Prohibitionists Pissed Over Deadpool Alcopops

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I don’t really like malternatives, alcopops, malt-based beverages, or whatever you want to call them. I find them too sweet, the latest overly sweet concoction to take the wine cooler segment of the market. But the one thing I hate more than alcopops in prohibitionists telling me only kids like comic book characters and that if anything appeals to kids in any way, shape or form, then it must be stopped, even if adults happen to like that thing, too. Honestly, it’s a fucked up way to view the world.

It would be pretty hard to miss the news that the latest Marvel Comics film adaptation opens today, and it’s the antihero Deadpool. I just learned, from the sheriff of not-having-fun, Alcohol Justice, that Marvel’s done a collaboration with Mike’s Hard Lemonade and created several flavors with Deadpool on the cans and packaging. Deadpool, the character, has been around since 1991, and while he started out as a villain, he’s become more of a wise-cracking antihero, and as such appeals to young adults and, undoubtedly, precocious teens.

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As a result, the cross-promotion has Alcohol Justice (AJ) screaming bloody murder, accusing everyone involved of actively “threatening” kids. Why? Because “comic books,” of course. If there are comic books, then anything to do with them is about the kids. As the sheriff of AJ claims, “Kids are inherently targeted, PR damage to the brands is substantial, and shareholders should scream for heads to roll.”

For that reason, he’s placing both companies in the “Alcohol Justice Doghouse.” Oh, the humanity! How will they survive their banishment? Here’s a taste of just how out of touch AJ is about this.

A superhero’s mission is to champion good over evil and stand-up for those who can’t defend themselves. Superheroes appeal to many young boys and girls who dream of being one. It’s often reflected in how kids act and dress. But those dreams come crashing down fast when Big Alcohol capitalizes on the popular cartoon imagery of the latest superhero to sell booze.

Obviously, AJ has never before encountered Deadpool. He’s about as much a role model superhero as I am, which is to say not at all. Those values AJ espouses have nothing to do with this film, the character or, frankly, reality. Superman he’s not. He’s not even Spiderman. But what it really comes down to is their unshakeable belief that comic books are only for children. To which I can only say, grow up. Maybe that was true in the beginning or possibly after the Comic Code was instituted insuring family-friendly fare. But it hasn’t been the case since independent comic stores starting popping up in the late 1970s and 80s, creating a market for non-code comics, allowing for a much richer range of stories aimed at all ages. And that’s meant that for several decades there has been sequential art aimed squarely at older kids and even adults. They used to be called “underground comics,” but these are in the mainstream now, and have been for a long time.

I read comics as a kid, of course, but then stopped when I reached my teen years, because in the 1970s there wasn’t much that appealed to me. Most of the comic books were pretty sanitized, with only a few notable exceptions daring to include real current issues and societal problems in their books. But all that changed again in the 1980s when a flurry of creativity created an amazingly mature and complex body of work that was aimed squarely at an older, more mature audience. Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, Alan Moore’s The Watchmen and V for Vendetta, or Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, are good examples, to name just a few.

The point that seems lost on AJ is that there are comics that are for children, but there also comics for adults, and everyone in between. Just because something is drawn or animated, doesn’t automatically make it “inherently targeted” at kids. Try Art Spiegelman’s Maus, John Lewis’ March or Joe Sacco’s Palestine and see if you still think comics are only for children.

But here’s where they go off the rails again, where they just make shit up, and create their own reality.

“Though the alcohol industry claims ‘Millennials’ are their target alcopop audience, their promotions and campaigns effectively target youth who are years younger than the minimum legal drinking age,” said [Bruce Lee] Livingston. “As a result of the low prices, wide availability, and marketing tactics like this one by 21st Century Fox & Mike’s Harder Lemonade, alcopops are very popular among underage youth and responsible for a disproportionate share of underage alcohol-related harm.”

