Just Because: A Response to a Review of Loser Comix #2

“As learned commentators view
In Homer more than Homer knew.”
Jonathan Swift
from “On Poetry,” 1733

Before responding to the review in question (hence, the title of this little waste of time), I’d like to say an honest thanks to Rob Clough for actually taking some time to look at the book.  No one else bothered to do so, not in any critical sense, and what he said, inasmuch as it is accurate — and, to be sure, there is plenty of truth in what he wrote — is useful for me.

Alien eyes on your work and an honest report back what was experienced and judged is worth more than gold to an artist.  There is no anger or recrimination in what I’m about to say (however slightly sarcastic it may sound).  In fact, I highly recommend his blog, HIGH-LOW and many others do as well.  It received an award for being a top 75 comics blog and I have absolutely no argument with that: he earned it.

The link to the review of LOSER COMIX #2 and other books, 20 March 2017, is here: http://highlowcomics.blogspot.com/2017/03/short-mini-reviews-dzender-tyamamoto.html

By all means, read it and his other reviews.  I do so.

As you can see, gentle reader, I quoted Swift at the start, so one could get some notion that I don’t completely agree with the review.  In fact, it is mysterious to me how it came to be reviewed by Mr. Clough at all.  he reviews mini-comics; this is NOT a mini-comic.  And I didn’t send it to him.

LC #2 was published in 2014 — it is now 2017 and I’ve moved far beyond the  approaches in that set of works… most of which were made prior to 2014.  So, who knows why anyone would send him old, (in some senses) obsolete work that doesn’t fit the category of books he reviews?

Perhaps as a favor; perhaps as a sort of insult.  Who knows?

And who cares?  I don’t.  It’s simply odd.

But it does call for some sort of response as that is now hanging around on the internet and people read it and may have walked away with an impression that, while partially true, is partially problematic.  As I am interested more than bothered, I thought I’d say a few words… with pictures to illustrate my points.

I will quote liberally from the review as this, too, is a review and I make absolutely nothing from these essays… in spite of the donate button.  Internet = “free,” it seems, so, there you go.

Mr. Clough writes:
Loser Comix #2, by Richard Van Ingram. These are underground comics in the tradition of Robert Crumb and Skip Williamson, full of heavily-rendered drawings that parody pop culture and politics. This issue was the end result of a Kickstarter campaign and it shows, with high production values and full color throughout. ”

Yes, these ARE underground comix in that tradition, especially that of Skip Williamson.  Less Crumb whom I find extremely talented yet overrated.  He believes his own press and feigns a sort of self-deprecating humility in his works.  As for sexual weirdness, S. Clay Wilson was so bizarre as to be hilarious – Crumb is a pale imitation and, often, not hilarious but disturbing.  Either way, none of my books thus far contains much sexual weirdness, not that I am opposed to such — it’s just not my shtick.

Feh.  Actually, I am for more influenced by Spain Rodriguez, Gilbert Shelton, Jaxxon, Dave Sheridan, and any number of others.  The list is very long.

Yes, I often crosshatch.  No, I didn’t learn it from Crumb – he didn’t invent the technique.  I’m influenced by Hogarth and Goya’s print work; I have a degree in printmaking as an intaglio and relief printer (and an advanced degree in philosophy, but who cares?).  At this point, I’m pushing 52 years of age.  I learned to draw with pens as a very, very small child, not pencils.  50 odd years with pens in hand.  So, there we go.

The book was printed after a Kickstarter campaign that was more successful than I could dream — so I did have good printing.  As an object, the thing looks good.

LOSER COMIX #2, Richard Van Ingram 2015
LOSER COMIX #2, Richard Van Ingram 2014

[First tip – this drawing was made in 2012.  One can clearly read the date – as one can on all the work in the book.  Many of the things in this book were years old by the time they saw print in ’14.  Welcome to poverty and indie-publishing.  But keep that fact in mind as we go: It’s somewhat important.]

Mr. Clough writes:
“There’s a plague story that’s a thinly-veiled political allegory that has some genuinely funny lines and a densely inked, horrific quality to the art. Van Ingram’s visual sense is perhaps a couple of steps ahead of his ideas,….”

Well, yes, there is such a story — chapter one of “RETURN OF THE PLAGUE.”  I’ve never published the rest of it, so it remains to be seen whether and what I have here is an allegory, thinly-veiled or not, and whether or not, taken all together, what one has is a deeper set of symbols with much more than a simple or simplistic political meaning.  I think that’s a reductionist reading that comes from skimming, not really paying attention to the references in the piece, and not mentioning that it is one chapter, not the whole story.  In fact, I’m afraid one of the drawbacks, if not the main drawback in Clough’s review is that he skimmed the comic and didn’t really read it.

Yes, this may be my fault — perhaps my writing is horrible or trite.  But as comix are primarily a visual medium and the meaning comes from synthesizing any words with the images, I’d hope my visual sense is primary.  Whether it’s ahead of my ideas – as the visuals are the concretization of the ideas — I find difficult to accept.  We’ll see.

[First, a splash page. Yes, there’s a nude. We’ll get back to that.]

OK. There’s “RETURN OF THE PLAGUE” Part One.

