Aug 3, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - The Weekly Graphic Novel: Week 18 - Weekly World News, July 2010

You'll evince no surprise, I'm sure, when I tell you that I used to buy The Weekly World News newspaper. The hilarious cover images, the smack you in the face satire, and, just a bit, the acknowledgment that if we lived in the world that the WWN reported, life would be a bit more strange and wonderful. So, obviously, when I found out that there had been a comic series based on it, I was very excited.

(Side note, this graphic novel has me wondering if I should be setting aside the individual issues that I also have as GNs, and either get rid of them or count them as already read. Then again, 30 years from now, I might just enjoy reading the second issue of this series.)

This comic takes up the farcical seriousness of the original newspaper and uses it as the backdrop to tell a story about acceptance of difference, to comment on the politico-social divide that becomes more and more apparent in the U.S. as time goes on, and to offer further proof that Batboy really is the hero we need. Ryall and Robinson manage to deploy not only the content and characters, but also the context of the original paper, straying into the bizarre, weird, and outrageous, but never forgetting that, as with all good satire, there is a political element that must be given just as serious a consideration as all of the narrative aspects.

Ed Anger is the epitomy of a Trump supporter. It's both beautiful and scary. We read this character, his bigotry and stupidity, and think that he's a caricature, that no one could possibly actually be that way, and then some dumbass makes the "news" (in quotation marks here because I'm not entirely how sure I am that I can call the trending topics on my Facebook feed "news"), and makes Ed Anger look quite moderate. And, in all truth, he is. He manages to see past physical difference, and realizes that those who may look different still share some of his beliefs. Bigotry and close-mindedness are not the strict purview of the White, Male American.

Not that this is necessarily a completely positive outcome. It would be nice to think that we could connect with others outside of shared dislikes/hatreds for other ideas and people. And this is of course where the satiric nature of WWN is most prominent. We get a satisfying conclusion to the narrative, but not necessarily to the commentary. Yes, Ed and Manigator find common ground, but it's a ground that is poison. For the commentary to have the same sort of satisfying conclusion, we'd need to see them move from that poison ground to one more nurturing. As the end of Superman Beyond told us, the struggle is never-ending, even when the story is done.


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