impossible to stay away from politics, what with the press actually – what a shock! – questioning the Administration's behavior, "suicides" in England, more killings of American soldiers in Iraq and some really questionable behavior from the White House. It's unfortunate that most Americans waited until American soldiers were actually dying in Iraq before examining the whys and wherefores of our involvement there, and the admin's stepping all over itself claiming justifications. The war between the CIA and the White House is heating up as well, with the White House blowing the cover of a CIA field agent apparently in retaliation for her analyst husband trying to set the record straight on what the CIA knew and didn't know about the phony "Iraq wants nukes" reports that have now taken center stage in the "Did The President Lie?" debate, and when the CIA actually informed the White House. (Turns out it was November 2002.) The White House denies it, of course, which isn't surprising because revealing the identity of CIA agents is a federal crime, enacted a couple decades back in a failed attempt by Congress to put the magazine COVERT INTELLIGENCE BULLETIN out of business, but it fits with the longstanding (and largely unexamined by the press) practice of this administration to threaten swift and harsh retaliation against those who oppose its agenda. (Just ask many members of our "Coalition Of The Willing" what carrots and particularly what sticks they were offered to take part in our little adventure, mostly against the will of their own citizenry.) Capping the week for the White House must be two papers: One from the commission studying 9-11 that says pretty much what I've been saying all along (at minimum the attack was made possible by complacency in our various intelligence agencies, particularly the FBI, and turf wars that balled up the exchange of information between agencies, which suggests that no new agencies like the Office Of Homeland Security or measures like the heinous Patriot Act were necessary, and proper application of existing agencies and laws would have been just as effective); and a report from within the Justice Department itself citing many administration abuses of the Patriot Act. Me, I'd suggest the Patriot Act was created to be abused. Topping off everything was the return of war hero Jessica Lynch (I know we're not supposed to ask this, and I'm glad she's back and all, but what exactly did she do that was so heroic, besides survive with some help from Iraqi doctors and nurses?) to her hometown, whose citizens came out to cheer her return but had no compunctions about criticizing the Hand Puppet and the war on the news, just as soldiers actually stationed in Iraq have done.
Things are sounding awfully Nixonian all of a sudden.
But when the going gets tough, the tough obviously stand their tenuous ground. The Hand Puppet has been handling adversity with amazing dexterity, answering the issue of falsified Iraqi nuke reports by categorically stating they will find plutonium in Iraq, just like they will find the "weapons of mass destruction" that daily recede further and further from consensus reality. Last week, he insisted to reporters that we had to invade Iraq because we "gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power, along with other nations, so as to make sure he was not a threat to the United States and our friends and allies in the region." Conveniently forgetting, of course, that by the time we rallied an invasion force, Saddam was letting inspectors in, on their terms. Sure, he was grousing about it, and dancing this little dance where he'd complain about them, and declare resistance, and then get the out of their way, and that we were the ones who kicked them out because we didn't like the result. But that's the logic this administration specializes in.
Not that the American public isn't capable of conveniently forgetting either. Certainly the press is. As amusing as the administration's current tribulations are – and I'm not even including the collapsed job market, the inanity of pretending you can give away the US treasury and beat an ever mounting deficit while dumping a tax crisis on the states, or the health care crisis that just won't go away – a second term for the Hand Puppet remains the strongest likelihood.
If that happens, then we really get to see Nixonian.
Those wishing to comment should leave messages on the Permanent Damage Message Board. You can also e-mail me but the chances of a reply are next to nil these days, given my workload, though I do read all my e-mail as long as it's not trying to sell me something. IMPORTANT: Because a lot of people apparently list it in their e-address books, this account has gotten a slew of virus-laden messages lately. They're no real threat but dealing with them eats up time I don't really have, to the extent I can no longer accept unsolicited e-mail with attachments. If you want to send something via attachment (say, art samples) ask me first. If I say okay, then send. Unsolicited e-mail with attachments will be wiped from the server without being read. You can also leave messages for me and have discussions on other topics at my Delphi forum, GRAPHIC VIOLENCE. Please don't ask me how to break into the business, or who to submit work to. The answers to those questions are too mercurial for even me to keep up with.
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I'm reviewing comics sent to me – I may not like them but certainly I'll mention them – at Steven Grant c/o Permanent Damage, 2657 Windmill Pkwy #194, Henderson NV 89074, so send 'em if you want 'em mentioned, since I can't review them unless I see them. Some people have been sending press releases and cover proofs and things like that, which I enjoy getting, but I really can't do anything with them, sorry. Full comics only, though they can be photocopies rather than the published version. Make sure you include contact information for readers who want to order your book.
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