popcrime

In Batman 700 Morrison threw out a particularly juicy idea, that the bat-foes of 50s and 60s were pop-criminals. Morrison being Morrison he didn’t explain the concept any further so here’s a few of my thoughts

  • What is popcrime? Clownish capers,  catty conundrums, fowl felonies. Catwoman stealing the giant emerald eyes of Bast, the Penguin besieging the city with hundreds of robot umbrellas, those are examples of pop-crime.
  • Popcrime is inherently ostentatious and showy, the grander the better. It’s made for alliterative headlines, and for minimum casualties. It’s popular, fun, sensational and most importantly carnivalesque in the original sense of the term: dates in the Christian calendar when social norms were turned on their heads and nonsense reigned
  • Amy recently suggested to me that successful superheroes, and one assumes the supervillains, lug around permanent autonomous zones. Follow the link if you haven’t heard the term before, but the idea, very simply, is that certain spaces largely operate outside the control structures of the wider culture and generate their own form and function from within. I’m not hugely into Hakim Bey, the chap who came up with the idea, but I think that it could be a fruitful way to approach the concept of the superhero, and I’m particularly interested in the parallels between the supervillain as popcriminal and the supervillain as PAZ. Bobsy tells me that Bey was heavily into the idea of spaces and communities so perhaps the straightforward situationism is more what I’m after here, but either way we’re on the same track. The Joker is always on, and even those whose costumes aren’t acid etched into their skin are very rarely halfway committed when they take on their superidentity. Back in the popcrime days Batman might have occasionally caught a glimpse of Edward Nigma, but 99% of the time the fella was all Riddler and the world had to make room.
  • I’m thinking that the popcrime Catwoman is more like a contemporary artist than a crook. She isn’t motivated by money or by greed in a straightforward sense, nor is she hugely invested in vengeance or a lust for violence, although these things could well have their place within the popcriminal schema. It’s the raw outsiderness, the absurdity, the virtuosity and the immensity of pop-crime that’s the attraction. Turning the city into a crazy feline themed amusement park, featuring live action battles with Batman and Robin is what pop-crime is about – it’s the thing itself.
  • Popcriminals don’t have to be mad. Going back to the Catwoman example, she doesn’t purr all the time because she’s insane, and she’s not obsessed by cats in the clinical sense, and she doesn’t try to claw out Batman’s eyes because she hallucinates paws where palms should be. The pop-crime Catwoman is all about becoming, an attempt to inhabit a role, to get lost in it, a psychologically necessary part of the pop-crime edifice. Committing cat-themed crimes wouldn’t be half as enjoyable or half as successful if she didn’t given herself utterly to the experience.
  • Popcriminals make me think of mods and punks and late 80s ravers. Youth movements are all about adopting larger than life identities. Pop-criminals just do it bigger and better. It’s super-fashion.
  • I miss popcrime. Let’s face it, while there’s some reasonably sophisticated superhero comics around these days, the actual criminal activities of supervillains are seldom very interesting. I’m bored of seeing blokes dressed up like cobras being reduced to purely physical threats, only ever good for a fight scene or two or the odd heinous crime. I can get fights and heinous crimes any old place – can’t say the same for popcrime. Can’t get popcrime for love nor money.

Popcrime: discuss, my lovelies.

64 Responses to “Batman says “yes” to POPCRIME”

  1. Faisal Says:

    Popcrime :)

    Does anyone see it anywhere outside of comics? All I can really think of is fluxus and the pre-Burner movement in San Fran.

    The thing with popcrime, and popjustice if we are to stretch it to that, is that it does not need an origin story. The origin story is always retroactive, an attempt to ‘place’ the popcrime, to find reason within it, when it is the becoming.

    it’s one of the reasons i still find the killing joke so enthralling, because at the end of the day it’s not about how the joker becomes the joker, but is about the space that the characters of Batman and Joker inhabit, and how that space is never truly defined.

    the joker just seems to horribly, horribly, rational in that story.

