While Frank Miller’s outburst against the OWS protesters might not have been the smartest PR move for him, he was right on the money about one thing: as a cartoonist, he was well qualified to comment. Graphic novels and comics have inspired a lot of the OWS protesters’ iconography.
The best known example, of course, is the use of the Guy Fawkes mask from V FOR VENDETTA by anonymous and other protest groups. But a lot of the Occupy posters and graphics are also comics-inspired, says the Guardian:
They are nostalgic in that they resemble the posters of Paris 1968, or Spain 1936. Expressionist graphics, decisive slogans and modernist wit pervade these images. Yet if the abstract design of a red tower calling on the 99% to Occupy London makes you think of Soviet revolutionary art, the really fascinating thing about the posters is not these echoes of the 20th century but their connection with today’s comics or graphic novels.
Famously, the Guy Fawkes mask used by protesters comes from the graphic novel (and subsequent bad film) V for Vendetta, and this face makes its appearance on posters too. The strong black-and-white style used against coloured backgrounds by Occupy the Streets with its striding woman, Occupy Philly with its Liberty Bell, and Occupy Portland with its face of a young woman representing the 99%, all share the aesthetics of comic book artists such as Art Spiegelman and Charles Burns.
The Guardian has a slideshow of various posters. As we’ve pointed out here before, this is nothing new: comics and politics have always gone hand in hand, and it would be more surprising if a political movement didn’t quickly tie in to the quickly-grasped symbolism that comics offer.
To bring it full circle, Sean Kleefeld found himself donating a bunch of books to the OWS library to replace those lost in the police action last week — and found a surprising author well-represented:
I don’t have a lot (any?) books that would be truly be relevant and/or poignant to the movement as a whole, but what I do have are comics. So I packed up a collection of graphic novels and TPBs to send over. It was a bit of a mixed bag of books — some Marvel, some DC, some independent. Just some things to maybe let them escape for a bit. Packed them up neatly, took them to the post office and sent them off. (With a confirmation of receipt since the post office attendant was eyeballing me a little strangely after he saw the address.)
After sending the box off, I realized I should probably remove the books from my personal collection database before I forget what I’ve done with them. It was only then that I realized that about a third of the books I sent off were by Frank Miller.
Anyone who wishes to donate book to the OWS People’s Library can do so here:
The UPS Store
Re: Occupy Wall Street Attn: The People’s Library
118A Fulton St. #205 New York, NY 10038
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.