The Incredibly Fantastic Adventures of Maureen Dowd: A Work of Satire and Fiction
Benjamin Marra, writer/artist
Traditional Comics, December 2010
Buy it from Traditional Comics
This is one of the most vicious and effective works of satire I’ve seen in comics in I don’t know how long. I say that as someone who pretty much loathes political and editorial cartooning of all stripes — an endless nightmare of preaching to the choir, taking complex issues and boiling them down to ideas and images with all the subtlety and insight of blowing the raspberry. By contrast, Benjamin Marra’s stroke of genius in The Incredibly Fantastic Adventures of Maureen Dowd lies not just in picking an unusual target, but in the pinpoint accuracy of hitting it — in knowing his target back and forth and hoisting her by her own petard. Dowd is justifiably infamous for her egregious gender stereotyping, which nearly always is done to portray conservatives as macho-man action figures and liberals as lactating girly-men (which means BAD), unless they’re women in which case they’re mannish (which also means BAD). In this regard and in many others — her use of schoolyard-taunt nicknames, her concoction of humorous dialogue between political players– Dowd herself basically is a political cartoonist, as she herself has said, and yes, I mean that pejoratively. Thus when I see her dolled up like some Cinemax super-spy sexpot, gun tucked in her garter belt as she balances writing a hard-hitting exposé of the Valerie Plame affair with getting ready for her big date with George Clooney — double-barreled mockery that hits her hard both for what she is and what she isn’t — I’m reminded of the words of countless Law & Order judges responding to hubristic defense attorneys objecting to how Jack McCoy just snuck excluded evidence into the proceedings: “You opened the door, counselor.” Revenge is sweet; my own political heel-turn of several years ago, time wasted believing this kind of horseshit and enabling the bloody-minded fools to whose benefit it redounds, makes it all the sweeter. Oh yeah, it’s also a traditionally kick-ass Ben Marra action comic. Keep your eye on his inks — there are places where it’s so thick and slick and shiny it’s almost Charles Burns territory. Fantastic.