  2. Zom Says:

    Well, I mentioned situationism, which has a long history in the real world.

    Personally I don’t want to start taking popcrime too seriously as a real world phenomena, I just like its possibilities when it comes to storytelling

  3. amypoodle Says:

    it’s another example of a story element with potentislly huge depth that morrison just throws out there for people like us, but doesn’t jam on for more than a few panels in a couple of books. a gorgeous idea-nugget.

  4. Tim O'Neil Says:

    See, the problem here is that it seems as if this idea is ultimately an excuse to suspend morality – and I have a hard time buying the theory that anyone killed or maimed by a “popcriminal” is just a canvas on which the “popcrimeartist” expresses themselves. We already tacitly acknowledge the fact that bystanders only exist in comics in order to be killed, and I personally think that is a pretty awful idea in itself, without also going the step further of rationalizing murder and sadism as some kind of artistic expression.

  5. Jeremy Says:

    I think adding “pop” to the word “crime” is just to make it sound cool. I was reading some of Morrison’s work yesterday, and I lost count of all the usage of the word “super”. Supercomputers, supercops, super cortex, super satured, super death traps(Lex Luthor is a whiz at those).

    Not that I’m complaining, I’m a much bigger fan of Morrison’s cool tecnhobabble then anything Warren Ellis’ decompressed technodroning can muster, but I don’t put much into it.

  6. Sean T. Collins Says:

    In terms of comparable music/fashion movements, I think of glam before I think of punk, Mod, or rave. But then, that’s always true for me.

  7. Sean T. Collins Says:

    Tim: “I am the world’s first fully functioning homicidal artist.”

  8. RetroWarbird Says:

    My favorite thing about Popcrime is seeing where Batman’s rogues used to be. Say what you want about Joker, who managed from day one to “remain” the leading Batman foe, but Popcrime was Riddler’s era. It was his pinnacle.

    And after Popcrime fell out of fashion … Riddler had a hard time finding a place for himself in the criminal underworld, dwindling as a threat until his last hurrah in Hush, and then shortly afterward, due to both a blow on the head and a lack of a “scene” (Heh … Crime-Scene) to play his games in, had to pretty much flip-flop and get a day job as a Private Eye.

    Popcrime is about showboating. It’s about criminals who HATE the concept of “getting away with crimes” without their reputations growing or “signing their work”.

    In real life … plenty of criminals, particularly white collar ones, end up getting caught because their ego kicks in. They can’t help but “sign their work” somehow. They can’t let this amazing heist happen without people knowing it was them.

    Popcrime is that taken to its comic book extreme. Pride in your work. Back to Joker – Joker might have gone back to being a homicidal maniac, but his pride in his work has never died. Joker constantly strives for newer, edgier material. He’s consummately professional and focused 100% on his comedic routine or his acting skills or raising the bar.

    It’s a rather Rat Pack or Ocean’s Eleven kind of concept, isn’t it? “Pulling off the big heist, right under Batman’s nose” was the goal, and it was all for bragging rights.

    Perhaps those bragging rights are why Riddler is still around at all. His schemes were so elaborate that they bought him years of street cred, even after his skills as the # 1 heist/thief/puzzler maestro had been rendered irrelevant.

    (It’s going to take someone like Grant to bring them back.)

  9. amypoodle Says:

    uh uh, jeremy, ‘pop’ isn’t just a zany prefix here, it’s a way of rationalising a damned period of bat-history. there’s plenty in there to be unpacked.

    tim, yeah, i agree… a bit… i think. i’m not sure what you’re saying, actually. is it that you find pop-crime more insidious than the standard comicbook variety, because it dresses itself up as something fun? because it’s horror presented as playful, cool and desirable?

    i’m sure this same debate raged in the letter column of the gotham gazzette all those years ago.

  10. It Burns Says:

    Retro: My thoughts exactly on The Riddler.