So the industry just “claims” they’re marketing to legal adults. Of course, if that weren’t the case they’d be breaking the law, not to mention they’d have an incredibly stupid business model. Don’t you think that if Alcohol Justice could prove actual targeting of underage people, that they’d have tried to put them out of business years ago? This is just propaganda and hyperbole, and not exactly the high moral kind that they so often pretend to be following, usually from atop their very tall horses.

But even if, for the sake of argument, Mike’s was breaking the law, hoping underage teenagers were loitering around their neighborhood convenience store, trying to entice the homeless man living in the alley to buy them some booze, that would not change the fact that kids under 18, and adults under 21, are not allowed to buy alcohol. This is in reality two problems. The first is that AJ believes alcohol companies are actively trying to illegally sell to minors. Given how illegal that is, if they could prove it, they would have by now. The second problem is that even though it’s illegal for minors to buy alcohol, they sometimes still manage to get their hands on it, and they blame the alcohol companies for creating the desire for them. But so what? Seriously, so what?

Before I was sixteen, I definitely wanted to drive a car. I even drove my stepfather’s Corvette around the block when I was 14 or 15. But I still knew I had to wait until I was sixteen before I could get a driver’s license and legally drive. But boy those car ads sure made driving look sexy, and made me want the hot new cars even before I could drive. Maybe we should ban all automobile advertising because it might appeal to kids who don’t have a driver’s license. But, no, we let car companies keep targeting our youth, causing teens to steal cars, go for joyrides and break the law. Obviously, the car advertising is causing the harm, because it appeals to children. Oh, sure, the car manufacturers “claim” that licensed drivers “are their target audience,” but we know better. Just watch how much fun it looks to drive their cars.

So I’m taking my son Porter to see Deadpool tonight, over his Mom’s objection. Not because of the alcopops, of course, but her concerns are because it looks really violent. But Porter loves what he’s seen of the dark humor that’s been shown in the various trailers, and I think he’s old enough. Of course, the film is Rated R, which given that he’s fourteen “requires [an] accompanying parent.” And that’s another reason it’s easy to see that the Deadpool Mike’s are marketing to young adults, 21 and over, since the rating further limits it being seen by minors looking to get buzzed on alcopops. But I’m old and still read comic books. AJ would do well to remember that there are a lot of us, and we drink, too.

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Bamforth Beer Cartoons

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Having lived on this side of the pond my whole life, I’d never encountered Bamforth’s comic postcards until very recently. The Bamforth company is still in business, but apparently was founded in 1904 as a photography and film studio to make picture postcards, and by the end of the First World War was producing 20 million postcards each year. In 1910, they started creating the comic art postcards. Over the next 90 years, approximately 50,000 comic designs were published, with most of them by just four staff artists — Douglas Tempest, Arnold Taylor, Philip Taylor and Brian Fitzpatrick — along with a few additional freelance artists, like the well-known Donald McGill. According to their history, “by 1960 Bamforth Postcards had become the world’s largest publisher of comic postcards.”

Bamforth’s Postcards were the market leader throughout the twentieth century. Their artists poking fun at every aspect of human activity. They commented on politics, fashion and the changes in social activity and perhaps most famously they invaded the toilet and the bedroom. Sex, in various guises and disguises, was the main subject from the start of the genre.

While sex and being “cheeky” may have been their main focus, beer also figured prominently in quite a few of their postcards.

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Quite a few were part of their seaside series, meant to be sent home from vacations.

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And still others were just odd.

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I’m sure there were many more involving beer, and there were also quite a few depicting pub life. Just poking around eBay and the web, I found a few beer-themed postcards, which you can see in the slideshow below. Enjoy.

Superhero Beer

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Look, up in the sky … it’s a bird … it’s a plane … it’s a beer? Here’s a fun design project by Orlando, Florida graphic designer Marcelo Rizzetto. He’s taken the superheroes from the Justice League of America (JLA), and designed a beer for each of them. He’s calling the series Super Hero Beers, and so far he’s done seven of the members (eight counting the twins), with more promised.

