I was down at my friendly, local comic shop, seeing if they had in the next issue of Lady Mechanica or Kick-Ass2 when I saw a one off comic I had to have: Sarah Palin vs. The World. It wasn't that I'm a fan of the work it's parodying, namely Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, that made me plunk down the greenbacks for this. It wasn't the jokes that included Katie Couric and Levi Johnston as villains. It wasn't the fact it was just cute. I'm not even sure I was interested in reading it.
But still, the fascination was there. As it was with the rather dismal Steampunk Sarah Palin, the insane looking Sarah Palin: Rogue Warrior and her appearance in Barack the Barbarian (including her one shot solo comic in that mini-series, The Fall of Red Sarah).
Real world political figures in comics aren't anything new. Presidents from FDR to George W. Bush had appeared as part of the cast in various stories, usually playing themselves. Richard Nixon was unmasked by Captain America as a villain. Bill Clinton had a comic in which he, Hillary, Tipper and Al Gore were battling superpowered versions of Bush and Quayle (though the internet has failed me in it's ability to quickly produce a link to that monstrosity). Whether serious or silly, neither DC or Marvel or independant comics have forgotten that the President's face, no matter which President, can be a powerful tool for commentary and satire.
But this is perhaps the first time we've seen someone who wasn't a sitting President so often referenced in sequential art. It would be easy enough to say that her name gets attention or sells whatever it's on, but I think that's too easy. We haven't seen Charlie Sheen in comics and when (alas, not if) we do I doubt he'll have as many titles attached to his name. Even our President isn't appearing in so many comics and at least 3 titles were dedicated to him when he took office.
So why the former governor?
Part of it is, I believe, that she lends herself to characterization. She has catchphrases (You betcha!) and exaggerated mannerisms that practically beg to be put into three panel progressions. She's an attractive woman and that is something that artists love to draw and comic book purchasers seem to enjoy consuming. But I think these, like her name as a brand, are also secondary.
The reason I believe Sarah Palin to find herself in the pages of the funny books so much is that her persona has become a parody of itself. Former Governor Palin has said and done things that are hard to swallow, much less take seriously and respectfully. Shooting wolves from a helicopter, wearing leather to a press conference, saying things that no rational person could spin as reflecting positively back upon her; Sarah Palin is at the same time larger than life and so over the top that she one has to question how much of her is genuine and how much of her is manufactured. Even her next door neighbor, bring-you-cookies-in-a-basket-to-get-to-know-you attitude borders on caricature. Seems to lean over that line at a whim and come back towards reality when the wind blows.
She was already a comic book character. Before her run for Vice President, just no one had put her in ink yet.
I think that these comics are also an indicator of one other thing: Many of us have stopped taking Sarah Palin seriously. I don't think her chances of ascending to the Oval Office are nil, but I do think that given that the aforementioned bearer or Tiger's Blood and Adonis DNA is more popular than her among independents, that she should not be looking at schools in the DC area any time soon. She's become a spectacle and a cautionary tale, a punchline but the least likely of contenders.
The underdog nature of this is somewhat endearing, another reason she may have been illustrated so often. But Sarah's downfall, as I see it, is she tries to substitute sincerity for competence and that will only carry you so far.
Either way, I wait to see if she will show up in any more comic books and will likely see if I can complete my collection of her appearances. Maybe get them signed.
Think we can convince her all the guy's in Federation Red Shirts are actually just Tea Partiers?