Some notes:
On the down side –
a) I experimented with fonts. Some are too small; others not easy to read once printed. There are a couple of mistakes when I typed, and I didn’t catch them, either.
b) The whole thing – this story and the entire book – was an experiment.  A variety show; different styles, different approaches; different techniques.  I keep the styles and techniques consistent, as you will see, within each story or vignette, but there is no overall unification in approach.
c) This was on purpose, but I’m not sure it was good judgment.  I wanted to see, by feedback, what viewers wished to see more of and what they wished to less of in future work. I have no idea, myself, without asking and showing. But it does make the book a sort of 1960s-’70s variety show of comix.. by one person.  This is an inherent weakness.

On the up side –
a) This story is far more subtle than the obvious surface reading.  A closer reading would reveal:
b) There are three major themes at work. 1) The nature of reality as mediated through beliefs (and technology, which is a sort of reified belief system) – e.g. why is this woman viewed as an enemy because she had a cough? 2) The power of false and true stories we tell ourselves, the nature of lie and truth, the difficulty of interpretation, the necessity of doubt, dogmatic certainty as the origin of atrocity and dehumanization. 3) Death is our universal fate.  How best to live in the face of it?
c) The title is a tip off.  What is this “Plague” that is returning?  It’s a reference to Albert Camus’ novel, THE PLAGUE.  Also, the old man is the captured Heavy Metal Kid — a reference to William S. Burroughs… and his theme of “The Word Virus.”  This is referenced in the newscaster’s narration at the beginning of the story.

These would be played out as the story unfolds in future chapters, but the basis is all there as hooks… if you think about what I’m doing.  Which would require reading and thinking, not skimming the story.  Whether I pulled that off is one thing; whether the reviewer gave it a fair shake is another.  Decide for yourself.

I’m not a “conceptual artist” which, itself, is a disease in contemporary art — the substitution of a mysterious backstory to justify an impoverished presentation.  In fact, such artists just need to write down the backstory as an essay and leave off the visuals as that’s really all there is.

I’m not doing that, so one sees what is there symbolically and metaphorically or one doesn’t.  In this case, the failure is either in the viewer or in the artist, or both.  I remain unsure after the review.

Mr. Clough writes:
“Van Ingram’s visual sense is perhaps a couple of steps ahead of his ideas, like the Loser Tarot. It’s a funny concept that’s beautifully-illustrated, but the actual ideas “The Ex-Wife”, “The Republican” are on the bland side.”

If those were the only two images in the satirical tarot, I might completely agree.  Yet, they aren’t and, taken together, they are a sort of story in flashes of encounters; nor are they the entire set: it’s an ongoing project I began in 2004 (though I didn’t mention all of that nor need to do so):

A Tarot deck is many things at once; a satire of a tarot deck could be many things.  In this case, it is, as is traditional, a journey; the journey of The Loser into the world and all the things The Loser passes through and is changed by, must face, in the journey of experience.  That’s just basic tarot interpretation.  “The Loser” is, in part, me as a symbol for my generation, Gen X, (I am on the prow of that generation).  It uses some autobiography as a jumping-off point for universal and topical situations and experience… and private, absurd jokes.  I was raised in the US American South so images like “The Republican,” while stereotypical, are also ubiquitous and true.  Bland? Show that thing to a white trash Republican and tell me how bland the reaction is.  Good luck.

Mr. Clough writes:
“The Peanuts parody Chunky Brown is tedious at best, turning Charlie Brown and Linus into loser hipster types, Lucy in [sic] a capitalist femme fatale (in one panel, her nipples poke through her shirt for no discernible reason) who sends them to work at a used bookstore. ”

First, the title of the Peanuts parody is Chunky Brownuts.  Again, a sign someone skimmed and did not really read the “tedious” thing.  The title has been Chunky Brownuts has been since about 1980 and is written plainly everywhere in the book.  Secondly, there are four Chunky Brownuts stories in here in four styles, the latter two stories featuring the talking dog and his overgrown, anxiety-ridden rooster side-kick.

The Lucy-ish character does have nipples in one scene — she’s an adult, a femme-fatale,  and this is a damn underground comic!  “No discernible reason…” for nipples?! I’d love to see Clough talk about Crumb, Williamson, or nearly any other undergrounder.  Plus, Lucrezia (Lucy) is an archetype of laissez-faire capitalism (and a reference to Lucrezia Borgia, the poisoner) — it’s all a swindle that draws one in by looking appealing and then spits one’s corpse out after extracting all value.  As obvious as can be.  Nipples, indeed.  Plus, by this point in the book I’ve featured two nude women.  Suddenly, this bothers the reviewer?

We’ll look first, talk later.

That was Story One.

That’s Story Two. If that title isn’t large enough for a blind person to see, I don’t know what to do.

[Actual major flaws here: I should have lettered it with a nib.  The art could be much better – I was looking for a style and dropped back to how I drew in the 1980s… in high school.  Out of self-serving nostalgia. Bad move.]

Story Three. Notice, I switched focus to Skip Dog and Weirdstock.  Are these the “hipster losers”?  Most hipsters I observe have money to waste on all manner of stylish things: Hence, “hipsters.”  At best, these guys are slackers.  Losers to be certain, but read the title of the comic book.  I advertised nothing but.

[These are the offending nipples.  I apologize on behalf of Deity for creating us as mammals with interesting body parts and shapes I see little reason in pretending don’t exist.]

