This is Bat Country!

This is Bat Country!

Here it is, folks, my 9/11 tenth anniversary cartoon.

A little over a week ago, I read about this publicity stunt tribute a large number of Sunday funnies are planning on doing. While I’m sure many of those involved mean well, I couldn’t help but be immediately reminded of this Tom the Dancing Bug cartoon, originally published in late September, 2001. I feel what these newspaper comics are planning might actually be in far poorer taste than Bolling’s joke, since the latter makes a good point about the absurdity of forcing the topic of 9/11 (or any disaster with a high body count) into any and every venue of the cultural consciousness, regardless of whether or not it’s appropriate there, and the former unironically does what the parody did in jest. The idea of gag-a-day strips that are usually about things like goofy, talking dogs and Vikings in the Middle Ages suddenly discussing real-world, modern terrorist attacks is about as dignified as trying to shoehorn a miscarriage arc into a bad webcomic about “gamerz” where the punchline is typically violence and/or rape.

Just look at some of these samples. Hagar the Horrible and Beetle Bailey, in particular, look like something out of a modern art museum (while Reply All, like usual, looks like something attached with magnets to a day care center’s refrigerator). If the cartoonists were doing something like using their space to draw caricatures of specific victims of the attack, that’d be swell, but wrapping their characters in the event smacks of shameless, opportunistic self-promotion.

Imagine a day where most newspaper comics are Funky Winkerbean. That’s what’s happening this Sunday.

Anyway, that’s what got the wheels turning which produced the above editorial cartoon, even though the commentary on display is pretty far removed from its inspiration, instead addressing the wider topic of something I’d call “fear profiteering.” Following the World Trade Center attacks, we’ve seen an explosion in industries that buy and sell fear: private, for-profit militaries like Blackwater and corporate propaganda bullhorns like Fox News have enjoyed terrific windfalls from such camera-friendly human misery, and they’re clearly more than happy to exploit them.

Like the Red Menace of the ’50s, the terrorist attacks have been an extremely useful tool for unscrupulous politicians as well. The pointless and unnecessary invasion of Iraq and George W. Bush’s second term arguably could not have happened without them. For Bush, the attacks functioned like his own personal John Hinkley moment, propelling a President whom everyone up to that point knew was a corrupt idiot to sudden, undeserved popularity and dangerous levels of power. This has had a domino effect: like each of the Presidents following Reagan, most of the bad things the current President pushes can probably be traced to the policies and attitudes the Bush Administration was able to advance thanks to this single, early crisis.

So, this cartoon sets out to criticize anyone who exploits 9/11. I chose vampire bats for the metaphor because they have special enzymes in their saliva that prevent blood from clotting. Similarly, I feel it’s in the best interests of organizations and people who live off the reaction to terrorism for that blood to keep on flowin’, so of course they’re going to take every opportunity to remind us of the big, scary boogeymen that are still out there, while at the same time turning what ought to be an occasion for solemn reflection on American foreign policy into a disgusting, orgiastic display of “patriotism” and hocking 9/11-themed versions of their products. Buy the Official Patriot Day Snuggie™! Try new 9/11 Tenth Anniversary Edition Kaboom™!

About the attacks, it’s often said that we should “Never Forget.” This isn’t a bad thing, because we certainly should remember what happened, and whom it happened to. But it’s also important to remember why it happened, and that’s something that’s frequently ignored. This is because the truths about what caused the event are inconvenient to many of those who control the media narrative, and because there isn’t an easy answer to that question. As I said, it’s rooted in the complexities of decades of Western foreign policy, as well as centuries of religious conflict. Most of this is stuff people would still have to learn in the first place before they could start “never forgetting” it.

Remembering 9/11 also doesn’t mean we should come to let the actions of the terrorists dominate our culture and govern every aspect of our lives. Otherwise, we give them what they wanted, and perpetuate the cycle.

As FDR once declared, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

This entry was posted on Friday, September 9th, 2011 at 4:23 pm and is filed under Cartoons & Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “This is Bat Country!”

Did you hear NBC is doing a primetime special about 9/11?

“…by packaging it for TV specials sponsored by corporations selling detergent and running shoes, is to cheapen and devalue grief, to drain it of meaning. What we are seeing now is a vulgar display of the business of grief, the commerce of grief, the pillaging of even the most private human feelings …”

– Arundhati Roy, “come september”

By » LagomorphMan (September 10th, 2011 at 8:39 pm)

The cartoon is great. The essay is great. And you even throw in a Calvin and Hobbes reference again. Is it any wonder you’re my favorite political cartoonist?

Attacking Ctrl-alt-del…. really? I mean, really? How dare Tim do something different with his comic.

Anyways, I agree with your comic on the subject at hand of 9/11. Sadly, its a dead horse that keeps getting beat and milked dry by every jackass out there that wants the spotlight trying to bring more popularity for reminding us of what happened. I would like to see these same morons also remind us and milk Pearl Harbor for popularity as well. Thing is, the terrorist have won, we let them win, they turned our own government into one of the largest terrorist groups int he world, who terrorizes its own people yet claims its for our protection. 9/11 brought about the US becoming a Fascist Nation, and rehashing McCarthy era fear and propaganda, replacing “communist” with “terrorist.” Hell, It is the McCarthy era all over again. And I shall leave with some Benjamin Franklin quotes.

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither safety nor liberty. ”
“This will be the best security for maintaining our liberties. A nation of well-informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the religion of ignorance that tyranny begins.”
“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
“…a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles…is absolutely necessary to preserve the blessings of liberty and keep a government free.”

“Attacking Ctrl-alt-del…. really? I mean, really? How dare Tim do something different with his comic.”

It is not that B^Uckley did something different that causes most people to mock the miscarriage moment. It is the fact that his hamhanded execution of it was laughably bad.

[...] arc into a bad webcomic about “gamerz” where the punchline is typically violence and/or rape.Read More Posted by Chuckman at 5:51 [...]

By » LagomorphMan (September 13th, 2011 at 5:46 pm)

I’m with Blachman. The dig at CAD is justified. The problem wasn’t that Tim Buckley tried something different, it was that he did something completely counter to the point of the comic, and did it extremely poorly. Imagine if tomorrow Garfield did a strip about Jon getting AIDS. While Garfield doesn’t exactly have any artistic integrity left to lose, the point still stands.

And the point of the jab is to point out the absurdity of a medium known for silly puns and excessively saccharine situations to make a statement about a real life tragedy. CAD should stick to making unfunny, poorly worded references to video games and comic strips in your daily paper should stick to fuzzy, sarcastic animals telling unfunny, poorly worded puns. There’s a time and a place for everything.

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