September 24, 2014

Hipster Hitler book angers two Britons, inspires terrible journalism


With apologies to Hipster Hitler.

With apologies to Hipster Hitler.

This is a blog post about a comic strip called Hipster Hitler. Or rather, this is a blog post about a book based on a comic strip called Hipster Hitler. Well, actually, no, this is a blog post about some Britons who were angered by a book based on a comic strip called Hipster Hitler. Actually, even that’s not right—what this blog post is really about is the Daily Mail Online’s singularly foolish coverage of some Britons who were angered by a book based on a comic strip called Hipster Hitler.

Why all these contortions? Blame Alex Shephard, my editor and tyrannical overlord. Alex was the one who told me to write about the unfolding drama over the Hipster Hitler comic strip, but the problem with this assignment is that Hipster Hitler is not funny and unworthy of controversy, unless said controversy has something to do with the strip’s spectacular unfunniness. Unfortunately, it doesn’t, which is why I decided that it’s much more productive to mock the Daily Mail Online than it is to talk about a comic strip lacking in the slightest bit of hilarity.

But first, the controversy. Hipster Hitler was created in 2010 by James Carr and Archana Kumar, because, I guess, the words sound similar and people hate both Hitler and hipsters. I think that was roughly the extent of the strip’s conceptual audacity. In 2012, Feral House, a publisher with a name almost as great as Melville House, turned Hipster Hitler into a book. Carr and Kumar posted their final strip online a year later. This should have marked the world’s final encounter with Hipster Hitler, and it was—until last week. As reported by the Ham&High, a newspaper known largely for being the most English-sounding newspaper ever:

Members of London Stands with Israel, a campaign group set up to defend Israel and Jews from attacks, have threatened to boycott and protest outside stores selling the comic Hipster Hitler, and have specifically targeted a Jewish-owned comic store in Camden Town.

The Ham & High’s Paul Wright interviewed London Stands with Israel’s Shania Angel, a twenty-three-year-old model, who told Wright that “the book is a disgrace and should be banned.” And Ilana Katz, a fellow member of London Stands with Israel, said that “If we can’t get shops to stop selling copies we’ll buy and shred them all.”

Over the last few days, this story has been picked up by newspapers around the world, including Haaretz, one of Israel’s leading newspapers. All this despite the fact that the strong reactions of two people to an extraordinarily unfunny book that has been in stores for two years does not necessarily constitute news. Especially when their organization, London Stands with Israel, seems largely un-Googleable. Indeed, despite the noble efforts of the Ham & High, this story doesn’t amount to much more than the following screenshot, from Angel’s Facebook page:


But the absence of substance has never stopped the Daily Mail Online, the world’s finest source of oddly low-stakes celebrity news (“Kenan Thompson to leave Saturday Night Live at the end of this season”). (Ed. note: Kenan Thomposon is probably the most underrated SNL cast member in the show’s history.)Two days after the Ham & High’s piece was published, the Mail transformed a local non-news story into . . . well, see below. It’s a fine example of the way the Mail can turn a minor non-incident into, well, Sturm und Drang. I’ve helpfully annotated portions of the story using Microsoft Paint.






And this is how, in the span of just over a week, a Londoner’s Facebook post about an unfunny comic strip became a blog post on MobyLives. The world really is flat.


Mark Krotov is senior editor at Melville House.