    The Riddler has incredible potential inside comic books because of the form’s capacity to depict 2-D (board) games. I’ve always been interested to see how an artist might create a Riddler mystery which uses panels not only as boundaries in which the reader must decode story, but as topographical reference points that the reader can “play” on/in. Admittedly, I would prefer a good Riddler story over a formal novelty.

    And then you could incorporate visual riddles and puns. Ken Parille writes about, in his essay “What’s This One About? A Re-Reader’s Guide to David Boring,” visual punning in Clowes’s book and how readers can use it to solve a mystery. So icons could be clues rather than having clues in dialogue.

    Basically, The Riddler’s potential could climax by turning the physical comic book into a spectacle. The ultimate pop crime.

  11. Matthew Craig Says:

    Ned Kelly? Banksy? Robin Hood? Bonnie and Clyde? Those nailbombers from about fifteen years back whose calling card was Tarantino-meets-Milk Tray? Terrorists (of the right sort)? The Crossbow Cannibal?

    Are poplags popculturecriminals? Heroes in their own hindsight, like Operation: Mayhem? And is the “Detective” in “Darknight Detective” as strictly-deployed as the “Science” in “Science-Hero,” which is to say, hardly at all?

    BAD LANGUAGE ALERT

    Popcrime is about the glorification of cunts. The mythologisation of scum. The amelioration of villany through manipulation of the collective consciousness). The forgiveness of sins through the accumulation of grins. E’S GOOD TO ‘IS MAVVA. SHE’S DER PRINCESS OF THE PROLETARIAT. IT’S JUST HIS WAY. THEY PLAY FER INGLIND. And so on. And Sun. And Heat. And Max Clifford. And boo-hiss to all that.

    I mean, it sort of works in the comics, because it allows for fairly-free-association, visually and linguistically:

    (free-association deleted for shat)

    But it’s all too seductive. Like a pile of bird seed in the middle of the road, it often covers a much less palatable truth.

    /ramble

    //\oo/\\

  12. Lanmao, the Blue Cat Says:

    Re: Faisal’s off the cuff reference to popjustice: It seems to me that while popcrime is a possible category in superhero comics (desirable or not), popjustice isn’t. Popcrime is the art-inflected violation of moral and legal norms, I figure, but justice, by its nature the affirmation and reinstitution of one or both of these same norms against their violation, can’t have the same possibilities of artistic transgression. For example, popcrime Catwoman can commit any number of outlandish, aestheticized crimes, but Batman’s options are radically more limited. Despite his weird getup, he must not only 1. act in response to crime, but 2. the possible set of his responses are limited first to punishment, and second, further limited to physical violence and arrest. It seems to me that these two limiting factors prohibit him from acting in a way that is ‘pop’ as it’s meant here.

  13. Lanmao, the Blue Cat Says:

    Dude, I said “It seems to me” twice in one paragraph. What a dick.

  14. RetroWarbird Says:

    Another spot about Riddler comics that could be good:

    You think Red Hood’s “fight against crime grows up” angle was original? Riddler would be the king of the internet. Except to get to his fan-site you have to be an expert hacker or able to crack his outrageous codes and puzzles for membership.

    As for options for turning the actual panels and issues into games to be played – it could be so simple. Riddler leaves his usual string of clues at crime-scenes for Batman to find. By the end of it we realize that the Second Word of every riddle throughout combines to form the Final Answer.

    J.H. Williams on art.

  15. RetroWarbird Says:

    (Not that Riddler would commit internet crimes or upload his own Youtube videos … rather he’d just have circles of fans, alt types who love his work and have pages dedicated to it. Probably not even affiliated with the actual man himself … just fawning over his appearances in the newspapers or evening news, and trying to crack his riddles. Prizes if you crack the riddle before Batman does!)

  16. It Burns Says:

    Here Here.

    Another pop criminal (who happens to be my personal favorite Bat-Villain), is Two-Face. Mozz has said that, to him, Two-Face is emblematic of Dick Tracy’s rogues. Which is true, and Tracy villains have a pop element to them also, but I think Two-Face has more potential than that. Here’s a character(s) who is possessed by pop crime in the sense that he MUST sign his name at every crime. It isn’t a decision. He fights BatRob because inside he yearns to be two seperate people. He is forever chasing the “duo.” The only real endgame he has.

