Friday, May 14, 2010

Vice-Precedence Reviews the AL GORE Comic.

Hey Vice-Precedence Blog Readers.

Sorry for the long delay in posts, but if you are frequenting the Facebook page for "Vice-Precedence" as you should be of course, you can see that Jason and I are putting up some great links to keep you updated about everything going on VP wise.

As you probably remember Bluewater Comics is the creator and publisher of comics about everyone from Barack Obama to Bo Obama, with Sarah Palin, Michelle Obama, John McCain, J.K. Rowling and more in between. They published a Joe Biden comic that Jason and I reviewed here on the blog. Now this week their comic book biography of former VP Al Gore came out. So here's my review of it.

As I have come to expect with Bluewater, the cover art is good, but inside, the art is not only disappointing, but clearly mistakes have been made. On page 24 in an illustration that is supposed to show VP Gore and then Gov. George W. Bush making accusations against one another in the 2000 election, the illustrator made an error and has Bush angrily pointing and yelling at himself, as if into a mirror. Something I am sure Democrats around the country would like to imagine, but isn't really possible. Its supposed to be Gore yelling at him, but instead its a sloppy mistake.

On another page that is supposed to illustrate Gores centrist voting record and views, its simply a wide panel with ugly illustrations of bald people with no distinguishing facial features voting and one kneeling in prayer with the Statue of Liberty blindfolded for some reason. It's a terrible illustration. On the last page in the top panel, a jacket-less Gore has collapsed into the arms of an African-American man with another man looking down on Gore as if he is telling him to relax or calm down, while on the other side a woman seems to be holding back Tipper Gore (who is illustrated so generically throughout the comic its hard to tell if it IS her) who looks upset and perhaps furious. I must confess I don't have any idea what this scene is supposed to be about or if it is referencing some event in the life of the Gores that I don't know about. Its a strange, out of place panel that doesn't seem to really make sense. Throughout the book the art is just not very good and again, Bluewater uses pale colors that don't really leap off the page.

As for the writing, the story of Gore's life as told by Scott Davis who puts himself in as the narrator on the first page sitting on a lawn chair next to a penguin in the South Pole before the iceberg he's sitting on is hit by a ship, is done with Bluewaters usual simple style and admirable effort to be non-partisan and just state the facts. It points out Gore's successes, his failures, his redeeming qualities and flaws (such as his wooden manner and speaking style, know-it-all behavior, and penchant for hyperbole), in a fair way. It clearly states that some people think of Gore as an:

"arrogant, scripted liberal hypocrite...the embodiment of big invasive government."

while others see him as:

"...the idealistic conscience of his country"

It does a good job of distinguishing facts from opinions. Something I wish more writers, bloggers, and so-called reporters would do.

The story is told chronologically beginning with Gores background and upbringing between the privileged halls of Washington power and private schools and rural Tennessee where he could cut loose performing crazy stunts off the back of speed boats when his father--Senator Gore--wasn't working him harder than the hired help cleaning hog pens and clearing over 20 acres of hill land of timber with nothing more than a regular ax. As a child Gore was apparently a "perfect little gentleman" for the most part, but also something of a "tattletale" who also enjoyed dropping water balloons on passing limos from the roof of the ritzy Fairfax Hotel his family lived in when his father was serving in the Senate. He was called "A Wooden Apollo" by one of his high-school instructors, and the book illustrates well the Gore who while in Washington worked hard to be "The Senators Son" but who was more "relaxed, fun-loving, daring, impetuous, even a bit reckless" down in Tennessee. It does a fine job showing how Gore came by his philosophy of "Choosing the Hard Right over the Easy Wrong" and how he is an interesting combination of Washington elitism and Southern gentleman tinged with the ability to be self-deprecating.

The comic does an excellent job about covering Gore's service in Vietnam. It points out, as I did on my blog for Gores' birthday, that Gore could have used his fathers political connections in the Senate and his family wealth to stay out of Vietnam (like George W. Bush and Quayle did) or just done things to avoid service (like Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney did) but instead volunteered. So even though he may have embellished a little about his service to gain votes (a time honored American political tradition) he did at least serve in combat -- something that those other guys I listed couldn't say. Gore volunteered partly because he felt it was wrong that rich privileged young men like himself could avoid service while poor kids went in his place, and partly because the Nixon Administration had targeted his father's Senate seat and him avoiding military service would have been used against his father in the campaign. The comic points out that it was later revealed that the Nixon Administration did, in fact, delay his deployment to Vietnam because they didn't want Senator Gore to get any "sympathy votes" due to his son serving in combat and being possibly wounded or killed.

The comic also does a good job tracing his career from a reporter into the House, then the Senate and the Vice-Presidency. It doesn't go into Tippers crusade against dirty lyrics on albums and only touches on the car accident his son was in. On one page it clearly and accurately covers all the controversy in Florida in the 2000 Election. This is one of the strongest aspects of the book. Something I especially appreciated is how it describes how Gore changed the Vice-Presidency. Starting with John Adams famous quote about the insignificant nature of being the Veep, it shows how Gore became a powerful and influential VP, saying:

"Gore changed the very model of the Vice-Presidency from the guy who goes to state funerals to an Executive Branch advisor and policy partner."

Finally, Davis sums up Gores post 2000 triumphs with "An Inconvenient Truth" and the Nobel Peace Prize in a concise style with his final statement ringing true:

" matter what side of the political fence you reside, you must admit that Al Gore is one of the more important, accomplished, influential, and relevant politicians of the 21st century."

All this is well and good, but the book suffers from the middling at best art, and again as we pointed out in the Biden comic, errors of syntax that were probably typos that should have been caught before publication. For example, on the FIRST PAGE, in describing what might have happened if Gore had won the 2000 Election it says:

"President Gore responds the 9-11 attacks."

That's just sloppy proofreading. Other examples include:

"...He grew up in the amongst"


"Others point to his populist campaign did not distance itself from the disgraced Clinton presidency".

Still, by simply showing Gores successes and flaws and telling the story in a clear way, I have to say, its much better than the Biden comic and I recommend picking it up if you can.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend.

Matt Saxe

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