September 15th, 2014
George Washington, Mahandas K. Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. led rebellions against injustice, and the fight goes on worldwide. For the past 35 years, World War 3 Illustrated has published progressive comics commentary on macro- and micropolitical struggles, and this anniversary anthology presents 80-plus selections grouped roughly by theme. Police brutality, environmental issues, women’s empowerment, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the Occupy movement, for example, all come to life here in personal as well as broader narratives. Always passionate and striking, the pieces range from “Jesus Is Suffering for You,” Mike Diana’s primitively drawn but explicit and devastating satire on Sunday school through “K-9’s First Time,” K-9 and Fly’s somber account of a nine-year-old girl pressured into sex (finely crafted pen-and-ink drawings) to Kuper’s teal-washed inks about the Israel/Palestine hostilities. An especially cutting send-up, also from Kuper, slams George Bush as anti-health insurance and prowar but in the color kiddy cartooning style of the old Richie Rich comics.
VERDICT While background notes would have clarified selections lacking contextual details, this disturbing yet stirring sampler of views, topics, and techniques for activist comics should prove enlightening and inspirational reading.