[Oops. More cartoon nipples. Beware.]

Here we go: Is this just an autobiographical bit (and autobiographical comix are too, too often tedious as hell.  If you aren’t a Justin Green maybe you should avoid them)?

As Clough writes, “…[They go] to work at a used bookstore. That latter development was clear [sic] Van Ingram’s way of getting back at his awful used bookstore job, which was probably cathartic for him but not especially relevant for the reader.”

It’s partially autobiographical, but it’s much more about intelligent adults working retail – or any other job – while being treated as serfs by authoritarian little Napoleons who’ve Peter Principled their way into managerial positions.

Is that relevant to any reader in the USA?  Beats me.  Clough doesn’t think so and is rather dismissive about it; perhaps it’s been awhile since he had to go take a shit job.  Or has just forgotten the experience, or had a better one.  They do exist.  But pleasant experiences don’t make for drama or humor.

“Tedious”?  Maybe… maybe not.  Again, the reviewer didn’t get the title correct and conflated four stories.  This suggests it just wasn’t his cup of tea, he skimmed along, and gave a superficial response more than a critique here.

I’m unsure.  But I am sure there’s more here than he strongly suggests.  It may not be any good — “good” in this medium has much to do with effectiveness.  You judge.

Mr. Clough writes of this story:
“There’s an accurate but tedious bit of social commentary about a yokel voting against his own interests by supporting Republicans.”

That’s it?

First, I’m from the South, born and raised in Southern Appalachia.  That “yokel” is a cartoon representative of the people I grew up with – and my sympathies in this comic are with him, oddly enough.  He believes in his country, sacrifices his kid to war, works like a dog – because he’s taught hard work eventually “pays off”; his sick wife is exploited by a super-wealthy church, they can’t afford to live like humans… yet he has been propagandized by a party of fucking liars who’ve sold him an empty bag of promises and cliched slogans all his life.  And he believes because he is a good person.  He’s trusting.  He doesn’t believe the flag and bible waving bastards would screw him over and use him for slave labor and could care less if he lives or dies.

Secondly, if The Stinkin’ Rich Dough Boy isn’t a prediction of the coming of Donald J. Trump & Company, I’ll give you a quarter.  He’s also a commentary on the materialist direction of The USA since Reagan and the rape of average working people.  His story is also a humorous primer on the 2008 economic collapse and the aftermath.

I did this in 2010 or ’11.  It was previously published in another magazine and received good reviews.

But it, too, is “tedious.”

At the mention of that word in Clough’s writing for, like, the tenth time, I was ready to send him a thesaurus.

Finally, Mr. Clough writes:
” Van Ingram works best when he works briefly, like a hilarious strip about Richard Nixon seeing the future and the Partridge Family sending a message from 3013 to 1973, thanking them for their help in ousting Nixon and establishing a utopia. A serious strip about the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson wouldn’t have been out of place in World War III Illustrated, and here Van Ingram’s dense but colorful style and page design perfectly encapsulates the desperate quality of his text. Van Ingram has a great deal of talent, and it’s clear that he’s trying to find the best way to use it.”

Here, I have nothing to disagree with at all.  In fact, it’s flattering.

These were, chronologically, the last pieces I did before printing the book.  Factually, the Ferguson incident fired me up, to say the least.  It pointed the way for most of my work since 2014.

Epilogue
Why Did I Care Enough To Write This?

There is a unifying theme to this book, which is, at best, a potpourri; at worst, it is a hodgepodge.  That theme is antipathy to injustice, intolerance for intolerance.

It’s not a book to be read at one sitting — it’s dense.  It has diverse approaches.  It flips from one perspective to a radically different one.  It has intense sections and lighter sections, darker and more humorous ones… it is all horrific, in some sense.

And maybe that’s why Mr. Clough, with limited time, wound up skimming most of it (which is my guess): Perhaps he attempted to read it all at one sitting as one does a mini-comic.  It’s not a normal comic in that sense and, obviously, NOT a mini.  It demands some time and attention and consideration.  Whether it deserves such is another judgment; maybe it doesn’t and, if not, that is its failure.

Since then, I’ve changed my approach.  This was my first serious foray into comix since 1995 — the entire approach and market and audience has changed radically since ’95.   So radically, I’m bewildered.  I’m also older and isolated.  So, this was an attempt to sound out an audience as much as anything.  Comix is not a matter of “build it and they will come.”  In some sense, one has to attract an audience, but to do that, one has to understand the audience.

Attention spans and background knowledge are not what they were, once upon a time.  I thought my audience would be in its 20s; turns out, it’s largely 45 and over.  Surprise.  And folks in their late teens and into their 20s-30s are not the most politically/socially/philosophically interested bunch, as a group, it seems.  They talk, they protest: they do not read.

The line,  “Here we are now, entertain us,” was prophetic; and a pure Gen X  epitaph for a new generation yet to come of age.  But it has arrived.  It is Gen Y, The Millennials, a generation with interests that differ from my own, a different historical mission and outlook, a generation as multitudinous as mine is minute.

My work is vaguely entertaining, but only for a niche audience.  I don’t attempt to please everyone, can’t.  While my work is pop culture, it won’t be popular pop culture.  Making this book taught me that.  It’s aptly titled.  Proudly.

