Robot 6

Occupy Graphic Novels

V for Vendetta

One of the more interesting (at least to me) aspect of Occupy Wall Street is that it has its own library, tended to by professional librarians and providing a variety of literature, from serious works of social and economic theory to picture books to keep the kiddies happy. Check the blog for news of authors who have been stopping by and donating their books; the New Yorker even wrote a nice little piece. Libraries are springing up in the other Occupy sites as well, including Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Providence.

This sparked a lively discussion on a librarians’ graphic novel discussion group where I lurk. Gan Golan, creator of The Adventures of Unemployed Man, started the discussion:

I visited the libraries at both the Occupy Baltimore (which was tiny) and Occupy Wall St. at Zucotti park in NYC (which was huge) and the good librarians at both places lamented the lack of a strong graphic novels section that showcased comic that were relevant or socially engaged. (The libraries there are very popular, btw).

Golan’s own book, of course is quite appropriate, and the discussion generated a good list of suggestions, including V for Vendetta, Maus, Persepolis, Watchmen, and Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the American Empire. The X-Men were cited for dealing with discrimination. Texas librarian Jesse Ephraim came up with an interesting list that included those and some others:

  • Y: The Last Man (gender roles and relations)
  • The old Vertigo run of Animal Man (animal abuse, rights, and welfare)
  • The 1984-1986 run of The Defenders, when the character “Cloud” was a member (gender identity, sexual orientation, allusions to transsexuality, etc.)
  • The old Vertigo run of Swamp Thing (ecology)
  • Gaiman’s Sandman series (many different topics and issues through the years)

And lest we be too provincial here, Tarik Shahin’s Al Khan comics about the Egyptian Revolution got the nod, as did Joe Sacco’s nonfiction graphic novels.

What books would you add to the list?

Donations can be sent to:

The UPS Store
Re: Occupy Wall Street
Attn: The People’s Library
118A Fulton St. #205
New York, NY 10038

From the Peoples Library website:

We need books of resistance and people’s history. We need economics and finance books. We need contemporary philosophy and ecology. We especially need non-English books and materials for low literacy readers…. We also need you. Our collection is growing rapidly and we need help organizing it and keeping it orderly. We want to save the time of our readers, but to do that we need help marking, sorting, and shelving materials. We need help building our catalog and writing our history. Our readers are enthusiastic and some of them need help finding the right book. The right book for the right reader is fundamental to successful librarianship, so we need public services folks to come out and conduct reference interviews with people and help them find ‘their’ book. The Library is constantly evolving and changing and we invite you to be a part of it.



I would add G. Willow Wilson and MK Perker’s Cairo, a wonderful fable of a book about people from diverse backgrounds converging on (pre-Arab Spring) Cairo, exploring politics and faith. Mystic would be good too, if it were finished ;)

Joe Sacco’s work is the first thing that springs to mind.

And Judge Dredd, of course!

I’m glad I’m not the only one that thought of Judge Dredd. Not as literary as some of the others mentioned, but definitely more engaged in social issues than most pulp fare.

Louis Riel (insanity, megalomania)
Spent (self-indulgence)
Morrison’s Riot at Xavier’s (ignorance, herd mentality)

I’d add:
-X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills (reflecting on the rise of uber-evangelicalism in early 80’s America)
-Both Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? and Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (Deconstructions of two of the most popular comic book icons)
-The Green Lantern/Green Arrow run (various social issues)
-The 1988 adaptation of Godzilla 1985.
-The Death of Captain Marvel
Among others.

You know, I’m surprised neither DC nor Marvel thought of putting together a TPB of all the comics they did where they addressed important social issues or such. Something like “DC Tackles the Drug Problem” or “Marvel Messages”. Many of them could apply to today’s generation of kids, like the New Teen Titans antidrug comic or the Spider-Man/Storm/Power Man comic that showed the evils of smoking. All they’d have to do is not print the pages where someone like Nancy Reagan did an intro letter, to avoid dating the comic stories themselves. Anyone here think it might be a good idea?

You may likely expect to see your anti-smoking Spidey comic reprinted in Marvels upcoming collection of Public Service Announcements to be published in December. It’ll likely be quite a hoot.

Seth Tobocman! Peter Kuper! World War 3 Illustrated! The Boondocks! Ted Rall! Stephanie McMillan! Frans Masereel! Breaking Free, the revolutionary TinTin parody!

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