Sunday, May 18, 2014

Proletariat Comics Retrospective

Tony Laplume asked where he'd missed the first telling of my 9/11 story, and I replied that it's in the foreword to Bronx Angel: Politics By Another Method.  But it occurs to me that most of my readers probably haven't read PBAM, and in fact, you might not even know where to find it on this site.  I don't blame you.  PBAM sold something like a hundred copies total, mostly at the first New York Comic Convention, and of those that read it, I think most people misunderstood the book's purpose.  That's not their fault, it's mine.

Most people read the foreword and come away thinking that it's an anti-war book, which is only true in a general sense, not for the specific conflict it was meant to reflect.  The book is trying to tell a story about the cost of war for the warfighters to a populace that's largely ignorant and doesn't seem much inclined to care.  Certainly in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, we had a lot of chicken-hawk conservatives running around spouting ignorant nonsense, a thing which struck me as deeply disingenous considering that these same people had no intention of either fighting the war personally or of sending their kids off to fight.  Here I'm talking specifically about the conservatives on Wall Street, a group I was exposed to at the time via Business School at the Manhattan branch of Fordham University.

Look, my book is not aimed at you.  My book was aimed at them.

But I've since learned that it was always a vain gesture.  Not only do those people not read, they are also a singularly egotistical, heartless, and self-interested bunch of bastards.  Which is to say that they will gladly sacrifice your sons and daughters for their own profits because that's just what they do.  They'll justify it in the name of liquidity, and no, that doesn't make any more sense to me than it does to you, and I have an MBA in finance and can tell you why they think it does.

Anyway, yes.  We called the company Proletariat Comics.

I mean, we could have called it Fuck You! Comics, but I've always tried to be a little more subtle and clever than that.

If it helps, that name didn't do us any favors.  We were trying to make one kind of political statement and wound up making one that was completely off-message.  The moral of the story?  Be careful with your metaphors, kids.  Similes are much easier and safer to use.

Coming back to the story, Sally and I eventually suffered a series of house floods, and in the wake of that personal disaster, we had to close the company.  It's a shame because I think my partner Jerry and I had--through trial and error--found a way to keep the company going indefinitely and grow our readership via Horizons Quarterly, but it just wasn't meant to be.  Speaking personally, I'm still committed to the core concepts of self-publishing and digitial publishing that Proletariat was trying to use, but it's now 2014, and that's become the way of the world.  At the time, it was a pretty experimental idea.

With all of that in mind, my friend Steve has allowed me to keep a Proletariat Comics History Page up on his server, and it's been there for longer than I've been writing a blog.  If you're interested in what we did, it's all there.

Jerry actually made this an animated banner.  It's worth
going to the site just to see it.
If you click through, you'll see a menu with pretty much everything we ever did over at PC LLC.  If you're looking for a place to start, my personal favorites are:
If you like any of those, then you can dig a little deeper, but that's where I'd start.

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