Posts tagged OWS
Posts tagged OWS
Fans of Alan Moore and his prescient comics like V For Vendetta and Watchmen knew he’d one day anchor a revolution. They weren’t surprised when 21st-century revolutionaries from Anonymous to Occupy rebooted Vendetta‘s Guy Fawkes masks, drawn with grinning malice by David Lloyd, for their viral iconography. More recently, Moore penned an extensive essay for Occupy Comics, a Kickstarter-funded comic book series devoted to the themes and ideas of the Occupy movement. Wired has an exclusive excerpt of the essay, titled “Buster Brown at the Barricades,” a discussion of the intertwined history of comic books and counterculture.
The reliably outspoken Moore revealed himself as a supporter of the Occupy movement in 2011,touting it as a “completely justified howl of moral outrage” after The Dark Knight Returns icon Frank Miller dismissed its activists as “louts, thieves and rapists. “After that geeky comics dustup, Moore visited the occupiers he had “admired from afar”, and further defended their populist outrage in the press and appearances. He even recently released his debut music single “The Decline of English Murder” for Occupy London’s label, Occupation Records.
The full version of Moore’s essay will appear in the Occupy Comics final anthology, currently slated for Spring 2013. Published by Black Mask Studios, Occupy Comics features the work of comics creators including David Lloyd (V for Vendetta), Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead), Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night), Bill Ayers and many others, and is rerouting all funds past the costs of printing the collection to the global Occupy movement.
Teased in our World’s Most Wired series profile of Black Mask’s Matt Pizzolo and exclusively excerpted below, Alan Moore’s slice-and-dice commentary is a dense and smart-ass reminder that nonconformity and social change have a graphic cultural history that goes back way, way further than V For Vendetta. Enjoy.
Foment in the funnies and comics as counter-culture.
The field of comics, formerly regarded as a more insidious threat to young minds and public morality than syphilis, has currently attained a level of propriety which it seems anxious to maintain. Having at last apparently become a critically-accepted and occasionally lucrative component of the entertainment industry, the comic-book is keen to foster its new image of social responsibility (and economic viability) with a bombardment of admiring quotes and press-release-derived puff pieces in the media.
This relatively recent change in status has, it would appear, been also applied retroactively to best present a picture of the comic medium as something that has always been pro-social; that has always been a cheery, populist expression of the status quo. In this unseemly scrabble for respectability and an historic, noble pedigree it is, for instance, fashionable to observe that comics have their origins in the sequential strip-like hieroglyphicswhich record the reigns of ancient Egypt’s pharaohs.
What could be a better indicator of the medium’s cultural worth than its ability to faithfully report the legendary acts and general fabulousness of the upper classes?‘Archaeologists have found what may well be the first anti-authoritarian and blasphemous satirical cartoons.’
But a very different and perhaps more vital reading of comic-book history becomes available if we simply turn over the stone blocks on which these stylised chronicles of Egypt’s kings or deities were carved. On the reverse of numerous stones that went to make the pyramids, inscribed on faces that were never meant to see the daylight, archaeologists have found what may well be the first anti-authoritarian and blasphemous satirical cartoons. These are depictions made, presumably by bored and truculent stonemasons, of the same animal-headed gods to be found in the more conventional inscriptions, only here they’re shown as sitting around playing cards like some divine Egyptian poker school, an obvious progenitor of the more recent fashion for portraying dogs involved in similar activities.
It might be argued that this is the true historical precursor of the cartoon and the comic strip, the signifier of a grand tradition rooted in its healthy scepticism with regard to rulers, gods or institutions; a genuine art-form of the people, unrestricted by prevailing notions of acceptability and capable of giving voice to popular dissent or even of becoming, in the right hands, a supremely powerful instrument for social change. It could even be said that, rather than such scurrilous and anti-social sentiments being a minor aberration in the otherwise sedate commercial history of comics, these expressions of dissatisfaction are the medium’s main purpose.
In the derivation of the word cartoon itself we see the art-form’s insurrectionary origins: during the tumults and upheavals of a volatile seventeenth century Italy, it became both expedient and popular to scrawl satirical depictions of political opponents on the sides of cardboard packages, otherwise known as cartons. Soon, these drawings were referred to by the same name as the boxes upon which they’d been emblazoned. As a method of communicating revolutionary ideas in a few crude lampooning strokes, often to an intended audience whose reading skills were limited, the power and effectiveness of the new medium was made immediately apparent.‘It’s only with increasing difficulty that we can find a political event of any scale that has not been commemorated by the means of a cartoon.’
