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The title of this second volume of Mark Evanier‘s POV columns will likely get the eyes of any comic book fan — and most likely get their dander up. Granted, most comic fans would recognize Evanier’s name and twig to the fact that there was something more going on — and if that didn’t let them in that there was more to the title, surely Sergio Aragonés‘ cover art would. And, well, if his previous treatment of Dr. Fredric Wertham in Comic Books And Other Necessities Of Life‘s three-essay history of the Comics Code was even-handed, this one is a bit more of an attack piece; but, given Evanier’s talent, a measured and reasoned one.
Evanier doesn’t just beat up on Wertham, the man many consider to be the ruiner of comics, but raises real points that Wertham conveniently overlooked or ignored. The author shares his fantasy of going up to the psychiatrist’s office and having an imaginary debate with him, where Wertham is apologetic and argues that he was trying his best. However — this imaginary conversation is not the only evidence that Wertham ended up being at least somewhat repentant — while his most famous work was Seduction of the Innocent, almost twenty years later he wrote a second volume — The World of Fanzines, much lesser-known — about the fandom that encourages the exchange of ideas in self-published forms and how beneficial that fandom is to young minds. And, of course, that fandom is of sci-fi, fantasy and, in general, comic books — including uncensored comics.
While the title essay is the heart of the book, Evanier’s other essays are, as always, equally worthy. There’s the unfortunately high amount of obituaries that Evanier had to write, like in the other two books of POV columns, including the wonderful one of Charles Schulz and one of Gil Kane. Other highlights include his look at the Bob Kane/Bill Finger controversy on who created Batman, along with a lot of history on Bob Kane and his work methods (mostly farming out and signing his name) — but this essay is not an attempt to besmirch Kane’s name. Evanier goes out and points out the pros-and-cons to the Bill Finger Co-Creator argument, and the good that Bob Kane did as well. And, there’s always Evanier’s stories about trying to find a decent canned orange juice and the quest for perfect ribs at Love’s Barbecue Restaurants.
Mark Evanier’s work is always a joy to read and this is no exception. If you don’t believe me, check out his blog. I give you about 2 weeks of following it before you order his books yourself. Tops.