Sunday, February 05, 2006

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?

-- or gone in a half hour?

Here's what I wrote to Blog Support yesterday afternoon:

Hello, Blog Support folks --

No, NONE of your FAQs cover what is happening to the blog today.

I have posted on my blog FIVE TIMES today -- beginning at 6:45 AM this morning -- and in every case, the post has DISAPPEARED COMPLETELY within an hour or so, along with comments that were posted!

The last time, I posted the passages of my blog posting separately -- in case content was somehow an issue -- but they still 'vanished' within an hour.

I know the postings were visible for some period of time -- I checked from a different computer in the house -- and all were initially accepted.

I also made slight edits to the previous day's post (2/3/06) that have been accepted -- then revert to the unedited version the same time the new posts vanish.

I received two comments -- posted to the blog while my posts for today WERE visible -- [see below, bottom of this post and yesterday's surviving post, for the comments posted yesterday that vanished, and one relevent comment that followed.]


Please respond, and advise --

Many thanks,

Steve Bissette


So, in the hopes today postings will stay, here's what was on my blog off-and-on yesterday, February 4th, 2006. Enjoy --


Jelly for the Masses

Quote for the decade:

“Obviously, no one can keep a cartoonist from doing what they want to do...”

- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, on February 3’s CNN morning radio news

I may never need another ‘Quote of the Day’, ever.

Hmmm, this is my second attempt to today to post this -- it was up this morning before 6:45 AM, and was mysteriously gone a little later. Let's see what happens this time...

Senator Russ Feingold on President Bush's "State of the Union" address:

I've seen some strange things in my life, but I cannot describe the feeling I had, sitting on the House floor during Tuesday's State of the Union speech, listening to the President assert that his executive power is, basically, absolute, and watching several members of Congress stand up and cheer him on.  It was surreal and disrespectful to our system of government and to the oath that as elected officials we have all sworn to uphold. Cheering? Clapping? Applause?  All for violating the law?

My favorite moment in the "State of the Union" speech our President delivered this past Tuesday was, of course, the reference to human/animal "hybrids" -- as if canine manimals were a reality, or impending reality, and somehow a dire threat to us all. One would think a President so intent on total dominion and his-will-above-all would welcome human/canine acolytes, if only for their dog-like devotion. Besides, given the controversy prompted by the use of dogs against detainees and military prisoners, domestic and foreign, a dog/human hybrid soldier would neatly solve the problem in one fell swoop: if you're a detainee in the "War on Terror" and your guard is Rowlf in uniform, what can you complain about when he takes a snap at you?

Why doesn't someone call Bush on these bizarre detours in his speeches? His last zinger was the Rose Garden musings about martial law and mobilizing the military to cordon off infected communities in the case of an avian flu outbreak. So he's gone from The Crazies to The Island of Dr. Moreau -- evolution or devolution at work?

Which brings to mind this, circulating via emails, stating as its source American Radio:

This year, both Groundhog Day and the President's State of the Union Address fall on the same day. As America Radio points out...
"It is an ironic juxtaposition. One involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of little intelligence for prognostication, and the other involves a groundhog."


Muslim outrage over two of the twelve cartoons originally published by a Danish newspaper continues to spiral into public protest and violence. The obvious culture clashes are at full boil (and some not-so-obvious ones: one Islamic scholar interviewed yesterday afternoon said, "Danes don't apologize," as if it were a cultural fact; anyone able to confirm or deny this aside?), with European newspapers fanning the flames by reprinting the offending images, as they are now news.

This perverse inevitable (much like any controversy attached to an image, book, song, or film, the outrage is only increasing interest in the offending artifact, giving the offending images increased cultural cache and value, elevating them to an arena they never would have acquired had they simply been ignored) is threatening to escalate the ire and violence -- inadvertantly "confirming" for many the validity of the offensive imagery, caricaturing Islamic society (via the caricatures of Muhammad) as an inherently violent & destructive society.

Of course, Islamic popular culture is peppered with cartoons caricaturing Jews, Americans, etc. and relevent religious iconography.

One cannot have it both ways, and as usual, the pious reactions from Western politicians -- exclaiming that me must respect all religions and faiths, but freedom of speech is an absolute -- serves only to articulate the unresolvable conundrum Islamic society cannot tolerate (it is not only considered an outrage to depict Muhammad in any way, but one is required to express one's outrage, lest one be perceived to condone such caricatures or graven images).

This aspect of the modernization and globalization of Islamic society is a volatile one, and a facet perhaps impossible to find any common ground for.

Cartoonists work with images that are, by their very nature, reductive in nature: cartoons work because they effectively reduce ideas, concepts, cultures, archetypes to their simplist graphic form. As secular Western societies grapple with the ongoing friction with extremist Islamic factions that embrace destructive and self-destructive means of communication/retaliation with/against offending components of Western society -- including, as we have seen, the murder of offending artists (the filmmaker Van Gogh) -- caricature and cartoons are primary tools that will be utilized to articulate aspects of that friction.