19-20 July 2017

Richard Van Ingram

Many of my books can be read, free, at:
https://comixunderground.tumblr.com/

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Tea Shades and Brill Creme

FICTION

It never happened.  Most things don’t.

He stopped in at what passes for a gas station in America, now.  Had to pee – long drive in the heat and a steady diet of soda will do that for you.  It was a mini-mart sort of affair: some groceries, soft drinks, beer, candy — all overpriced.  Convenience is something for which one will pay and pay, and pay some more.

As with most things.

First thing was this when he walked in: a guy, looked as if he hadn’t bathed in days, permanently grey, scruffy face, hair slicked as if he’d wandered out of the 1950s right from a Brill Creme ad aimed at mechanics — this fellow cut him off with a sort of wide headed greenish broom affair.  And no wonder.  The man’s tea shades were flat black and the lighting in the store was fluorescently next to non-existent.

Talking, talking, talking while he worked, diligently moving the invisible dirt around.

Maybe one of those phones people jam in their ear.

Our friend’s second, and true, thought in these situations was always, “…or schizophrenia,” though.  Not that it worried him.  Instead, he stepped around the broom-man and proceeded towards the men’s room… only to be cut off at the pass at the end of the narrow lane of shelves by the broom again.

He’s gonna walk right in front of me, slow, all the way down that damned hall to the men’s room.

And, yes, he did.  Jabbering all the way, only to stop at the cooler door, inexpertly snap it open, stick his head inside and yell, “Anybody in here drinking it up?!  Heh, heh, heh.”

The other man, bladder unyielding in the face of attempts at humor, demanded he slide by the comedian, go into the men’s room, and release the torrent.

Guy’s not wearing the corporate smock.

Great.  He didn’t see anyone at the counter, either when he came in.  Broom man didn’t work here.  Maybe he killed the cashier.  Maybe there were looters poking around in the back and this guy was the lookout.

Oh well.

He’d seen beaucoup drunks at this joint and witnessed a couple of brawls.  It happened.  Anything was possible, though not likely enough to sweat over.  Finishing up, he went to wash his hands.  The soap in the dispenser was thin, watery, an odd amber color.  For a moment, he imagined Brill Creme standing on top of the toilet pissing away into the liquid soap giggling like a child.

Too late – his hands were sudsy-ish, so he rinsed them in the spit-warm water and turned to the air dryer.  Broken.  Covered in deeply etched graffiti, none legible, skillful, or towards any point other than as evidence some anonymous person had been there to mark territory.

He shook his head and hands and wiped them on his jeans.  Exit back into the store to the soda cooler.

At the counter, Brill Creme was chatting up the cashier – maybe – who was a worn, thin woman, the brown corporate smock hanging from her frame three sizes too large.  He stepped between the broom man and the counter, set down the soda, and produced three bills from his pocket.

“How are you today?” he asked with some sincerity.  Are you being robbed?  Is this fool here aggravating you?  Or is he some drunk you’re making work off a stolen beer.  Or worse, your husband who’s just hanging around taking sips off the Aqua Velva bottles when no one’s looking?

Her weary, dark eyes betrayed no emotion at all, but she managed a bit of a smile.

“Fine,” she said, passing him the change.

Good enough.

Back out into the heat, back into his beat up Toyota lacking air conditioning.  He cranked her up, twisted the lid off the Diet Coke and took an unsatisfying swig before rolling out into the 6:37 PM Saturday evening traffic.  South Texas was not a busy place at such times, not in the direction he was headed, but the speeding, reckless drivers had to be watched.

Time to mow the lawn.  Time to listen to Pete Townshend on the headphones and walk the lawnmower around the uneven back yard, watch the grackles descend to pick off newly revealed bugs and such.

Time.

12 June 2017

Richard Van Ingram

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Jared Kushner Speaks…!

Added extra fun:

The US “President” is a kleptocratic thug; son-in-law Jared Kushner is hand-in-glove with him.  Both are tools of Putin who is arming the enemies of liberal democracy.

All other talk is noise to hide these basic realities and allied facts… a soap opera to mesmerize you while the thieves are picking your pockets and dismantling your democratic republic, Constitution, laws, precedents, protocols, and preparing for a right-wing clampdown.

30 May 2017

Richard Van Ingram

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An Open Letter to Andrew Lack, Chairman NBC News and MSNBC

[Who is Andrew Lack? He runs NBC News and MSNBC for Comcast.  Powerful position – he decides what gets shown and what gets cancelled, regardless of ratings.  The problem: Lack will likely not renew Lawrence O’Donnell’s (of The Last Word on MSNBC) contract which is up at the end of May 2017 – two weeks, as of this writing.  Not due to low ratings – The Last Word has been finishing at #2 right behind Rachel Maddow who is now #1.  

Why, then?  Only Lack knows for certain, but the outcome would be: Donald Trump, who has a running feud with O’Donnell for calling him out for promotion of racist birtherism beginning in 2011.  

Additionally, Lack seems, consistently, to be pushing more and more right-wing personalities onto MSNBC and pressuring the liberal points of view off. A fair report can be found here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/lawrence-odonnell-msnbc-future_us_59162d8ce4b00f308cf5534a?ncid=engmodushpmg00000004 .

