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I disapprove this message (just the message, not necessarily the person, so please hold the hate) – Michelle Obama

October 7, 2012

It’s October, I’m an American, and it’s a year that just had a Summer Olympics. What does that mean? That I’m being bombarded with stupid, unwanted political advertising, that’s what. While I’m watching football. While I’m listening to the radio. Even YouTube has political ads now — I swear, I was trying to watch the trailer to goddamn Konga the other day, and had to wade through some ad that might as well have had Mitt Romney with horns coming out of his head. YOUTUBE!

It’s the worst. It’s the pits.

I don’t know whether the advertising has become more fetid, or if my palette just rejects it more and more. Probably the latter. As a man gets older and more crotchety, he comes to the realization that people who run for President of the United States aren’t half as smart as they think they are. Not even a quarter. I include Barack Obama and Romney in that. And you also realize that there’s such a requirement for preening douchebaggery in modern politics, a prerequisite of vanity, that the mere act of seeking the presidency should be a Catch-22 disqualification from said office. Bring back the smoke-filled room and cut the crap.

Democracy: it’s an unruly, sacred mess.

I try very hard to keep this blog apolitical (though that doesn’t stop the unhinged masses from occasionally firing arrows this way). I don’t like to mix comics with politics because comics are an escape (sports are the same thing). Four years ago I went into a comic book store, a place that had some really nice old stuff that I lusted over, and the owner was offering his pro-Obama harangue to everyone within earshot. I walked out and have not returned there since (and that result would have been the same if it had been a Tea Party harangue). Comics, like sports, are a refuge that people go to to get away from it all. When I’m at Nationals Park this Wednesday for the first D.C. postseason baseball game in 79 years, I don’t want any of this crap either. No Romney. No Obama. These are places we enter so as to reshuffle our normal allegiances, to take a vacation from ourselves. The wedges in these sanctums divide us in ways less important than those outside — though I question the importance of some of those outside political wedges — and any intrusion feels like a violation.

This is all a long-winded way to say that I dislike very much comics with a political bent. And when they’re poorly conceived and executed, they’re toxic. Today’s offering, published by the hasty-bio division of Bluewater Comics, is toxic.

I have no beef with Michelle Obama — or her husband for that matter. The only reason her dopey biocomic is the centerpiece of this post is because it’s the one sitting on my desk. She seems nice enough, and God knows being the wife of a politician can be a layer of Dante’s hell. But maybe it’s her tangentialness (is that a word?) that makes this comic all the more stupid.

What makes this comic so bad is that it isn’t as much the Michelle Obama story as it is Michelle Obama, as Told to Us by Scripter Neal Bailey. It’s a lecture, and a lecture not delivered by the learned Prof whose gray hairs signify the wisdom of age, but by a schlubby guy sitting in the dark on his couch in shorts and socks. No, really:

And the first black president is reduced to this. IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU AND YOUR POTATO CHIP ADDLED PHYSIQUE. (I can’t help but be reminded of Edmund Morris’ long-awaited biography of Ronald Reagan, Dutch, and how horrified the political cognoscenti were when they discovered that he had inserted himself as a “character” in the Gipper’s life story.)

Every aspect of Michelle Obama’s life is bookended by useless, simple commentary from Bailey. Like a formula for a bad mixed drink, it’s always one part Michelle, two parts Neal (it’s nowhere near that prevalent, but the obnoxiousness of the interjections makes it feel that way). And don’t worry, there are plenty of opportunities for conservatives personas to get the horns and fangs treatment, rendering protestations of impartiality laughable. Know your audience, I suppose. Here’s Bill O’Reilly yakking about her thesis, complete with BLACK, SOULLESS DEMON EYES:

You want more? HIDE THE CHILDREN, HERE’S ROBERT BORK AND HIS TERRIFYING WHISKERS ABOUT TO ATTACK:

The comic tells Michelle’s — frankly, rather humdrum — story from humble beginnings as the daughter of a janitor, to law school and a promising legal career. All well and good, and that’s a path that anyone would be well-advised and proud to follow. But Bailey, who seems determined to defend every thought and deed in her life, even things that don’t need defending, takes things too far too often. When Michelle takes a job at the prestigious corporate law firm of Sidley & Austin (actually Sidley Austin LLP, but we’ll go with the formulation here), it’s depicted as some sort of sacrifice, like her life has gone down a horrible detour. As a one-time graduate of law school, let me offer my own commentary: No one in Michelle Obama’s day joined Sidley & Austin with a gun to their head. Such a job was highly sought after and very, VERY highly compensated. It wasn’t a sacrifice. But we digress.

Much of the comic focuses on Michelle meeting Barack, their courtship, and the juggling that has to be done to lead — and support — a political life. Which is stone cold boring. And much of the latter portion of the book is spent going over the ill-advised “For the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country” campaign gaffe:

(Let me add my own asterisked notation to that smug one: Barack Obama, in 2012, still hasn’t closed Guantanamo Bay. For whatever that’s worth.)

It’s here that the book really runs off the rails, with Bailey doing everything he can to say that this was no big deal. He offers up all the bad things that happened in her adult life (and none of the myriad things that she should have taken pride in), and pounces on the people who pounced on her, like EVIL CRUELLA DE VIL CINDY MCCAIN:

His arguments in the defense of her statement, and his attempts to draw it out into some commentary about modern American discourse, read like a student paper in an introductory political science course. They carry the taint of pretentious insufferability (much like this blog). Let me offer my own defense of Michelle: WHO CARES? I mean, really, who cares? She was, not a First Lady, but a potential First Lady at that point. No one was going to be voting for her for a damn thing. Why do people even give a hoot about what a political spouse says? Unless it’s Heil Hitler or something similar. Which this wasn’t.

Maybe that’s the ultimate critique of this book. Who cares? It’s a dull read, and the art (from Joshua LaBello) is, somewhat appropriately, flat and two-dimensional. Bailey and LeBello might be nice people, and I hate that this critique might seem so personal, but it’s hard when people inject themselves into a narrative. This book stinks, though. It’s bad, a tell, don’t show bore. What they produced seems so pointless, a craven desire to cash in on anything associate with the first African-American Commander-in-Chief (it was published right around the inauguration). Lump it in with the Chia Obama, I guess. (There was a sequel — Michelle Obama: Year One. Whatever.)

I’d rank this thing right around Reagan’s Raiders. They’re both awful for vastly different reasons. Bipartisan garbage — EXCELSIOR.

Let me reiterate, nothing personal against the Obamas.

I can’t leave you without a gratuitous — deserved or not — kick to Sarah Palin’s gut. Here’s she is, complete with BLOOD-DRENCHED KNIFE, from the last page of the comic:

Also, here are some other comics in this “Female Force” series, and I double dog dare you to try to figure out which would be the worst read:

Boy, I bet that Caroline Kennedy biocomic would be a real page-turner. You know?

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