Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Today I am pondering that Ivan Brandon essay on TheAwl.com, and the things comics can do that movies just can’t.
Last week I mentioned the Lazarus Pit as an example of a comics staple that Batman movies — any Batman movies, arguably — would probably be reluctant to use. While the Pit comes with certain restrictions and side effects, it still boils down basically to an unlimited supply of extra lives. It runs counter to the idea of Batman as being grounded in reality, but in the context of a shared universe where Batman pals around with extraterrestrials (and their agents), a super-powered Amazon, and the King of Atlantis, it’s not that far-fetched. This is the old “Character Y could solve Character X’s problems” hypothesis, and it tends to be met with “Character X and Character Y play by different rules.” A good example of the latter was a “No Man’s Land” story featuring Superman (coincidentally collected in the new NML Vol. 3), where the Man of Steel’s well-intentioned assistance in trying to rebuild an earthquake-devastated Gotham turned out to be exactly wrong under the circumstances.
Last month, The Cardboard Valise cartoonist Ben Katchor used his strip in Metropolis magazine to envision a world where corporate CEOs were forced to work in their own stores — by which we mean all of them, every day. This month, though, the 1% is striking back. In a strip entitled “Johnny ‘The Pump’ Clematis,” Katchor chronicles a day in the life of the title character, a working stiff hired out by the heads of various multinationals to take out labor-union officials using the massive robotic boom of his cement truck. Hey, I’m sure those unions were a public health hazard, right?
Media reports on the Occupy Wall Street movement tend to express confusion about what the protestors want. This usually leads me to express confusion about whether the authors of said reports have access to Google. But regardless, perhaps OWS should consider implementing the modest proposal advanced by The Cardboard Valise cartoonist Ben Katchor in his latest strip for Metropolis magazine. In it, Katchor imagines a world in which CEOs are mandated by law to work in every store they own for fifteen minutes each, every day. Crunching the numbers and allowing for serious workaholism, that basically maxes major chains out at just under 70 branches, reasonably regionalized. But would it really improve worker conditions? Katchor’s example culminates in a “cleanup in aisle five”-type situation that raises serious questions about the policy’s efficacy in that regard, at least where janitors are concerned…
‘Cause I sure didn’t, but I’m glad to discover that they are, in all their full-color glory. Click here to check out “A Vacancy in the Art World,” the latest strip from the great cartoonist behind Julius Knipl, The Jew of New York, and The Cardboard Valise; then click here for Metropolis‘ Ben Katchor archive. No one’s better at exploring the strange spaces of urban living and the even stranger things people think up to put in them.