What’s the point?! I am a citizen of the USA and the freedom of the press and independent, meaningful commentary is the main outside check we have on government, politicians, and the wealthy who influence policy – in short, power.  Putting O’Donnell  off the air is a sign of a trend and not a good one, one in the direction of “adjusting” to the rule of a man and sis followers who are destroying liberal democracy; not simply here in the USA, but in Europe and elsewhere.  What citizens do, what are our responsibilities and right is to speak out, by voting, by writing our representatives, by peaceful protest, activism, by educating ourselves, and by writing those powerful people who control our media.  

Not a US Citizen?  In this case, it does not matter.  You can tell someone who runs a network what you think as well.  You are a client of such as much as I am and that is what matters.  If you wish to write Andrew Lack. do so here: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/10285339/t/contact-nbc-news/ ]

Andrew Lack:

You were awarded Peabody awards, among other things, in your long career. Those are indeed something to live up to, not rest upon — for us who depend, in part, on television for news and meaningful commentary, the networks and cable news you control are of vital importance.

Especially now.

With the open attacks on First Amendment rights and an independent media we heard from this administration and controlling party, the task of a free media is to push back, not back down.

One way to do this is to continue to support your reporters and commentators who do this daily and have done so, especially in the past two years.

No, you are not “the opposition party.” Neither are you the “give the people what they want to hear” party nor the “appear less threatening to opponents of civil liberties” party.

One understands: in part, you are in it for the money. The news division is alleged to be separate and distinct from the entertainment division; but that was already a difficulty in the age of Murrow and only became murkier. The news division is in it for the truth, or ought to be, and the commentary section is as well — to offer perspectives on the truth. Whether or not this angers those in power, including investors.

Otherwise, such doesn’t serve the function of an independent public check on power in a liberal democracy. Hence, advertising and entertainment pay for the news, ideally. That, or we wind up with “infotainment.” Which is worse than worthless as such is a weak alloy of provocative fictions and some facts, difficult to disentangle and encourages the viewer to NOT even attempt to tell reality from a story, an imaginary narrative.

We have plenty of that on the radio; and that is the raison d’etre of FOX News.

It is bad enough that you have brought over personalities such as Greta van Susteren who are tainted by the FOX model and who certainly go out of the way to invent excuses for the inexcusable based wholly on a right-wing ideology.

Worse is you seem to be considering not renewing Lawrence O’Donnell’s contract.

Just assume such a decision would run clean contrary to every positive thing just stated about the function of a free media in a liberal democracy.

Including you living up to those Peabody awards.

Renew Lawrence O’Donnell’s contract. Period. This is not the time to cut the teeth and claws off MSNBC or any other form of news and commentary. Otherwise, just rename what you do FOX-esque “infotainment” and we will tune in elsewhere or spend even more time with good papers and other sources of actual news and free, responsible perspectives.

Thank you,
Richard Van Ingram
15 May 2017

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GOP NAZIS #1, Underground Comix in the 21st Century

GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds

 

 

GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds
GOP NAZIS #1 Richard Van Ingram, Scott Stripling, Andrew Hamill, Kyle Reynolds

 

In the USA, Mexico, or Canada, to order a copy of this comic, write loser@losercomix.com for details. $5.00 + $1.50 p/h.

Outside the USA, I may consider emailing a high-quality .pdf for $1.00 USD or one Euro, whichever’s easiest. Write and inquire.

Anyone wishing to publish, distribute, or donate money towards the printing of future issues, write and speak up. I take PayPal.

Cover: RVI, August 2016.

“Mr. Gloom…,” RVI, November 2016 – January 2017

“Division,” January 2017, Scott Stripling at Scott_Stripling_Art on Instagram

“Trump Memes,” Andrew Hamill, January 2017, Atomic Detonator Productions on Facebook and http://atomicdetonatorart.squarespace.com/

“Fame & Fortuna, Part One” – RVI , July 2016; “Part Two,” November 2016

Political cartoons and sketches were all made in July 2016 at the RNC Convention, Cleveland, OH by Richard Van Ingram.

Thank you, Kyle Reynolds at www.slugnuts.com for the financial and moral support – Read Slugnuts’ “THE END TIMES #1”; excellent satirical work. And just plain funny.

27 April 2017

Richard Van Ingram


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Trump and Bannon Alone Are NOT the Problem

ICE STATION ZERO SURFACING FOR TRANSMISSION

16 APRIL 2017

I.

In the months and weeks leading to the 2016 Republican National Convention, I found a nagging suspicion – a number of them, really, all related – that far more was at work within and behind the phenomenon of Trump and his rise to power than could be grasped through the constant public “show”.

On the streets of Cleveland, OH, covering the convention as a political cartoonist, these suspicions began to reveal themselves as useful, accurate intuitions from which to construct interpretive theories.

My first public essay — neither technical nor complete – I shared, for what it’s worth without hope it would made any difference; it was more an exercise in bearing witness and sounding a small alarm that, eventually, might have a hearing by someone who could employ it, flesh it out, expand it.