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While Rizzetto is a professional graphic designer, this project was undertaken just for the fun of it. In trying to imagine which beer might represent each superhero, he’s made a few missteps with the names of the beers, but overall it is a lot of fun to see.

I can’t imagine Warner Brothers (who owns DC Comics, which in turn owns the characters) would ever license any alcoholic product for the JLA, because they’ve been very fussy about it, even recalling the cover of Action Comics #869 in 2008 because it showed Superman possibly sharing a beer with his stepfather. But in 2012, inside of Actions Comics #15 (Vol. 2) Superman is shown drinking a toast with a bottle of wine, so perhaps they’ve relaxed a little about that.

Batman: The Dark Beer (Dark Ale Beer)
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Superman: Super Strong Beer (Strong Pale Lager)
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Aquaman: Aqua Beer (Belgian Blond Ale)
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Wonder Woman: The Wonder Beer (Premium American Lager)
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Green Lantern: St. Patrick Green Beer (Pale Ale)
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The Flash: The Flash Beer (Irish Red Ale)
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The Wonder Twins, Zan and Jayna: Twins Framboise (Lambic Framboise)
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Here A Blue Law, There A Blue Law

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Given it’s a Sunday, when Blue Laws are usually in effect, I thought I’d share this comic strip by Danny Lewis, who’s an artist living in Massachusetts. Blue Laws, of course, are antiquated laws, usually religiously based.

A blue law is a type of law designed to enforce religious standards, particularly the observance of a day of worship or rest. In the US, most blue laws have been repealed, declared unconstitutional, or are simply unenforced; though prohibitions on the sale of alcoholic beverages or prohibitions of almost all commerce on Sundays are still enforced in many areas. Blue laws often prohibit an activity only during certain hours and there are usually exceptions to the prohibition of commerce, like grocery and drug stores. In some places, blue laws may be enforced due to religious principles, but others are retained as a matter of tradition or out of convenience.

While most have been repealed, not all of them have been, and his comic strip talks about some of the remaining ones.

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Click here to see the cartoon full size.

Hokey Smokes! Cartoons Are Only For Kids?

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As a lifelong lover of all things drawn — comic strips, comic books, graphic novels, cartoons and animated films — there’s an argument that the neo-prohibitionist wingnuts make from time to to time that absolutely frys my bacon. And they’re at it again. The increasingly neo-prohibitionist group Alcohol Justice (AJ) is unhappy once more with Anheuser-Busch InBev (are they ever happy?), this time because they’re using — gasp! — cartoons to promote their association with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). In Bud Light and UFC Push Beer to Kids with Comics, AJ makes the same tired argument they always do whenever anybody uses an image that’s been drawn in an advertisement. Here’s how they put it this time:

So how does a company that says it’s committed to not advertising to kids choose to spend millions of its marketing dollars? Get this: comic strips, posted on Facebook, targeting fans of mixed-martial arts fighting, also known as Ultimate Fighting Championships. As the primary sponsor of the brutal and offensive UFC, A-B InBev gets the Bud Light logo delivered directly to the computer screens of millions of kids worldwide. Moreover, they use the quintessential child-friendly format of comic strips to do it. The only way they could top this direct advertising to youth is if they plastered Sponge Bob SquarePants’ picture on Bud Light cans.

Well get this, comic strips and other animated fare is NOT JUST FOR KIDS. They never, ever have been. Yes, there are cartoons aimed at kids, but many, many are either for all ages or are for more mature people. People able to separate content from delivery, something that AJ is apparently incapable of, understand this. The folks that come up with these arguments must be the least fun people to be around, if they avoid anything that’s been animated because they believe it must be for kids only. Think what they’re missing.

But just a short history should convince even the most jaded neo-prohibitionist that comics have long been for all ages, and many were aimed at adults since they were first created. The very first comic strip, The Yellow Kid, began in newspapers in the last decade of the 19th century. It tackled social and political topics, and was for the adults who read newspapers. The first animated film, Gertie the Dinosaur, created by Windsor McCay in 1914, was similarly not exclusively kiddie-fare. McKay used it in his vaudeville act, which was not for kids.

