Who are the People Most Opposed to Escapism? Jailers!
During dark times, people still need the consolation of escapist entertainment.
“Who are the people most opposed to escapism? Jailors!”
- J.R.R. Tolkien, as quoted by C.S. Lewis
Last October, I penned an essay entitled “The Spoliation of Pop Culture” in which I explained that America’s comic books, games, movies, novels, and TV shows were currently undergoing spoliation — “the transference of power from the past through a taking over of its cultural expressions and incorporating them into one’s own.” There I noted:
The most visible example of today’s spoliation occurs when old characters are replaced with new counterparts operating under the same mantle or brand name. For instance, Clark Kent has been replaced with Jon Kent as Superman; Peter Parker with Miles Morales as Spiderman; Thor with Jane Foster as Thor; Tony Stark with Riri Williams as Iron Man; James “Logan” Howlett with Laura Kinney as Wolverine; James Bond with Nomi as 007; and on and on.
Just as the Christians of old kept the outside (the temple buildings) but changed the inside (the religion and its regalia) of what they conquered, the progressives today keep the outsides (the names and costumes) but change the insides (the characters and their beliefs).
To anyone who valued the old ways — the “truth, justice, and the American Way” that Superman has recently abandoned — spoliation means the loss of something that was loved. What ought we do in the face of it? It is pointless to begrudge it. Instead I recommended:
Create and/or consume new works made with the values of old. My own upcoming graphic novel, Ascendant: Star-Spangled Squadron, embraces truth, justice, and the American Way wholeheartedly and I will unabashedly recommend it to all of you when it’s ready!
Well, it’s almost ready. I have worked for over 18 months to make Ascendant: Star-Spangled Squadron take flight. Now the graphic novel is written, illustrated, colored, and lettered; all that remains is to crowdfund its publishing.
The time to do so is at hand; but my hand has hesitated. The world today is more perilous now than it has been at any time in my adult recollection. Even accepting the importance of pop culture as modern-day myth, it seems strange, almost surreal, to be publishing escapist entertainment during such days; and I confess that my productivity almost came to a standstill these last weeks.
My wife, ever quick to encourage me to greater effort ("I'm tired of people calling you Alexander the Pretty Good," as Gary Larson put it), told me I should not allow the darkness that grips the world to deter me from my work. "When times are bad, people need escapism more than ever," she said.
J.R.R. Tolkien would have agreed. He wrote the Fall of Gondolin while the Battle of the Somme raged. He blasted his critics for undervaluing the consolation of escapism. What creator would say that both his spouse and J.R.R. Tolkien are wrong? Not me.
Thus I will be launching a crowdfunding campaign for Ascendant: Star-Spangled Squadron in exactly one week's time. The campaign will begin 12PM Eastern Time on March 15th on IndieGoGo.
What is Star-Spangled Squadron about? Watch the trailer below by clicking the preview image to find out:
If you like the trailer, you can download a sneak preview of the first chapter of the graphic novel direct from DriveThruComics. The sneak preview features a cover by Will Conrad, interior pencils and inks by Mel Joy San Juan, and interior colors by Rohvel Yumul. If you prefer webtoons-style comics rather than digital PDFs, you can also read the sneak preview over at ArkToons.
I cannot promise that Ascendant: Star-Spangled Squadron will be the greatest graphic novel ever written. But I can promise that Ascendant: Star-Spangled Squadron will not subvert your expectations. I believe it will meet them; I hope it will exceed them.
Because Tolkien was right. When the hour is dark, heroes must ascend!