The essay was The Living Rorschach Test which you may read here:

http://www.richardvaningram.com/?p=401

My second, more thorough pass at providing an historical background and orientation to the Trump phenomenon in its wider context was It Has Happened Here, leading to this passage in particular:

Donald Trump as nihilistic, empty Rorschach Test gaining supporters from varied groups.
Donald Trump as nihilistic, empty Rorschach Test gaining supporters from varied groups.

and this:

(You may read the previous essay in its entirety here:

http://www.richardvaningram.com/?p=433 )

Of course, at the convention and writing these two essays I had no notion of the Russian involvement behind “false news stories” (aka propaganda designed to misinform and mislead American voters and the involvement of the Multi-billionaire Mercer family.  The Mercers, represented by daughter, Rebekah, intend to disrupt the Republican Party – already in a shambles – and, perhaps, oppose the very institutions of liberal democracy.

(The best written and researched article on the Mercers is here: http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/mercers/ ).

All of this could be guessed at, vaguely, but only guessed at without the information now leaking out from American and international intelligence services.  Not that, had we known, the election would have turned out differently: How many of Trump’s supporters supported and support him because of his values (he has none)?  No, he was their vehicle to invade government and destroy it — weaken its ability to enforce the laws that keep the peace, establish a minimal tolerance, and suppress our extremist right-wing neo-Nazis and fascists repackaged for the Millennials as the hipster “Alt-Right.”

So, you got Trump – who lost the popular vote by 3 million.  And every far-right extremist group now feel emboldened to begin planning a future that doesn’t include may of us: non-white immigrants; Muslims; Jews; anyone wearing a turban; black people; Native Americans; and, yes, generationally poor whites… who are always the ill-educated cannon-fodder used to attack the enemies of the wealthy and the racists, even to the point of death on battlefields and the streets.

Happy deaths on battlefields and streets as they have, for all their lives, been sold the myth that their place is to work for nothing until dead, expect nothing better for their children, and that they are descendants of some false nobility passed down through “the blood” – Anglo-Saxons, Celts, sometimes Norse; and their god/genetically-ordained task is to stand between the race-mixing hordes, the leveling liberals, and democratic ideals in rights and economics to protect “the pure aristocracy” at top.

All this never understanding there is, ontologically, no such thing as “race.”  It’s a story told to subjugate our brothers and sisters while elevating ourselves, just as no one is born of a “certain class” it is their destiny to remain within.  Race and class are myths with which we culturally enslave one another, reduce one another to beings “less-than” human.

This will be the starting point for part two of this essay.

(((Richard Van Ingram)))

16 April 2017

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Dahlonega, Georgia, Home of the Klan Klubhouse

Roberta Green-Garrett, Klansman
Roberta Green-Garrett, Klansman

UPDATE: 15 March 2017: http://patch.com/georgia/atlanta/kkk-sign-dahlonega-incites-raw-emotions-controversy

UPDATE: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/in-northern-georgia-a-kkk-banner-seemed-to-some-a-sign-of-the-times/2017/03/12/de5a3518-05bd-11e7-b9fa-ed727b644a0b_story.html?tid=sm_fb&utm_term=.c4fe2a9b8f62

http://www.forsythnews.com/section/1/article/32218/

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Free Speech; A Personal Story

Gentle reader, assuming this is read: What follows is a matter of personal history. This is a letter to the editor and publisher of The Dahlonega Nugget, Terrie Ellerbie, from 2008.  Not many months following this, I left Dahlonega finding it intolerant and intolerable — but, for me, that was nothing new.  I’d found it as such, increasingly, since the early 1970s when I began to be aware of many things about that community; I moved away to go to university in the mid 1980s with no intention of returning — yet, as Townes Van Zandt once said, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.”

So, HaShem saw fit to strand me, financially broke, jobless, homeless, sick back in my “hometown” — and I chose to get busy, sort of like an absurd Count of Monte Christo, and make my “prison” a place where I would learn what no university could teach, to prepare for a future I never really expected would arrive — a day when I could get in a car and drive away permanently to a different world, one which would listen to the little I had to share, read what I wrote, look at the art I made.

So, I learned.  I dealt with many sorts of people, many situations from the soul-crushing to the enlightening, and, little by little, I improved.  And I began to write freelance editorials on contemporary issues for the small local paper to share, to examine, to offer an alternative point of view; unpopular, to be certain, but one I thought needed to be heard from.  Especially as torture, concentration camps, dehumanization, and loss of civil liberties and rights became the order of the day.

I also began teaching ethics and philosophy at the local university along with my regular day job at public mental health… and dealing with a very confusing, depressing, intense personal life.

I got myself well-hated because of the writing, to paraphrase a poet.  But I also made friends, a couple permanent, maybe, most fair-weather who disappeared just as soon as I was banned — yes, banned — from being published in that paper because, ostensibly, of about twenty anonymous, unpublished complaints.

It didn’t shut me up but it did shut me down.  And I fell into a deep depression for a long while — it left a wound.  Sometimes, still, the wound seeps.  But I learned a very important set of lessons: when you stand up openly to be counted, you will be counted; there is only one of you; don’t count on anyone else who, in private, supports you, to do anything except hide when the counter-attack comes on you from the hateful and intolerant; and never expect them to come back and even speak to you after you’ve been “disposed of” by a vocal majority or the powerful.

“So it goes,” as the man often said.  

That is the life of anyone who becomes controversial or stands against injustice in a place where people believe the unjust to be their absolute right.  You’re out there by yourself. If others show up or “have your back,” that is damned good fortune.  And you never count on “good fortune” — bad fortune is what you prepare for as, really, it is far more likely.  Fear keeps good people silent, it keeps them in hiding, it causes them to censor themselves.  They are only rarely going to come out in any way when the danger of speaking up becomes greater, not lesser.

