Comics have a long history of reflecting the political and social issues of the times, whether that’s Green Arrow and Green Lantern dealing with teen drug abuse or Superman fighting slumlords. So it’s no surprise DC has two comics this month that draw influence from the Occupy movement that was all over the news media in 2011 and 2012. The first, titled The Movement, is by Gail Simone and Freddie Williams II, and came out on Wednesday. Later this month will bring us the Green Team, the 1 percent to The Movement‘s 99 percent, even if they aren’t directly linked in terms of story.
“I have this feeling that a lot of the best adventure fiction is based on the idea of standing up for the little guy against oppressive forces. If you go back and look at Zorro, or the Shadow, or the Lone Ranger, you can pretty quickly see that that idea of a masked protector pre-dates comics entirely,” Simone told Comic Book Resources. “There’s something very powerful about that, and it’s completely non-partisan. The idea of someone laying their life on the line for others is a big part of why I read superhero comics, and yet, even in some really popular books, I feel like that theme has been lost a little — there’s a bloodthirstiness to a lot of books and you can’t always see why these characters are heroes, or even admirable anymore.”
ROBOT 6′s Tom Bondurant shared his thoughts on the first issue Thursday, and here are a few more thoughts from around the web:
On the heels of Thursday’s wave of cancellations, DC Comics has announced two new politically themed series from creators Gail Simone and Freddie Williams II, and Art Baltazar, Franco and Ig Guara.
Debuting in May, the companion titles The Movement and The Green Team bring into the DC Universe the economic issues that propelled the Occupy movement and dominated much of the 2012 presidential election. In short, they’re a look at the 1 percent and the 99 percent — the haves and the have nots – in a world populated by superheroes.
“The Movement is an idea I’ve had for some time,” Simone tells The Huffington Post. “It’s a book about power — who owns it, who uses it, who suffers from its abuse. As we increasingly move to an age where information is currency, you get these situations where a single viral video can cost a previously unassailable corporation billions, or can upset the power balance of entire governments. And because the sources of that information are so dispersed and nameless, it’s nearly impossible to shut it all down. [...] The previous generations of superheroes were not created to address this, it’s a legitimately new frontier, both for the real world and for storytellers. ”
It’s news to no one that the issues concerning groups like the Occupy movement aren’t problems that have sprung up only recently. Just ask Charles Dickens. And it’s no coincidence that the social issues Dickens wrote about gave birth to a movement of people trying to do something about them. Less than a year after the publication of A Christmas Carol, a group of workers started a new kind of business in Rochdale, England. Based on democratic principles, owned by its customers and reinvesting in the community it served, The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers was the first consumer co-operative to pay a patronage dividend and formed the basis for the modern co-op.
Although slow to react to the nearly two-month-old announcement that V for Vendetta creators Alan Moore and David Lloyd are contributing to Occupy Comics, one conservative writer has finally had enough with the “leftist” comics industry, suggests those on the right should “fight back.”
Dusting off a list of grievances that includes the controversial Tea Party reference in Captain America #602, pro-Obama sympathies and an unnamed series “blaspheming God and Christianity,” Paul Hair writes on Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood that it’s time for conservatives to counter with their own version of Occupy Comics.
“Leftists have made no secret about who they are, and I see no reason why we shouldn’t simply wipe the dust of their town from our feet and stop throwing pearls to them in worthless attempts to change them,” he writes, loading both barrels with biblical allusions. “Instead, I propose we fight back.”
Arguing that, “I no longer see a point in engaging leftists in argument or debate,” Hair suggests the right’s Occupy Comics initiative should “simply move forward and promote who we are” and real-world solutions to economic problems.
He puts out the call for other contributors to Breitbart’s online network to become involved, drawing responses in the comments from Mike Baron and James Hudnall, among others. “The OWS comic is an example of comics people boarding the train after it derailed,” Hudnall writes. “I’ve been quietly working on projects I plan to do which will explore different arguments about society and government than what many comics pros tend to do but we aren’t all left wing. I find there are a lot of conservative and libertarians in the community. They just aren’t as vocal as lefties.”
