Do you know what I am tired of? Genetic engineering. At least in fiction that is. I don’t have any exposure to real genetic engineering. At least I don’t think I do. Is it in all of our food yet? It’s the plot device of genetic engineering that I have had enough of.

In the 50s and 60s it was radioactivity that made all of the monsters. Godzilla and all those giant beasts were made, or at least woken up, by radioactivity. In the movies radioactivity made every mundane creature grow to extra large proportions. From ants and spiders to lizards and apes if it got just the right amount of radiation it was gettin’ large and going on a rampage. And that forty foot woman too. Be afraid; the atomic age is here and running wild.

Radiation made a lot of the super-heroes who were born in the 60’s. Spider-Man was bitten by that radioactive spider, the Hulk was pelted by gamma rays, and the Fantastic Four were bombarded by cosmic rays. There are plenty more where they came from. A bar of radioactive whatever blinded Daredevil right in the middle of a Manhattan street and then rolled into the sewer and created the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (but that was twenty years later). Radiation could mutate for good as well as make giant monsters.

Yes, fiction writers thought radiation and its power to rearrange atoms would change the human race and offer us all sorts of options for the future. And give us super powers to boot. Who doesn’t want super powers?

In short: if you ever needed to create a hero or villain you didn’t need a whole back story filled with events and motivations. You needed some radiation. It explained everything.

Now we look back at those times and the notion of radiation doing everything as quaint. Those silly writers in the past. Didn’t they know that radioactivity mostly kills you? Super powers, c’mon.

We are so much smarter. After all, now we have genetic engineering.

Some time in the 90s, I’m not sure exactly when, almost every new monster and super-hero was born of genetic engineering. I’m watching season two episodes of the X-Files (1993-4) and there is a lot of genetic engineering but still some radiation monsters too. Radiation was almost dead at that point but genetic engineering was just getting started. Nowadays almost every new super hero dreamed up has the same origin. The are all born of a secret government project. It doesn’t matter what government, sometimes it’s a corporation, sometimes it’s on another planet but it is always a genetic engineering project.

As tiresome as that is what I find most amazing is people. I’ve mentioned I’m bored of genetic engineering before and compared it to radiation and somebody always says, “but the difference is that genetic engineering is real and they will be able to do all of those things one day”. That is what was thought about radiation! No one is ever going to grow wings and shoot blasts out of their eyes because of genetic engineering! Nope, no way, not gonna happen. Sure our food might be more resistant to climate and disease and we might live longer and healthier but super strength, flight and hanging out in the vacuum of space?

Years from now when the next all purpose plot device comes along we will be looked on as the quaint ones who thought genetic engineering could do anything. Anything the plot called for that is.

A really slim week. I only bought one comic. Strangers in Paradise #81. It is one of my regular books but it is being ended at issue #90. I looked around the shop and found a TPB to buy because I couldn’t leave with just one comic. I bought “Ring of Roses” by Petrou, Watkiss and McLester. It was originaly a four issue mini from Dark Horse printed in the early 90s but the TPB was published by Image in 04. It is categorized as Horror/Fantasy and I’ll let you know how it is.

I just finished reading the Silver Age Teen Titans archive. The final story was moving along with the usual goofy abandon when this extra goofy part of the story happened. The Titans were chasing down the bad guys with the help of some local teens when part of the chase hit the water. Chases always hit the water in this book (just like Night Boat in the Simpsons) so they can give Aqualad something to do. But they don’t have him swim this time. He is rowed out on the lake by a bunch of kids and then he hits the bad guys with a giant ball attached to a long pole. Where the hell did that come from? I haven’t read many Aqualad stories but never have I seen him carrying the proverbial ten foot pole. Did he just find it on shore and say to himself, “Damn, I’d love to hit those guys with this” and then the kid shouted, “Get in the boat and we’ll row you out there and you can bash him”. I guess swimming out and overturning the boat was to pedestrian for a guy who lives in the ocean.

I thought that I had a topic earlier in the week to write about but now I have forgotten. I should have written it down. Imagine how much information was lost because someone didn’t write it down. It is no wonder that “Civilization” (yeah, I just hadda use quotes around that I’m feeling cynical) kicked into high gear when people learned to write things down.

Writing is a magic thing. When you don’t know how to read letters are just marks on paper. But to those in the loop the letters’ meaning is clear without even thinking.

I often use fake writing in my artwork. I use real writing too because I like the space words and pictures create when they are next to each other but sometimes I don’t want words. I just want the idea of writing or symbols. So I make up some letter forms. They vaguely remind me of Middle Eastern lettering because there are lots of curves and swoops but they are really just based on the motion of my hand. What is important is not that they mean anything literal but that they could be a vessel for holding meaning. Just like writing is. Sometimes the cup is more important than what is inside the cup.

I’m still trying to remember that topic but my remembery (a word I stole from the Family Circus) isn’t working. It had something to do with something. That much I am sure about.

One thing I do remember is that I like my devil to be the Prince of Lies. I watched a movie the other night and the devil showed up in it. I don’t like it when most movies or comics use the devil as a character because he usually lets me down. He gets messed up by because they humanize him and give him some vague sense of honor. In the movie the devil has the hero’s soul and then lets him go for no good reason. The devil is supposed to be deceitful and trick you out of your soul. You are supposed to think that you have won but then the twist comes and you have lost and when he has you he has you for good. That is what makes him the devil. I know that in the movies the hero has to win but the devil shouldn’t just let him win. Out of character.

Do you know that you can’t buy a good french curve anymore? They are all crappy with burrs on their curves. I think computers killed the french curve market. Maybe they still make them in France. Have you noticed that France is the only country you are allowed to be bigoted about? Turn on the TV and you will hear every bad thing said about the French that would never be said about any other ethnic group. How did that happen?

My favorite quote I have discovered recently is by RenĂ© Magritte the Surrealist painter. I read it in a magazine called “The Sun” which I have subscribed to for years and has a section of quotes on its last page. It goes, “The mind loves the unknown. It loves images whose meaning is unknown, since the meaning of the mind itself is unknown”. I love images of the unknown and I make images of the unknown so how could I not like that quote. The mind looks for meaning and will try to find it if it is there or not.

And that’s my story for tonight.

Another week and another batch of comics. Jonah Hex #6, Planetary #25, Ex Machina #19, and The Winter Men #4 are this week’s haul. The first three are regulars and The Winter Men is a mini from Wildstorm by Bret Lewis and John Paul Leon. It is a story about law enforcement starring a Russian cop and it is filled with mobsters, feds, ex KGB guys and every other cold war left over. I’ve been enjoying it. This is the first issue in a while so let’s see if it gets finished. I hope so.
I also like last week’s “Red Prophet” comic. It takes place in North America around the early 1800s (I think) but is an alternate history where the European settlers don’t dominate as much as our world. They are a strong presence and I don’t know what the world is all about yet but I added it to my pull list. Good show.