If you choose to speak up about anything that needs to be said, expect to find yourself bearing witness alone… except for the pack of wolves who come out to tear your reputation to shreds.  And maybe your livelihood… and, once in a while, your life itself.

A cautionary tale, but not a dissuasive one.  You are only what you choose to do and the inherent quality of what you choose to value and incarnate in this world through your actions.  The end.  I have no shame for that part of my life.  It was worthwhile.

After being banned, I wrote, over two years, three letters to the editor — the short farewell, which was published; a protest against a letter writer who encouraged physical violence for those who were “liberal’ — they published a heavily edited version of that; and this letter in defence of free speech in the paper, the sole public platform in that community, even for an editorialist who was a hate-monger, who had attacked me in the pages of the paper.  This one, of course, never saw the light of day.  You’ll see why should one choose to read on.

So, without further comment.

RVI, 22 February 2017

*****

“Dear Editor,

“Uncharacteristically, I will keep my words to a minimum.  This concerns your editorial comments of 27 February 2008 in “What you need to know about Moore & Martin.”

“I can sympathize with your frustrations, especially concerning the complaints about Mr. Martin’s column – but only to a point.

“You said:

‘ “We do not “endorse” any columnist, period. We publish what people write, because this is the place for that to happen. [ . . .] This is a public forum, not a private country club. We will not apologize for giving people with differing backgrounds and views a place to express themselves in their own words.
“I will say this: If you do not like what Jason Martin had to say, I suggest you muster up the courage to speak up and speak out yourself and express your own views.” ‘

“You seemed to show more than a little exasperation with your readers who won’t sign their names to complaints about Mr. Martin and those who have gotten the idea that, if they complain enough about someone expressing opinions in your paper, you will remove that person and refuse to print their columns in the future.

“Where, oh where, pray tell, could they have gotten such an idea?

“When, I wonder, was such a precedent ever set for that sort of decision-making in your paper?

“Could it have been, perhaps, a bit over a year-and-a-half ago when you publicly refused to print any more of my columns because some locals could no longer bear to be exposed to my point of view – one wholly opposed to Mr. Martin’s?

“Where was this editorial statement when a determined fragment of your readership — in some cases anonymously, in some cases not — railed that poorly written trash such as I compose should never waste ink in your fine publication again?  And all this mainly because I don’t sound or think like most people “from ’round these here parts.”

“As one of your more censorious letter writers used to say of me, “He isn’t one of us.”  Which is true enough, but in 2006 that sentiment was enough for you to publicly refuse to accept any more columns from my hand.

“So now, the tables are turned.  Your Mr. Martin has inspired a wave of people who don’t particularly want to read a column in which the writer so glibly excuses torture as “the final solution” for our nation’s terrorism problem, and don’t want to hear that “ideas and people that ain’t from ’round these here parts should leave on the road that brung ’em.”

“So they want you to ban him – which I think is a terrible idea.  By all means, let the man speak; as you say, it’s not as if what “he said is not being repeated in conversations all over this county . . ..”

“But, then again, the same could have been said in defense of my own columns.

“In Dahlonega, the local paper is the only real public platform for speech.  Therefore, it has an obligation to allow even the rude, ignorant, utterly parochial, and the crank to express an opinion.

“If it doesn’t allow that much, the paper may not print the words of anyone representing any controversial or unpopular position, even a reasonable one, whenever it becomes simply easier to silence those words.

“That’s not the sort of paper I want for my town.  It wasn’t what I wanted in 2006; it isn’t what we need now.

“Richard Van Ingram”

  • 02/29/08 at 1:41PM 
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A Stranger in a Strange Land

You can’t go home again… nor ought you try.

Thomas Wolfe, dear brother, lost and gone, but never far from my ear, I remember reading your wild books the first time, raging around that mountain college campus, no one giving a damn, you and I silently trading stories in the catacombs of my soul.

But the trade was mostly one way as you had lived and I was just a cheap 1980s version of a half-drunk Childe Harold and Eugene Gant filled with great sorrows at the ruins of humanity, but equally grandiose visions, hopes, for a future rebuilt on that wreckage.

There was no way back. I had no business where I was, no life, the marrow had been taken from the cracked bones of that place a century before my wayward birth. Wasted. Gold and copper gouged out of the earth, the miners’ families scattered to make do at… whatever.

What was there to remain for?

But I thought “home” lay off and far away, a “someday” as much as “somewhere.”

Thirty-something years would pass before I discovered there is no home here to be found or made, exactly, nothing permanent or even aeviternal. All is flux and fire in this world and this is the world in which I was made to live, to make a life, to share, travel within, to receive. To leave behind.

I am Gershon, a stranger in a strange land, the wanderer, the one who prepares.

Thirty-something years wrong as I could be before that stupidity in me, the haunting ghost of optimism that lingered from childhood, was buried with the whispering corpse of pessimism. Life is here and to be cared for, cherished in all its imperfection — what it amounts to, we’ll see. Neither good or bad, but what can be made of it or endured; what lies beyond is not my business.