This current spiral of anger is already prompting fresh editorial cartoons globally, and many are provocative by their very nature: the need to, in a single image, convey some perception of the controversy, thus caricaturing elements of Islamic culture in ways that might be perceived -- especially by the already righteously outraged -- as caricaturing the whole of Islamic culture.

Are cartoons weapons of mass destruction?

This is a "war" no one can "win."

All it takes is one wiseass with a pencil, pen, and printer -- and that, after all, is what most cartoonists thrive upon.

[February 5th addendum: As reported last night on the BBC radio (see HB3, I tune in to much more than just NPR), the Danish and Norwegian Embassies in Syria were burned to the ground by an angry mob over this controversy. With their usual aplomb, the Bush Administration have already further bungled an already-volatile global crisis by blaming Syria for the destruction, which has done nothing but raise the heat. More on this later today or in tomorrow's post... best comparison that comes to mind: can you imagine if the outrage -- and there was considerable outrage -- over The Life of Brian, The Last Temptation of Christ, Jean-Luc Godard's Holy Mary, or The Passion (of the Christ) had reached these proportions?]

Friend and carpenter/contractor extraordinaire Olivier Flagollet came by this morning and installed three new shelving units for my recently-completed studio/office. This will get the last of the books off the floor and up on the walls, maximizing the use of space to its final possible degree.

The organization of the library is underway -- a pretty arduous undertaking, but long overdue and most necessary -- and the remaining overstock will be split between the Center for Cartoon Studies library and the Bissette Special Collection at Henderson State University/HUIE Library. At last, at long last... by spring, this ongoing process should be complete!

[February 5th addendum: I'm well into the process, and this is glorious. At last, to have my entire graphic novel, comics, and film book library organized and within reach! There's hope, too, my vast paleontology library will eventually be rescued from the boxes in the garage -- and that might lead to all sorts of good things.]

My amigo G. Michael Dobbs donated a fine box of magazine, comics, graphic novels, and the oversized DC Comics reprints of the ‘70s to the CCS Library this past week, too. This included a partial set of Animato magazines (which I added to from my own stash of back issues) and a complete set of Animation Planet, both zines Mike edited and wrote for, and an oddity I’d never seen, a one-shot Peter Max newsstand magazine that featured a “Mickey Mouse Meets Psychedelic Bugs Bunny-as-Peter Max” comic story illustrated by Wally Wood! The latter is an amazing artifact of its era, and fascinating bridge between the Kurtzman/Elder and Kurtzman/Wood Disney cartoon parodies of Mad fame, Wood’s infamous Disneyland double-page spread parody for Paul Krassner, and the underground comix outlaws The Air Pirates. Thanks, Mike, from everyone at CCS!

[February 5th addendum: In organizing my own library at last, I'm already turning up duplicates of numerous books that will join Mike's donation to the CCS library. All for the good...]

Hold on to your jellified asses! Criswell predicts:

“I Predict...that a large city in Colorado will be the victim of a strange and terrible pressure from outer space, which will cause all solids to turn into a jelly-like mass. I predict that this pressure will not affect any other part of the world but will be pinpointed at one particular city. Housewives working at home will suddenly feel the floors sway and buck underneath them. Their once sturdy furniture will slither into weird and fantastic shapes. Dishes will turn into putty, and silverware will have the texture of rubber. I predict that without warning buildings will collapse to the ground in near silence trapping thousands in the rubble. These unfortunate victims will not be cut or gashed but death will be caused by crushing and smothering. These collapsed buildings will look like masses of oddly formed rubber. Transportation in this forsaken city will be crippled for I predict automobiles, trains, cars and buses will be entirely useless. Factories will be unable to continue production. Poles supporting high tension wires will collapse. The entire population will live in terror and in fear. I predict that a state emergency will be declared and federal aid will be granted but as rescue units approach the city they will lose all semblance of solidity and will be rendered helpless. The people who attempt to escape in wild panic will be unable to move through the gummy streets. Hospitals will suffer and I predict that doctors in the midst of operating will find their surgical instruments useless for they will bend and curl. Needles will not penetrate flesh and glass will mold together. Many patients on the operating table will recover from the anesthetic without means of administering further pain killing drugs, and the results will be most unpleasant. I predict that this catastrophe will take place during the tourist season and the fun loving people in the amusement zone will suddenly find their day of pleasure turned into one of horror. A roller coaster will rise and sway throwing cars and occupants to the ground below. A ferris wheel will collapse and carry many children to untimely deaths. A penny arcade will become a dungeon of doom, a canopy of a merry-go-round will plunge down upon its most innocent riders. I predict only silence will reign where there was once laughter and gaiety. THe citizenry of this Colorado city will find themselves enveloped in a jelly-like substance that was once brick, concrete, steel, and lumber. They will be unable to escape for it will be impossible to cut through or tear this substance. Although soft and pliable it will still retain the strength and weight formerly possessed. I predict in the outskirts the conditions will not be as serious but fleeing people will find themselves mired in roadways and hardly able to move.