  17. RetroWarbird Says:

    Two-Face definitely had a good run during the popcrime trend. But his history as District Attorney and his split-condition making him into quite the mean bastard means he fares a lot better in the murderous world of modern Gotham.

    I always loved the bit in Gotham Central, which indicated that a massive chunk of Harvey’s henchmen tend to be ex-cops.

    And of course … the list could go on for the other popcriminals who never quite cut it after New Look. Cluemaster (Granted, a Riddler derivative). Polka Dot Man. I’m sure there are more that didn’t quite survive the transition unscathed.

  18. Zom Says:

    Interesting thoughts, Tim.

    Despite my talk of art, minimum casualties and spectacle I’m not sure that the reader should be encouraged to treat popcrime as morally acceptable. Also, I’m not entirely convinced there’s anything in the idea, as I’ve I’ve laid it out (and with the aforementioned caveat), that necessarily smothers the moral dimension. In fact I’m wondering if popcrime isn’t perhaps more morally abhorrent than normal crime.

    Mind you, all this depends on the nature of any given popcrime… It’s down to the writer, innit?

  19. Zom Says:

    Lanmao, I need to think a little bit more about popjustice. I’m unconvinced by the idea, but I’m not entirely unconvinced.

    Sean, yep, definitely glam. Glam shoulda been in there.

    Burns, the Riddler is such a wasted opportunity as far as my taste is concerned.

  20. Jonathan Burns Says:

    Nailed! Dead centre!

    From Batman and Robin #1, the amazing Mister Toad, Alfred addressing Yorick’s skull, I’ve been getting “It’s All Theatre”. No matter how horrible.

    The Creeper: Popjustice.

    Birds of Prey: what else?

    Kate Kane: Alliteration gives your destiny away, dear. Queen of Bats, the Fifth Suit.

    Well there’s only one way to test this and that’s if Grant gives us the Calendar Man, in costume.

    You guys are the most.

  21. amypoodle Says:

    the creeper is SO pop justice.

    now all i have to do is figure out what that means.

  22. Faisal Says:

    lanmao:

    do you think all artistic statements need to be transgressive?

    what dick and damian are doing, i don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to refer to that as popjustice. they are inhabiting a role, making it their own, giving themselves into it, but they will never be that role.

    a constant process of becoming. superheroing for superheroing’s sake. it’s kind of why i love morrison’s take on dick, because he is absolutely anti-mope. he’s just being the goshdarn batman.

    it might not be a completely original art on their parts, but i feel like their performances are pretty damn entertaining! in a sense they are making sure that gotham remains the bat’s PAZ by maintaining the symbol, or brand (what is more indicative of ‘pop’ than a brand?)

    to quote lone-eye: “tonight is BAT-NIGHT”

  23. Tweets that mention Mindless Ones » Blog Archive » Batman says “yes” to POPCRIME -- Topsy.com Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Herr Niemand, Martyn Pedler. Martyn Pedler said: "It's made for alliterative headlines, and for minimum casualties". On the 'popcrime' of classic Batman villains: http://bit.ly/aD5AZv [...]

  24. RetroWarbird Says:

    Ah.

    Popcrime seems to be a natural reaction to costumed vigilantism. To use Joker’s origin as an example for a second – he only donned the Red Hood costume for theatrical reasons. There was this Batman guy out there fighting crime in a cape like the night was his own personal masquerade, and Joker being the guy he is (I swear to god the man went to Theater School … or apprenticed for a stage magician) couldn’t help but join that party.

    Therefore … popjustice is a delayed reaction again, of popcrime. First the criminals mock the garish nature of a costumed vigilante by putting on these crime-based performance pieces. Then, the newer heroes/vigilantes who join the party are actually reactions to the popcrime scene more than they’re actually inspired by the basic costumed mystery man.

