Monday, October 02, 2006

Graphic Novel

The October, 2006 WIRED magazine had a one-page article about an online graphic novel titled Shooting War. Set in the year 2011, this 11-chapter web serial is about the adventures of Jimmy Burns, an anti-corporate video blogger who witnesses his NYC apartment (above a Starbuck's) being blown up by terrorists. His video is appropriated by Global News, “Your home for 24-hour terror coverage,” and he becomes an overnight media sensation when his video helps locate the bomber. Burns is sent to Iraq, still embroiled in war after 8 years.

I decided to check the website out ( I haven’t gotten through all of the chapters yet, but it is very graphic. If you do check this site out, it is important to realize that it is a fictional story- ahem- political satire. The press release about the site makes it clear that it is about “the future of citizen journalism.”

Writer Anthony Lappé, an award-winning documentarian about Iraq (Showtime's BattleGround: 21 Days on the Empire's Edge) and Iraq war blogger, is also the Executive Editor of the Guerrilla News Network. According to Lappe, “Shooting War is a commentary about where we’re headed in Iraq and the larger war on terror as well as the role of bloggers in telling the stories of the future.”

The artist, Dan Goldman, a writer/artists/designer and founding member of the online comics studio ACT-I-VATE, has used “a vivid combination of photography, illustration, and digital painting” to create a dark, violent, yet smart graphic novel. I like his graphic style and the way he has combined the art with actual photography. The work is to be published next year as a hardcover book.

The serial has been hosted by SMITH magazine, an online magazine “devoted to storytelling in its many shapes and forms.” SMITH editor Larry Smith elaborates that “SMITH magazine is the perfect home for Shooting War… SMITH is all about the next wave of personal storytelling, using and celebrating the technology tools that have made new forms of telling stories so exciting.”

Like I said, I’m not all the way through it yet, but I think it is a very sharp, kick-in-the-pants commentary about our world. And the writers should have us thinking about how we as citizen journalists- bloggers, storytellers- can shape our culture.

Graphics and photos courtesy SMITH magazine.


Blogger Seiji said...

Wow! That's a real interesting idea. i'll have to read it!

It got me thinking about terrorism. I have mixed feelings on the propaganda term "War on Terror". I agree with the past Secretary of State(?) when she said we can't use the term "War on Terror" because it's too vague. It's too generalized. Is there an end to the "War on Terror"; like a winner? No. How are you supposed to measure your success? She said we need to focus on the specific physical source of the nation's current problem; Al Qaeda (this statement was given like 5 years ago).

Of course I don't agree on terrorism. But the terrorists want attention. And, everyone is giving it to them. There are plenty of problems in the world that deserve more attention; like the 35 civil wars around the globe, the genocide of the Sudan, etc. Are we a safer country than 5 years ago? Yes. Are we safe? No. And if this is a "War on Terror", why hasn't the tens of thousands of troops invaded the territory to hunt the number one terrorist Bin Laden? We sent them to Iraq instead. And now a supposed tuberculosis has just killed Bin Laden. Even chess players have better strategy.

I certainly hope we can regroup and work more on the actual sources of the problem and police global areas that need our help after we secure our safety as a nation. Terrorism is becoming a fad, and I think we shouldn't popularize it. Maybe we could popularize on the progress NGO's are making instead?

Ugh, I better stop. I can go on and on. Bottom line, don't "stop" terror. Stop the man who's at fault for 9/11, decrease the growing religious divide between countries, and stop playing politics like it's preschool sports.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Timspeak said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:30 PM  
Blogger Timspeak said...

The idea of a graphic novel as social critique has recently been given creedence due to the movie industry. They have taken comic characters–the X-Men, for instance, originally a comment on the majority persecuting minority groups (the heroes represent gays, blacks, etc), V for Vendetta by Alan Moore–and reintroduced them to the public. Anima has helped up the "coolness" of the artform among the younger public.

Putting it live on the net, no price tag, is genius.

(By the way, if you hadn't caught on, I read comic books as a kid. Lots of them. I am a nerd.)

6:33 PM  
Blogger Professor Melis said...

Wow--something got sparked here! Very interesting, but let's keep the emphasis on the War Story or on citizen designers and compare that notion to citizen journalists--are they the same thing or not? What is their or our role in the "unwinnable" (is that a word?) war?

9:45 PM  
Blogger mary said...

I am interested in the aspect of how citizen journalists- bloggers- are shaping how we think about things. Now that so many people have the tools to inform (communicate), we see and hear about so many more things than we ever did before, and almost instantaneously. War coverage has been greatly changed by the ability to have up-to-the-minute news feeds and video blogs by embedded journalists.

We now have access to so much more personal information about anything and everything than we ever have before. The ability to communicate with such a large audience, whether through words or pictures, has empowered many people. I believe this empowerment is shaping our culture. This could be good or bad, depending on your perspective, but it is here to stay.

3:05 PM  

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