alicemacher: Lisa Winklemeyer from the webcomic Penny and Aggie, c2004-2011 G. Lagacé, T Campbell (Default)
[personal profile] alicemacher posting in [community profile] scans_daily

"[In] the summer of 1993 [...] I was still new to the U.S. and I was struck by how powerfully my friends reacted to Bill Clinton, who had become president about eight months earlier. They had been so happy when Clinton was elected, as if he was going to fix everything. And when some time had passed and he hadn't yet done the things they'd expected, they were genuinely heartbroken, as if something deeply religious had gone wrong. It seemed clear to me that they were yearning for a savior, someone to sort it all out for them. So I thought I'd do a story, in the form of synoptic gospel, in which I'd give my friends the kind of president they wanted."

-- Neil Gaiman in Hy Bender's The Sandman Companion, 182

7 of 23 pages from The Sandman #54 (Oct. 1993). Story: Neil Gaiman, Art: Michael Allred, Bryan Talbot and Mark Buckingham.

Since his 1973 debut, the story of Prez Rickard, the First Teen President, has played out in different ways. His creators Joe Simon and Jerry Grandenetti played it for goofy fun, with Prez as a sincere but stereotypical hippie who once elected fought not only his intial funder, the shady businessman Boss Smiley, not only a right-wing militia, but also...vampires and evil chess players. Yeah. In 2015-2016 Mark Russell, via the new character Beth Ross (and Rickard as her VP), played the concept for more cutting political satire. Neil Gaiman, uniquely, played it for drama, with Prez as a Christ figure embodying the spirit of sixties peace-and-love activism. As in the original 1973 miniseries, eighteen-year-old Prez runs for office on the Peace and Love Party ticket. Here, however, Boss Smiley is the mysterious "Prince of this world" (cf. John 12:31), and when he offers to hand Prez the job automatically in return for his loyalty, Prez politely turns him down.

Toward the end of Prez's first term, Boss Smiley warns him not to run again. Prez does anyway, winning by a landslide, and continues to work miracles, such as jailing major corporate polluters and making education the government's top priority. Then a woman stalking that universe's Wildcat (Ted Grant) attempts to get his attention by assassinating Prez, managing instead to kill his fiancée Kathy. The devastated Rickard dutifully finishes out his final term, turning down Smiley's offer to bring Kathy back if Prez serves him. Then he retires from public life. Eventually, although no one quite agrees on how it happened, he dies and America, its golden age long since over, mourns.

Dream assures Prez he's permanently out of Boss Smiley's reach, then directs him to another doorway just for him. Before going through, Prez takes out his father's pocket watch and tells Dream he learned to fix watches as a kid so he could fix his already deceased father's watch when it stopped.

I humbly suggest "If the watch is broken, then you repair it" as a motto for the days and years ahead. Thanks for reading.

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