Tuesday, June 5, 2012 — 10:42 pm
Wow-ee, this is a fun item.
Comics with Problems is pleased to reach a nice milestone of FIFTY issues. And to commemorate that we wanted to find a good item for numero cincuenta. Fortunately, just in time, the City of Phoenix State Transportation Department has just published this absolute gutbuster of a series, politely entitled "BICYCLE SAFETY" ... Innocuous set of words, but a hint of how messy things might become is evident in the title's choice of font style:
Oh man, these things are great. We've dealt with bicycle safety before on the site. One of the most visited comics in this archive is DANNY AND THE DEMONCYCLE. And there are a few other single panel examples elsewhere in this site's archive dealing with bike maintenance and safe riding. But flipping through these new Phoenix bicycle comics is a very different experience:
Ouch! The first of many broken body parts.
What's the big difference between these and other bike safety comics? These ones are absolutely bent on harming the kids as much as possible.
"Brandon, are you okay?"
Here's a news item about these wonderful things:
PHOENIX NEWS, azcentral.com:
(April 2012) Officials from the city's Street Transportation Department are gearing up to launch a set of bicycle-safety comic books in Phoenix schools.
The six-episode series, intended for a fourth-through eighth-grade audience, addresses the bicycle-safety improvement goal outlined in the city's General Plan while engaging students in a unique way. The materials are free to schools.
Though most schools probably wouldn't start using the materials until next school year, the city has started reaching out to Phoenix school districts.
"Our main goal is to get it out to everybody."
What this press item fails to note is how seriously, PAINFULLY, graphic these things are. (full scans included here) And a target audience that includes children as young as fourth grade is very disturbing.
Ow! Fucking stop it. I can barely look at that without flinching. And ask your friend to put his phone away, this isn't the time to take a photo.
This comic is perhaps one of the best items produced in some time to show how easy it is to publish violent imagery, whereas simple nudity and sex are still verboten. But that's a tangent.
But elaborating on that tangent: When I was in fourth grade I knew a kid (Hi Bob, if you're reading) who fainted if you so much as mentioned violent images to him. He threw up in science class when he heard cartilage pop during frog dissection. Power of suggestion is such a fun and wild moment at that time in your life. I'm not an advocate for sheltering kids in the slightest, I'm just describing one of the reasons I like these comics - which I do - and also why they're really messed-up, gruesome, little mind-meddlers.
This is a six issue set of comics that cracks open kids' skulls, twists their legs in half, lacerates and impales them in the gut with handlebars!, and smashes them repeatedly with cars.
...oh my fucking what...come on!
AND INCLUDING the most inevitable of all scare-em-straight stories? Death!
(and what a bit of dialogue there, too - Obviously the answer to this kid's question, as a witness, is he will be the one to tell the parents Marvin ran a stop sign and got killed.)
I haven't seen a government comic of this high quality of fear mongering since at least the golden age of 1950s through 1970s government comics, especially in terms of blunt visceral messaging. But whereas previous materials targeted its 'big scare' messaging on targets like disease, foreign enemies, commies, bombs, or drugs, the enemy in BICYCLE SAFETY is much harder to identify. Is the fourth grade child supposed to be afraid of bicycling? roads? people? cars? themselves? It's unclear.
But make no mistake, right out of the gate, BICYCLE SAFETY has instantly placed itself on the top shelf of propaganda items ever produced. We totally love them. (and at a very small print run of 10,000 copies I'd snatch up the issues if I were you, my inner Ebay sense thinks they'll be very pricey in coming years.)
Anyway, celebrate issue number fifty of Comics with Problems here. We have also included in this bike extravaganza an opening act of CAPTAIN SUPER SAFE, a helmet superhero from Connecticut who stalks around kids playgrounds. Watch out for the brains!
From the bonus story, CAPTAIN SUPER SAFE
(permanent link to this entry)