    Or in cases like Riddler, I guess … a popcriminal who can’t find a place in a very popcrime-free Gotham, just opts for popjustice instead. It seems like Eddie Nigma, Private Eye … is a very high-profile “Celebrity” detective.

    “Celebrity” is the key factor here. These guys are out for infamy. Notoriety. Jesse James or John Dillinger are there heroes.

  25. Zom Says:

    Nah, they don’t have heroes. They’re weirder than that. They’re their own heroes.

  26. Zom Says:

    Also, infamy and notoriety are part of the picture, but they’re the mundane end. Did Ziggy Stardust want to be merely notorious?

    Celebrity is a factor, but creation is a bigger one. Catwoman wants to be Catwoman

  27. RetroWarbird Says:

    So much went into the creation of those outrageous popcrimes anyway – it’s wonderful that by now, the characters have transcended and almost become self-aware of their comic booky nature, but so much of the writer has to be taken into account, too.

    Bob Kane used to sit and read encyclopedias, articles and dictionaries, newspapers and novels, looking for cool gimmicks for villains, whether nefarious “themes” for their personas, clever devices for their gadgets or elaborate death-trap scenarios.

    Nowadays writers are so lazy. “Two-Face is a gang leader and Penguin is a gang leader and guess what … GANG WAR FOR TURF”. That’s not HIGH CRIME, that’s petty thuggery.

  28. Shiny Jim Says:

    Hey nothing wrong with gang war. The sound of classical blasting from a rolls royce, a white gloved hand rolling the window, the rat-tat-tat of the semi-auto umbrella…

  29. RetroWarbird Says:

    There is something to “Yesterday’s gangsters … Today!” with Penguin and Harvey, to be sure (Old school guys in fine tailored double-breasted suits – a bit of 30′s depression era flash … Zoot suits and Tommy guns, which is why they’ve worked so well as modern hoods (blending cutting edge with classic Noir sensibilities). But compared to their colorful capers of the past, Batman’s villains have been slumming it for years now.

    Where are the newspaper headlines? Gotham’s nightly news channel was probably the MOST WATCHED television program in history for that period of time.

    There’s room for all of it … even the street level grime. But I hope it gets better. Indeed, I hope Dick’s tenure as Batman sparks off a whole popcrime Renaissance. It seems like the sort of thing he’d be the perfect catalyst for.

  30. Zodiac Firebroom Says:

    No but’s dull dull dull in the context of the possible, particularly now with Batman and Robin, where we’ve substituted the driven necessity of the dark knight for the theatrical performance of the circus boy and the long lost son.

  31. RetroWarbird Says:

    With that thought in mind … the “Two Batmen” theory could be strong. Where in Batman we get stories of the singularly driven Bruce Wayne, putting an ass-kicking into criminal punks everywhere … but over in Batman and Robin, Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne get into over-the-top criminal masquerades.

    The two Batmen theory composites nicely with the two titles. Not that it’s my personal choice for what this new, fascinating Season 2 (Well, Season 3, really) status quo should be … but it’s certainly viable.

  32. Aaron Says:

    This might be taking the criminal/artist thing a bit too far, but I wonder about the failed pop criminals. Some guy has a thing for, I dunno, ants. Decides to become the Ant King and turn Gotham into a giant ant hill, uses some bio-insect ray to zap innocent Gothamites and make them his Worker Ants, bringing jewels and shit to his throne. But he doesn’t have the same kind of drive for self-actualization that the Joker has, and so his crimes are just…less interesting.

    Maybe he plans a big caper on the same night Catwoman’s debuting some kind of giant litter box thing that’s going to ruin the water supply or whatev. And poor Ant King’s heist is just not as grand or exciting as the litter box, and so there goes Batman, ever the critic, roaring past in the Batmobile to deal with Catwoman. And poor Ant King is just stuck, staring off into space, his newest work totally dismissed.

    So he grew up to become Film Freak. The End.

