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Disaster and Resistance

Comics and Landscapes for the 21st Century

by: Seth Tobocman

September 11th, 2008 · post by Edd · 1 Comment

ISBN number: ISBN 978-1904859765
Price: Buy from the Last Hour shop for £9

Publisher: AK Press

Disaster and Resistance starts and ends with images of oil refineries. On both the front and back cover are paintings of an oil refinery located in New Orleans. On the front it’s in the background as a baby is passed from the roof of a flooded New Orleans house into a boat. On the back the refinery acts as a backdrop to events in Iraq. It highlights pretty exactly the social climate Seth Tobocman is documenting in these comics: the war for oil.

Disaster and Resistance coverAnd of course there’s 9/11. The destruction of the World Trade Centre, for me at least, stands central to the book; partly because Tobocman lives in New York, but mostly because he dissects the attacks in a different manner to what our popular histories relate. As example: his comic the Ambulance Ride showing how people of DC are fucked over by the closing of the hospital until some rich white congressmen need medicine. But perhaps even more specifically the comic Not enough people have died, ending in the pertinent quote by Gandhi, “An eye for an eye, and the whole world goes blind” showing how we can all take vengence on each other until there’s no-one left to have that vengence. It skewers perfectly the debate that raged in America (and in the UK) at the end of 2001.

But everything follows 9/11 in the book, with comics on Iraq, Palestine and finally Katrina. At their best the comics are like lighting bolts, brightly illuminating the subjects and allowing the reader another perspective on stories, and events, we normally only hear one side of. Tobocman, for the most part, works in his traditional, and highly effective, graphic black and white style with heavy shadows and sharp focus to the content.

Within the book he has also started to explore other comic forms using acrylic and colour. Unfortunately I don’t think they work nearly as well as the black and white comics, the artwork interrupts too much of the content, which was especially true in the Yom Kippur comic. Whilst on the topics of problems this book, unlike War in the Neighborhood, because all the comics are relatively short and on different topics at times feels slightly fragmented.

Still, when it shines this collection is incredible and as an anti-authoritarian document of the past eight years of American domestic and foreign policies it is unparalleled. Now lets just hope that he, and the rest of the collective, have time to bring out another issue of World War 3 Illustrated.

→ 1 CommentThis entry belongs to the following categories: Comic reviews · Reviews

1 response so far

  • Edd posted:
    Sep 11, 2008 at 11:14 pm. Comment #1

    I found this review on Amazon which seems to say rougly what I was trying to say in about 1/4 of the number of words (I thought it was worth uploading to give additional info on the book!):

    Fantastic artwork and right-on politics merge in this brilliant new book by the radical comic book rock star Seth Tobocman. Beginning with the April 2000 IMF/World Bank protests in DC and ending with Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, “Disaster and Resistance” covers a lot of critical global topics like 9/11, the occupation of Iraq, war profiteering, corporate globalization, gentrification, Israel and Palestine, global warming, the tsunami, and people’s movements for land and dignity in Nigeria, Kenya, Indonesia and elsewhere. Certainly, this is a book every anti-authoritarian leftist will love. Even if you don’t normally buy graphic books, I’d strongly encourage you to get this one. You won’t regret it as it truly is superb, both politically and artistically. Simply put, this beautifully illustrated book (much of it in full color!) is essential reading for anti-war and global justice activists wanting to better understand current events!!!