All those Looney Toons, Tom & Jerry’s, Popeye’s and other cartoons we grew up watching Saturday mornings and after school began as the cartoon shown before the main attraction started at movie theaters. And we’re not talking about kiddie files, but all films. They were aimed at either the adults there to see an adult film or were for all ages (Disney being exception and the prime example of a studio that did more family-friendly stuff). That’s why there are lots of old Warner Brothers cartoons (and others) that are never shown on television when they repackaged them for TV, because their subject matter is seen as inappropriate for today’s youth.

Comic books in the 1950s covered a wide range of subjects, not just superheroes, but another wingnut wrote “Seduction of the Innocent,” a deeply flawed book that equated violence with reading comic books, and comic books were reduced to only kid-friendly stories (at least until the 1980s).

Try to watch Rocky & Bullwinkle or Beany & Cecil and not see all the adult political references. You’d have to be utterly clueless to not see that cartoons have never been the exclusive realm of children. Many mature adults love cartoons now, and have since people first started drawing them.

That AJ and other anti-alcohol folks claim this is, for me, more proof of how they’re willing to bend the truth, and common sense, to push their agenda. I don’t even like the UFC, or any type of fighting sports like boxing, etc. (except for the NFL), but just because they use a comic strip promoting it does not ipso facto mean they’re targeting kids. You’d have to be a child yourself to make, or swallow, that line of reasoning.

Another interesting tactic that AJ uses again here is claiming they’re not the only one outraged, when they state that “Culinary Workers Union recently sent a forceful letter to A-B InBev expressing disgust at the company’s ‘socially irresponsible behavior.'” Except that when you look at this letter, it’s also signed by AJ’s executive director Bruce Lee Livingston, meaning it’s more likely AJ’s letter, or at a minimum a joint letter. But that fact is conveniently left out of their press release, most likely because it would weaken their already questionable argument. As I said, I’m no fan of the UFC, or similar spectacles, and I tend to believe the world would be a better place if people didn’t enjoy violence quite so much, but any meaningful public discussion has to start by being honest. And starting that discussion by claiming that if anybody uses a cartoon then they’re only targeting kids, is hardly honest. Now I need a beer, and the Simpsons is on.

Pairing Beer & Comic Books

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Here’s an odd, but interesting article (especially if you’re a comic book geek — which I am) on comic books and beer. The author makes suggestions of beers to pair with your favorite comic book characters. Weird, but why not? We’ve tried pairing beer with everything else at this point, so why not comic books.

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The article, A Guide To Pairing Your Comics & Beer was published yesterday on Quirk Books. The suggestions, a dozen in all, range from obvious to clever to head-scratching.

Here’s the list, though I’d encourage to check out author Thom Dunn’s reasons for each pairing.

  • Batman: Young’s Double Chocolate Stout or Left Hand Milk Stout
  • Captain America: Samuel Adams Boston Lager
  • Daredevil: India Pale Ale
  • The Flash: Four Loko
  • Ghost Rider: Rogue Dead Guy Ale
  • Green Lantern: Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale
  • The Hulk: Brooklyn Monster Ale
  • Iron Man: Chimay
  • Spiderman: Hard Cider
  • Superman: Yuengling Lager
  • Wolverine: Labatt’s Blue
  • X-Men: Anything from Dogfish Head

The two that seem most wrong to me are Batman and Wolverine’s choices. Batman wouldn’t drink something sweet, he’d have an imperial stout, something bigger and rougher like Three Floyd’s Dark Lord. And a better Canadian choice for Wolverine would be Unibroue’s Maudite, which is based on a legend of eight lumberjacks, a pact with the devil and a flying canoe.

And here’s a couple more I came up with. What comic book and beer pairing would you suggest to add to the list?

