Occupy Comics Review: love letter to an ongoing struggle

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The Occupy Comics anthology was finally released a few days ago via Black Mask Comics and it is nothing short of breathtaking. It is an example of the the great things than can happen when the spirit of the DIY punk attitude converges with some of the greatest talents in the comic industry. What they have produced is a love letter to one of the most inspiring social movements in recent history. The comic is alive. It is a living, breathing collection of stories and art that will live on and, just like the movement itself, continue to inspire for generations to come.

The project was organized by Mat Pizzolo and funded by a simple Kickstarter page.  A few of the of the contributors include Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead), David Lloyd (V for Vendetta), Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night), Joshua Dysart (Swamp Thing, Unknown Soldier), and the legendary Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell).

There are vignettes and short stories about everything Occupy: historical snippets of the Homestead Massacre, the Occupy Sandy efforts to assist people out in Far Rockaway, and the touching story of a family getting evicted from their home. All these works serve as powerful stories that encompass the struggle for social justice. Occupy Comics explores many different aspects of the movement, including a vignette from an “evil” banker that engenders sympathy from even the most anti-capitalist of Occupy supporters. The work is poignant while being non-partisan when it comes to the ideological vistas represented in OWS and that is one of its greatest strengths.

Anyone who participated in Occupy Wall Street before its main hub in Zuccottii Park was was brutally razed by Michael Bloomberg and his repressive army will immediately be transported back to the park where all of the great discussions, activism, interaction and protest took place on a daily basis. Reading through the comic is like opening a time capsule to the days when thousands of people were coming down to the park or marching against all of the impunity and criminality that precipitated the largest global economic crisis since the Great Depression.

One of the highlights of Occupy Comics is the brilliant essay by Alan Moore. His piece alone is well worth picking up the anthology. He wrote a 23 page article entitled, “Buster Brown at the Barricades: Foment in the Funnies and Comics as Counter-Culture.” Many people have been writing off Mr. Moore lately because of his acridity and criticism of the mainstream comics writers and the industry as a whole. Perhaps he hasn’t read a lot of their work. Perhaps he is a little jaded, but he is correct in his lamentations and opinions and his article proves that he continues to be passionate about comics and the power that they have wielded throughout history, both politically and as a story telling device. By reading his piece one gets the sense that his criticism comes from his sadness and frustration over the potential of what comics could be if they were not hijacked by the philistines in the entertainment industry.

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His article also reads like the perfect condensed history of the comic book: From its beginnings on the back of stones that nameless toilers stacked on ancient Egyptian pyramids to the Prohibition bootleggers that smuggled their booze from Canada, comics have always been a medium where the dispossessed, illiterate and unloved found solace, where the origins of the political cartoon scribed on an unused carton in 17th century Italy spoke truth to power. Occupy Comics is the perfect manifestation of that power and potential. It is a throwback to the origins of comics and a contemporary protest piece that will stand the test of time and serve not as a monument to a movement defeated, but a rallying cry to a struggle that continues every hour of every day.

To purchase this comic go here

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The Walking Dead #100

SPOILERS AHEAD!

There was a great deal of hype built up leading to the release of The Walking Dead #100 and as it turns out it was well deserved. Those that have followed the comic from the beginning know that it has had plenty of drama and flesh devouring violence to satisfy the most macabre horror hounds. And it is this human drama that has time and time again made the hyper-violence and gore all the more significant, and therefore not gratuitous to any extent.

Negan and Company

Rick and his inner core of followers are tough as hell and have survived the most desperate and destitute of situations. From The Governor’s sadism on Michonne and Rick, to the crazed cannibals in “Fear the Hunters,” Rick and the others have proven that they are not to be fucked with– until now that is. Enter Negan, he is shaping up to be one of the most villainous and powerful survivors that Rick and his cadre have hitherto encountered. Just when you think the Governor’s magnitude cannot be matched we have one of the most cherished characters getting his face turned into ground zombie slough.

It was unclear to many what issue 100 was going to entail. Many were most definitely expecting more of a panoramic of bloodshed, but instead we were thrust into an intimate and brutal execution of one of our favorite personalities, Glenn. In a post-apocalyptic world Glenn has often been the source of humor and affection, as well as a new found father to be, it makes his death all the more powerful and heart-wrenching. When he is savagely beaten to death by Lucille, the barbwire wrapped baseball bat, Negan does it in such a way that one can only cringe at the normality with which Negan kills him. It was quite honestly hard to read, especially when he is uttering Maggie’s name right before Lucille and Negan kiss him in the jaw.

One can only anxiously anticipate what is going to happen next, and that is what comics are all about. Will Rick and the others be enslaved by Negan? Everyone knows that will not end well for Rick because he is the undisputed alpha-dog. How about Michonne? Who is she going to wreak vengeance on? Will the hilltop acquiesce or revolt? And what about that asshole with the half burnt face? I am sure we have not seen the last of him. Now that Kirkman and Adlard have everyone even emotionally invested with issue 100, the assault on Andrea and the others might prove to be even more sinister. These are the questions that make this the best selling indie comic in a long time. At a solid 380k sellout of the first printing the future is bright for The Walking Dead and other creator driven projects.