The Beard Hunter, Part Two!

Beard Hunter: War Journal.

Beard Hunter: War Journal.

The eighties and nineties showed a whole lot of “heroes” who were popularized by two things: one, some sort of mission or motivation that was highly specific, and two, a proliferation of major firearms. The Beard Hunter is a clear satire of that sort of thing, right down to his hard boiled, first person narration.

The thing is, as I was drawing the page, it dawned on me…the Beard Hunter is all kinds of @#$%ed up. By extension, so is his source material, from Rambo to Dirty Harry, the Punisher and Cable from Marvel Comics. Deathstroke and the more popular but derivative Deadpool both draw most of their action sequences from an excessive use of firearms and machetes as the solution to any and all problems. In other words, there’s a whole generation of aggressively gun toting “American Pop Culture Heroes” that inform our zeitgeist in a kind of unsettling fashion.

I certainly can’t say that pop culture representation of “action heroes” as a bunch of guys with guns is directly related, as a clear cause, for the gun violence problems in the United States. There’s just no causal foundation for that thesis, as compelling as it is to want to point toward simple, single factor causes. Definitely, the depiction of violence with guns in film and television has become more graphic over time…but the reality is that a film like “Rambo” gets shown on thousands of screens, to millions of viewers…the overwhelming majority of whom then do NOT go out and commit violent crimes. The line between fiction and non fiction is a clear one.

Still…as I was drawing the Punisher-esque Beard Hunter, laying in wait for a beard wearing hipster, it struck me how ingrained the visual for this sort of composition is in our culture, how recognizable. Whether it is from documentary footage on the JFK assassination, or episodes of NCIS, or even issues of the Punisher…most of us have a visual lexicon for what it is to lie in wait like that, to plan some sort of ambush at long range. When you think about that fact, it’s a little scary. Maybe a LOT scary.

As I was drawing this I remembered that in the earliest, “Comics Code Approved” days of the Punisher’s appearances and comic book, he pretty much had to use “mercy bullets,” the pretense of which was that they were full of some kind of massive tranquilizer. By those means, even though he was shooting guns constantly, his enemies weren’t just “killed off”…giving him some kind of Moral High Ground.

Maybe the Beard Hunter uses that kind of thing. I mean…he hates the hipsters’ beards, but I have to imagine he is ambivalent to the hipsters themselves.

Despite the fact that midway through I find the Beard Hunter a little unsettling, Wednesday will have Part Three, which will be another multi-panel page composition, directly continuing today’s page. After all, he doesn’t have that guy’s beard yet, and he’s the Beard Hunter.

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