mitsu bishi, avatarbug, ambush bug

More thoughts on politics

I am enjoying this political work very much. However, I think my real home is, and always will be, in the world of fiction.

Politics is a fiction as well. The world is essentially out of control, with people doing whatever they feel like and only the vaguest skeins of accountability to be thrown over the smallest and poorest of thieves. Politics is the art of closing an infinite number of doors after an infinite number of horses have left the barn, and the few triumphs are so sparse as to be accidental.

People really like working with me on politics. It's because they think I have the ability to get people excited, to bring new people in. I do not. I most certainly do not. Nobody can bring new people in. The number of people who are interested in politics is essentially fixed, and it has not been affected in the slightest by this much-vaunted "radicalization of the left." The people that it has brought in are generally not that interested in politics, they're interested in fiction and fashion that uses the labels of politics to seem important. They want to be in a local production of the West Wing, they don't actually want anything to do with politics.

I know this, but others don't. They seem to think that I can bring people in, but what I can actually do is convince a certain type of person that I am representative of a vast group of people who they don't know and wish they did. I'm not bringing in new people, I'm impressing the same old people.

That's the game.

Now, since I'm in on the joke, I'm free to accomplish certain things, and that's what I've been doing with local politicians. Since I understand that it is all so laughably small, predicated on such a minuscule number of people, I've been treating it like a local promotional campaign and doing quite well at it. For me, a speech that doesn't go over with a crowd is as meaningful as a band that plays to an empty bar. An unpopular fringe politician is not bad or wrong, they are just not playing to the right venues. The basics of promotion are not superseded by the Holy Calling of Important Issues; people are till more likely to go to the show if you put fliers under the windshield wipers of their cars. I can reach across party lines because the parties are both ridiculous. These groups and processes are not Right or Wrong, they are tools, and I am not frustrated when one tool is insufficient to every task. I simply switch tools.

But there is one thing that bothers me.

Everybody hates amateurs.

Example: professional comic book artists have a strict unspoken hierarchy, and it's entirely based on money, influence, sales, and connections. At the heart of it all is still the money. The artist who makes a million dollars is better than the artist who makes a thousand. But We have no idea what to do about rich dilettantes who just muck around, spending money on bizarre promotions, driving up the costs of conventions, not making any money or anything worth reading. They're a serious problem. They crowd out real hard-working artists.

I don't know any industry that doesn't feel that way. Think of how an air conditioner repairman feel when they show up and somebody tells them, "Oh, my friend who works on air conditioners for fun did some stuff to it." They're not worried about being crowded out of their business, but they are grimly certain that they're about to have to fix some horrible mistakes. How do doctors feel about people who aren't doctors giving medical advice? How does a professionally trained musician feel about competing with a fifteen-year-old who plays blues guitar? Nobody likes it. Professionals hate amateurs, and they're not necessarily wrong.

So what are we doing here?

One of the candidates here has a million dollars. It all came from small donations. Practically none of it came from Kentucky. The candidate made a national TV commercial which featured her and a fighter jet, and people outside Kentucky watched it and sent her money, and now she has a million dollars. Who are we to argue with that? She's just making a living selling something that people want.

What a lot of people outside Kentucky want is the appearance of political transformation in Appalachia. They don't actually want the change, they couldn't care less what happens around here. They just want to believe that something they like might happen and, most importantly, they want that feeling of virtue and self-sacrifice that comes from sending their avatar an irrelevantly small amount of money. Is there anything wrong with that? It's no less delusional than the usual claptrap about "voting can change the world."

So this woman has a million dollars, and over here, we're doing it for free. She's making money hand over fist in the exact same industry that we are in, when we're making practically nothing, and there's nothing wrong with that. We are not virtuous because of poverty, she is not craven because of donations. What we are is amateurs, and she is a professional.

