Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Okay, Let's See If I Can Relate THIS To Comics

Haven't quite stopped to catalog them all, but it feels like this elections' results have produced in me every negative emotion possible. Therefore, I am looking for something positive out of the next four years, at which time I will probably have to deal with the impending presidency of Jeb Bush.

Anyway, here's the comics part.

Is a President's second term good for comics? In other words, a second term indicates a certain amount of comfort and security on the part of the electorate. Does a creative mind react to that state of relative ennui by trying to shake it up?

Roosevelt's second term (1937-41) saw the birth of the superhero. Eisenhower's second term (1957-61) came at the beginning of the Silver Age. Nixon's second term (1973-74) was arguably too short to produce much that was noteworthy (Kirby had already finished his "Fourth World," and Marvel was entering its "dark" period), but I could be wrong. However, Reagan's second term (1985-89) definitely produced a reaction in comics, with Watchmen and The Dark Knight being the most obvious examples. Clinton's second term (1997-2001) may be too close to our own time to judge, although it was in the middle of the "anti-grim-&-gritty" phase.

I'm not sure how to deal with two other Presidents, Truman (1945-53) and Johnson (1963-69), who served out the terms of their late predecessors. You could say that their (re)election signified the same kind of satisfaction on the part of the electorate, but the 1948 and 1964 elections were the first time they'd been at the tops of their tickets. Truman's second term would have been from 1949-53, and Johnson's from 1965-69. I can't think of anything off the top of my head, but it was a late night and early morning....


Nik said...

It's an interesting theory, which definitely has some merit. Creativity and "counter-culture" in general seems to flourish a bit more under 2nd terms, particularly Republican ones -- the "Beat" era during Ike's second term, the full-on '60s revolution during LBJ's "sort of" second term, the Nixon era, and as you mention the late '80s which were definitely a time of creative explosion in comix if nowhere else. I think the next four years will be interesting times; certainly the left will be more galvanized than ever once the inital disappointment wears off.

Tom Bondurant said...

Speaking of Reagan, I should have mentioned Brought To Light (by Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz?) which I want to say dealt with American intervention in Central America. He was a polarizing figure too, but I daresay Bush may outdo him in that regard.