Thursday, January 18, 2007

Comic Book Artists I Have Known

Comic Book Artists I Have Known.
First in a series
James Robert Smith

Recently, a comic book artist/writer for whom I have much admiration stated that one of the clearest thinkers he knew was another comic book artist/writer I do not admire (to put it lightly). Which just goes to show how one can be totally surprised (even stunned) by the comments of someone whose intellectual capacity was not under any suspicion.

Since I used to work in the comic book industry as a retailer (I once owned several comic book shops), and then, peripherally, as a writer (I managed to sell several stories to several publishers), I came to know quite a number of comic book artists. Most of these folk were pleasant enough, and many of them were rather strange, and some were truly sweet, and some were dazzlingly smart, and some were glib, and some were stupid, and a few of them were actually evil.

Back in the day, when I was roaming around the USA selling collectibles, I used to stop at the home of a well-known comic creator when I was in the city where he lived. He had a great house with an enormous dry basement packed with comic books and all kinds of neat collectible shit that he dealt on the side. I really liked this guy. He had his act down, and he would quote the lines he’d rehearsed that clung to his created persona perfectly. This guy was very pleasant to be around and I always got a kick out of my visits there where I would buy lots of back issues of his comic on my way out the door at a price that enabled me to mark them up and make a decent profit.

During my visits there, we discovered that we shared an interest in WWII history. I especially liked discussing the European Theater of operations, for I’ve always found the personalities at work in that particular part of the war far more interesting than the folk fighting the racist Whites versus Asians battle going on in the Pacific Theater. This artist and I would have a good time talking about the various generals, colonels, captains, lower-grade officers and famous non-coms, and the respective battles that all made them into legends.

The last time I was at this cat’s house, he began to tell me the details of a particular German officer whose history was unknown to me: Joachim Peiper. The stories were rather interesting. And he mentioned to me a quote from Gen. Peiper. After the war, some Allied journalist asked him if he had any regrets. And Peiper’s reply was:

“Only that we lost.”

To which I replied, “Fuck that Nazi son-of-a-bitch.”

I will never forget the expression of utter pain that passed over the face of my comic book artist host. In retrospect, it was almost touching. He had thought, because I had an objective interest in professional soldiers such as Otto Skorzeny that I was sympathetic to the Nazi cause. This artist had no way of knowing that my mom was half-Jewish and that I am an ardent anti-racist. And I had, just previous to this moment, had no inkling that the artist into whose house I sometimes went to visit was, in fact, a closet neo-Nazi who, I later learned, had friends who were active in the neo-Nazi movement. I’d had no suspicion that the Nazi memorabilia in his basement had any significance other than as collectibles to be bought and sold for a profit. In short, I’d had no idea that my sometime host was an actual, honest-to-Goebbels Nazi.

Later, I learned from speaking to a few other comic book artists who lived in his area and who knew him fairly well that he was, in fact, an extreme racist and a virulent Jew-hater. One of his friends had been imprisoned after being convicted of killing a black man just so that he could meet certain criteria for a certain tattoo on his elbow.

“You might not want to go back over there,” one of the comic book artists told me.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “Not going to happen.”

I’ve told this story a few times, and I’m always asked who this guy is. Well, frankly, it’s none of anyone’s business who this guy is. My own dad was a radical leftist who thought that he would live to see the violent overthrow of the capitalist system. That was his business, to think what he wanted to think and await a revolution that was never going to come. And it’s no one’s business but his own what this artist thinks. My dad suffered because of what he thought and said, because there was no end to folk who never failed to denounce his beliefs and rat him out to the FBI and the local population who would hound him without mercy. Similarly, this Nazi comic book artist can damned well think and say and believe whatever it is he wishes without having to worry about someone ratting him out for no good reason. His racist ideas are never going to see fruit. His own right wing beliefs will never be made real. Let him think his diseased thoughts in peace as he goes about selling his art to white people and black people and Jews and taking their money and living his life.


More crazy comic book artists I have known.

The only good Nazi is a dead Nazi.

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