The White Canary

The White Canary

I envisioned this superhero as a Japanese manga kind of hero; a woman superhero.  When I was in Japan, I’d notice that it was mostly men with their faces buried in manga  stories.  Titles like the ever-popular, Tetsuo, seemed to be the norm.  However, my friends who are Japanese women assure me that women read them as well and are just as fanatical about comics as the men are.  It took Americans a long time to realize comics as literature.  Art Speigelman’s Maus seems to be the tipping point.  It was the literature that made me most feel the gravity of the Holocaust; my doorway into that dark chapter of the last century.  I didn’t grow up with anyone who’d been directly affected by the pogroms of Europe except my friend, Joseph Hasiewicz, the marvelous painter who was the father of my best friend.  He never much spoke of this to us.  Speigelman’s book made the Holocaust real for those of us who grew up culturally removed from the suffering  of the Jews, gypsies, Poles, Italians, Czechs and others who were slaughtered by Nazi Germany. Speigelman did the second generation of Americans born after World War II an immense and humanizing service.

The Superhero comics were always at odds with what I believed as a young man — Might makes right– violence can only be disarmed with greater violence– things like that.

This is why my superheros are not super.  The White Canary cannot even fly or sing; she just looks good.  She’s in this game for the outfits–the couture of superhero-ness.    This is the beginning and end of her story.  One of the reasons I never became a comics artist is that I am an ADD guy and I’m too easily distracted.  I once started a comic book about a dog called “The Passenger” and it would have just followed his life from story to story.  I say, “would have,” because I abandoned it after the third page.  I wanted to draw something else. . .something new.

My friend, Daniel Ferarra, who I, on occasion, publish projects with, makes fun of me mercilessly when we wlk through New York.  We will be in the middle of a conversation and I will become distracted by something in a store window and stop and look,  At this point, Dan will make monkey gestures and say, in his most infantile voice, “Tony see something. Shiny! Ooooh!”  The bastard. But he’s not wrong.  This reason, and  bourbon, are why I no longer drive.

Years ago, when I was still a test pilot for Jack Daniels, I was a manifestly dangerous driver because I would stare at everything but the road.  Birds, flashing lights, bouncing tits, neon signs, strange people walking down the street. . .you name it;  it was all more interesting to me than the rules of the road.

I loved reading comics as a kid because on every other page something cool was happening.  It was the perfect narrative for an easily distracted child like me.

I still like reading crime fiction and stories with lots of action.  I love shoot ’em-up movies where lots of shit blows up.  All of these things remind me of the insanely action-filled comics I read as a kid.

I loved the comic novel, WATCHMEN, written by Alan Moore and one character in particular, Rorschach, a menacing vigilante in a fedora and and ever-changing ink-blot for a face.  It is a tale of the dystopian future, or it was.  Set in the ’80s, Richard Nixon is still President and there is a cadre of monumentally fucked-up superheros who’ve failed to save society from itself.  It is a cynical, funny, bile-laden tale that affirms the dark thought that a society gets as much evil as it deserves.  It is one of the greatest thisngs I’ve ever read.

This new superhero, with no super powers is called “The White Canary.”  she is only pretty and well-dressed and sometimes, this is triumph enough.

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