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Review: World War 3 Illustrated #44: The Other Issue

The esteemed author/editor Paul Buhle generously provides an insightful review on comics that recently arrived in his mailbox unbidden.

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World War 3 Illustrated #44, “The Other Issue”

World War 3 Illustrated #44, “The Other Issue.” Editors, Hilary Allison and Ethan Heitner. New York: WW3, 2013. 112pp, $7.

It goes almost without saying, for radical-minded comic readers, that any issue of the venerable World War 3 Illustrated is a political flash, but no less an artistic flash, something genuinely new and interesting to look at. No left wing clichés here, no overly familiar “power to the people” art promising swift justice for the evil oppressors. That the corporate-military is malign, planet-destroying, operates as a principle, not only for the US but on a global scale, and not only the US global-military. But the artistic responses are the work of distinctly individual artists, working out their own themes, and true to the purposes of World War 3 (now publishing on a nearly annual basis since 1979), seem fresh to the reader because the work of young folks and global artists is obviously recruited.

The familiar here draws my eye. An excerpt from Sabrina Jones’ recent work on incarceration, in microcosm here the story of Kemba Smith, a young black woman caught up a scene and offered, she thought, a deal of a few months in prison—that became almost a decade. Or “A Real Hero” by fellow WW3er longtimer Tom Keough, in this case a story from his own adolescence, how neighborhood bullies dominate, racialize, brutalize and how one brave kid can stop them. A good story. Or the heavily expressionist “One City, One People, One Planet!” by master artist-agitator Seth Tobocman, wonderfully illustrating what so many of us felt, when the moment of Sandy came, how ordinary people could act with such decency and collectivity, their moment in time suggested how a whole society could operate on a different, more cooperative basis. He demands, rightly and crucially, that we keep that story in mind.

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“Single Lens Reflex” by Sandy Jimenez

I’m overwhelmed by Sandy Jimenez, sometime. Bronx schoolteacher, who places himself, his emerging teen self, right in front of us and spiritually naked, how his own college teacher tried to teach him photography, how he realized that he had become a photographic art object, Slum Kids, for those on the way up to exhibiting their works. It’s a novelette in thirteen pages. Likewise by other work here but especially reading right-to-left saga by a Lebanese artist Barrack Rima, a dreamy recollection of a youthful encounter with Europe that becomes an encounter with his “other” self. It is neither comics nor non-comics. It is serious art.

Bravo, World War 3 folks. Keep up the hard, serious, wonderful work.

Cover art by ICY and SOT; back cover by Barrack Rima
Contributors: Ganzeer, Sandy Jimenez, Sabrina Jones, Joel Schechter, Hilary Allison, Jesse Staniforth, Dan Buller, Clément de Gaulejac, Leila Abdul Razzaq, Tom Keough, Carlo Quispe, Peter Kuper, Pat Perry, Seth Tobocman, Crystal Clarity, Barrack Rima; translations by Eman Morsi and Gretchen Virkler

Paul Buhle, formerly Senior Lecturer at Brown University, has written and edited many books, including Marxism in America: A History of the American Left and the graphic novel The Beats: A Graphic History, and is the coeditor, most recently, of It Started in Wisconsin: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Labor Protest. With Mari Jo Buhle, he is the coeditor of the Encyclopedia of the American Left. He lives in Madison.

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