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Occupy Comics documents movement frame by frame

Project aims to capture and further activist movement, fundraise for demonstrators

Miranda Martini
The Ubyssey (University of British Columbia)

VANCOUVER (CUP) – In the call for submissions to his latest project back in October, award-winning writer, director, and activist Matt Pizzolo wrote, “I think Occupy Wall Street needs art more than it needs a list of demands … I think artists and writers of comic books have a unique ability to evoke broad ideas and ideals in captivating, dramatic ways.”

With that in mind, more than 50 artists and writers agreed to contribute to Occupy Comics: Art and Stories Inspired by Occupy Wall Street, a unique graphic anthology geared towards capturing the Occupy Wall Street movement as it unfolds. Contributors will include Alan Moore and David Lloyd, Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls and Steve Rolston, Vancouver-based artist and featured illustrator on the Eisner Award-winning series Queen & Country.

The project’s website states it is intended to be “a time capsule of the passions and emotions driving the movement,” but Pizzolo makes it clear that the project is about activism as much as observation.

While the idea gained steam as professionals and fans began to take notice, Pizzolo wondered if the project might be an opportunity to support Occupy as well as document it.

In the interest of raising funds for the anthology, a Kickstarter campaign was created with a baseline goal of $10,000. All of those involved in the project, from artists and writers to the publisher, have agreed to donate 100 per cent of the revenue to the occupiers, which will help to provide heaters, warm clothes and other amenities that will allow the protests to survive the winter.

The campaign received almost double its goal, which may mean additional features in the eventual anthology as well as larger donations for protesters.

Although there are several international contributors, the focus of the project is undoubtedly on Wall Street. Some, like Rolston, have expressed discomfort with their local movements, though they support the idea of showing solidarity for the protests stateside.

“I feel like the goals of Occupy protests up here have shifted too far from what the focus should be,” Rolston said. “Fish farming may be worthy of protest, but mixing that into the Occupy Vancouver protests distracts from and diffuses the core idea of the Occupy movement.”
Ironically, this controversy gave Occupy Comics the groundswell of media coverage it needed to meet its minimum goal on Kickstarter.
“I feel like I should send [Rolston] flowers for putting this project on the map,” Pizzolo said.

Regardless of the direction Occupy takes over the next few months, comics fans can look forward to a project that could change the way art and advocacy intersect, capture a unique moment in the history of activism and maybe even irritate Frank Miller.

Occupy Comics will debut as a rolling series of digital comics early this year, followed by limited edition paper comics. They will then be compiled into a hardbound anthology late in 2012.

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