Friday, February 08, 2008

Swampy Roughs, All-Time Lows and Honoring Our Vets:
More Bush Era Bushwhacking of Those Who Serve

The rough for Swamp Thing #42, art by Bissette (markers, pencil, pen and ink)

Cartoonist amigo Mark Masztal brought this to my attention this morning:
  • Here's the link to the eBay 'Buy It Now' sale; nothing in this for me, I provide this for anyone out there interested.

  • It's cool to see this old rough after over 20 years, and to see one that was approved by editor Karen Berger and that John Totleben and I got to execute as that month's cover.

    The seller helpfully provides a complimentary cover shot of the published Swamp Thing #42, which gives you a clear snapshot of our process from rough to finish -- so I figured it was worth sharing both with you this morning. Enjoy!

    I enjoyed doing the Swamp Thing covers, and stuck with it for a good stretch of Alan Moore and Rick Veitch's run on the title after John and I moved on. In fact, I would have stayed on the entire run, were it not for DC's refusal to either slightly increase the cover rate, or allow me to have a stab at doing just one painted cover. I stepped away only after it became clear I was never going to get a shot at doing a painted cover: the dollars-and-sense of it was, painted covers paid, for a single cover, what it took me almost a full year to earn cumulatively doing the standard pen, brush and ink covers, and it just didn't make sense that the fellow who agreed to continue doing covers, month after month, was being in effect penalized for doing so.

    Just one painted cover -- a gesture, in effect -- would have sufficed to keep me aboard, but no, that wasn't to be; well, okay, then. So be it. That conversation and final summary judgment was delivered mid-way through my work on the cover for #63, after the roughs and pencils were completed, but before it was inked. "Fuck it, then," I decided, and Karen went to Bill Sienkiewicz for the final inks over my pencils -- and I was done, save for my part of the pencils for Alan's final issue #64, the scripting of #78 and Annual #4, and a little work on individual panels or pages when Rick asked me to pitch in during his run. Karen and I were still on good terms, personally; it was a business decision to leave the covers, that was all, and though it was momentarily inconvenient for Karen, the money issue was crystal clear, my reasons for leaving inarguably justified. No regrets. Thereafter, the covers were by Rick when pen, brush and ink, guest cover artists (including John) when painted.

    Anyhoot, that's today's blast from the past, folks.

    Sorry I've been off the daily blog routine; the Neil Gaiman book is in its home week-and-a-half of work, and that and my teaching at the Center for Cartoon Studies have been all-consuming.

    I wrapped up the final document of the complete Gaiman interview yesterday, incorporating all the followup email revisions, corrections and follow-up questions, and got it to my co-authors. I've got two more text pieces to revise, and a wee bit of work on two intro sections, then -- I'm done!

    Then, I've got the massive Brat Pack piece to finish up for Rick Veitch, and that I'm eager to dive back into, along with the final polish of Blur volumes 2, 3 and 4, which I am very eager to get out ASAP.

    By March 1st, I'll be back to blogging daily, or damn near daily, thereafter.

  • President George W. Bush and Congress have hit all-time lows in public polls, and it's no surprise.

  • The Republicans, of course, are trying to play this in their favor this election year, as if they weren't complicit in the current 'Do Nothing' Congressional term, having cynically manipulated and stymied any chance of the very slim Democratic majority to get anything done. Don't be fooled by the rhetoric: the Democrats control nothing. Bush has wielded that veto pen he never, ever used before the 2006 election, and has had to use that only when the Republicans in Congress have failed to neuter, derail or bury anything antithetical to the Bush doctrines.

    Listening to the ongoing Republican dialogue in conjunction with the Presidential race has been fascinating: the meltdown is self-evident, with the current extreme right aghast reaction to Senator John McCain's front-runner status (a great relief that Mitt Romney is out of the picture, to my mind: that man is toxic) showing where the seams are bursting.

  • Bush has the unmitigated gall to address this meltdown, as if he weren't primarily responsible for its inevitable arrival.
  • "The stakes in November are high. This is an important election. Prosperity and peace are in the balance," Bush said yesterday to his usual cushy, question-nothing crowd (in this case, 'about 2,000 people attending the Conservative Political Action Conference').

    Prosperity? Peace? Are you fucking joking? Are you fucking insane? Did the Conservative Political Action Conference audience actually applaud that nonsense? Are they deaf? Blind? Stupid?

    Bush continued, "So with confidence in our vision and faith in our values, let us go forward, fight for victory and keep the White House in 2008."

    Vision? Faith? Values? Victory? Give me a fucking break.

    Bottom line: the right had their eight years of essentially unquestioned, unencumbered rule, and they and their bwah George W. Bush showed their true colors, and did so with pride. The aspects of the conservative agenda Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, Gonzales, Rove and their respective cronies and successors (in the case of Rummy, Wolfy and Gonzo) manifested have abundantly proven how self-destructive and horrific that agenda truly is.

    The core political philosophies that drove their actions (primary among those a war waged on two fronts, one completely unprovoked and unjustified, and a disastrous series of fiscal and deregulatory policies that has devalued the dollar and precipitated economic ruin for the US) and inactions (e.g., Katrina, 'homeland security,' etc.; in short, anything requiring a strong internal gov't support system for the country) are bankrupt, and any fool still believing there's a straw to cling to no doubt also believes we 'coulda won' in Vietnam, too.

