Thursday, January 7, 2010

RIP, Permanent Damage

I won't take it personally, but the links I put on my page seem to fold after a bit. I suppose everything folds after a bit, but it saddens me since (obviously) I think enough of the links that I am putting up that I, you know, point them out to other folks. First was The Absorbascon, a well-written blog from a comic store owner in DC. Over the fall he decided to close the store down and he took the blog down with him. And then this morning, I took my regular Thursday stroll over to Comic Book Resources to read Steven Grant's always-excellent Permanent Damage. And he announced he was overwhelmed with his writing tasks and so had to drop something, the loser being his weekly column.

What originally attracted me to his column was a long-term insider's viewpoint of the latest comic news. Grant's perspective on news and ideas in the comics world were fresh, ironically, because they were not from the newest voice in comics but based on the experience of someone who had seen every new thing for decades. His ability to put comics issues in historic context was powerful stuff, and abetted by critical insight into pop culture in general, his columns never failed to entertain, if not inform. He had nothing to sell and had no desire to become friends with the people he talked about, so there was no agenda in his commentary but to bluntly tell it as he saw it. In some ways, he was the grand old man of comics—the patriarchal figure I looked to in order to gain a different perspective—and always a voice of reason.

And if it was a slow comics week, Grant's column usually included a short recap of other news and his commentary on it as well. Grant applied the same sort of insight, applying reason and experience to point out the patterns of the most important economic and political news of the day. Yes, it was a bizarre mix—comics and politics—but it worked, mostly because Grant used the same voice and process for both, giving them same attention and respect. It was, very much, like sitting down to breakfast with an uncle and discussing current events (I'm pretty sure Grant would hate that analogy). Somehow it even felt Socratic though there was no way there could be a dialog. And while I did not always agree with his positions, I did learn something from the differences.

I'm not sure anyone could ask for a better review.

So I'll miss Permanent Damage, and I seriously doubt there is any voice out there that will come close to the kinds of insights it offered. If anyone has suggestions, I'll gladly try them out.

And if you should happen to see I have linked your web site over there in the left navigation, it really is intended to be a compliment and not the virtual kiss of internet death.

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