Monday, October 1, 2012

Politics and Comics: Why activism in graphic novels is good.

I’d been wanting to read Grant Morrison’s WE3 for a while, and I finally got around to it today. It’s fairly incredible, to say the least, and it got me thinking. There are a lot of what I’ll call “issue comics” for lack of a better term out there. Books like DMZ and WE3 are fantastic works in their own right, but also have serious political messages in them.

I’d recommend WE3 to anyone who cares about animal rights, and DMZ to those more concerned with government. Lions of Baghdad is a phenomenal anti-war graphic novel from the perspective of lions that escaped from the Baghdad zoo during the bombing. Even Marvel’s Civil War presents a very interesting take on the Patriot Act set in-universe.

It’s really interesting to see how comics handle political issues. Comics are fairly progressive, and usually confront issues either directly or allegorically.  I mean, the X-men were meant to represent the racial struggle. The Superman radio show was used to go after the Klan. Neal Adams’ Green Lantern run had such an impact it helped jumpstart the Bronze Age.

            Comics serve as a good way to make a point because of the visual aspect. Seeing an image like a rabbit forced into a robot suit, or Speedy shooting up heroin has an incredible impact, much more than just reading or hearing about it. It’s hard to tell whether or not comics should be politicized at all.
            I’d say yes. After all, it shows the medium is maturing if it can handle serious subject matter like animal testing or failed states. I don’t think comics should straight tell people what to think, but there’s nothing wrong with bringing attention to a point. I mean, Superman stands for truth, justice, and the American way, and that means looking out for your fellow man. 

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