because goodbye.

Sep 1

voldemo:

"your password is weak"

You’re the weak one
And you’ll never know love, or friendship
And I feel sorry for you

(via kelsium)


Aug 29

vuehunter said: dude, it's liam. the last Mulbert you wrote was my question and your answer was the best. thanks bruh.

My pleasure, man! It meant a lot to me, that one.


Aug 28

selected works

fealinx:

You will die glamorously, like a famous person: alone in the back of a taxi

Or maybe you will die of kissing, like your great-aunt; that would perhaps be nice

There are a lot of things that could happen, which is exactly why

You should keep in mind that giving up is underrated and unfairly maligned —

Giving up is how you get the opportunity to try something less annoying

Giving up is a variety of grace


Aug 24

hcandersen:

fyi if you’re a tiny child, there was a time when browsers didn’t have tabs. you just had the one window and had to open a separate window for every other page you wanted open simultaneously. it was real bad

I had literally blocked this out of my mind.

(via indielowercase)


Aug 23
jonathanbogart:

I left the above on Isabel’s post last night, then thought, “wait why not now,” so here goes.
Superman is both a power fantasy and an immigration fantasy. To the degree that Batman and Iron Man overlap, they are: a power fantasy (squared, in both cases) and a white savior fantasy.
Let me start with the Superman vs. Batman argument first, because I know DC in my bones, in a way I don’t know Marvel quite. And of course I don’t mean Superman vs. Batman as in hurr hurr they’re going to fight of course paranoid Bruce has contingency plans on contingency plans and has spent billions on a shard of kryptonite fuck that nonsense. I mean ideologically. Think about what story after story shows them doing before the actual storyline kicks in. The generic “this story is going to be about Superman” opening scene has him putting out a rogue fire, or saving a passenger train from faulty engineering, or grabbing in midair someone who was accidentally falling from a great height, or repairing structural damage to a bridge or dam, or even that old classic getting a kitten out of a tree. The generic “this story is going to be about Batman” opening scene has him beating up muggers in an alleyway. Period.
Superman, then, is Emergency Services, or even on occasion the Army Corps of Engineers. Batman is the police. Batman stops and frisks. Batman profiles. Batman’s vision of the world is Travis Bickle’s, but with Rudy Giuliani’s budget: get the scum off the streets, at any cost. Batman’s view of the world is the view that has given us white flight, redlining, the War on Drugs, and even prison privatization. (Gotham’s unfeasibly large population of the homicidally insane are not under state oversight: Arkham Asylum is a private institution.)
Of course this can also be read as: Superman is a safe, suburban superhero — he’s helping out all these dumbass middle-class white people who don’t have the sense to stay out of dangerous situations — while Batman is a gritty, urban superhero, preying on those who would prey on the most vulnerable members of society. (No theoretics of pop culture which refuses to see more than one interpretive lens is worth a damn.) And of course there’s the problem of Superman’s godlike (Nietszchean) power set, which even if you don’t accept the “reversing the earth’s rotation to travel back in time” nonsense is still pretty substantial, as close to an empirical “improvement on humanity as it exists” as has ever been imagined.
Well, first, it’s a pretty damn anarcho-libertarian argument to say that fires should spread, trains should derail, people who fall should go splat, bridges and dams should give way, and kittens should stay stuck in trees. Invisible hand of the market, right? A polity that refuses to prioritize such things with the appropriate safeguards should be punished; market competition will fill the gaps. This is, in fact, Lex Luthor’s argument. He is a Randian, possibly the purest Randian outside of Ayn Rand’s actual books. (Not even Steve Ditko can bring himself to make his heroes ungodly wealthy and sexually predatory.)
And, by the way, muse on that for just one second. Superman’s greatest enemy is, in essence, John Galt. Superman’s greatest enemy is capitalism personified. Batman’s is a homicidal psychopath in a clown costume: at best an abstract symbol of individual psychosis or the seductiveness of the anarchic principle; at worst a sophomoric point about hey you know how clowns are supposed to be funny but get this what if one was scary instead I just BLEW your MIND didn’t I. (When I wrote my own dumb superhero universe as — literally — a college sophomore, I did the exact same thing but with Santa Claus. People loved it.) The Joker probably has more individual psychological weight than Lex Luthor; but his form of psychosis (to the degree that it exists at all outside of fiction) is vanishingly rare, and its pop-culture depiction as a force of supernatural evil does real, categorical harm to people with actual mental illnesses. The thing that Lex Luthor represents — unchecked capitalism, politicized and militarized, with an unlimited R&D budget and no ethical oversight, destructive of everything human in the pursuit of profit — is utterly real, and has killed, injured, and destroyed millions more lives than every serial killer ever put together.
So while we’re talking about capitalists, let’s talk about Bruce Wayne. (And Tony Stark.) The Millionaire Who Puts His Millions To Work Fighting Crime is an ancient pulp tradition, but not, in my view, an innocent one. It’s a product of the Depression, when gang violence, which had exploded under Prohibition, was universally depicted as an urban cancer eating away at the Republic. (Dick Tracy, the most fascist of all comic strips, was the first to stylize its criminals away from the Fear of Ethnicity that the gutter press that was selling the narrative of unchecked crime played up, and into the realm of pure abstraction; the Batman rogue’s gallery simply went further into inanity.) Tribal fears of difference are at the bottom of all law-and-order paranoia, and it’s not any surprise that the young men who first dreamed up costumed vigilantes gave them the kind of lives they would have liked to have.
There’s more than a little lingering noblesse oblige about the fantasy of a billionaire (who inherited his wealth, let’s not forget) taking it upon himself to do what the law, crippled as it is by due process, evidentiary requirements, and Miranda rights, cannot. The reason I called Batman/Iron Man a power fantasy squared is that out of costume they are still among the most powerful people alive, members of the ruling elite and necessarily (morally neutral superwealth being a credulous fiction vastly more unbelievable than any man from outer space) oppressors on a scale that the street-level thugs they’re always busting up could never hope to be; add a superhero identity onto that, with its promise of anonymity, total freedom of movement, and zero accountability, and you’re getting into Bret Easton Ellis territory.
But, I hear you complain, this doesn’t take into account the well-established individual psychologies of Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark, driven to pursue justice and protect the innocent because of their specific traumas, survivors’ guilt, overdeveloped consciences, and brilliant minds!! Fair enough, I suppose. I have a really hard time taking seriously the individual psychology of any fictional character that’s been continuously published for sixty years while passing through the hands of hundreds of individual writers, which is why I prefer to do external sociological/literary analysis — but even granting the psychological premise, I don’t think it justifies, either morally or politically, the narcissistic insistence that they and they alone can save humanity from itself. I used the words “white savior complex” advisedly.
Superman needn’t be white. He’s almost always depicted so, of course, because he was originally created in the thirties, but whiteness is not baked into the character description — alien from a dead civilization, raised by average citizens, powerful beyond the abilities of human beings, does good. Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark, in 20th-century (and 21st-century) US, are necessarily white: billionaire industrialists who had every advantage of education and training, and in Wayne’s case at least, came from old money. It would be possible, I suppose, to posit that the Marvel and DC Universes suffered less from the effects of racism than our own, so that a black Bruce Wayne, an Asian-American Tony Stark, are conceivable. I’d welcome such reinterpretations, which I’ve never seen. The Superman idea has been reinterpreted as non-white several times; my favorite is Dwayne McDuffie’s Icon.
But what you might call the classical Superman’s whiteness, or more accurately his ability to pass for white, is if not baked into the character description at least present in the subtext of the backstory. Many people, picking up on the cue of his creators’ Jewish background, have noted the Superman myth as a powerful allegory of assimilation: from another world where they speak a strange language, burdened with the consciousness of a secret parentage and special clothing, but also possessed of hugely desirable skills and unique talents that can be put to the service of humanity (of course it’s a self-flattering assimilation allegory). He can pass as an ordinary, unmarked-American in his glasses and nondescript suit, he can get a media job, he can aspire to associate with, and even to love, the most glamorous, independent, and intelligent woman in his orbit — but he must always keep his secret self hidden, for no one would ever understand. So every so often he disappears into back rooms and hall closets and telephone booths — his very nondescriptness allows him to fade into the background in any crisis — to set free his secret self, to save the world. The idea of becoming an integral part of your adopted world, while always remaining apart from it not necessarily because you want to but because of who you are, corresponds in obvious ways with certain features of the immigrant experience, and also (I’ve been told) resonates with many people with disabilities, mental illness, or aneurotypical functioning.
Now, yes, it is often harder to write a compelling Superman story than it is to write a compelling Batman or Iron Man story. Batman and Iron Man can more easily have desires that conflict with other desires or interests, they can be put in physical and emotional danger, they can bump up against their own limitations and have to deal with people who represent extremes in human thought and behavior (good Superman stories often deal with structural rather than interpersonal issues). But “where’s the conflict?” is a screenwriter’s problem, not a mythologist’s. Just in terms of who the characters are at the beginning of any given story, I like Superman better.
I’ll end by saying that of course it’s totally within bounds to be cynical about the idea of Superman’s moral code, just as I’m cynical about the possibility of altruistic rich white men. Surely if anyone really had Superman’s powers they wouldn’t waste their time hiding out as Clark Kent while running around saving people all the time; best-case scenario they’d be a weapon of mass destruction, and the country that managed to cajole their allegiance would be a totalitarian empire. And there are lots of Superman stories (or stories that have Superman, or a similarly omnipotent figure, in them) that take that tack, and very good stories they often are. But people with Superman’s powers don’t actually exist, so the fictional idea of a hyper-moral Superman is at worst stupid and harmless. But people with Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark levels of money, power, and access really do exist; and stories that say it’s okay, that we can trust the super-rich, industrialists, and military contractors to look out for everyone’s best interests, are an active evil in the world.

jonathanbogart:

I left the above on Isabel’s post last night, then thought, “wait why not now,” so here goes.

Superman is both a power fantasy and an immigration fantasy. To the degree that Batman and Iron Man overlap, they are: a power fantasy (squared, in both cases) and a white savior fantasy.

Let me start with the Superman vs. Batman argument first, because I know DC in my bones, in a way I don’t know Marvel quite. And of course I don’t mean Superman vs. Batman as in hurr hurr they’re going to fight of course paranoid Bruce has contingency plans on contingency plans and has spent billions on a shard of kryptonite fuck that nonsense. I mean ideologically. Think about what story after story shows them doing before the actual storyline kicks in. The generic “this story is going to be about Superman” opening scene has him putting out a rogue fire, or saving a passenger train from faulty engineering, or grabbing in midair someone who was accidentally falling from a great height, or repairing structural damage to a bridge or dam, or even that old classic getting a kitten out of a tree. The generic “this story is going to be about Batman” opening scene has him beating up muggers in an alleyway. Period.

Superman, then, is Emergency Services, or even on occasion the Army Corps of Engineers. Batman is the police. Batman stops and frisks. Batman profiles. Batman’s vision of the world is Travis Bickle’s, but with Rudy Giuliani’s budget: get the scum off the streets, at any cost. Batman’s view of the world is the view that has given us white flight, redlining, the War on Drugs, and even prison privatization. (Gotham’s unfeasibly large population of the homicidally insane are not under state oversight: Arkham Asylum is a private institution.)

Of course this can also be read as: Superman is a safe, suburban superhero — he’s helping out all these dumbass middle-class white people who don’t have the sense to stay out of dangerous situations — while Batman is a gritty, urban superhero, preying on those who would prey on the most vulnerable members of society. (No theoretics of pop culture which refuses to see more than one interpretive lens is worth a damn.) And of course there’s the problem of Superman’s godlike (Nietszchean) power set, which even if you don’t accept the “reversing the earth’s rotation to travel back in time” nonsense is still pretty substantial, as close to an empirical “improvement on humanity as it exists” as has ever been imagined.

Well, first, it’s a pretty damn anarcho-libertarian argument to say that fires should spread, trains should derail, people who fall should go splat, bridges and dams should give way, and kittens should stay stuck in trees. Invisible hand of the market, right? A polity that refuses to prioritize such things with the appropriate safeguards should be punished; market competition will fill the gaps. This is, in fact, Lex Luthor’s argument. He is a Randian, possibly the purest Randian outside of Ayn Rand’s actual books. (Not even Steve Ditko can bring himself to make his heroes ungodly wealthy and sexually predatory.)

And, by the way, muse on that for just one second. Superman’s greatest enemy is, in essence, John Galt. Superman’s greatest enemy is capitalism personified. Batman’s is a homicidal psychopath in a clown costume: at best an abstract symbol of individual psychosis or the seductiveness of the anarchic principle; at worst a sophomoric point about hey you know how clowns are supposed to be funny but get this what if one was scary instead I just BLEW your MIND didn’t I. (When I wrote my own dumb superhero universe as — literally — a college sophomore, I did the exact same thing but with Santa Claus. People loved it.) The Joker probably has more individual psychological weight than Lex Luthor; but his form of psychosis (to the degree that it exists at all outside of fiction) is vanishingly rare, and its pop-culture depiction as a force of supernatural evil does real, categorical harm to people with actual mental illnesses. The thing that Lex Luthor represents — unchecked capitalism, politicized and militarized, with an unlimited R&D budget and no ethical oversight, destructive of everything human in the pursuit of profit — is utterly real, and has killed, injured, and destroyed millions more lives than every serial killer ever put together.

So while we’re talking about capitalists, let’s talk about Bruce Wayne. (And Tony Stark.) The Millionaire Who Puts His Millions To Work Fighting Crime is an ancient pulp tradition, but not, in my view, an innocent one. It’s a product of the Depression, when gang violence, which had exploded under Prohibition, was universally depicted as an urban cancer eating away at the Republic. (Dick Tracy, the most fascist of all comic strips, was the first to stylize its criminals away from the Fear of Ethnicity that the gutter press that was selling the narrative of unchecked crime played up, and into the realm of pure abstraction; the Batman rogue’s gallery simply went further into inanity.) Tribal fears of difference are at the bottom of all law-and-order paranoia, and it’s not any surprise that the young men who first dreamed up costumed vigilantes gave them the kind of lives they would have liked to have.

There’s more than a little lingering noblesse oblige about the fantasy of a billionaire (who inherited his wealth, let’s not forget) taking it upon himself to do what the law, crippled as it is by due process, evidentiary requirements, and Miranda rights, cannot. The reason I called Batman/Iron Man a power fantasy squared is that out of costume they are still among the most powerful people alive, members of the ruling elite and necessarily (morally neutral superwealth being a credulous fiction vastly more unbelievable than any man from outer space) oppressors on a scale that the street-level thugs they’re always busting up could never hope to be; add a superhero identity onto that, with its promise of anonymity, total freedom of movement, and zero accountability, and you’re getting into Bret Easton Ellis territory.

But, I hear you complain, this doesn’t take into account the well-established individual psychologies of Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark, driven to pursue justice and protect the innocent because of their specific traumas, survivors’ guilt, overdeveloped consciences, and brilliant minds!! Fair enough, I suppose. I have a really hard time taking seriously the individual psychology of any fictional character that’s been continuously published for sixty years while passing through the hands of hundreds of individual writers, which is why I prefer to do external sociological/literary analysis — but even granting the psychological premise, I don’t think it justifies, either morally or politically, the narcissistic insistence that they and they alone can save humanity from itself. I used the words “white savior complex” advisedly.

Superman needn’t be white. He’s almost always depicted so, of course, because he was originally created in the thirties, but whiteness is not baked into the character description — alien from a dead civilization, raised by average citizens, powerful beyond the abilities of human beings, does good. Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark, in 20th-century (and 21st-century) US, are necessarily white: billionaire industrialists who had every advantage of education and training, and in Wayne’s case at least, came from old money. It would be possible, I suppose, to posit that the Marvel and DC Universes suffered less from the effects of racism than our own, so that a black Bruce Wayne, an Asian-American Tony Stark, are conceivable. I’d welcome such reinterpretations, which I’ve never seen. The Superman idea has been reinterpreted as non-white several times; my favorite is Dwayne McDuffie’s Icon.

