Archive for birmingham

Location, Location, Location (Comic Book Gripe #1)

Posted in comic books with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 12, 2010 by vagabondsaint

So I do have  few complaints about comic books, and this one below here is the foremost among them.

Why does it seem that the majority of comic books take place in major cities only, on the East or West coasts of the US?  There’s a hell of a lot of land and people between the coasts, so why aren’t more stories set in the middle?  Not like murders and crime don’t happen there, you know.  You think Batman’s got it rough in Gotham?  What about Captain Motor in Detroit?  You think it’s a cakewalk for that guy?  He’s been laid off from his job at Ford and now spends his nights fighting crime in a suit he can’t afford to repair and often beating up his former coworkers!  There’s got to be some interesting stories in that!  Or Mr. Zulu, dark-skinned defender of Birmingham, Alabama?  That’s a guy who’s beset on all sides, between racist cops, racist criminals, racist government. . .hell, even his sidekick is probably racist!  And while swinging through the air to arrive at a crime scene might look cool, it’s a lot harder to do when there’s nothing but trailer parks for miles around.  (Aside from that, seeing him swinging around gives the locals bad ideas.)

I give a little more credit here to the DC Universe, for at least having more than one major East Coast city stuffed to the gills with superheroes.  Gotham, Metropolis, New York City, Bludhaven (is that one still around?  I can never remember. . .), Washington DC, etc. . .but they also have an overprotected East Coast.  All I know about on the West Coast for DC are the Titans, and I know Aquaman used to be there but I think he’s dead (again).  The Titans spend a lot of their time traveling and fighting each other anyway, so I don’t know exactly what they’re supposed to be doing for the West Coast.  And, last time I read, I think Green Arrow and Black Canary were stationed in Seattle, but it’s been a while since I’ve followed them.  Besides, Seattle is full of potheads and occasional gun-nuts.  It’s an easy city to defend.  If they wanted a real challenge, they’d move to Tacoma.

As for the Marvel Universe, well, ugh.  How is there any crime at all in Marvel’s New York City?  There’s the Avengers, Daredevil, Spider-man, Iron Man, Dr. Strange. . .damn near everybody in the Marvel Universe works out of NYC.  But of course, there is the 50-State Initiative, which put a superhero team in every state, but come on – some of these heroes are so far down the list they’d be laughed out of the Great Lakes Avengers.  Maybe Texas doesn’t deserve better, but the rest of the states do.

All I’m saying, comics writers, is that there’s a whole hell of a lot of country – and therefore a whole hell of a lot of stories – between the coasts.  They don’t have to be backwoods hicks just because they don’t live in a city of over a million people, and frankly, it’s rather insulting that all the heroes ever seem to encounter outside of the big cities are backwoods hicks.

I will admit, it’s a bit more challenging to write and illustrate outside of the big cities, because you don’t have landmarks to go by for setting and you lack instant audience recognition, meaning that the writer and artist have to build a believable world for the characters the hard way, from scratch.

That, however, is the best part.  If you’re not challenging yourself as a writer, then you certainly are not challenging your audience, and without a little challenge and thought-provoking and breaking outside of the big-city box, you end up with, well, boring comics.

And nobody wants that. . .no matter where they live.

VS – 1.12.10

Moments Of Brilliance, #1: Stuck On Stupid

Posted in brilliance, politics with tags , , , , , on June 9, 2008 by vagabondsaint

For a few days, Larry Langford was my hero.

Last week, my roommate, who will be henceforth referred to in these pages as NE, brought an item on the news to my attention. (I wonder what it says about both of us that she only watches local news, while I only watch national or international news. . .but that’s something for another column.) The item was about the city of Birmingham, Alabama, which has recently placed all municipal workers on shifts of 10 hours a day, for 4 days a week, instead of the normal 8-hour day 5 days a week, in order to ease the burden of high gas prices. Good idea, right? Yeah, I thought so too. But what made Larry Langford, Mayor of Birmingham, my hero was this quote: “In America, we’ve been stuck on ‘stupid’ for so long that it’s become accepted; it’s become the norm.” (I’m paraphrasing.) And again, I have to agree with Mayor Langford. We in this country (America) have been doing things in stupid ways for so long that it’s accepted and normal and we’ll fight against any changes, even when those changes are beneficial in both personal and global ways (how long has the automotive industry been fighting against regulations to raise fuel efficiency? how long have oil companies sought through lobbying to crush efforts to develop cleaner energy sources?).

So Mayor Langford is quite correct. We need to stop being stuck on stupid and do things better, more intelligently.

One of the these things I think we need to stop is government corruption on all levels, state, federal, city, and county. For example, the case of a county commissioner in Alabama who has been under investigation by the SEC for years for suspicion of accepting $150k in cash and gifts in exchange for giving county bonds to a certain business. Said commissioner was sued by the SEC on April 30 of this year, even though he is no longer a county commissioner and is now. . .

. . .wait for it. . .

. . .is now the Mayor of Birmingham, The Arguably-Honourable Larry Langford!

The hell, Larry? The hell!

Ah well. . .I guess everyone has a moment of brilliance; even a broken clock is right twice a day.

VS – 6.9.08