The Non-Cartoonist Cartoonist ~ The “B” Word

By James Donahue

“Do you want an ass-kickin’ boy?” is more or less how each and every I’ll Kick Your Ass strip starts, no matter who the subject of the eventual ass-kicking is. Man, woman, black, white, real, fictional, or even if Ass-kickin’ Jim is speaking to an inanimate object or idea of sorts. This is the way the first few strips were written in my college newspaper/newsletter, and when restarting the strip after a very long hiatus I kept the intro exactly the same.

I did this partly to establish the theme of the strip right off the bat. I wanted to highlight that AKJ was always ready to hand out an ass-kicking and that it’s a fairly ridiculous comment to start with. I left the term “boy” included to add to how silly it was.

Calling a smartphone or a tropical storm “boy” is kind of absurd. Calling Avril Lavigne, Katy Perry, a high-ranking official, or politician “boy” just goes to show that AKJ treats everyone the same. Usually the people he is addressing do not deserve a whole lot of respect. This started with the origin strip, in which a character got walloped for pretty much no reason. Senseless and silly is all it was, and so it continued apace.

AKJ recently addressed some poorly thought comments made by Serena Williams concerning the Steubenville rape case. Some of her original comments and apologies (it took her two tries to get it correct) can be read here. For the record, I think rape and sexual assault are some of the most cowardly crimes that can be committed against a person. So when someone tries to deflect the seriousness of this act or make light of it, I feel the need to point out the wrongness of that thought process in comic strip form.

After my comic was posted, someone took issue with the strip targeting Serena not because AKJ attacked her for what she said but because he referred to a black woman as “boy.” The reader made the following comment: “Poorly worded, esp with the white man using term ‘boy.’”

I will admit this gave me certain pause. If one person saw this as offensive or racist, chances are other people might feel the same. I responded by explaining that it has always been this way and does not reflect on the race, creed, or color of AKJ’s foil, but is simply the strip’s “opening statement.” The person who left the comment thanked me for responding and agreed that Serena’s remarks were uncalled for.

Wikipedia has a very long and detailed listing when looking up the term “boy,” including a brief section on race. The definition under is as follows:

Historically, in countries such as theU.S. andSouth Africa, “boy” was not only a “neutral” term for domestics but also used as a disparagingracistinsult towards men of color (especially of African descent), recalling their subservient status even after the 20th century legal emancipation (from slavery, evolved torace segregation, viz.Apartheid) and alleged infantility, and many still consider it offensive in that context to this day since it denotes that men of color (especially of African descent) are less than men.

So while many definitions of the word “boy” exist, at least one individual thought of this context when he read my strip addressing a black woman. So the question is, how do I proceed in the future when addressing an African American in the comic? If I am going to call out Kanye West for, well, just being Kanye, or Lil’ Wayne for his recent stomping of the American flag, do I start the strip as always—referring to these individuals as “boy”—or do I play it a little more safe and say “Do you want an ass-kickin’ Kanye/Lil Wayne?”

I’m still undecided on how to proceed. Is the potential controversy and publicity that “boy” could cause worth it? I think anyone who took the time to do some research would see that I’ll Kick Your Ass is anything but a strip that promotes racism. If anything, AKJ targets the racist, sexist, elitist, and stupid.

Sooner or later a prominent African American is going to say something that is going to line him up for an ass-kickin’. At this moment I’m not sure how I will address it, but you can be sure the possible implications will be on my mind.

Pronto Presents: Writer Dennis Knight

Pronto Presents: Writer Dennis Knight
By David Rondinelli

Creator Dennis Knight has been creating comics for over six years. On the suggestion of his penciler, he decided to submit his book Cross to Pronto Comics. Fusing science fiction with urban living, Knight’s book has been greeted with accolades on the convention circuit, leading to a special kind of alchemy between Pronto Comics and Cross. In my interview with Knight, he sheds light on some of the influences that led him to become a comic writer, as well as offering some of his suggested “do’s” as a new creator entering the industry. He also lets us in on what is in store for his series and where you can find out more about it.

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The Crusty Curmudgeon’s Comic Classics ~ Superman: Digging for Gold in the Bronze Age, Part II

Superman: Digging for Gold in the Bronze Age, Part 2
Great Superman Artifacts of the 1970s and Early 1980s

© 2013 Paradox Productions LLC

Alright, so we examined the failings last time. Now let’s get to some of that gold.

kamandi29Outside of Superman’s more regular titles, there were a number of appearances elsewhere that served the character really well. First, there is Jack Kirby’s Kamandi #29 (cover date May 1975)—a story where Superman does not actually appear, nor is he even identified by name, but hoo boy is his presence ever felt!

If you’re unfamiliar with Kamandi, it’s set in a dystopian future where, due to the “Great Disaster,” man is virtually extinct and anthropomorphic animal creatures vie for supremacy. As this issue opens, Kamandi (the “last boy on Earth”) and his android companion Ben Boxer come across a tribe of ape-men that appear to worship the legend of Superman.

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Review: Justice League Dark Volume 1: In the Dark

By David Rondinelli

Author: Peter Milligan
Artist: Mikel Janin
Publisher: DC Comics
Publication Date: October 2012

JLD1Dominating my pile of comics over the last year, Justice League Dark (JLD) has been the must-buy book every month. Justice League Dark Volume 1 collects issues 1–6: readers are introduced the characters, watch the team form, and see them defeat their first enemy.

Surpassing some of DC’s other team titles, I first felt the effects of JLD when I saw an image of its first cover in a New 52 preview book. I even snagged extra copies of the preview so I could have multiple copies of the image. When the premier issue debuted in September 2011, I was hooked. Of DC’s New 52 reboot, some of the rewritten characters and histories have changed for the worse, but JLD packs punches with pinpoint precision. I read the first issue three times in a row, and then once more just to better absorb the art.

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The Crusty Curmudgeon’s Comic Classics ~ Superman: Digging for Gold in the Bronze Age, Part I

Superman: Digging for Gold in the Bronze Age, Part 1
Analyzing the Failures of the Superman Stories of the 1970s and Early 1980s

© 2013 Paradox Productions LLC

As discussed last time, the greatest era of Superman is generally considered to be the period after Mort Weisinger took the editorial reins of the character, circa the mid-1950s through the late 1960s (the Silver Age).

Conversely, the character’s weakest period was likely the Julie Schwartz era, from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s (the Bronze Age). If you got your start reading comics in this later era (like me), then you already know that finding a good Superman story amongst all the flotsam was quite a chore back then. So I thought I’d follow up my previous blog post with a survey of the best Superman tales of this time, along with an analysis of why the majority of them were so weak.

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