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Cal State Schools May Slash Enrollment

Cal State Schools May Slash Enrollment

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Back now with Day to Day. And in an effort to parse the meaning of even the most seemingly-inconsequential details of our new president, we bring you this. President-elect Barack Obama is apparently an avid collector of Spider Man and Conan the Barbarian comics. So what does that mean?

Gabriel Fowler owns Desert Island, a comic book store in Brooklyn, New York. What does it mean about our president if he collects comic books? What does that say to you?

Mr. GABRIEL FOWLER (Owner, Desert Island Comics, Brooklyn): Well, there's a couple of angles to look at, I suppose. I guess we could start with the story of Spider Man.

BRAND: This is Peter Parker. He's kind of a loner. Doesn't have a...

Mr. FOWLER: Yeah, he was a loner. He was very studious in high school. He was a brilliant student and a bookworm. Obama has a reputation for having been a bookworm himself, so maybe there's something there.

BRAND: Right. Something.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FOWLER: Yeah, it's a little silly to read too much into this. But it's - if you look too deeply into anything, you'll find metaphors, right? So...

BRAND: Right. Spinning a web, any size. Catching Republicans just like flies. I don't know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRAND: What about Conan the Barbarian? You know, I don't really know anything about this comic, but all I can think of is Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Mr. FOWLER: Well, right. He was famously portrayed by Schwarzenegger in the early '80s. And that image sort of holds true for the comics. He was a muscle-bound hulk. Conan the Barbarian was the main figure in a huge sub-genre of, like, sword and sorcery comics.

BRAND: So what's the profile of a comic-book reader?

Mr. FOWLER: I don't know if I want to profile all comic-book readers, but these specific titles, Spider Man and Conan the Barbarian, are pretty escapist. You know, there's a wide world of comics out there at this point, but...

BRAND: Right. Right. So does it say something that he doesn't choose Superman or Batman, kind of your obvious choices?

Mr. FOWLER: Well, to me, in my personal opinion, all superhero comics are somewhat escapist. The modern stuff is a little more based in reality, a little more about personal narratives. Just the fact that he's into superhero comics as opposed to, you know, Robert Crumb or somebody, that says something. He's not into the subculture.

BRAND: Yeah, he's not into the really out there stuff.

Mr. FOWLER: Right.

BRAND: Spider Man, though, I mean, he's an outlier, right?

Mr. FOWLER: Yeah, a little bit. But, you know, he's not read em(ph) and freak brothers.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FOWLER: That would be a whole different story. That would say something different about his personality, I think.

BRAND: Something a little more disturbing, I would say.

Mr. FOWLER: Yeah.

BRAND: Like, what did we just get ourselves into?

Mr. FOWLER: Definitely.

BRAND: So do you think that Obama is consulting these comics in order to plan out his...

Mr. FOWLER: For political directive, sure.

BRAND: Yeah. Yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRAND: It's not Abraham Lincoln and his team of rivals.

Mr. FOWLER: They're like instruction manuals for how to run the government.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRAND: Gabriel Fowler, owner of "Desert Island." It's a comic book store in Brooklyn. Thanks a lot.

Mr. FOWLER: Absolutely. My pleasure.

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