Monday, February 13, 2012

Too Soon to Teach Evil?

GoofBoy really loves comic books. I am ambivalent towards the form myself. But I resolved to read more comic books this year. Always make a resolution that you can keep – a few years ago I resolved to drink more wine, I have kept it admirably.
Anyway, I have accumulated a few comic books here and there – artsy graphic novel type stuff. GoofBoy is intensely curious – since he runs through any comics he gets very fast. But most of my stuff is going to be too mature, and there are things he doesn’t need to be exposed to quite yet.
However, I do have a few by the artistic giant Will Eisner, including his last work The Plot: The Secret Story of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and GoofBoy kept asking about it. He assumed it was about super-heroes.
So I read it and decided it was fine – in fact better than fine – it might do him some good. I worry a bit about how my kids are surrounded by love and trust. It is an odd thing to worry about, but I see the Bully-Free Zone signs around the school and wonder, “Are we really doing these kids any favors – there are bullies in the world and figuring out how to deal with them is part of life.”
Maybe I’m just jealous, since I encountered many bullies and never really figured out how to deal with them. While super-sweet, GoofBoy is no wimp – I’ve seen him stand up for himself. (As a boy I was just the opposite – not sweet at all and a total wimp.) But maybe he needs to know the world has some very rough edges. The Plot is the story of how the czar’s secret agents created a series of vicious lies to slander the Jewish people all because the czar wanted to deflect blame for his own corrupt rule and how that lie has acquired a life of its own and inspires terrible things. Maybe that would be an antidote to the gentle world GoofBoy inhabits. He needs to understand, people have done and do awful, terrible things.
He read it. He didn’t react much. When I questioned him, he seemed to get the basic story. The artwork of course grabbed him. The import of it probably went right over his head and that’s probably for the best – for now.


Steve Callahan said...

Have you read The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco? He has an alternative take - that it was created by a series of con artists, scoundrals and failed revolutionaries looking to distract attention from themselves. I'd be curious to hear your opinion on it.

Father Goof said...

Haven't read it. But Eco wrote the intro to Eisner's work so I think they were on the same page. To be honest, it was a bit pedantic - but Eisner off his game is still Eisner!