Interesting fact about political campaigns: that which you don't spend, you get to keep. So even if she runs the best campaign in the world, running for all the rightest things, which she most certainly is not, she's still doing very well off of this. She doesn't have to worry about paying rent this year. She's a pro. She makes the big bucks.

So what are we doing here?

The metaphor is inescapable. Name any industry where amateurs are preferred to professionals. There is none. There aren't even any industries where amateurs have a place beside professionals; the best that is expected of them is that maybe, if they're patient and they try real hard, they can convince a professional to agree with them, or someday become a professional themselves.

If you subtract our motives and higher goals from this, we are only amateurs who are telling professionals what to do.

That bothers me.

And we say things like, "Get money out of politics," but I don't see anything else in the whole entire world that we're trying to get money out of. As a general rule, people are trying to get money into things.
mitsu bishi, avatarbug, ambush bug

Cloudhopper #226

So, (sort of) funny story.

I went to South Texas Comic Con, which is a particularly good show. It's profitable and fun, because people down there really care. Comics aren't a hipster affectation like they are in Austin, they're a THING and people CARE.

But it's a long way away. South Texas is as south as it gets, it's literally the border of Mexico. As in, you can see Mexico from the convention center. You have to drive through some weird places to get there, too.

So I arrive an hour late, and my first customer appears before I even get my table, and it's this woman from last year who bought Cloudhopper 1 & 2 and I promised her #3 would be done by this year and here she is and she's excited to buy book three.

Which I of course have not completed.

So let's get right to that! Here's page 226. Sorry for the delay, Cynthia.

mitsu bishi, avatarbug, ambush bug

Monomania panel 8

In college I had one teacher who absolutely believed that Roman Polanski was the greatest director of all time. He believed this so strongly that he made us watch Polanski’s student films. One of them was about two guys who carry a dresser around Poland. The dresser had a mirror on it. The teacher talked about that mirror for months.

I’ve always been oddly grateful to that guy, because, even though he was completely wrong (Paul Verhoeven is the greatest director of all time) but he did make me pay attention to Roman Polanski movies, and they are a kind of good that no other movie is.

Radio Free North Hollywood.

mitsu bishi, avatarbug, ambush bug

DIE SKY DIE and also Monomania panel 06

As a person with a rather dark sense of humor, one of the funniest things I know about is Operation Starfish Prime. This really happened.

Long story short, we (as a species) discovered the Van Allen Belts, then immediately nuked them “for science.” But then we forgot to get any rockets to send up to study the explosion. So we didn’t really learn much.

What’s that, you say? We learned to not nuke the sky? Well, one thing is that we already knew that. And the other thing is that I don’t think we learned even that.

Like I said, this really happened.

Radio Free North Hollywood.

mitsu bishi, avatarbug, ambush bug

Actually, that was the end of book six of Fief.

Circumstances vis-a-vis comics have changed substantially, and I am now entirely engaged upon a new comic that I’m doing with two collaborators, Mike Comeaux and Joey Graham, and we’re working on this new thing called Monomania.

What that means though is that this chapter of Fief, which only had ten frames left to run anyway, has been unceremoniously pushed to the side for a bit. Which is okay, because I think by ending the story right here it’s a little more interesting. It’s an accidental cliffhanger, but I’ll take it. If you’re really in some way offended by that, I’ll tell you what happens next; Leda’s mother slaps her for running away. Because Leda’s mother suffered a TBI and cannot control her anger. The end, start of the next chapter.

Or, as it turns out, that’s the start of the next chapter and then all the stuff about Robocop and the hypnotic video games happens.

But not for a bit! Because I’m going to let Monomania pre-empt this channel for a while. I’m going to start with a few days of preliminary sketches and then probably launch right into panels. I have some ideas for those panels.

Anyway, that starts this Thursday! So you can still come here twice a week and find interesting things to see, and Fief will return after this short break. I’m really hoping to have the first book of Monomania done by Christmas.

Radio Free North Hollywood.