Sometimes I regret reading the personal views of creators whose work I admire. There are moments where one gets the nastiest surprises.
Take, for instance, Peter Bagge. For years I enjoyed everything he did, from Neat Stuff to The Bradleys to Hate. Funny stuff, and he’s one of the best cartoonists around (although why he insists he wasn’t influenced by John Stanley is beyond me). His toons are fun to look upon, generally humorous, and occasionally insightful.
Now, one of the many, many, many things in this world that I completely loathe are Libertarians. I freaking hate Libertarians. They truly and completely make me sick on my stomach. They are the same sort who would have been brownshirts in the 1930s. Republicans who like to smoke dope, one of my friends calls them. I wish they’d all fall over dead.
One day I was sitting in an office (I forget where—might have been for a medical checkup or something) and I noticed a copy of the right wing extremist Libertarian rag, REASON. Normally I wouldn’t give such a monstrous publication a second look, but either Bagge’s name was on the cover, or it was open and I noticed Peter Bagge’s name. Something made me pick up the lousy damned thing.
I opened it and saw that there was a cartoon in it by Peter Bagge. What’s this? I wondered. Have these fascistic bastards commissioned a piece by Bagge? I read the ridiculous bit of neo-Nazi propaganda and realize that not only was it not commissioned, it was a heartfelt piece by Bagge himself. Later, at home, I got in touch with some friends and learned that Bagge is a regular contributor to the Libertarian/Fascist magazine! He actually believes in that shit! GOOD GOD!!!
Now, I didn’t go about tossing out my collection of Peter Bagge graphic novels and such, but I did go through them and reread the stuff. And I realized that, specifically, the selfish bastard Buddy Bradley was not some concocted creation, but Bagge’s cartoon persona. And I realized that the golden, blessed fairy tale world in which Buddy lived was not God out of the Machine, but the twisted view of the world as envisioned by Bagge! Or, perhaps, the charmed life that Bagge was himself living—a cartoon analog of his own real world movements through the comic book industry.
At any rate, I realized that I’d have been much happier never having known that Peter Bagge is the modern equivalent of one of Mussolini’s pals. I’m sure I’ll still laugh at Bagge’s stories, but there will always be that germ of understanding that it springs from a mind infected by a truly diseased system of beliefs.
There have been other such incidents, of course. When I discovered that Steve Ditko, creator of The Amazing Spider-Man and Dr. Strange, was a follower of that monstrous whore, Ayn Rand, I was disappointed, but still went about searching out his crazed comic book manifestos. It made it easier to understand why he walked away from his gig at Marvel Comics, and also made the underlying themes of Peter Parker’s sense of personal responsibility during the years the book was written by Mr. Ditko. I really missed the overpowering angst that left that comic with the departure of its one true creator.
But it didn’t make understanding that one of my favorite comic book creators was a right wing nutcase any easier.
There have been a number of other such cases throughout the years. For some reason, SF writers tend to be pro-corporate stooges. Imagine my discomfort upon learning that many of my favorite sf writers are just a notch or two this side Uncle Adolf. Alas!
Ah, well. We can’t live closed off in a bubble. I’ll continue to read the stuff that appeals to me, and I’m sure I’ll continue to discover the unsavory belief systems of many of the folk who write and draw and direct the things that help me to while away my leisure time.