  33. RetroWarbird Says:

    There’s definitely a case for failed popcriminals.

    Catman definitely started that way. Granted, since then he’s hit rock bottom, almost died, and come back after living with lions in the savannah, strong as a wildman and fast and ferocious as a lion (which makes up for his lack of formal training). And now, way, way after the fact we learn just how effed up his childhood was.

    But his career started as a failed popcriminal, a theme ALREADY used by Catwoman, and an “anti-Batman” theme that Deadshot had done a million times better (along with about a dozen others).

    Catman grew up to be Catman … but the Catman of then is a far cry from the catman of now. Of course, the Secret Six has a knack for fixing characters that got broken by poor writing.

  34. Zom Says:

    There are many failed popcriminals

  35. Zodiac Firebroom Says:

    one hit wonders

  36. Zom Says:

    Exactly

  37. rev'D Says:

    Can’t remember her name because I don’t happen to have ‘Apocalypse Culture’ around, but wasn’t there a female performance / video artist who staged ‘possessions’? Wore wolf furs & went into ecstatic contortions, channeling the spirit / idea of the wolf, etc….

    Reading the Catwoman bit put me in mind of that. Seems in the vein of what some of the finer (or furrier) popcriminals have going, performance art that goes One Step Beyond. Why -dress- like a bat when you can inject yourself with deeply questionable science & become clay?

    Obviously some don’t count– your Ssaszes, your Black Masks, they’re just predatory human horrors. But Killer Moth? I’d say ‘only helps criminals & only for money’ is a front. Only a sincere devotion to the ethos of popcrime could motivate someone to take a gig where Bats is scraping you off his knuckles every other week.

  38. david brothers Says:

    This theory is the only way I could ever see myself taking the Condiment King seriously. Otherwise, he just doesn’t cut the mustard.

  39. Zom Says:

    You drollster, you!

  40. RetroWarbird Says:

    I like seeing sibling jealousy factor into it.

    Remember when Catwoman’s low-life brother Karl Kyle decided to sponge off of her reputation and become the “King of Cats”?

    What a fucking lazy slob. At least your sister Maggie has the imagination, and the horrible tragedy, to go with a Catholic Nun gimmick.

    Of course, they’re both one-hit-wonders in their own ways.

  41. Brimstone Says:

    What was that line about the ultimate surrealist act being to fire a revolver into a crowd?

    maybe pop crime is what graffiti art would be if it’s critics were right. the whole ‘they’re vandals’ vs ‘it’s art’ debate played out with stakes much higher then some property damage. maybe if the body count is low enough people like being part of a pop crime, same way i like having my house graffed by someone good

  42. RetroWarbird Says:

    Brim, you’re speaking my language.

    I spent a good portion of time on my nights a few years back with a gaggle of lads who were tattooists by day, Graffers by night. (I still smile when I see trains go by with my friends’ codenames on them.)

    Last year, a really fucked D.A. threw the book at a kid and he went to jail. Can’t for the life of me remember how long it was for, but it was a few months. Plus 25,000 in property damage.

    Where I come from … it’d be a punch in the mouth and a promise to buy the paint and white-wash it myself.

    But at any rate … it strikes me that a Graffer is turning the mundane into something vibrant. Turning the everyday ugly gray concrete into a rainbow of excitement. So what if they’re only appealing to a narrow demographic (punk kids who like graffiti, and the occasional mischievous old person).

    It’s exactly the same in principle. My pal Ian, for instance, painted his code “GRIM” on everything. That’s like robbing a museum and leaving a big purple “?” on the scene. You have fun doing it … SOMEBODY enjoys it … breathes a little life back into the newspapers and gives the cops somebody to chase besides junkies and minorities. There’s a clue. If they had the brains to get out a map of the city and mark each spot where “GRIM” could be found, perhaps they could form a pattern – but what detective is going to waste time on punk kids?