I predict that scientists from all over the world will be called upon to help but no one will be able to offer relief for they will not be able to conquer this terrible force, this mysterious force from outer space. Gradually, as conditions ease survivors will be evacuated but this will become a dead city and will never again be reborn. I predict this unfortunate community will be a victim of elements beyond our control and will always be remembered until the end of time. I predict the name of the city will be Denver, Colorado. The date: June 9, 1989.”


[February 5th addendum: Later in the day yesterday, I received this from Bob in Canada, who noted this wasn't peculiar to this blog, but indeed a widespread phenomenon yesterday. I've posted it here to provide some vague conclusion to the events of yesterday, but welcome any more info anyone might have!

Please note the comments on the lone surviving blog post from yesterday -- reflecting, too, that the post for yesterday was visible here at various times of the day:]

From: "bob"   
Subject: [MYRANT] 2/04/2006 01:16:49 PM
Date: Sat, 4 Feb 2006 14:01:58 -0800 (PST)

Steve, it looks like it's some sort of Blogger-wide problem with new posts vanishing and reappearing, nothing targetted at you. It's just happened to my Jack Kirby weblog, and I've seen a few others mention it. I'm sure it'll be fixed soon. Just remember to keep a backup of any substantial post in case it vanishes forever.
Posted by bob to MYRANT at 2/04/2006 01:16:49 PM

More to follow -- I hope!
Suggested Reading -- and Fast! Arab Comic Strips

BTW, for anyone interested, I heartily suggest you immediately track down a copy online or anywhere of Arab Comic Strips: Politics of an Emerging Mass Culture by Allen Douglas & Fedwa Malti-Douglas (1994, Indiana University Press, Bloomington & Indianapolis). This is an excellent illustrated 250+ page study of the emerging (circa early 1990s) comics of all genres from the Arab world and Islamic comics, and more relevent now than ever before.

Other recommended reading:

* Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Villifies a People by Jack G. Shaheen (2001, Olive Branch Press/Interlink Publishing Group, Inc., New York/Northampton, MA); a definitive, comprehensive and frankly astounding overview of the ongoing American pop cultural defamation of Islamic culture via the pervasive archetype of Arab villainy, with a 500-pg. annotated filmography (!!!) of such stereotypes film-by-film from A to Z. An essential work, highly recommended (shelved in my library alongside The Yellow Peril: Chinese Americans in American Fiction, 1850-1940 by William F. Wu and Reel Jewish: A Century of Jewish Movies by Joel Samberg, and an entire bookshelf of books on Black/African/African-American culture & archetypes in the pop culture. The sword of stereotype and outrage cuts many, many ways and has countless sharp edges.)

* Followups to Arab Comic Strips well worth seeking:

- John A. Lent's article "The Horrors of Cartooning in Slim's Algeria" in International Journal of Comic Art (hereafter IJOCA) Vol. 1, No. 1, Spring/Summer 1999 (pp. 150-155); interview with cartoonist 'Slim' (Menouar Merabtene) on his work, career, and reasons for leaving Algeria to live in France due to the danger his cartooning presented to his life (he notes, "Journalists are not free in Algeria... I have risks; my Algerian journalist friends have many risks. More than 60 journalists have been killed, two or three foreign journalists, and two cartoonists..."). As with all the following articles, excellent and informative reading, providing quite a context for the current debacle.

- "Islamic "Classics Illustrated": Regendering Medieval Philosophy in a Modern Tunesian Strip" by Allen Douglas & Fedwa Malti-Douglas (pp. 98-106) and the historically relevent "The City and Housing in Turkish Cartoons" by Turgut Ceviker (pp. 127-131), both in IJOCA Vol. 1, No. 2, Fall 1999.

Also, this just in from my longtime amigo and cartoonist extraordinaire Rick Veitch, to add to the brew:

"Also, I'm sure you are following the firestorm over those Danish
cartoons depicting Mohammed (a SPLASH story if ever there was one).
Found this interesting bit in The Independent that indicates there are provocateurs on both sides:"

'In the autumn, events began to move beyond Denmark, albeit unnoticed by Western media. On 14 November, there were protests in Islamabad, Pakistan. And, at some point (the timing is unclear), imams went to the Middle East to lobby leaders there, taking with them the cartoons, reportedly supplemented by far more inflammatory, but mysteriously unsourced, cartoons showing the prophet in acts of bestiality and paedophilia.'

Whew -- oh, man, this is getting increasingly convoluted. The full story Rick cites is
  • here.