Crime | An energetic thief stole all 64 volumes of One Piece from a Japanese bookstore by stuffing 10 volumes at a time in his duffel bag. As One Piece is the most popular manga in Japan, he could have gotten a good price for his booty at a used manga store, had the forces of law not intervened. [Kotaku]
Creators | Kiss member Gene Simmons still remembers the postcard he got from Stan Lee as a kid. [Noisecreep]
With so much being reported about Alan Moore’s connections to the Occupy movement — through his endorsement of its ideals, his contribution to Occupy Comics, and protesters’ co-opting of the David Lloyd-designed Guy Fawkes masks — U.K.’s Channel 4 News coaxed the V for Vendetta writer from his home in Northampton to London to meet some of the demonstrators for the first time.
“It’s a bit surprising when some of the characters you thought you made up suddenly seem to escape into ordinary reality,” Moore told some disguised protesters. “I mean, what is it about the mask — is it just useful, or what?”
The report also delves into Frank Miller’s criticism of the Occupy movement, Moore’s displeasure with film adaptations of his works and, yes, the irony that each Guy Fawkes mask that protesters buy puts more money into the coffers of Time Warner, one of the world’s largest media conglomerates.
Comics | Matt Pizzolo discusses the Occupy Comics project, which raised more than $28,000 on Kickstarter: “The way the money is allocated is actually through the individual contributors. The artists and writers are all paid a proportional share of the revenue based on the number of pages they provide versus the total number of pages in the book, but all of the artists and writers are agreeing to donate that money to the protesters. Most contributors want to donate as a group to get the most bang for their buck, but they don’t have to — anyone can just take their share and hand it to the protesters at their local park if they want.” [The Morton Report]
Comics | Todd Allen compares the relative positions of DC’s New 52 titles in November with their September rankings; the November orders reflect the adjustments retailers made after seeing how the different titles sold in September. The results: Animal Man shot up by 10 slots, The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men sank by eight, but most titles only moved a few notches up or down. [The Beat]
Alan Moore, who characterized the Occupy movement as “a completely justified howl of moral outrage,” has joined his V for Vendetta collaborator David Lloyd and more than 50 other creators for Occupy Comics, an anthology project inspired by the protests.
“It’s fair to say that Alan Moore and David Lloyd are unofficial godfathers of the current protest movement,” Occupy Comics organizer Matt Pizzolo told Wired.com. “It’s really amazing to see two creatives whose work was inspiring to street protesters join a creative project that is inspired by the street protesters. It’s a pretty virtuous cycle.”
Moore will contribute a long-form prose piece, possibly with illustrations, exploring the movement’s principles, “corporate control of the comics industry and the superhero paradigm itself.”
The project, being funded through Kickstarter, is described as “a time capsule of the passions and emotions driving the movement.” It will begin as single-issue comics, followed by a hardcover collection; a making-of documentary is also being produced by Patrick Meaney, director of Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods and Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts. With three days left in its fundraising campaign, Occupy Comics has raised $15,892, surpassing its $10,000 goal.
