Posted by: Abhay Khosla on April 8, 2013
Snapshot #1 by Andy Diggle, Jock, and Clem Robins, published by Image Comics in February 2013 (and in Judge Dredd Megazine, prior thereto, apparently):
I read this immediately after I read Scarlet #6, and a similarity between the two jumped out, an irritant. Scarlet #6 begins with a monologue dismissing Occupy Wall Street: nothing changed, nobody learned anything, protests are pointless, no one is listening, blah, blah. That sort of shit. And so, too, Snapshot, opens by immediately dismissing protests: a guy at a comic shop tells the comic-shop-employee main character that his girlfriend is “dragging” him to a march: “Some big anti-whatever shindig. We’re all marching to put an end to, I dunno, bad stuff… Even as we speak, my apartment’s ripe with the pungent tang of sharpie-wielding hipster.”
If this scene is meant as a critique of the Bro talking, that’s not successfully communicated. No, this is early– we’re only just meeting the main characters. We’re again expected to agree with this repulsive crap, I think, expected to identify with this dull cynicism.
What is all this, do you think, this insistence upon surrender? Why, this persistent message that to do anything but surrender to the status quo makes one a figure of mockery? What makes comics so eager to trumpet fake heroics, phony, ersatz heroics, but so dismissive of protest, of an actual examples of courage from the least powerful among us? Is it just the particulars of the “creative community” involved, a community that never fought for each other, that routinely betrays its greatest artists, a community whose heroes suffocated communal effort in their womb? Why would we expect any better…? Or is it more than that? Maybe it’s just young people, just youth itself and youth’s silly hopes and impractical dreams of a better tomorrow, that comics find so laughable. Comic books: middle-aged men, to the rescue!
Later in Snapshot #1, the protestor girlfriend is shown, in only one panel, arms crossed, given no word balloons, rendered mute. We don’t ever get to hang out with her. We’re always stuck with the bros.
Have I ever participated in a protest? No, and perhaps that opens me to attacks for being a “hypocrite” for objecting. But I’m Indian, and non-violent resistance, that’s sort of a thing for us. Plus, I’m an American– protests are a big deal for Americans, too, goddamnit. Diggle’s ancestors were The Bad Guys for both those groups, I guess, but even they have their own history, too, last I checked. This cheerleading for apathy, it is ahistoric and uninspiring and boring.
“It’s just a couple panels, and you’re overreacting– maybe it will all be critiqued in a later issue,” you might reasonably say, forgiving person that you are, and probably be right. But here’s what still nags: the comic is in the thriller mode. When you think back on the thrillers you’ve seen in your life, don’t the really great thrillers tend to ask for some kind of transgression– particularly of their main characters? The kink of Hitchcock; the perversions of DePalma; the “Michael Douglas fucked the wrong lady” section on Netflix. But Snapshot? Apathy. Distinterest. Disengagement. Aren’t these the very things a person seeks to escape by their transgressions? The very things that so urgently sends them to all of their sins?