This may also be the starting point for the receding but still-current attitude that comics and cartoons are best regarded as a province of the lower-class illiterate. However, following the realisation of the form’s immense political utility, it’s only with increasing difficulty that we can find a political event of any scale that has not been commemorated (and, often, most memorably commemorated) by the means of a cartoon.
The eighteenth century, with its more readily available print media, saw the promotion of the scathing cartoon image from its lowly cardboard-box beginnings to the cheap pulp paper mass-production of the broadsheets and the illustrated chapbooks. Consequently this same period would witness the emergence of the form’s first masters, artists who could see the thrilling possibilities in this unruly and untamed new mode of cultural expression. We can see this evidenced in James Gilray’s often-scatological and lacerating barbed caricatures of the dementia-prone King George the Fourth, in William Hogarth’s stark depictions of society’s deprived and shameful lower reaches and even in the sublime illuminated texts of William Blake, in which the visionary’s radical opinions… He’d stood with the firebrands of the Gordon Riots, in a red cap denoting solidarity with the French revolutionaries across the channel, watching Newgate Prison burn…were of necessity concealed beneath a cryptic code of fierce spiritual essences; invented demi-gods with grandiose and punning names that can be viewed as having much in common with the later output of the superhero industry’s presiding genius, the genuinely great Jack Kirby.
Blake, who has been claimed as an ancestral relative by Kirby’s onetime stable-mate Sub-Mariner creator W. B. Everett, had grown up with the influence of luridly embellished chapbooks and thus seemed to find the concept of combining words and images entirely natural. In his work, despite its lack of a sequential narrative, we see perhaps an intermediary stage between the medieval monks’ illuminated manuscripts and the more pyrotechnic and considerably less high-minded comic output of the present day. Lest it be thought that by including elevated figures such as William Blake amongst our list of cartoon predecessors we are seeking to uphold some sanctified and sanitised back-story for the medium, it should be stated that in the approach to the French revolution (which Blake had at first so ardently admired) the anti-monarchists were circulating scabrous and outrageous pornographic cartoon pamphlets which depicted Marie Antoinette in an incestuous relationship with her own son.
The era’s dissidents had evidently realised that while the cartoon alone was capable of swaying the uneducated masses, coupled with the ever-popular attraction of illicit sexual material, it was to all intents and purposes invincible. This realisation would ensure that as the history of the subversive comic or cartoon continued to unfold, the challenging of censorship or socio-sexual hypocrisy was never far from the agenda.
At the fractious juncture of the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries, the western world was everywhere in turmoil. Previously unassailable religious certainties were being questioned and the era’s scientific revolution had transformed the landscape from a largely rustic counterpane of fields to an expanse of sooty, flaring forges and sky-shrouding chimneystacks, Blake’s ‘dark Satanic mills’, as the industrial revolution gathered its implacable momentum.‘Viewed initially in much the same demeaning light as were cartoons themselves, [sci-fi] began life as a vehicle for voicing post-industrial fears and would eventually find a natural home for its ideas in the pulp magazines and comics of a century thereafter.’
It is possibly worth mentioning that this same period would arguably see, with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the advent of the science-fiction genre. Viewed initially in much the same demeaning light as were cartoons themselves, this fledgling literature of the imagination began life as a vehicle for voicing post-industrial fears and would eventually find a natural home for its ideas in the pulp magazines and comics of a century thereafter. With the rise of the big industries, including that of publishing, the radical dynamic of the cartoon medium was modified by increments as the attractions of a paying job and of professionally published work saw a great number of creators tailoring their output to the socially-acceptable requirements of these new employers.
This is not to say that heartfelt individual political opinions were no longer expressed in a cartoon form, but simply that they were more likely to be framed within the editorial restrictions of whichever periodical was paying for their publication. Even after the arrival of satirical endeavours such as Punch or Judge during the later nineteenth century, while there were often withering and irreverent social criticisms these were generally delivered in an almost gentlemanly manner that was careful not to cross the boundaries of taste or decency demanded by polite society. The scalding bile and no-holds-barred affront of Gilray was renounced and with it Hogarth’s eye for socially-revealing squalor, not to mention the incendiary anti-materialistic visions of pugnacious and impoverished William Blake.
