There is a stark beauty to be found in the 320 pages of this full-color special collection of comics, “World War 3 Illustrated 1979-2014,” published by PM Press and set for release this July. I call it a stark beauty for good reason. I think it is the most economical way to express the urgency and the severity of the issues being confronted. It’s also a quick way to say that this is thoughtful and vital art that you’ll find in this collection of some of the best work to appear in the semi-annual anthology, “World War 3 Illustrated.”
It can be a challenge to create a successful work with an activist theme. There is always the risk of you only hearing the sounding of the alarms. It makes me think of one of the most heartbreaking moments in a major motion picture. It’s right when Jack Lemmon’s character is finally going to go on live television and expose the nuclear energy industry in “The China Syndrome.” But, right at that moment, sirens go off, he becomes flustered, and everything he has to say comes across as histrionics. No one is informed about anything. Passions can run so high that we lose what is being said. Art can bridge that gap. There are so many artists that come to mind: Goya. Rivera. Picasso. Kafka. And, certainly, within the pages of this book.
Consider the rhythmic pacing of Seth Tobocman’s “War in the Neighborhood.” It goes at a steady six panel grid with some variation. The words evoke strong emotion but the orderly progression also evokes reason. Sure, there is fury but there is also logic. As our narrator considers the human struggle, some conclusions are reached: “If we can look at the abandoned building and imagine it full of people, if we can look at the vacant lot and imagine a garden, then why can’t we look at each other and imagine what we can become with time and work?”
In Peter Kuper’s “Promised Land,” he relates to us a lifetime of getting to know Israel, starting with a family stay when he was a 10-year-old. As he grows up, he comes to understand geopolitics and the less than ideal position Israel finds itself in. Among his observations, he recalls the events leading up to the 1991 Gulf War. It did not take much for peace-loving liberals to suddenly support military action.
In Sabrina Jones’s “Fear and Firecrackers,” we get another look at Israel, specifically Jerusalem. As Jones states, “The stones glowed with the sun and prayers and blood of millennia. Inside the walls, Muslims, Jews, and Christians live close together, in very defined quarters.” Jones gives us a window into everyday life. Part of the routine: If you hear one siren, it’s okay; if you hear two sirens, well it happens; and, if you hear three sirens, you go turn on the news.
A page after that, you have Eric Drooker’s “Art Against the Wall,” a chronicle of his 2004 visit to the massive wall that the Israeli government claims is there for security. Drooker reported it to be twenty feet tall with a projected span of five hundred miles, all being built on Palestinian land. It snakes its way throughout the occupied West Bank. For Drooker, he found the wall an opportunity to create some murals with a peace theme.
Proceed some more pages, and you’ll find “The Quiet Occupation,” by N. Schulman, a report on the abuses of the U.S. military in South Korea. According to The National Campaign For Eradication Of Crimes By U.S. Troops, there have been nearly 100,000 crimes perpetrated by American servicemen since 1945, 2 to 3 per day, including rape, murder, assault, and environmental contamination.
Schulman provides a precise and articulate account of the tragic circumstances in South Korea. There is rage. But there is a also a steady voice here that informs.
“World War 3 Illustrated 1979-2014” is an essential resource where you will find the sort of stories that can be vulnerable to being ignored or dismissed by mainstream media. It doesn’t mean that they are not true. It just means some stories need help, need a safe and reliable platform to be heard. Organized under categories and including a helpful time line, this book is sure to surprise, enlighten, educate, and inspire.
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