The new issue of the Michele Bachmann comic, False Witness! The Michele Bachmann Story, is now out on sale. The producers of the comic appear to be taking a thematic approach in the series, dedicating an issue to a particular area of Bachmann’s right-wing obsessions — and they’ve done a great job of it in this issue. This episode: The gays.
The good news is that the creators have dropped a vice that plagued them in the second issue — all speech balloons from Bachmann are direct, word-for-word quotes from our favorite Minnesota Republican, with no comedic paraphrasing or embellishment. At the same time, they don’t quite acknowledge that doing otherwise was a mistake the last time around. C’est la vie.
As for the treatment of the subject matter, the creators set out to make a serious point: That Bachmann has advanced her career on a platform of singling out a group within society for hatred and ostracism, and that this is a highly dangerous thing to do.
(Click images to enlarge.)The first page introduces us to a personification of the Bachmann comic itself, who fires back at negative reviews from the second issue. “Oh my goodness! There’s been a terrible mistake!” the comic says. “This reviewer says that we made up some of our own controversial statements and attributed them to Bachmann — instead of printing what she actually said!”
The comic then defends itself (or its older brother, the previous issue) from the charge. Other bad reviews of the comic might have gone so far as to accuse them of making things up, but speaking for myself I did not. My problem with the comic was not that they were being in any way dishonest. Rather, it was that by simply paraphrasing Bachmann, or by introducing their own clearly satirical punchlines into the comic-Bachmann’s mouth — which were clearly presented in a way that nobody would confuse them with the real thing — the quality of the book had suffered. A direct quote of Bachmann talking about how she was visited by God, and how she fasted for three days to make sure He was telling her to run for Congress, cannot be improved by any human hands.
But on to the book itself. The book sets out to illustrate the negative consequences of a demagogue politician singling out a group within society for hatred in order to advance their careers. The book might push the envelope a bit with an invocation of Hitler, but on the other hand hand here is a beautiful example of what can happen when a “satirical” comic is built entirely from real-life quotes of an absurd public figure. This page depicts numerous instances of Bachmann repeating the exact same anti-gay rhetoric, accusing those nasty homosexuals of trying to recruit the children:
It’s like a stained-glass window on acid. It is easily the single best page from the whole issue, and perhaps second only to the cover of the first issue for the best page of the series as a whole.
As we can see, Bachmann honed some of the tactics she has used to this day, such as holding a big rally outside the state Capitol, recruiting a big-name politician to speak to the crowd that she has assembled, and having attendees storm the Capitol to look for their legislators and/or demonstrate at their offices. The same tactics were all employed last fall at her Capitol Tea Party.
There are also some short vignettes. Two of them run at once — the story of how Bachmann claimed she’d been cornered in a women’s bathroom at a public event, trapped by two threatening lesbians. Along the bottom of the page runs a feature with a Crypt Keeper-like figure, showing us the failed ideas that Bachmann has snatched up to get some publicity, and then quickly abandoned. And the other is about how Bachmann had been photographed hiding in the bushes during a pro-gay rights rally at the state Capitol, which had been held to counter her own anti-gay campaigning. (This event is also satirized on the cover of the issue itself).
The next issue looks like it will continue the thematic treatment, this time focusing on Bachmann’s close relationship with her top political adviser: God, who directly speaks to her and provides her with personal advice and political counsel:
This should be fun. Here’s hoping the comic’s producers live up to the great task they’ve just set for themselves.