We see here probably the first (though by no means the last) attempt to rehabilitate our gutter-generated medium and make it suitable for middle-class consumption by effectively castrating the still-infant art-form and removing all the inconvenient human socio-political or sexual urges that originally gave cartoons their relevance and potency, and which accounted for much of the medium’s boundless popularity.
Clearly, despite the taming influence of the remunerative market to be found within such inoffensive and family-friendly publications, there were still creators more concerned with the expression of a personal and unrestricted statement than they were with comfortable and neutering conformity.
Seems like my pics documenting police violence are not available on twitter. Why out of all the pics would that be the case? IDK but here is one video I made in Sac Town. :P
From 3/5/12 #Sacramento
Here are more photos I took yesterday at the San Francisco/ Oakland #S17 March for Occupy Wall Street’s 1st B-Day !!! :) I had a wonderful time but had a lot of problems lol. I am a little too exhausted to go into detail but some of the highlights:
Hung my Free Bradley Manning sign in Bradley Manning Plaza in SF; Was struck on purpose by a policeman on his motorcycle while he was in motion - there was a Huge police presence. I told this (that I got hit by motorcycle) to a camera crew later with all the vans following us, a head piglet-type heard me and ordered the vans to move back; Got to experience some fresh energy and the radical spirit I feel like many in our Nation are missing due to brainwashing etc. —- Anyhow I have a bunch of video, so I will see if I room to load it, :P! Thank You to my great Occupeeps! You are all an inspiration to me - and to the whole World! <3 D ∆ˆ∆ˆ∆ˆ∆ˆ∆ˆ∆ˆ∆ˆ
My pics from the Stop Foreclosures Rally in Sacramento, CA today! :)
Honestly of the day #Yogi #Tea #Yum #AWOL #Quote (Taken with Instagram)
As the world gets ready to mark the centennial of the birth of his iconic father, Arlo Guthrie isn’t yet read to describe precisely what Woody Guthrie’s music still means to America. “There’s more left to tell,” he told me last month. “In the next coming 100 years, before we celebrate the 200th birthday, our version of Woody Guthrie and his songs will undergo more and more changes. I’m pretty sure it’ll be a favorable future, although there’s nothing quite like having been there. For that I remain thankful and inspired.”
Surely he is not alone.
Woody Guthrie, born on July 14, 1912 in the Okemah, Oklahoma, remains one of the most revered singers, songwriters and social activists in American history, a man whose gritty songs about the nation’s also-rans have been translated into dozens of languages, covered by scores of other famous and talented musicians, and sung alongside a million smoky campfires between mouthfuls of coffee, whiskey or S’mores. And it all starts and ends with his masterwork, “This Land Is Your Land.”
Is it? <3 D
The Stream - Has anything changed on Wall Street? (by AlJazeeraEnglish)
My video comment on the state of our Generation after the ruin Wall Street has forced upon us - @ 19:40
One of my tweets is @ 13:01
Also, thoughts from a couple of peeps I know included! Woot Woot. I like that I even shock the other Occupier w/ the “bleak” outlook. Just being real baby!
From Wikileaks, via the PLF from EFF:
“And while the State Department said today that they “advocate for freedom of expression and raise media freedom issues, including specific cases, in bilateral discussions with other governments and in multilateral bodies,” the administration has come under fire for lobbyingthe Yemeni government to keep a prominent Yemeni journalist Abd al-Ilah Haydar Al-Sha’i in jail. Al-Sha’i has aggressively covered civilian casualties resulting from US drone strikes in the region and has previously working for multiple US publications such as ABC News and the Washington Post.
On the local level in the U.S., many police departments have engaged in heavy-handed tactics against the press covering political protests, most notably Occupy Wall Street protests. Journalists have been harrassed, assaulted and over 70 have been arrested. An assortment of news organizations led by the New York Times have formally complained to the NYPD about such behavior, and a recent lawsuit alleges constitutional violations stemming from such incidents.
These arrests caused the U.S. to plummet 27 places in Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom rankings to 47th overall.”
“May 1st Call To Action - Changing The World From The Comfort Of Your Own Home” - M.O.C. #135 (by LeeCamp2)
:) <3 D