My suspicions are that there will be an age of more ruination before anyone cares to build something better again on the wreckage I began to glimpse 33, 34 years back — I will not live to see that. That is my fate; perhaps yours as well, whoever you are. There is no going back — what lies forward may be an even more ridiculous form of ruination.

A petty, greedy, cheap age this turned out to be; gaudy, all surface and shallow as a mirror. Ages such as this come about… they can be the end of civilizations. We’ll see, in this case.

I’m a stranger here, sent to witness and wander. What it will or won’t end up mattering is as much beyond me as HaShem. And in my case, I must become who I must be.

Sleep well, Thomas Wolfe, Byron, Goya, Hogarth, Voltaire, Swift. and so many others close and far — we each play our roles. None small but most unnoticed. How well we pull it off, we’ll see in the long stretch of time and fiery change.

Richard Van Ingram
22 January 2017

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I’ll Miss Your Voice

Everyone comes from somewhere.

That’s one of those things about human life we get no choice about whatsoever, though we do get to interpret what it meant or didn’t and, eventually, to tell our own story. Some of us write it down; some talk it out; yet others, a bit of both. What isn’t said is as important as what is… and our interpretation tends to change as we do.

There is what happened, who was involved; what it did to us, for us, and what we did with it — are we victim? victimizer? vengeful? insightful? Do we merely survive at all costs or come to see others as integral to our being who we must become? Do we drift, moved around on the current of events and others’ interpretations of who you seem to be to them, play a role in their drama, or do you create your own life — which is always dramatic, theatrical, roles thrust upon us or chosen or created?

Patterns, patterns, patterns — they repeat in all of us more than most notice, a needle stuck in a scratched groove on the record that becomes part of our approach to life. Some never jump the scratch or learn to incorporate it as a pop and crackle in the tune: imperfection rejected, not owned, embraced, even loved.

This, because perfection is not possible for a human being or desirable; a perfect imperfection, yes: becoming good enough, struggling with what one was handed to make the artistic achievement that becomes… each of us. Interesting or not; creative or stereotypical; repetitious in self-destruction, the use and destruction of others, or in slow, relentless spiraling, upwards, outwards, downwards, inwards… becoming more and more oneself a bare hair’s-width at a time.

Or just stuck in that scratch on the groove, repeating the pattern, repeating the pattern, repeating the pattern… refusing to choose and struggle a way out, or deal with it at all.

Addiction, complexes, bipolar disorder — all words, clinical and cold, for a certain way of life bearing deep scars and scratches. Carrie Fisher’s life had these. Oh, God, but so much more, eventually. She made great art and fantastic written and spoken autobiography from all this. A famous, talented self-destructive father and a famous , talented actress mother; a close brother; a daughter whom she loved. And many lovers… all passing through and passing by, or bypassed.

Drugs — copious, self-medicating; bouts of mania and depression, mood storms terrible enough to drive her from self-loathing to fantastically destructive plans.

She’s one of the few people I know of who volunteered for ECT to stop the depressions at the cost of her memory. So, in part, she wrote to remember, to interpret and re-interpret, to revivify what the darkness swallowed. One does not enter ECT lightly, not at all. Some never quite return from it… but that’s not the mission, to return to repeat what keeps happening, but to return and overcome, to jump the scratch in the record and keep going, keep spiraling.

Over the past six months, I worked my way through Carrie Fisher’s “Wishful Drinking” and “Shockaholic” as read/told by her in recorded book form. Watched a performance of “Wishful Drinking” onstage on cable a couple of months back late one night. Bought her new book, “The Princess Diarist” two weeks ago and began that, reading on my own this time, an early Hanukkah gift to myself from the woman who was half in love with being “Princess Leia” and half despairing that role would forever overshadow her novels, her own work, and autobiographical explorations.

Since age 11, Carrie Fisher has wandered in and out of my life disguised as Princess, now General Leia Organa — the princess who did not need saving but was doing the saving — and as a novelist, scriptwriter, and spelunker into the depths of her own psyche and history… all with wit, irony, self-deprecation, yet… strength. Power, the real thing. Dignity.

And as one plagued with Bipolar I Disorder. Me, too. There’s quite a bit in her writing I “get” — the inside joke on all people suffering mental illness who learn to make the illness suffer from us. Yes, I’m classified Bipolar I, too, in case anyone forgot, and we were diagnosed around the same time, or the same ages. What she doesn’t say, the space between the lines, is as important for me as what she does, what she implies. So it is with all genuine people, I reckon.

There she was today, nine years older than me, done here. Gone on, work finished, heart literally broken flying between heaven and earth. The Baal Shem Tov taught that HaShem grants us only so many words in this world: when you’ve said your say, you are finished. The point: Be willing to speak in such a way that what is said is worth dying for once you’ve spoken. Make it count for something.

That Carrie Fisher did. She did so for many; and I am one who listened in on her conversation, who appreciated and valued her work and so, her. No, I never met her, but I met something of her, what she wished to share, no malice involved. Her story is now a part of mine, a great gift to me… so I’ve a burden to pass on what I received through her.

Ms. Fisher, I won’t say goodbye. You’re not gone — you’re just not here except in the form of those words and images that mean much to me, and in the example of riding the illness, making it sing as part of her own wild chorus, scratches, pops, and all.

But I will miss your voice.

27 December 2016
Richard Van Ingram
#CarrieFisher

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