Literary Up: Drawing in the Streets

The brief text intro for the latest issue of World War 3 Illustrated (#42) proclaims “Nothing has given us more hope than the uprisings we have seen taking place around the world this year.” And the mag was put together before the Occupy movement even happened!
A lot of the American content in the issue has to do with the occupation of the government building in Wisconsin. But protests and injustices in other countries are also delineated: the bulldozing of a village in Egypt; a “kiss-in” in Lima, Peru; an uprising in Tunisia. Egypt’s revolution in January gets special attention, including a new seven-page strip by graphic novelist Magdy El Shafee (for which WW3I prints the pages right-to-left in the Arabic comic fashion). Movements connect in thought pieces such as Susan Simensky Bietila’s “Wisconsin: Walk Like an Egyptian.” There’s a story of the downside of corporately managed charter schools, and another in which the speeches of 19th century black leader Frederick Douglass’ about the “the nature of power” are given contemporary urgency and relevance.
There’s a collective feel to World War 3 Illustrated that always makes the journal (which has been an annual affair for the past bunch of years) more than the sum of its parts. Many of the contributors—especially editorial forces Seth Tobocman and Peter Kuper—reappear issue after issue, but they often change up their styles and concerns, and there are always some fresh talents to offset the more familiar provocateurs. Sometimes the artwork leads the text, sometimes the words take hold more. The range of styles can cause visual whiplash, but the mood of thoughtful rebellion is consistent.
You could say World War 3 #42 Illustrated missed a major opportunity in being released at the peak of the Occupy movement and not having been able to comment on it. But that’s always been the wonder and grace of this magazine—it shows us, through conscientious and time-consuming assemblages of text and art, that public political demonstrations have lasting impact, and waiting a year to read about them isn’t silly. It’s other virtue is showing us some of the less obvious uprisings around the world, the ones that eluded the attention of mainstream media. Timeliness is a minor factor here. World War 3 Illustrated is always active.

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