Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

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Tuesday, Apr 27, 2010
History buried in shame. David Lloyd's "V For Vendetta" reminds readers that fascism is really simple, and operates by concealing crimes.

“He starts with her back, ‘cause that’s what he sees.
When she’s breaking his heart, she still fucks like a tease.
Release to the sky, look him straight in the eye
And tell him right now that you wish he would die.
You’ll never touch him again, so get what you can,
Bleeding him empty just because he’s a man.”
Stars, “One More Night”

“A sin takes on new and real terrors when there seems a chance that it is going to be found out.”
Mark Twain (1835-1910)

“I could just pretend that you love me;
The night would lose all sense of fear.
But why do I need you to love me
When you can’t hold what I hold dear?
Oh God
Could it be the weather?
Oh God
Why am I here?
If love isn’t forever
And it’s not the weather
Hand me my leather.
I almost ran over an angel.
He had a nice big fat cigar.
‘In a sense,’ he said, ‘You’re alone here
So if you jump, you best jump far.’”
Tori Amos (1963-), “Leather”

There are many things in this world that can easily be considered unforgiveable abominations. War. Genocide. Infanticide. Leaders lying to their constituents. Selling drugs to children. Covering up murders and claiming them as suicides to save on state taxes.

All of these pale in comparison to a specific personal violation. Oftentimes in life—more often than most people care to admit or recognize—someone who may even appear to care for us on a very deep level may throw it all to the wind and hurt us deeply. Sex crimes are often joked about—as most of the world’s most dreadful aspects, from terrorism to murder frequently are—but for those who have experienced them, they are no laughing matter.

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Monday, Apr 26, 2010
Years before creating some of the strangest superheroes (Deadman and later the members of Doom Patrol), Arnold Drake penned what would arguably become the first graphic novel.

Before co-creating at least two of the strangest superhero comics in history, Arnold Drake co-wrote one of the leading contenders for the title of “first graphic novel”: 1949’s It Rhymes with Lust.

The tale of thoroughly corrupt Copper City, its competing criminal overlords, a cynical newspaper editor and the women who compete for his heart and soul, Lust brings to mind Dashiel Hammet’s Red Harvest and The Glass Key, and seems to share qualities with the 1952 movie Deadline USA. It isn’t on par with those classic crime stories, but Lust‘s non-stop seediness and garish immorality, combined with an almost Douglas Sirk-level of melodrama, make it a strange classic in its own right.

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Monday, Apr 26, 2010
Andy Smith continues his observations of the Pittsburgh Comicon. He has met the fans, gentlemen, and they are us.

I’m an hour and a half early.

A walk around the convention center finds scurrying vendors, convention center staff carrying a table between the same two spots and industry professionals strategically stacking original art with splash pages on top. And I, soon to be known as “the guy with the camera”, watch like an orphan on Thanksgiving.

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Sunday, Apr 25, 2010
Convention Confessional: Andy Smith begins his tour of Pittsburgh Comicon.

Who wouldn’t want to go to a Comicon?

Well, possibly a lot of people.

But that’s because there are only a few images that may come to mind, and nearly all of them feature an overweight man in a very, very undersized Captain America costume with a shield made out of a pizza box.

You see, I love that guy. But what I also love is the reality of a comicbook convention – the comraderie, the humility and the simple joys associated what that moment in which the doors open and the con-goers begin their assault.

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Wednesday, Apr 21, 2010
Is the search for the perfect superhero story trivializing or popularizing religions no longer part of the cultural mainstream?

You may be able to recall a few characters, like Kitty Pryde and The Thing, who are Jewish. Flagship heroes like Captain America and Superman have extensively been debated on being Protestant and Methodist, respectively. Nightcrawler and Daredevil are Marvel’s go-to Catholics, as well.

But have you ever heard of a superhero of the Aztec religion?

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