Rating: 4/5 – Get this to read Alan Moore’s essay on the comics industry
The Occupy Comics project spun out of the Occupy Wall Street movement that in turn spun into sit-in style protests across America trying to put a spotlight on social issues such as economic inequality, greed, corruption and the perceived undue influence of corporations on government—particularly from the financial services sector. In the spirit of full disclosure, I backed the Kickstarter for this comics project WAY back in Nov 2011, it was one of the 1st Kickstarters I ever backed (my 5th of now 75 projects) so I’ve been getting PDF files of these issues as they come out.
The comics in this issue, like in any anthology, are a mixed bag. Some are far more to my taste in art & writing than others. The book has a definite political agenda, but it’s very up-front about it. This is no political message being snuck into your Superman comic, it’s in your face starting with the title of the book and continuing “front and center” through every single story.
Most of the art is very eclectic. Stuff you’d normally find in small press books. My favorite comics story in this issue was “The Green” by Patrick Meaney with Eric Zawadzki on art. Here we get a guy in a suit at an AA type of meeting describing his addiction to “The Green” (money). The parallels to substance addiction are drawn; being willing to break the law & hurt others to get another fix, etc. Once you’re hooked you cannot stop.
That said, if I was rating just the comic stories in this issue, I’d give it a 2.5/5. But there is something that elevates the issue. Alan Moore’s essay on the questionable practices of comic book companies towards creators “Buster Brown at the Barricades, parts 5 & 6”. This essay is worth the price of the book by itself and it elevates this comic to a 4/5. Earlier (in issues #1 & 2) Moore writes about the formative years of comics. In Part 5 we are in the 1960s. Whether you agree with what he’s writing or not, Alan Moore is a gifted writer and the way he presents the material is very entertaining. Discussing the writers in the mid-1960 attempt to negotiate with DC for fair treatment:
they took their concerns to the management and sensibly suggested that they form a union to represent them in legitimate, grown-up negotiations, at which point they were informed by management that they were fired, and that replacement writers would be found to fill the titles on which they were working. With characteristic canniness, the company recruited these replacements from the all-too-eager ranks of U.S. comic fandom, bringing in a generation of fan writers who were only too pleased to be working with the costumed heroes that they’d been fixated on since they were children, and apparently were not concerned that in accomplishing their adolescent dreams they’d helped to put the far superior talents who’d created the beloved emblems of their endlessly extended childhoods out of work.
And later, when we made it into the 1980s after a successive string of “fans turned comics pros” who had kept the industry afloat for ~20 years:
U.S. comic publishers seemed utterly incapable of operating differently from the parade of larcenous Little League mobsters who’d preceded them. They treated the new talent with just the same sugar-coated and duplicitous contempt with which they’d treated everyone since Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster first walked through their doors. Unable to learn any lessons from the past and intellectually too nondescript to craft a viable future, once again the massively over-promoted office boys who in the main controlled the comics business managed to completely alienate the crucial talent upon which their new, unearned respectability depended.
I could go on, but if those 2 small excerpts made you think about the work conditions in the comics industry, whilst simultaneously bringing a sardonic smile to your face because of the beautifully crafted phraseology, then you should get Occupy Comics and read the entire essay. Alan Moore makes this a “must buy”. The other stories are an entertaining bonus.
Reviewed by: Bob Bretall – firstname.lastname@example.org
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