Occupy Comics: a comic book for the 99 percent

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Familiarity with comics is divided into two categories. Folks who collected them most of their lives, and folks who haven't. Occasionally a special publication appears with an important message that appeals to a broader audience. Occupy Comics is an anthology of art and stories inspired by the Occupy movement.

Occupy Comics initially obtained financial backing through Kickstarter, an online funding site where individuals can contribute to fund a creative project, motivated by their personal support rather than investment or monetary gains.

When protesters occupied Zuccotti Park in New York City's financial district in October 2011, they launched the Occupy Wall Street movement. This made front-page headlines, and the movement spread throughout the world. It helped bring the struggles of everyday citizens to the forefront of the news, and made a political impact. The "powers that be" wasted no time attempting to squash the voices of the 99 percent. Which leads to the mission of Occupy Comics. A wide range of writers and artists have donated their time and talents to create a serious comic book series that chronicles the spirit of the Occupy movement. As stated on the inner cover, "All profits past hard costs will be donated to Occupy protesters."

The premiere issue, which debuted to the public in May this year, is sold out in many shops. Issue No. 2 hit the stands in June with striking cover art by Riley Rossmo on the outside and engaging stories within. Writers in the current issue include Mark Sable, chronicling a young man who reflects on a creative career in comics over Wall Street trading in "The One Percent Solution." Si Spurrier's "New Thumbs" is a stark black and white illustrated tale of a struggling woman in poverty who gathers strength and eventually joins the movement. "Single Family Home," written by Matthew Rosenberg and Patrick Kindlon, follows the trials of a young family about to lose their house to foreclosure. Molly Crabapple adds some great visuals in both issues. The illustrators and the letterers help bring each of these stories to life.

The eclectic mix of artists and styles will help entice readers who normally don't buy comic books. Besides the black and white and color panel stories, Occupy Comics also features engaging pinups, including a centerfold by David Mack portraying the Guy Fawkes mask made popular by the Alan Moore classic, V for Vendetta. Speaking of Alan Moore, the comic legend himself has lent his talent and support to the cause.

Moore has contributed installments on the history of comic books as an important voice in the arena of ideas. He explains how the illustrators and writers struggled in the early days for recognition in the publishing industry. He commends publisher William Gaines, who not only created Mad Magazine, but also tried his best to avoid the Comics Code imposed back in the 1950s. This code was a response to claims by some that certain comics were "corrupting" young children.

The contribution by Alan Moore is important in two ways. His marquee name on the cover will be an instant draw for some, while his ongoing feature will enlighten new readers who buy Occupy Comics strictly for the political content, but are unfamiliar with the history of the comic genre.

Another important feature is Casino Nation. This exposes the flawed policies of former and current Federal Reserve Chairmen Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke, and Secretary of the Treasury appointees Henry Paulson and Timothy Geithner. It reveals how they fell in line with Wall Street over the average American people before and after the financial crisis.

Some may feel Occupy Comics is late to the game, as the height of the Occupy movement as far as street protests was in late 2011 and 2012. The movement itself is still active in various forms. The mainstream media appears interested in reporting the news only when they can sensationalize it. This is why alternative sources, even comic books, are important. Black Mask Studios, which publishes the comic, was created strictly to produce Occupy Comics, and is completely independent. There is no corporate involvement. The ideals of the Occupy movement enlightened many people and helped bring them into the realm of progressive politics. Occupy Comics surely continues that effort in its own special way, and creates some new comic book fans in the process!

Photo: Occupy Comics

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