»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
3/2/18: END OF THE ROAD
Mar 2nd, 2018 by Clark Humphrey

How Seattle stopped more freeways; lawmaker-secrecy vetoed; NHL ticket drive a smash; there’s still comics (and good comics at that) at ComiCon!

2/9/18: ‘FIGURE’ DRAWINGS
Feb 8th, 2018 by Clark Humphrey

A cartoon guide to economics; who is, isn’t at city/Amazon summit; minor pot convictions in Seattle are erased; thoughts on the Winter Olympics; dozens of weekend events.

2/6/18: COLOR ME UNSURPRISED
Feb 5th, 2018 by Clark Humphrey

The white guys behind a ‘Sick of White Guys’ book; why the Almighty Stock Price likely doesn’t matter to you; are new building projects slowing here?

1/22/18: RE-SISTERS
Jan 21st, 2018 by Clark Humphrey

To start off your week: Women’s March scenes; local comix legend dies; getting a taste of dementia; tech-biz sexism’s even worse than some imagine.

1/19/18: AND THE NOMINEES FOR CORPORATE GROVELING ARE…
Jan 19th, 2018 by Clark Humphrey

In your big weekend letter: Seattle won’t get Amazon’s HQ2; pre-Women’s March thoughts; health-care-crisis comix; there’s a state construction budget at last; and scads of weekend events.

1/9/18: GENUFLECTION REFLECTION
Jan 8th, 2018 by Clark Humphrey

A Seahawk makes the ‘New Yorker’ cover; another settles a bankruptcy; Amazon suppliers tread a thin line; a look just outside the billionaires’ compounds.

12/4/17: IN THE CARDS
Dec 3rd, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

Starting your news week: The woman behind a political card game; local reactions to GOP tax-scam bill; fish-farm salmon still out there; school funding solved at last?

11/22/17: IF IT’S NOT POLITICS…
Nov 21st, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

For your T-Day Eve perusal: ‘Other’ difficult holiday talk-topics; the local role in vinyl records’ comeback; searching for opioid-crisis solutions; plans for a Seattle AIDS memorial.

11/16/17: THE LAST SPLASH PAGE
Nov 16th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

For your Thursday edification: Zanadu Comics’ final chapter; state’s school funding still not good enough; locals bash feds’ latest threat to sanctuary cities.

10/27/17: NIGHT OF THE HAUNTER
Oct 27th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

In your big weekend e-letter: Local-angle Halloween costume tips; out-O-state corporate $ behind 45th District attack ads; a half-million Amazonians now roam the earth; UW’s dental-school dean extracts himself.

8/1/17: RING THE ALARMS
Aug 1st, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

Is the Two Bells Bar & Grill, Belltown’s “living room” for more than three decades, doomed for yet another high-rise? (And if not, how will it be saved?) Other topics this primary-election day include still more calls for Ed Murray to quit; Police Chief O’Toole’s odd statement on police brutality; the city’s misguided centralized-IT project; and the death of a legendary local cartoonist/illustrator/weatherman/ski promoter/supermarket spokesguy.

5/31/17: NOT SO ‘CRUDDY’
May 31st, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

Wednesday’s MISCmedia MAIL starts with a great honor for one of my fave cartoonist/novelist/playwrights. It goes on to mention the “dirty” aspect of cleaning up Lake Washington; big-big plans for the UW; the apparent end to one of our era’s most famous couples; and five years after the Cafe Racer slayings (so many senseless slayings ago).

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 3/30/17: LIFE IMITATES CGI
Mar 29th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

It’s just a coincidence that there’s a computer-animated feature out now called “The Boss Baby,” and that the title role is voiced by Alec Baldwin, and that ads show the baby in a suit and tie with orange-ish hair. Really. In more deliberate occurrences, we note Daniel Ramirez’s freedom (at least for now); neighbors who want more public amenities in the expanded Convention Center; Jeff Bezos’ even greater (on paper) wealth; and the little Belltown restaurant that got big.

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 3/22/17: THE ZINE SCENE, RE-SEEN
Mar 21st, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

The “ZAPP” archive of self-published zines, originally assembled by volunteers working out of Hugo House, has a new and safe home; though the ZAPP folks apparently had no say in it. As they say, it’s “complicated.” We also examine the need to re-re-clean-up Gas Works Park; Bill Gates vs. the proposed federal budget; a new “health scare of the week;” and national recognition to a great local artist.

A DISNEY VILLAIN FOR OUR TIME
Jan 26th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

The total-control regime in Washington DC, and its egomaniacal central figure, are existentially frightening in their threat to every aspect of the American Republic and its people (and, by extension, all the peoples of the globe).

