The Comics Journal #174 (February 1995)
Cover by Bill Willingham
(from a reply to J. Hagey in Aardvark Comments, Cerebus #192, March 1995)
The following is a list of questions sent to me by J. Hagey, a freelance writer putting an article together on Cerebus 186 for The Comics Journal [which appeared in TCJ #174, February 1995]...
1. Including the letters appearing in your comic, what do you think of the response to the story/essay in issue 186? Has it met, or exceeded, what you were expecting?
This presupposes that expectation is the foundation or, in some measure, a significant element in creativity. What do I think of the response? The world seems to be composed of people who unable to separate what is factual from what is opinion. They find contrary opinions threatening in the extreme. It seems self-evident to me that if two people have widely differing views, then what is being discussed is not fact but opinion. I have been in receipt of a large pile of opinions, varying from the dispassionately reasoned to the hysterical. So what?
2. What was the reason behind this story/essay, in particular the way it was written. It reads like a treatis (sic) or manifesto. It seems to beg some kind of answer? What is your world view that this essay is based on?
How typical. Condense my world view so that it fits into a neat little box of grey type in The Comics Journal. Anyone whose world view could be condensed in such a way is hardly worth considering. It is your opinion that it reads like a manifesto. It is your opinion that it begs an answer. Why would that interest me?
3. What role does 'Male Light' uniquely fulfill in the society? For the individual?
Opinions would vary on what role the 'Male Light' fulfills in society, including whether it was a role, society itself, an aberration, an impediment, a platform, the fuel or the vehicle itself. I think I could argue each of these views with a degree of success. If we're going to talk about individuals, then we're going to have to talk about individuals. Of what individual are you speaking in soliciting my individual opinion? If you are speaking of 'the individual' in a collectivist sense, then you've missed the entirety of my point.
4. Who exactly do fall into the category of those having 'male light'?
Again, opinions would vary. Individuals who represent 'male light' to me are individuals who represent 'male light' to me. Period. I can't understand why the specifics would be of interest to anyone but myself. The misapprehension seems to be that I am attempting to build a contrary consensus. In my opinion, consensus wherever it is perceived to exist is an illusion, and trafficking in the illusory holds no appeal for me. I paint what I see. I would wholeheartedly urge others to do the same.
5. Lastly, I wonder, then, if the "Wife and Kids" are the bane of male light, do we owe our fathers anything for what we, as his brood, inflicted on him and his life?
It would be easy to say that this, too, is up to the individual. It scratches a larger surface in my own case and, at the risk of muddying the water by injecting my own views, it seems to come down to an issue of 'Honour thy father and thy mother'. This is not an edict to be taken lightly. Is the decision of the late twentieth-century individual to interpret this a different way (i.e., the best way to honour my mother and my father is to make myself into the best possible person according to my own perceptions of who that is - to be true to myself, whatever the resistance and consequences implied by that) from the traditional view (i.e., you're too busy to come over for Sunday dinner, Mr. Big Shot? You can't pick up a phone?) a self-serving rationalisation? Not being a father, all I can do is go by the 'party' line that seems nearly universal in parental circles: as long as it makes him happy and he's not hurting anybody, more power to him. I think unhappy children make parents unhappier that do happy children. I'm a very happy child. I just hope that's good enough.