  • Ant Man or The Atom: Anchor Small Beer
  • Green Arrow or Hawkeye: Strongbow Cider
  • The Joker: Shmaltz Brewing’s Coney Island Freak beers
  • Martian Manhunter: Biere de Mars
  • The Penguin: BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin
  • The Punisher: Steel Reserve
  • Silver Surfer: Maui Big Swell IPA
  • Thor: RedHook Long Hammer IPA
  • Wonder Woman: Amazon Beer

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Archie Comics Tapped To Teach Kids About Underage Drinking

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The neo-prohibitionist organization MADD today sent out a press release announcing that they’ve partnered with Archie Comics “to raise awareness about underage drinking.” The new issue of Double Digest #217 hits the comic book stores tomorrow, and features an 8-page story entitled The Madd Cowboy of Riverdale High. Below are a few sample pages.

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The “Cowboy” part of the title is for Dallas Cowboy tight end Jason Witten, who appears as himself to speak to Archie and his classmates in an assembly. He’s specifically promoting MADD and their Power 21, which will take place April 21 and is touted as a “national event that seeks to have parents talking to their children about underage drinking.”
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Believe it or not, I’m not entirely against this latest effort by MADD, although I don’t believe the goal should be to completely eliminate underage drinking — an impossibility, in my experience — but should instead focus on figuring out an effective way to allow parents to educate their kids about drinking alcohol as they grow from teens to young adults. In my opinion, that would go a long way toward encouraging responsible behavior and reducing drunk driving and binge drinking. Though to be honest, by the time that message might have been relevant to me as a child, I was done reading Archie Comics. I’m not sure what their main demographic is, but my guess would be pre-teens, around 8-11 or 12.

Beer In Art #93: Matt Dembicki’s Brewmaster’s Castle

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Today’s featured artwork is thoroughly modern, but on an old-time subject. It’s about the mansion built by Washington D.C. beer mogul Christian Heurich, who was born today in 1825. It’s a twenty-page independent comic book with a story by Matt Dembicki and art by Andew Cohen. Entitled The Brewmaster’s Castle, the story takes place March 7, 1945 as an 102-year old Heurich takes a bittersweet final stroll through the mansion he built between 1892-94. Here’s page 1:

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The actual building still stands, known today as the Christian Heurich House Museum it’s billed as “Washington’s Most Intact Late-Victorian House” and described as follows:

One of Washington’s best-kept secrets, The Brewmaster’s Castle is the most intact late-Victorian home in the country, and a Landmark on the National Register of Historic Places.

Built in 1892-1894 of poured concrete and reinforced steel by German immigrant, local brewer and philanthropist, Christian Heurich (HI-rick), it is also the city’s first fireproof home.

Heurich was Washington’s second largest landowner, the largest private employer in the nation’s capital, and as the world’s oldest brewer, ran his brewery until his death at 102.

A visit to The Brewmaster’s Castle is a visit back in time to the late-19th Century, when the Heurich family was in residence in Washington’s premier residential neighborhood.

Here’s what the mansion looks like today.

The Heurich Mansion  (The Brewmaster's Castle)

But back to the comic book. Here, Christian Heurich strolls through his mansion.

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And near the end of the story, Heurich begins turning out the lights.

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The original Christian Heurich Brewery opened in 1873 but was closed in 1956 by Christian Heurich, Jr., who took over the brewery after his father died in 1945. Where the brewery stood is now the site of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In 1986, Christian Heurich, Jr.’s son Gary Heurich started Olde Heurich Brewing, an early D.C. microbrewery that lasted twenty years, closing in 2006.

You can buy your own copy of the comic book for only $5 (plus $1 shipping) directly from the author. You can pay him directly via PayPal using his e-mail address of mattdembicki (@) gmail (.) com. He’s “hoping [they] might get some funds soon to print a larger run and get greater distribution. You can help. Support the arts and brewing history (not to mention independent comics) — all worthy causes IMHO — by buying this unique hand-crafted comic directly from the artist. Below is the cover.

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RustyCans.com has more on Heurich’s history.