    Me, personally, when I was Graffing, I’d leave calling cards. Granted, I’m a full-blown Batman fanboy. Pure rip-off of Joker’s gimmick – leaving Joker cards on the scene, in obvious spots with the word “EVIDENCE” written in bold with an arrow pointing to it.

    The spectrum of crime as art goes from mischief as an outlet all the way to practically Graham Greene levels of destruction as an art-form.

  43. RetroWarbird Says:

    (Side note … my own lame little masterminded jokes went over everyone’s head. Simple stuff gets a laugh here and there but nobody knows it was me. Turning the town of Sangerfield into the Town of Rodney Dangerfield … or Canal Road into anal Road. But I grinned ear to ear when one of mine got a blurb in the papers … a local high-school job, made to look like the rival school did it, just for laughs.)

    Some friends of mine had other plans to get into the paper. One group invented a fake “gang name” thinking it would be funny to mark territory and get people worried about gangs. So a few of us had the bright idea to make up a second gang, deface a few of the first gang’s markers, and put up our own in other places. That got an actual article in a larger paper about possible gang rivalries in the area, and is still good for a laugh today in any of the right circles. Not that it was high art, mind you. Just kicks.

  44. Zom Says:

    We must reclaim the streets from crime!

  45. Brimstone Says:

    they just caught the Barefoot Bandit…
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g3ng0HuCqAC4S1vDdZDuEso6S73QD9GTONV01

    as for the Popcrime thing i’ve got friends who still idolize Charles Manson. might be his hippie weirdness, might be his association with the Beach Boys… i don’t know

    another thing… my building is graffed so that other taggers don’t ruin it with stupid tags. would you rather be captured by a whimsical crook or a drug gang?

  46. RetroWarbird Says:

    Well see, that’s a bit of … well, it’s not “class warfare” so much as “classless warfare”, the difference between the honorable dishonest “CROOK” and the low-life drug pushers, dealers and kingpins.

    There’s tiers in crime, and it’s disgusting to me that a thief goes to jail longer than a rapist or a dealer selling drugs to kids at schools. (Or that a graffiti vandal goes to jail at all). A bit of mail-boxing or window breaking is another thing.

    Outright property destruction and arson? That’s different.

    And you see it in the prisons as well. It’s common enough knowledge that pedophiles don’t fare well in prisons. After all … even bad men love their sons and daughters.

    I suppose the authorities would say vandalism is a gateway drug … but I’m not sure where it leads. I’ve never once felt the urge, say, for some of the old ultra-violence, or a bit of the old in-out/in-out.

  47. RetroWarbird Says:

    Read about it in my new novel: “CRIME: From Pop to Pulp.”

  48. Zom Says:

    Brimstone, you’ve got friends who idolize Charles Manson?

  49. amypoodle Says:

    don’t worry, they’re 15…

    …tell me they’re 15!

  50. RetroWarbird Says:

    Daft Charlie wasn’t even very interesting as far as anti-personality types go. Ranting and raving and not having the balls to do his own dirty work. Side note … the woman from his gaggle there … uh … tried to assassinate President Ford … just got released and moved.

    To here. Where I live. Just a few miles and a few minutes away. Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme. I’ve heard such great things.

  51. Zom Says:

    At the minute in the UK a section of the population is in love with a violent murderer called Raoul Moat. He’s taken on a Robin Hood-like mystique: shot a copper, hid out in the countryside, threatened to take on the police force with his shooter, got shot with a taser by those treacherous police mid negotiations and, oh so tragically, decided to end it all by turning his firearm on himself.

    What these fucking idiots seem to miss is that he wasn’t a good bloke at all. He was a violent repeat offender who killed his ex-girlfriend and mother of his kid, her new boyfriend, and shot a police man in the face, scarring him horribly for life. All this just days after he was released from prison for assault.

    Painting real world killers as anything but A Bad Thing is very likely to get my back up at the moment hence my unwillingness to get down with references to “Daft Charley”.

  52. RetroWarbird Says:

    Fascinating.

    They do say tragedy + time = comedy. But obviously that’s not very funny.

