Wednesday, September 14, 2011

an update on writing in general and life

I have intended to write a lot, and I do mean a lot. I have, however, had to deal with real-world, off-line concerns about my vision. Back when I discovered I had cataracts I was grateful it was "just" cataracts I've had for a decade or more. But that was before I found out two doctors think it would be a very good idea for me to have the cataracts removed. By the way, I'm still unemployed. Nevertheless, I am attempting to do what I can to see if I can get cataract removal surgery.

The last time I had a major problem with my eyes was some fifteen years ago when the macula of my right eye detached. I've never had things go wrong with my eyes at particularly wonderful or opportune moments. Not that there are GOOD times to have things like growing cataracts or macular detachments but I've had what have felt like the worst times to have these kinds of things happen to me. When you already have been unemployed for 23 months and nobody seems interested in hiring you and you're not sure what you're doing wrong that makes nobody want to hire you finding out that your vision is failing (again) can be depressing. Perhaps in an unfortunate way there's a peculiar value to this kind of experience to provide a perspective in some of the stuff I have been trying to write.

Such writing as I can bring myself to do under the circumstances has mostly been devoted to a few running comments discussions but, more importantly, in attempting to keep producing new material for Mockingbird. The DCAU project is still on-going. In fact I haven't gotten to the stuff that most excites me until just now. I wrote about Superman this year, and about 1980s cartoons and how many of them stunk. I have been writing on Batman: the animated series and going back and forth with David over at Mockingbird on finding the right way to explore several themes but to do so in a way that is compact and readable.

This project has exploded in scale and scope since we first kicked around the idea of an overview of the DC animated universe some time around last christmas. All things considered this is no surprise, I've been attempting to summarize what now amounts to close to twenty years of narrative continuity surrounding some of the most beloved characters in the history of American pop culture. Along the way I have struggled a lot to discern and articulate what I believe are the core themes and concepts in some wonderful shows.

I normally try to steer clear of stating things in personal ways when I blog. This hasn't kept some of my family members from saying that I blog about stuff they'd never feel comfortable writing about in public but I have frequently seen what I share here as more ideas than feelings, more ruminations than a lot of personal history. There's plenty about myself and my life I don't discuss. However, I have realized along the path of writing about the DC animated universe for Mockingbird that there have been some significant points where how I have written about cartoons is informed by my life in ways I hadn't previously stopped to consider.

Let me take what I wrote about Superman as an American icon at war both with and for his legacies. Superman/Clark Kent is not just the last son of Krypton but the son of an American farming family. He is, to put it in a tacky and perhaps outdated way, the product of two races. He has two legacies. Well, that I'm even alive is due to the result of an interracial marriage. Unsurprisingly this has informed me in all sorts of ways I hadn't stopped to consider but I have, at least, realized, that the reason I've come to love Superman: the animated series as much as I do is because Dini and Timm got a thread to tie together Superman stories that I can relate to, the opportunities and challenges of figuring out who you are when there's not strictly one heritage you could be (or should be) defined by.

Superman spends a lot of time doing battle with rogues who believe that their own race ought to be given priority at the expense of others, whether it's Jax-Ur and Mala choosing to subjugate humanity to preserve the Kryptonian race and their sense of entitlement that goes with that, or Lex Luthor's suspicion of Superman as the Kryptonian who comes and plots to subvert everything he loves about his society and his position in it. Superman could be considered the ultimate illegal immigrant that Lex Luthor thinks has no right living in America. :)

And then there's Batman. I have been looking forward to writing about Batman: the animated series for months and now the moment of truth has come and it's kicking my butt like I'm Riddler and Batman just outsmarted my last, best deathtrap. I wrote "moment of truth" a sentence ago but it would be more apt to say there is a process of truth. It's helped that I've read Grant Morrison's book Supergods with help from a generous friend, but when Morrison writes that Batman is a character that lacks originality but makes up for that lack with soul and staying power I think that fairly opens up the question of what that soul and staying power consist of. Setting aside that I think Morrison's kinda crazy (yet another thing I will blog about later, maybe) I think that Morrison's on to something when he says that there has always been something of madness to Batman and his quest. Morrison is spot on in saying all of Batman's villains are embodiments of mental illness. But what about Batman himself?

This is all, by now, obviously a teaser rather than a spoiler for what I've been working on for Mockingbird. I don't intend to give away everything but I am willing to throw in a potential spoiler by providing a title for the upcoming series. Loyal readers (all twenty of you?) keep your eyes peeled and before too long you should start seeing some installments of my next series for Mockingbird--Batman: The Agony of Loss and the Madness of Desire. You probably can't quite imagine how stoked I am about this project or how daunting it is.

No comments: