I’ve seen the Future, and it’s Tanoshii Jigoku

Herb Mallette
Warrior Nun: Black & White, No. 01, Antartic Press, February 1997

I was listening, the other day, to David Bowie’s excellent album ‘The Man Who Sold The World”, and it occured to me how comfortable we’ve all gotten about the future. If popular entertainment is any indication, there was a time when the future really spooked people. I’m thinking of songs like Bowie’s “Savior Machine”, movies like “Soylent Green” and “A Clockwork Orange”, nonfiction book like Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock…in past decades, the popular images of the future dwelt on computers taking over the world, people being overwhelmed by technology, and cultural trends that moved at hyperspeed, far beyond our capability to keep up with them and maintain a stable society.

And you know what ? It all happened, and now nobody cares.

We’ve got computers in our grocery stores, computer networks tried into our televisions. Computers are used to color old movies, new cartoons, and of course, comic books. Every time you turn around, there’s a new social trend – right to life, animal rights, right to die, right to be assisted in dying, porn on the internet, TV ratings systems, you name it. We take it all in, digest it or ignore it, and move on. And when next year’s generation of computer chips, video games and social issues comes out, we’ll do the same thing all over again.

Okay, Herb, you’re saying, but what the heck does all this have to do with comics ?

Well, in the comics industry right now, everybody is afraid of the future. Capital City went out business. Marvel is bankrupt. Sales are dropping. The end of direct market for comics could be right around the corner!

Nope. The future is here. Comics are more diverse than they’ve been in a couple of decades. Marvel and DC have been toppled as the twin monoliths of the industry. With more companies, newer companies, and a changing distribution dynamic, comic book trends are starting to match the lightning pace of other entertainment industries. We just have to get used to it.

The future isn’t just about the passage of time ; it’s about change. If you’re able to accept and live with change, there’s nothing to worry about. If you’re not…well, the last line of Bowie’s album is “So softly, a supergod dies”.

Timeless immortal die all the time in comics. But comics themselves go on.

Herb Mallette

P.S. You really should get that album. It’s way cool.


It comes in all forms and from all directions.

It is strange that nonlinear behavior is hard to imagine and expect because some would say that all change is nonlinear. In other words, change does not happen in a linear way. That point was made by Story Musgrave, a famous NASA astronaut in the Shuttle era, when he said that all the straight lines he could see on the Earth from space were man-made – contrails, ship wakes, roads, pipelines. Even the famous border between Israel and the Sinai desert is a straight line – green to the East and brown to the West. So with change. All systems behaviors are nonlinear.

Peter C Bishop, Andy Hines, Teaching about the Future, 2012, p 87

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