Who am I? I’m a pilgrim on the road to nowhere, a traveller without a map. I’m the fool in the wood, the wild-eyed prophet shouting “Maybe!” from the highest tower. I’m the bedraggled lime-green jester’s hat in a sea of black umbrellas.
But this is my bio, so let me be a little more specific, a little less cryptic.
I value truth. Truth isn’t something that you believe just because you want to believe it. If you believe something because it makes you feel good, that alone should make you suspicious. Chances are, it’s not truth. Truth is not warm and fuzzy. It’s often harsh. Truth is something that’s backed up by evidence, and can be verified. To find truth, you have to think skeptically. And you absolutely must question authority, because authority always lies to you for its own purposes.
I always wear black. It matches my soul. Ha! That sounds good, but it’s not true. I mean, I do wear black, but I don’t have a soul, black, pink or chartreuse. I traded it years ago for the cold light of reason.
I have no interest in sports. I mean, I can watch beach volleyball for a little while, but I don't care who wins, and I'd like it even more in slow motion, so I don't think it counts. The only sport I really like is fencing, but it’s hard to find anyone to fence with. My little collection of epees and rapiers stands in the corner gathering dust and rust these days. People forget that fencing is the Western martial art. Maybe it'll be popular again someday.
I don’t believe in Modern Art. I believe it’s modern, I just don’t believe it’s art. It's just embarrassing. If the emperor’s naked, he’s naked, and we should point at his winkie and laugh. Don’t be afraid to admit that an abstract painting looks like a bunch of meaningless blobs of color. That’s exactly what it is. If you have to read meaning into it, then you’re doing the job the artist was supposed to do. If there’s no way to tell whether it was painted by a big-name artiste or a chimpanzee on a caffeine bender, then it’s not art. If it looks like it was painted by a 5-year-old, don’t let some critic tell you it has hidden depth, and you just aren’t educated enough to see it. I mean seriously, if you have to take an “art appreciation” class just to appreciate it? Then it fails. Art is for everyone. Good art draws your interest, engages your emotions, spurs your imagination. Immediately. No matter who you are.
The artists I admire are the classical painters, and the Pre-Raphaelites. Their successors are the illustrators, who have been carrying the torch of real art for the past century. Honestly, how can you display work by guys like Warhol, Pollock, Picasso and Lichtenstein in the same building with the works of masters like Raphael, Rembrandt, J.W. Waterhouse, Edward Burne-Jones, William Bouguereau, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Frederick Leighton, Alphonse Mucha, Maxfield Parrish or Gustave Dore? Please.
I love reading books. I read books all the time, though in keeping with the age, I've started reading most of them on my Droid. I have lots of favorite authors, perhaps you've heard of some of them: Roger Zelazny, Neal Stephenson, George R.R. Martin, Keith Laumer, Fritz Leiber, C.S. Friedman, Jim Butcher, David Weber, F. Paul Wilson, Robert E. Howard, David Wong, Tim Powers, Christopher Moore, Neil Gaiman, Hannu Rajaniemi, William Tenn, David Gemmell and Jeffery Farnol.
As you might guess, I’m a comic-book kinda guy, and always have been. I love comic books, and I have a collection of them that no cabinet can contain. My favorite titles are “The Preacher” by Garth Ennis, “Sandman” by Neil Gaiman, “Lucifer” by Mike Carey, and of course, “Watchmen” by Alan Moore. Also the “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” by Alan Moore. And “The Authority” by Warren Ellis. These are all writers, and their masterworks. I have some favorite artists, too, more than I can remember. But they include P. Craig Russell, Dave Stevens, Esteban Maroto, Wally Wood, Alex Ross, Mike Mignola, Bryan Hitch, Whilce Portacio, Alfredo Alcala, Charles Vess… and lots more. But I don’t only love existing comics, I love the potential of comics. The combination of drawn images and words, arranged sequentially, is a powerful medium that offers endless possibilities. All comic artists do our best to fulfill that potential, and we all find aspects of it that we explore to the best of our abilities. But if I was smarter, I’d do a lot more with it.
I believe gay marriage must be legalized. It is the last frontier of civil rights, or at least one of the last. America was founded on the noble premise that every citizen shall be treated equally before the law. For over 200 years we’ve been working toward achieving that ideal, but we’re not there yet. The Christians are standing in the way, like they’ve stood in the way of every other moral and civil rights advancement we’ve ever made. And there is no rational reason for opposing gay marriage. When upstanding, god-fearing folk claim that gays getting married somehow renders their own marriage vows meaningless, they’re lying. They’re saying it because they can’t say that they just hate gays, and that they are opposed to any law that acknowledges the fact that gays exist. Well they do exist, and denying them the rights the rest of us enjoy is only making us look like a bunch of assholes.
Reality shows are evil, and will probably destroy us. The first reality show, “Survivor,” pretended to be about real people working together to survive in the wild. But what it was really about was setting up a difficult and stressful situation to bring out peoples’ worst traits, then showcasing their sniping, backbiting, gossiping and whining in private, candid interviews. And of course the cruelty was played up big too, as contestants were forced to eat bugs and vote each other off the show. It was the video equivalent of tabloids, where the appeal is gossiping about scandal and other bad behavior among celebrities, so the pious everyman (or woman) can tut-tut about how bad they are, and feel superior. For well over a decade, every reality show duplicated this formula. Lately, a new breed of reality shows has sprung up, shows that are less structured, less manipulative. They follow the lives of ordinary, everyday people who aren’t very bright and often do stupid things; in some cases they follow vile, mean-spirited people who frequently do awful things. The appeal is ostensibly the same, watching them makes the audience feel superior. But these new shows are having another effect. Because the audience watches the same person in each episode, those vile, stupid people have become celebrities, and Americans are starting to admire and emulate them. We are becoming a nation of people who aspire to mediocrity and meanness. Can the end be far away?
Have you seen “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog”? It's an excellent experimental web series by Joss Whedon, creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, "Firefly," "Dollhouse," “The Avengers” movie, and other shows. In Dr. Horrible, he equates the superhero/science villain relationship with the bully/nerd dynamic, and it totally works. And it makes you think about just how pervasive the war between bullies and nerds really is. A bully is a person who acts on instinct, who lets his primitive monkey-brain, with all its biases and assumptions, make all his decisions for him. Because he never has to think or question what he’s doing, he exudes confidence, which makes him attractive to the opposite sex. A nerd uses his cerebral cortex, the rational, thinking part of his brain, to override his instincts. He thinks all the time, often overthinks, worries and obsesses. He tends to be hesitant, uncertain and shy, and pays little attention to social conventions. Nerds rarely get laid. In school, bullies behave exactly like monkeys do in a tribe that’s grown beyond its monkeysphere, singling out anyone who’s different (and smaller) for hatred, violence and exclusion. As adults, they sometimes learn to think, and overcome their bullying ways. Sometimes not. George W. Bush often bragged about the way he thought with his gut, and how he could make decisions quickly and easily. He called himself “The Decider.” He will go down in history as the worst president ever. Can there be any doubt that Mitt Romney is a bully? When you have your buddies hold another kid down so you can cut off his hair, you’re a bully. Could Barak Obama be anything but a nerd? I don’t know if the age-old bully v. nerd war always follows party lines, but it sure does right now.
By now I think you have a pretty good idea who I am. You may not know my name or where I learned to draw or who I’ve worked for, but sometimes a mystery is better than the facts, and sometimes knowing how someone thinks tells you more about them than a resume.