But what you might call the classical Superman’s whiteness, or more accurately his ability to pass for white, is if not baked into the character description at least present in the subtext of the backstory. Many people, picking up on the cue of his creators’ Jewish background, have noted the Superman myth as a powerful allegory of assimilation: from another world where they speak a strange language, burdened with the consciousness of a secret parentage and special clothing, but also possessed of hugely desirable skills and unique talents that can be put to the service of humanity (of course it’s a self-flattering assimilation allegory). He can pass as an ordinary, unmarked-American in his glasses and nondescript suit, he can get a media job, he can aspire to associate with, and even to love, the most glamorous, independent, and intelligent woman in his orbit — but he must always keep his secret self hidden, for no one would ever understand. So every so often he disappears into back rooms and hall closets and telephone booths — his very nondescriptness allows him to fade into the background in any crisis — to set free his secret self, to save the world. The idea of becoming an integral part of your adopted world, while always remaining apart from it not necessarily because you want to but because of who you are, corresponds in obvious ways with certain features of the immigrant experience, and also (I’ve been told) resonates with many people with disabilities, mental illness, or aneurotypical functioning.

Now, yes, it is often harder to write a compelling Superman story than it is to write a compelling Batman or Iron Man story. Batman and Iron Man can more easily have desires that conflict with other desires or interests, they can be put in physical and emotional danger, they can bump up against their own limitations and have to deal with people who represent extremes in human thought and behavior (good Superman stories often deal with structural rather than interpersonal issues). But “where’s the conflict?” is a screenwriter’s problem, not a mythologist’s. Just in terms of who the characters are at the beginning of any given story, I like Superman better.

I’ll end by saying that of course it’s totally within bounds to be cynical about the idea of Superman’s moral code, just as I’m cynical about the possibility of altruistic rich white men. Surely if anyone really had Superman’s powers they wouldn’t waste their time hiding out as Clark Kent while running around saving people all the time; best-case scenario they’d be a weapon of mass destruction, and the country that managed to cajole their allegiance would be a totalitarian empire. And there are lots of Superman stories (or stories that have Superman, or a similarly omnipotent figure, in them) that take that tack, and very good stories they often are. But people with Superman’s powers don’t actually exist, so the fictional idea of a hyper-moral Superman is at worst stupid and harmless. But people with Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark levels of money, power, and access really do exist; and stories that say it’s okay, that we can trust the super-rich, industrialists, and military contractors to look out for everyone’s best interests, are an active evil in the world.


Aug 21

Anonymous said: Dear Mulbert, if life means different things to every person, doesn't that therefore suggest that life has no inherent meaning and, moreover, life is meaningless? This confuses me frequently... Why should I continue without purpose, in the face of the necessary struggle it takes to survive? Thanks xx

advicecomics:

imageimageimageimageimage[larger]

Advicecomics Columnist: Mulbert
written///drawn.

Meaning is all around you.


I was innocently browsing my dashboard, listening to this song (‘Natural Feelings’ by Pregnant) when suddenly this gif by pastelreapers appeared —

And I was like - oh man

OH MAN WHAT IS HAPPENING

THEY’RE PERFECTLY IN TIME SOMEHOW

I HAVE DISCOVERED SOMETHING SASSY AND PROFOUND

IT’S OKAY EVERYONE THESE ARE NATURAL FEELINGS


jinisaisquoi said: I LOVE Miss Management! Time management girl games are a particular favourite of mine! I think it might actually have been Cake Mania that first made me fully accept my girl game gaming truth! Also, I really loved your comic. Is it alright if I reblog it? 'i made such flawless armour, but it was more perfect when i wasn't it' reminded me of the time jump in the ocarina of time, in the sense that they both said things that I couldn't or didn't say but felt deeply when they were said to me. x

Thanks so much! And yeah, I don’t mind if you reblog it :-)

P.S. Miss Management = quiet classic of our time.

Aug 18

Aug 14

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