What is Occupy Comics? Well, it’s not anything just yet.
I work in a lot of media formats, and comics is one of my favorites because the intersection of visual art and dramatic writing opens up really unique toolkits of expression. Comics have the visual iconography of film, the sublime imagery of gallery art, the textual depth of plays, the ferocity of street art, and a devoted audience that dissects, analyzes, and debates the content’s deepest levels. (Not always, but the potential is always there.)
I’m also an activist, and I’ve been very moved by the Occupy Wall Street protests over the past month. I participated in the Occupy LA protest and am looking forward to spending time at Occupy Wall Street while I’m in NY for NY Comic Con next week. Ten years ago, I was involved with the globalization protests around the WTO and World Bank meetings. It’s refreshing to see the Occupy Wall Street protests remaining peaceful on both the police and citizen sides. I hope the non-violence persists… I’ve seen non-violent demonstrations fall into violence. It’s not pretty and it’s not productive.
I think Occupy Wall Street needs art more than it needs a List of Demands.
There’s been a call from the mass-media for the protesters to issue some sort of List of Demands, but that’s a can of worms… I think the more vague the better–after all, the American Revolution got pretty far on “No taxation without representation” and that’s a lot clunkier than “We are the 99%.” The Obama campaign (setting aside partisanship or the presidency, just the campaign) was a fascinating example of how specific iconography and vague goals can coalesce into a powerful movement. I think Occupy Wall Street needs art more than it needs a list of demands. I love the image of the Dancer on the Bull… but the background of teargas and Black Bloc is geared more toward activist early adopters like me and the movement is already expanding from there.
I think artists & writers of comic books have a unique ability to evoke broad ideas and ideals in captivating, dramatic ways. So I’m reaching out to artists & writers in the comics community about this project–which, admittedly, is currently even more vague than the protests… maybe it will be a comic book, maybe a website, maybe a coffee table book, maybe a phone app… but if there is interest it will at least add some new voices to the discussion. Comics is a small world compared to scale the protests have taken, but think globally act locally, right? A single piece of art can ultimately transcend everything else.
I don’t see this as being political, certainly not in a partisan way. The entrenched interests will apply a partisan paradigm to just about everything. At it’s core, the movement is “We are the 99%.” I hope this project can demonstrate that level of broad idealism.