    Charlie wasn’t daft at the time, oh no. He’s faded into a caricature as result of rotting in a cell, he’s the gimmick now.

    We had a few cops shot dead in the last few years. They named highways after them … I’d hate to have a memorial highway. What kind of a memorial is that? Asphalt choking the earth.

    That is strange, though. Ignorant glorification? Or have people literally just run out of good underdogs to rally for? A bit of the honest plunder is one thing, but straight-up murder does not make heroes.

  53. amypoodle Says:

    It’s nothing new: Bonnie and Clyde, the Krays… it’s rarely just straight up plunder.

  54. RetroWarbird Says:

    Just to bring it around back to Batman …

    But Blackbeard was DEFINITELY a popcriminal. Whether or not he was Vandal Savage is questionable … but the man set the standard. Infamy, notoriety – a reputation as big as the Atlantic. But in our story? He seemed much more interested in the loot and not at all a wanton killer. Ruthless, perhaps. The Black Rose didn’t burn itself. But it did probably open fire first against the greatest pirate in the world.

    Straight up plunder indeed.

  55. Zom Says:

    He’s white working class and he went on the run and hid out in a wood, a bit like Robin Hood.

    I honestly think it reduces to something like that given the very popular narrative about the downtrodden plight of the indigenous British poor running through the culture these days.

    I feel certain that the story would have been received very differently if he were black or horror of horrors a Muslim.

  56. RetroWarbird Says:

    Ah, the poor white working class. Not that I love the fictional construct that is “white” … but that’s quite the phenomenon.

    Popular narratives … fucking media.

  57. Shiny Jim Says:

    Well, if Blackbeard was a pop-criminal, then Vandal was one, unless only the nom de popcrime counts.

  58. Zom Says:

    I don’t see Blackbeard as popcriminal.

  59. RetroWarbird Says:

    Granted, the scene was entirely different. High seas, different ports. But to get the kind of immortal reputation Blackbeard got? And the whole “light my hair on fire, strap six guns to my chest” theme?

    Strikes me as a little too piratey. Pop-piracy.

    It’s not as though he left a calling card … but if Pirates of the Caribbean has taught me anything, it’s that all you need is an instantly recognizable black-sailed ship, and you’re destined for pop culture – and I mean within the fictional universe, not every drunk guy’s lousy John Depp costume and attempts at swagger.

  60. grant Says:

    1. It seems like an obvious reference to Andy Warhol: art can be POP. Art can be ANYTHING. We’re ALL going to be famous.

    1a. The Factory was definitely some kind of Autonomous Zone. And I think there was a relationship between that scene and the comics scene – at least in the way they both were turning old icons into something new. (In the early 1970s, Neal Adams and Steve Gerber would definitely be up on what was going down in NYC, I think.)

    1b. That’s not to mention the hippy overlap that led to things like Z-man as Supergirl in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBzAcmHvS8o&feature=related Which really seems related to stuff like Andy Warhol’s Dracula.

    2. There are plenty of criminals who saw what they were doing as art. (Thinking of the Zodiac Killer here, but even Valerie Solanas would count.) How many manifestos have been written?

    2a. And then there’s this guy: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/0509-05.htm The Smiley Face Bomber. Remember him? That’s clearly not just crime-as-art, but crime-as-pop-art.

  61. Zom Says:

    And that’s why we love you, Grant

  62. grant Says:

    Awwwwww.

  63. Biff! Pow! Popcrime! | Seekers Of The Batman Says:

    [...] the Penguin besieging the city with hundreds of robot umbrellas, those are examples of pop-crime.via MindlessOnes.com Categories: Comic. Tags: batman, golden age, popcrime. No comments… »Post a comment.You must [...]

  64. Tea With Chris: Popcrime « BACK TO THE WORLD Says:

    [...] villains as pop-criminals. British comics blog Mindless Ones took that stray reference and ran with it, elaborating on “popcrime” in a post somewhere between criticism and free-association [...]

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