    They -- Bush, Cheney, and those who serve, support and act as apologists for 'em -- discredited themselves and their own. This past week, Ann Coulter's much-clipped quote against McCain and Fox News incorporating Karl Rove into their Super Tuesday news coverage is further proof of how shameless, complicit, and utterly oblivious the core conservative coalitions are to their own meltdown. The inability of conservatives to get behind any candidate in their own primaries, and then to turn like ants on the standing survivors (go ahead, badmouth McCain and Huckabee), without for a heartbeat acknowledging they had their boy in there, they bragged and brayed and boasted and ballyhooed his every move, and thus shot their wad.

    is reeling on every front -- the wars, the economy, health-non-care, politically, culturally, you name it -- paying the piper for the eight years they imposed their ideologies on us all and inflicted them upon the globe with unmitigated arrogance and swagger.

  • Nowhere are the utterly despicable core philosophies of this current Administration more self-evidently corrupt than in their ongoing ill treatment of our war vets, especially the fresh-from-the-field Iraq and Afghanistan Wars vets. This latest outrage is further evidence of corruption from the top, with those down the chain of command taking the bullets (literally, in the case of the vets themselves).

  • Take the time to check out the original January 29th story,
  • re-read today's followup, and tell me this is the Rashomon situation the Army rep is now claiming this to be. BULLSHIT.

    If you can, download that 'VA Document' and tell me this isn't current U.S. Army policy, and what we're seeing now is Major Backpedal at work, though today his name may be Army Surgeon General Eric B. Schoomaker.

    Typical of this Administration, too, we're seeing those who were inside speaking out: note, "former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, who co-chaired President Bush's commission on veterans' care, says the whole disability rating system is broken and needs to change."

    I'll go one further: this VA document the followup on the January 29th story demonstrates this is willful, calculated breakage of the system.

    Its policy: "FUCK THE VETS," it says, in bureaucrat-speak. It's the Commander in Chief, his cronies, his Pentagon once again from on high saying: "FUCK THESE VETS. FUCK THOSE WHO SERVE. Use 'em, discard 'em. They're of no further use to us. Fuck 'em."

    They use them, abuse them, discard them, secret them away, hide them, bury them when they can -- in paperwork and military and government clusterfuck, when they can't get 'em under dirt. It's utterly consistent with how they've treated the dead (no photos! No images! No dead!), our own dead and those of the Iraqis and the Afghans; as I've said, it's also utterly consistent with how they've treated the "detainees."

    It's further clear evidence of the most cynical policy imaginable, dishonorable and as corrupt as any such policy can be. "Don't help them fill out our convoluted paperwork. Don't help those we put into harm's way, who have returned the walking wounded, negotiate the paper minefields we've erected between them and the aid they so badly need. Fuck 'em."

    This is how Bush and the Pentagon honors the troops.

    Let me not mince words: I have nothing but contempt for the fuckers who (a) started these wars, (b) so cynically manipulated public perception of their reasons for going to war (every single one of which has been discredited), (c) so heartlessly launched wars with no end in sight with no strategy (Bush has demonstrated time and time again he doesn't even know what the English word 'strategy' means) for dealing with the aftermath of Rumsfeld's horribly misconceived "streamlining" of our military forces, (d) so cynically abuse our volunteer military, refusing to address the consequences of their lunatic leadership by just putting more burdens on those who do volunteer to serve, heartlessly extending tours of duty to break-the-body-and-spirit extremes, with no regard for the toll this takes on the troops, their families, our military and our country, and (e) then have the soulless capacity to refuse to bankroll the treatment of the new generation of war veterans they, themselves, have willingly spawned.

    It's becoming increasingly evident that the latter is indeed a matter of policy: the 2006 and 2007 revelations of the poor conditions of many VA hospitals, the abysmal treatment (read: abuse) of vets suffering emotional and psychological consequences, and now the uncovering of documentation of U.S. Army policy to refuse aid to vets in properly filing disability claims -- what, pray tell, is the final straw?

    How long will the rule of the military -- chain of command -- be ignored by the public? Orders are orders, rank and file rules; these are orders, policies, coming from the top. Period. Only ignorance of how the military functions obfuscates the reality. And -- no two ways about it -- it goes all the way to the top.

    In the end, not one commanding officer was called on the carpet (e.g., found guilty) for the Abu Ghraib atrocities -- only the lowest-level grunts following orders were imprisoned.

    In the end, not one upper echelon commander will fall for the ongoing revelations about how badly our vets are being served -- more 'honoring our troops' from the fuckers who brought us these pre-emptive wars and continue to daily place more of our best into harm's way.

    In the end, Rumsfeld walked away still espousing his delusions and showing no shame for his contemptible actions and utter failure, and Bush will remain untouched by all this, actively passing the buck (but no bucks) to the next Commander in Chief, while working to lock his successor into treaty-formatted extensions of his present misbegotten policies.

    In the end, those in power who have so ceaselessly demanded 'those responsible' for evils they perceive as evils be made to suffer and 'pay,' whatever the "collateral damage" to innocents, while dodging any and all culpability for their actions and inactions like the craven cowards they are.

    In the end, any idiot who votes for a pro-war candidate, Republican or Democrat, in the coming 2008 election is complicit in these cynical, soulless policies and practices.


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