Occupy Comics Review: love letter to an ongoing struggle

occupycomics-quotesimage

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.

013 001

 

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

Advertisements

Occupy Wall Street and the Imperative to Question Capitalism

The “Occupy Wall Street” movement is gaining traction and support throughout the broader segments of civil society each day. And with each day that passes its legitimacy grows as exponentially as the fear of the 1% that is responsible for creating the global crisis of capitalism. The movement is only a few weeks old and already the illegitimate forces of the powers that be are acting irresponsibly by pepper spraying peaceful protesters, willfully misguiding marchers one minute only to “kettle” them and arrest hundreds of them the next. Do the authorities not understand that actions such as these only help to garner more support for the movement? Most of the mainstream media tries to marginalize the activists by characterizing them as unorganized and frivolous, or as hippies and anarchists. The past 40 years of disenfranchisement of the working class and concentration of monopoly capitalism on a global scale is beginning to be directly challenged by the nexus of global activists from the streets of New York City to the picket lines of Athens, and it’s making some people in power nervous…

At the heart of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement and the general resistance to capitalist structural adjustment and austerity measures globally is the desire among activists to bring into question many aspects of not just corporate greed, fraudulently foreclosed homes, inequality, imperialism, political corruption, and unemployment, but a genuine desire to create more serious discourse about the very social and economic system that, up until now, so many people have taken for granted and accepted as something as natural as the air we breathe.

In 2011 many people are beginning to see for themselves that capitalism is indeed not as natural and eternal as the champions of the status quo like to make them think. And as their pensions dwindle, their debts accumulate, their jobs vaporize, and their wages are further repressed in order to restore profits for big business and “liquidity” in the global markets, they are beginning to see that capitalism is not as beneficial for them or for society as a whole, especially when recklessness is rewarded and avarice is celebrated. People are also beginning to understand more that the traditional political parties, both Democrats and Republicans alike, provide no real alternatives to the problems that the majority of working people are faced with. In fact, the feeble solutions offered do nothing that will qualitatively alter the conditions that created the crisis in the first place. Just to quickly illustrate how perverse the situation is, it should be known that not one architect of the global meltdown has been charged or jailed for any of their criminal behavior in defrauding homeowners, destroying retirements, waging war and then making billions of of it, etc., but somehow 700 peaceful protesters were arrested for walking on a bridge!

The anti-Wall Street atmosphere is brimming with inquisitive and passionate people that are asking many questions about the fundamental operation of the capitalist mode of production as a whole. A lot of young people are beginning to question if the system we have is indeed sustainable or even worth keeping around much longer. For example, we are told incessantly by cheerleaders of the capitalist system that in order to bring the US, and naturally, Western Europe, out of recession and for profits to be restored to business that the economy must expand at 3% per annum. This means that GDP has to be on the continual rise day after day, year after year,which also means that in order for that to happen more markets have to be exploited, more resources have to be extracted, and America’s twisted consumer culture has to keep growing. This seems paradoxical for a society that is vowing to implement meaningful reforms or to be more “sustainable.” Can you see the ridiculousness of it all? Capitalism cannot expand at a compound rate forever! There is only one Earth and that one Earth only has so many resources to exploit and extract.

Another issue that many activists are beginning to discuss deals with the fact that in order for society to truly be a democracy and for resources to be distributed more equitably there has to first and foremost be democracy in the work place. We hear political figures speak about having a free and open democratic society all the time, but how democratic can any society be when most people that work 40-50 hrs a week enter into definite relations of production in the workplace that are anything but democratic! The workplace is the perfect example of a tyranny. The boss is the tyrant while the worker is forced to accept any and every decision that is made from the top tier down. How is that democracy? Democracy in society can only express itself as a democratic principle when it correlates to democracy in the places of employment. If the 99% of people that are represented as those that are not corporate CEOs, bankers, and entrenched politicians had more say in the decisions and the distribution of the surplus that is created in the workplace then we would begin to see a more equitable society and social order emerge. Democracy in its evolved form will manifest itself in a workplace that is run by those that actually work there!

These are just a few of the many questions that the 99% should be addressing about capitalism in its current, extremely unequal and exploitative form. The crisis evolved not out of thin air, but out of specific historical conditions that have hitherto coalesced into a crisis of epidemic proportions, and it is our responsibility to ask questions and search for answers that are truly historic. Capitalism is only the “end of history” for those that feel there is no more history to create; no more justice to be brought about, and no progression and dignity for the human condition to fulfill.

Hasta la victoria!