#Occupy movement kapows comics

November 28, 2011

The Beginning of the American Fall
Stephanie McMillan

The Adventures of Unemployed Man
Erich Origen and Gan Golan
Little, Brown, October 2010. 80 pp.

Action Comics
Grant Morrison
Detective Comics

The worldwide Occupy protests have inspired a lot of music over the past few months. But it has also broken into artistic circles some might not know of. One such area is comics.

Stephanie McMillan, the creator of the Minimum Security comics, has created a seven-page comic of her experiences when the Stop The Machine and Occupy DC protests united on October 7.

Unlike the other comics (and her own work in MS), The Beginning of the American Fall deals with conflicts and difficulties of bringing the two protest groups together.

It also details the day-to-day organising challenges, such as decision-making, food and sanitation for the protest camp.

Other comic artists have been documenting the struggles of the Occupy movement. On November 16, ComicsAlliance.com featured a spread of comic artists showing interviews of people at the protests.

Last year, Erich Origen and Gan Golan launched their response to the financial crisis in the US with The Adventures of Unemployed Man. The comic is set in a world where everyone is a superhero, but the economy has doomed most to live in the tent city of Capetown.

Unemployed Man fights alongside fellow superheroes Wonder Mother, the student debt-ridden Master of Degrees and the “invisible” migrant worker Fantasma. Together they fight the League of Just Us and the forces of the Invisible Hand.

Although it was launched before the occupy movement took off, it quickly became popular. Unemployed Man and his fellow heroes were popular costumes at Ocuppy Portland in the US over Halloween.

The art and storytelling style of UM is similar to the classic works of Jack Kirby, who created Captain America, and Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster who created Superman. This is an homage to the classic creations.

But the Occupy spirit has hit mainstream comics as well. On August 31, DC comics relaunched its entire line of titles. Many changes were made to iconic characters, and among them Superman got a facelift. His tights were replaced by jeans and he now fights injustice against the wishes of the authorities. This is both as Superman and in his alter ego as Clark Kent, crusading journalist.

Action Comics writer Grant Morrison told Wired on July 19: “ I’m looking back at the original Superman as a champion of the oppressed, and not necessarily a figure of law and order or patriotism.”

Wired also featured artwork by Anjin Anhut showing Batman as Bruce Wayne with a sign saying “Raise My Taxes”, evoking the call by milionaire Warren Buffet to do the same.

Multimedia producer Matthew Pizzolo has created a project called Occupy Comics to unite some of this work.

“I think Occupy Wall Street needs art more than it needs a list of demands,” Pizollo said on the website. "I think artists and writers of comic books have a unique ability to evoke broad ideas and ideals in captivating, dramatic ways.

“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.”

Occupy Comics is new, but it is seeking to raise funds to support the movement and promote its ideas. Check it out at Occupy Comics.


DC's relaunch was planned months before the Occupy movement began. Not all mainstream comic creators are sympathetic, either. Frank Miller, in particular, has been spectacularly hostile to the movement: http://frankmillerink.com/ Wikipedia on Miller: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Miller_(comics) Still, it's a good thing that independent creators are responding to the movement.
The same spirit that mobilises Occupy encouraged Morrison to return to Supe's roots. It also encouraged UM which also preceded the Occupy mobilisations by some time. If you want to see how conservative Frank Miller has gotten, check out Holy Terror (I won't link because Christ it's terrible).

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