I’ve been thinking of how to portray this character in the context of the great villains of fiction and lore.

I’ve compared certain past politicians to everyone from Lord Farquahr in the original Shrek to a one-shot Get Smart! villain, Simon the Likeable.

This past summer, I began to call the then GOP presidential nominee “He Who Cannot Be Named” (from Harry Potter). But that became cumbersome.

So I went in search of the perfect pre-existing fictionalization for this man-child, a figure with an insatiable lust for attention and a craving to cause suffering just to maniacally laugh at his victims.

A villain this insanely sure of his own omnipotence would never show panic, so that leaves out the Master from Doctor Who.

The pantheon of Disney villains (even if you only count the studio’s “core universe” of animated features and shorts) is vast. But even these characters usually have a relatable core motivation for their various crimes (greed, power, vanity, revenge, even fashion). They largely don’t encompass the pure “evil just for the sake of ego” that I’m talking about here.

With one recent exception.

It’s a character described in a fan-written “wiki” as: “Insane, twisted, crass, mischievous, deceptive, manipulative, sly, vague, witty, lively, whimsical, hammy, confident, spiteful, temperamental, choleric, evil, chaotic, greedy, sadomasochistic.”

The character’s “likes,” as described on the same web page, include: “Chaos, the suffering of others, destroying things, partying, manipulation.”

bill cipher

I’m talking about Bill Cipher.

He’s the main antagonist on Gravity Falls, a Disney Channel cartoon show that ended last February, after airing 41 half-hours over three and a half years (the last two as a one-hour finale).

The show’s set in Central Oregon, in one of those fictional towns where assorted weird things show up every day. In various episodes, the show’s brother-and-sister heroes encounter such anomalies as gnomes, unicorns, ghosts, zombies, dinosaurs, a crashed UFO, and video-game characters come to life.

And, like several other sagas of its type (Twin Peaks, The X-Files, Lost, et al.), there’s a “meta-mystery” on Gravity Falls.

It involves Bill, who’s initially introduced as a “dream demon” from another dimension. He sees all, knows all, and can invade people’s minds, especially as they sleep.

Bill can take any visual form, but his default appearance is as a triangle with a single eye near its center. But even though he resembles the “eye in the pyramid” on the $1 bill, Bill’s motive is not material wealth.

Rather, he wants to “cross over” from the “nightmare realm” and become a physical presence in our world—not to merely rule it but to destroy it, just for kicks.

Bill Cipher’s depicted as both a homicidal maniac and as a brilliant schemer; a good of chaos and and a master manipulator.

In the series’ climactic story arc, Bill successfully cons two characters and obtains the materials to make a “dimensional rift” between his world and ours. He summons a hooligan gang of monsters to ransack the town, turn people into statues, and otherwise spread “weirdness” (pure destructive chaos).

From there, he aims to expand the “weirdness” across the Earth: “Anything will be possible! I’ll remake a fun world, a better world! A party that never ends with a host that never dies. No more restrictions, no more laws!” As he says this, the screen shows images of a giant-sized Bill in a potential future, etching a “smiley face” on the North American continent (destroying whole cities in the process), then taking a bite out of the Earth as if it were an apple.

I believe this sadistic madness, not any mere material avarice, is the type of villainy that fits our age.

You can hear Bill Cipher’s sneering laugh among goons who laugh too hard at their own racist/sexist “jokes.”

You can see his smug taunting among the online “trolls” who belittle and insult everyone deemed different from them.

You can hear Bill’s line about how “there’s no room for heroes in MY world” echoed in the voices of conservatives who want the rest of us to shut up and fall into line.

You can sense Bill’s lust for destruction among certain “religious right” figures who not only oppose all efforts to save the environment, but who sometimes vocally wish for the “End Times” of Fundamentalist prophecy.

To prevent Bill from spreading his “weirdness” to the rest of the Earth, the surviving townspeople have to hold hands in a rite that will send Bill away. They include characters that had been mortal enemies in previous episodes, but who now must work together against a common foe.

It doesn’t work at first, because two of them refuse to cooperate with one another. In the final episode (titled “Take Back the Falls”), those two have to finally cooperate (and one of them risks losing his mind) to trap and remove Bill, revive the frozen townspeople, and bring the town back to a semblance of “normal.”

Similarly, to stop the threats to America’s civil society, we’ve got to forge alliances across lines of race, gender, region, religion, and social class.

(As an aside, someone put up a “Bill Cipher for President” Facebook page late last summer. One smarky commenter wrote: “You’re seriously making me choose between a horrible demon bent on destroying everything he touches, and Bill Cipher?”)

»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa
© Copyright 2015 Clark Humphrey (clark (at) miscmedia (dotcom)).