Casual racism in comics is something that's either dismissed and laughed-off by white fat nerd comics fans (you know, most comics fans) or with the sensitive smarty-pants types, seems to get shoved to the side for issues of casual sexism. And it seems that generally, sexism or racism's obsessively poured-over by the kind of comics fans that wouldn't ever talk about MARVEL titles if not for the fact that it offends them as they're more apt to be reading a TOP SHELF title or something, so it often feels like one more way for a certain kind of comix fans to feel superior to that other kind of comics fan.
So, while I'm delighted by the grossed-out guffaw that happens when some moronic Neo-Con in Asheville, NC thinks he's being clever and biting, I can't help but wish that comics that wrestle around with race properly got their due just as much because they're the real way casual racism--or just good old regular racism--gets corrected and upended.
A series like Elephantmen or VERTIGO's race comics (Unknown Soldier and Haunted Tank) just get reviewed alongside everything else without the special attention and praise they deserve for touching on an issue that a) Totally doesn't sell comics and b) Opens you up for a lot of criticism from all sides. The three aforementioned series' are especially worthy of praise because they go way beyond being defiantly anti-racist, but roll around with the complexities of the issue and still come off as fun, goofy pop too.
Elephantmen as I've said quite a few times before, is basically mining the concept of "victims" and "perpetrators" and forcing it through a Heavy Metal or TMNT lens of adolescent fun. Unknown Soldier is well, a journalistic comic book masterpiece. The joke I've expressed with other readers is how writer Dysart keeps promising the pulp but never wavers from this right-minded sense of sophistication and complexity. If next issue though, Moses discovers some like underground African cave of moloids or some shit, it'd still be awesome. And Haunted Tank, while I must admit to have stopped reading it, is basically a broad goofy race satire in the style of Watermelon Man...delightfully silly, and sensitive even as it's tries to push your P.C buttons.
Let's waste as much energy praising smart comics that deal with race as we do condemning dumb comics--or political cartoons--that get it all wrong.