Creators | Watchmen writer Alan Moore responds to recent comments made by The Dark Knight Returns creator Frank Miller: “I think that the Occupy movement is, in one sense, the public saying that they should be the ones to decide who’s too big to fail. It’s a completely justified howl of moral outrage and it seems to be handled in a very intelligent, non-violent way, which is probably another reason why Frank Miller would be less than pleased with it. I’m sure if it had been a bunch of young, sociopathic vigilantes with Batman make-up on their faces, he’d be more in favour of it. We would definitely have to agree to differ on that one.” [Honest Publishing]
Publishing | DC Comics joins the Kia Soul, Goldfish, My Little Pony and several others on Advertising Age’s annual list of America’s Hottest Brands: “With decades of stories under their capes and utility belts, Superman — and other DC characters, including Aquaman and the Flash — had ossified. Though relaunching its entire cast and making their adventures available to print and electronic audiences might alienate some hard-core DC fans, it might also gain plenty of new ones. Making DC characters more popular is crucial for its parent company. While the comic-book business is way down from its heyday, its characters fuel big-ticket Hollywood movies that can generate millions of dollars in revenue and licensing. The pressure may be on DC because rival Marvel, now owned by Disney, has churned out superhero film properties on a regular basis for years.” [Advertising Age]
Broadway | Producers of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark have changed their tune on the $75 million musical; previously they predicted they wouldn’t make back the money invested in the show without franchising it in other cities and countries, but now they predict they’ll make it back entirely from the Broadway run. They also are considering adding in new scenes and a new musical number to the production every year, “making it akin to a new comic book edition, and then urging the show’s fans to buy tickets again.” [The New York Times]
Creators | Sarah Glidden, creator of How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, chronicles her time at Occupy Miami Nov. 15-21 in a sketchbook. [Cartoon Movement]
Creators | Corey Blake follows up on the Bill Mantlo story published by LIfeHealthPro, including some clarifications of issues raised in the story and additional details on various fundraisers over the years to help pay for Mantlo’s care. [Corey Blake]
Creators | Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society Podcast interviews Skullkickers writer Jim Zubkavich about piracy and the Stop Online Piracy Act. [Berkman Center for Internet & Society Podcast]
Richard Pace sends up Batman: The Dark Knight Returns in his response to Frank Miller’s recent tirade against Occupy protestors, writing, “I’d prefer to remember Frank Miller as the sometimes brilliant, long-haired nerd glaring from his back-cover photo on The Dark Knight Returns trade rather than the fedora-wearing, incoherent lightweight hack he’s become.”
Read the full comic strip, titled “The Dick Knight,” on Pace’s blog.
Frank Miller, whose tirade against the Occupy movement was met with a largely negative, and frequently heated, response, has found an unlikely defender: left-leaning writer Mark Millar.
In a post on his Millarworld forum, the writer of Kick-Ass and The Ultimates says, “It’s strange to watch your favourite writer getting strips torn off him for a couple of days.”
“Politically, I disagree with his analysis, but that’s besides the point,” Millar continues. “I wasn’t shocked by his comments because they’re no different from a lot of commentators I’ve seen discussing the subject. What shocked me was the vitriol against him, the big bucket of shit poured over the head by even fellow comic-book creators for saying what was on his mind.”
As one commenter points out, it probably shouldn’t be shocking that Miller’s no-holds-barred screed, which characterizes Occupy protesters as “a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists” who “can do nothing but harm America,” was answered with a degree of vitriol. Or, in the commenter’s words, “if you throw the first bucket of shit [...] then you should be prepared for some splashback.” Perhaps if Miller’s commentary had been more reasoned and less inflammatory — “decorous,” as Miller himself would say — the reaction might’ve reflected that.
Creators | Longtime Uncanny X-Men writer Chris Claremont is donating his archives to Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The collection includes materials for all of his major writing projects over the past 40 years, notebooks with story ideas, drafts of short stories, plays, novels and comic books, and materials from his early training in the theater and his career as an actor. “We hope this is the first of more comics papers to come to the University,” said Karen Green, Columbia University’s ancient/medieval studies librarian and graphic novel librarian. “We want it to be a magnet for these kinds of archives in New York City, where the comics medium was born.” [Publishers Weekly]
Creators | Michael Cavna talks to two comics creators with very different takes on Occupy Wall Street, sequential journalist Susie Cagle, who was arrested as part of the Occupy Oakland protests, and conservative editorial cartoonist Nate Beeler, who walks past the Occupy D.C. site every day and regards it as “quaint,” smelly, and out of step with the rest of the country.” [Comic Riffs]
No stranger to controversy with such works as 300 and, most recently, Holy Terror, Frank Miller has waded into the political fray with a tirade against the “Occupy” movement that blasts the protesters as “a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists” that “can do nothing but harm America.”
In a blog post that blew up over the weekend, garnering the attention of everyone from the comics community to Entertainment Weekly to the New York Daily News, the creator who nearly 25 years ago wrote the influential Batman: Year One — “You have eaten well. You’ve eaten Gotham’s wealth. Its spirit. Your feast is nearly over.” — unleashed on the “pond scum” engaged in nationwide protests aimed primarily at perceived economic and social inequality.