The Clarion, the publication of the Professional Staff Congress, the City University’s faculty and staff union, recently asked members to contribute a book recommendation for the President-elect. My contribution ended up, justifiably, on the scrap-heap because I couldn’t commit myself to one work and, instead, waxed rhapsodic and otherwise about a genre. In keeping with the notion that the Web is the repository of all ideasâ€”good, bad, and really badâ€”herewith is my recommendation:
In a variation on the 1992 presidential campaignâ€™s boxers-versus-briefs revelation, a researcher at the British Daily Telegraph recently uncovered candidate Obamaâ€™s passion for spandex and loincloths: apparently, he collects Spiderman and Conan the Barbarian comic books.
While there is much to praise in these venerable titlesâ€”and much to ponder regarding each characterâ€™s appeal for Obamaâ€”if his comic book interests havenâ€™t yet ventured farther afield, there are other works he should read.
Indeed, Obama need not venture beyond the Marvel brand to consider one effect of the Bush administrationâ€™s abuse of power. The premise behind the recent Civil War miniseries by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven involves passage of the Superhuman Registration Act and the victimization and resistance it provokes. And, in case Obamaâ€™s wondering whatâ€™s running through Sarah Palinâ€™s head, he might read Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielliâ€™s DMZ (Vertigo), where military interventions abroad and rightwing influence at home render Manhattan a last outpost of diversity. Meanwhile, weâ€™ve been spared one aspect of Anthony LappÃ© and Dan Goldmanâ€™s dystopian vision of perpetual war in the Middle East in their Shooting War (Warner): a McCain presidency.
The appeal to the imagination notwithstanding, President Obama should pick up Joe Saccoâ€™s path-breaking graphic journalism, especially his Palestine and Safe Area Gorazde: The War In Eastern Bosnia 1992-1995 (Fantagraphic Books), and more recently his unique coverage of Iraq in The Guardian and Harperâ€™s.