Thursday, May 06, 2010


There are things that I like in pop culture. Some of these things I like enough to consider myself a "fan". The word "fan" is an abbreviation for "fanatic". Now that latter term is not generally a nice word, but the shortened version means something far more acceptable. A "fan" buys autographs. A "fanatic" throws bombs at civilians.

I'm actually a fan of the works of a number of artists and writers. I consider myself a fan of the American writer Ray Bradbury and I consider myself to be a fan of the American comic book artist Steve Ditko. Both of these guys are very talented within their field of work, and both of them are right wing extremists when it comes to politics. That's okay, because I don't admire them because of who they vote for, but for the way they create works of art. And in Bradbury's case, it's clear to me and everyone else who bothers to look to see that he was a leftie in his youth and (like many other bitter old farts) became a right wing jerk in his twilight years.

Their political and philosophical views did not make me avoid, nor attract me to their works. In the case of Ray Bradbury he wrote so beautifully that I consumed every short story collection he published and scrounged for every magazine and anthology that carried his work. He started me down a road that eventually led me to becoming a published author. I owe him quite a lot for that, I love him for that, and I am his fan for that.

Similarly with Ditko I was attracted to his creations and his style of artwork in comics. He created two of my very favorite comic book characters: The Amazing Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. I have never used the word "genius" when it comes to comic book creators, but Steve Ditko comes pretty damned close to that term. His style is totally unique among comic book artists. No one else has ever been able to draw like him, and very few seem to use the comic book layout in quite so imaginative and intelligent a manner. But I'm convinced that the man is as crazy as a tick on a marble statue of Lassie. Still and all, I am one of his fans.

I'm so much a fan of the works of these two old gentlemen that I collect their various publications. I own first editions by Ray Bradbury, at least two of them autographed by him. Similarly, I own original comic books illustrated (and written) by Steve Ditko. I go out of my way to purchase these items and spend good money on them. I enjoy these things and I consider the collecting of them to be pleasant hobbies and actually good investments.

However, one thing that I did in the case of both men that I utterly regret is to join fan groups dedicated to them. In both cases I thought that I would read insightful commentary on the merits of the creations of Mr. Bradbury and Mr. Ditko. In both cases I was sadly mistaken.

For, in the case of both of these groups of so-called "fans", I found them to be packed with monsters who actually follow Bradbury and Ditko because of their crazed political ideals. It's one thing to like a man despite the fact that he's a fascist or a racist or an advocate of the rape of Mother Earth. But it's another thing entirely to actually agree with those ideas and admire the men who spout such bullshit. After joining a Bradbury group I found virtually the whole jumble of these folk to be right wing creeps. After a short time I vacated that online madhouse and moved on, trying to forget the insanity I'd seen there.

Later, having conveniently forgotten my experience with Mr. Bradbury's diseased fan base, I joined an online group of Steve Ditko fans. Once again I made the mistake of assuming that these people would want to discuss the various points concerning Ditko's artwork and his vast and varied career in the publishing industry. Oh, I knew there would be some discussion of his wacky political ideas, but I really couldn't believe that almost all of the people in the group would actually be adherents of fascism. I was wrong. After a while I realized that these creeps actually admired Mr. Ditko's diseased political and philosophical teachings! I was stunned, but why should I have been? I'd walked into a leech-infested swamp. I spread as much salt as I could on the infestation and left.

Oh, well. I guess I'll continue to be a fan of this or that. It's in my nature. But I'll never get used to discovering folk who wish to follow the rantings of tired senile old farts stewing in hatred and contempt for the common man who, strangely, admire them for that contempt.

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