PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Seaguy #1-3

Jesse Hicks

There are no heroes, no imagination, just characters and franchises; wonders are reduced to theme parks; everything is flattened in order to be sold.

Seaguy #1-3

Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo
Contributors: Cameron Stewart (Artist)
Price: $2.95 each.
Writer: Grant Morrison
Item Type: Comic
Length: 40
End Date: 2004-09
Start Date: 2011-07

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

The Walt Disney phenomenon, in all its complexity, has fascinated creative types since the beginning. Sci-fi genius Philip K. Dick, master of the simulacrum, wanted to live in Disneyland, the closest approximation to the manufactured worlds of his novels; Dick was known to spend an entire advance on week-long trips to the park. The gritty poet Charles Bukowski hated the cheap sentimentality that is Disney's stock-in-trade. According to wife Linda, Bukowski hated Mickey Mouse "because he had three fingers and no soul." Marxist critic Ariel Dorfman found in Donald Duck all the exploitative traits of the imperial capitalist. French philosopher Jean Baudrillard, with Dick another master of the simulacrum, glimpsed something dark in the soul of Disney: in America, he wrote, "The whole Walt Disney philosophy eats out of your hand with these pretty little sentimental creatures in grey fur coats. For my own part, I believe that behind these smiling eyes there lurks a cold, ferocious beast fearfully stalking us."

In Seaguy, Grant Morrison takes his shot at the Disneyfication of the world, placing his unique stamp on the dreams and fears of Philip K. Dick, Charles Bukowski, Ariel Dorfman and Jean Baudrillard. He tells the story of Seaguy, a superhero wannabe in scuba gear who's born too late to have any adventures. The heroes of the past are gone, the last great villain defeated; Seaguy's days consist of playing chess with Death, watching Mickey Eye (the familiar-sounding mascot of a familiarly ubiquitous global corporation) on television, and, of course, going to the theme park with his friend Chubby da Choona, whose cigar-chomping exclamation, "Da Fug!" is the only thing separating him from a Disney trademark.

Seaguy's world is the Un-Magic Kingdom, where imagination is sapped away by television and no one needs heroes because "everything's great", in the words of one former hero. Everyone is content, even bored. Meanwhile, underneath the park, children are being kidnapped by men in Mickey Eye costumes. Cameron Stewart's two-page spread in the first issue perfectly captures Mickey's menacing subtext: Children are crying, adults look bewildered or catatonic, and everywhere is the unblinking Eye with his dangling optic nerve. Mickey Eye is watching y`ou.

Mickey Eye is Baudrillard's ferocious beast with the fur removed. The Disney of today is Walt Disney with the soul removed: no longer helmed by a single visionary, the man who conceived EPCOT as a techno-utopia, it's the product of bottom-line driven suits who built Celebration, Florida, as an extension of their empire, the realization of Philip K. Dick's vision in Time Out of Joint: a place where it's always 1959. Disney's version of 1959.

This is what Mickey Eye and Mickey Mouse do: not only do they re-write history, but they effectively colonize it. Disney has created its own version of the Pocahontas story, the Snow White story, the Pinocchio story -- these are the stories children raised in the Age of Disney will remember, will pay to hear again and again. In Seaguy, the hero fights back against Mickey Eye's appropriation of Zullibdig, saying, "Zullibdig's from mythology! It's taboo!" Social critics say Disney's appropriation of cherished children's stories is also taboo, a way of staking claim to the very essence of childhood and folklore. The result is the same in both cases: a world of safe counterfeits, where everything unique or interesting about our cultural heritage has been homogenized into to DisneyCo. There are no heroes, no imagination, just characters and franchises; wonders are reduced to theme parks; everything is flattened in order to be sold.

In Seaguy, the mad pharaoh who built the moon says, "Beyond taboo lies glory." Maybe so, but glory benefits only the people compelled to chase it, not those they step over to reach it. They rest of us are like Seaguy, left to live in the world they've bought -- the world of Celebration, Florida, where the snow starts at exactly nine P.M., as if by magic, and the baleful, unblinking Mickey Eye looks down from what used to be the moon.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.