Occupy Wall Street
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.
Organized by director Matt Pizzolo, Occupy Comics is the name given to an activism-inspired charity anthology intended to raise funds for Occupy protests while also creating art to symbolize the movement’s themes. Using the crowd-funding site Kickstarter, Occupy Comics‘ goal is to raise enough money to fund the creation of a hardbound book as well as pay the creators involved, who will in turn donate directly to the Occupy movement.
The roster of talent includes a host of A-list talent such as Charlie Adlard. J.M. DeMatteis, Joseph Michael Linsner, Steve Niles, Tim Seeley, Ben Templesmith, Susie Cagle and others. The plan is to release the comics as a rolling series of digital comics in early 2012, followed by a print edition and later a hardbound collection.
As the wordwide protests continue, Occupy Wall Street becomes more and more a part of our popular culture. Whether you’re holding a sign, reading about people holding signs or complaining about those signs, protests of this intensity are weighing in our thoughts. There’s a lot to ponder by questioning the establishment, finding a personal connection with hot-button social issues, and the division and unity in all of us.
See, now you just know I’m going to talk about the X-Men!
How can you not, when they are the go-to comic book metaphor to play and experiment with all sorts of social issues. Fear of the future, minority oppression, youth activism, why there’s even this MAJOR SCHISM that divides their public on how to achieve their goals. In the blue states- I mean, Wolverine’s camp, we have a return to the foundation of education and the protection of the next generation. In the red visor camp, we have a more aggressive approach, the idea that war is inevitable and the way to meet a world that hates and fears you is with heavy hitters, young and old. They even have a handy chart to know whose side you’re on (ooh, deja vu).
If you take a look at Cyclops and his Extinction Team (Really? What a terrible name), Dani Moonstar and her friends are listed as “Clean-up,” which one would think means some kind of X-Force-like hit squad (X-Force being mysteriously absent from these breakdowns). It’s a strange sort of listing, and once you read New Mutants #33 and understand what exactly these characters want to do, you’ll see how this might just be the answer for an entire out-of-place generation.
WARNING: We’ll be talking about New Mutants #33, so spoilers and nostalgia to follow. Grab a copy and read along!
No matter how nuanced current superhero comics may be, to the general public they are still fairly simple. Superheroes are the good guys, supervillians are the bad guys, and it’s easy to see who is who. That’s why kids like to dress up as superheroes on Halloween — and why should they have all the fun?
Yesterday the Occupy Wall Street folks staged an event called “Superheroes versus Economic Supervillains,” featuring Gan Golan, creator of The Adventures of Unemployed Man, playing his own superhero. Golan orchestrated the event and created the other characters as well, including working-mom superhero Wonder Mother (at last!), a huge slot machine that stands in for the New York Stock Exchange, and my favorite, Krug Man, a superhero version of Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman. It’s all in good fun, but it’s also publicity for the book. Indeed, Golan’s rich imagination seems to be his most valuable asset; he is working on another book and a possible animated version of The Adventures of Unemployed Man.
Media reports on the Occupy Wall Street movement tend to express confusion about what the protestors want. This usually leads me to express confusion about whether the authors of said reports have access to Google. But regardless, perhaps OWS should consider implementing the modest proposal advanced by The Cardboard Valise cartoonist Ben Katchor in his latest strip for Metropolis magazine. In it, Katchor imagines a world in which CEOs are mandated by law to work in every store they own for fifteen minutes each, every day. Crunching the numbers and allowing for serious workaholism, that basically maxes major chains out at just under 70 branches, reasonably regionalized. But would it really improve worker conditions? Katchor’s example culminates in a “cleanup in aisle five”-type situation that raises serious questions about the policy’s efficacy in that regard, at least where janitors are concerned…
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).