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An Interview with Activist Stephanie McMillan

September 18, 2013

Henry Chamberlain’s recent interview with cartoonist Stephanie McMillan gives insight to her passion for both activism and comics to make the world a better place. McMillan describes how postmodernism ideology has impaired our ability to fight against capitalism, an enemy that society should try to overthrow. Click here to read the full interview: Stephanie McMillan and Activism in Comics.
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HENRY CHAMBERLAIN: Stephanie, thank you for doing this interview. You are an activist, a journalist, and a cartoonist. You have created significant work, like “The Beginning of the American Fall,” which gives readers an inside look at how the Occupy movement came into existence. You have an ongoing comic strip, “The Minimum Security Chronicles,” that combines humor and discourse on being an activist. Your background is very interesting. You studied film and animation and you’ve always been an activist. Would you give a look at how you came to use words and pictures?

STEPHANIE McMILLAN: My artwork has always been political, with the purpose of delivering a message. My first public illustration was in 1982 for my high school newspaper, accompanying an article I wrote on the dangers of nuclear war. It was a drawing done in blue ballpoint pen of a screaming family being incinerated in a nuclear blast. From that point on, as I became politically active, I drew many images on banners and leaflets, and as graffiti and murals.

HC: The one key factor that you return to in seeking a solution to our current state of economic dysfunction is to completely destroy global capitalism. But how would we ever accomplish such a thing? That, Stephanie, would be my main question to you now and in any future interviews–because I’m sure it is a question with an evolving answer.

First, what do you mean when you refer to global capitalism? Are we talking bad capitalism vs. good capitalism? Multi-nationals vs. small family businesses? We need some form of capitalism, don’t we? I mean, we need to keep brining in some sort of income for ourselves to function in society as we know it.

SM: I’ll answer these two questions together, since our response to a problem is determined by our understanding of that problem. We need to thoroughly understand capitalism if we are going to be able to overcome it. And everything we’re taught from the day we’re born is designed to thwart our understanding of it and cement our allegiance to it.

“Stephanie McMillan is an important voice. She is doing her part to make this a better world through her activism and her comics. And, fortunately for us, those two passions turn into some very compelling work.”

The activist touches on the beginnings of the Occupy movements and her background in film and animation. McMillan also urges readers to reclaim their ability to judge right from wrong so as to not easily be exploited by capitalism that is slowly destroying us. Both of McMillan’s works Minimum Security Chronicles and The Beginning of the American Fall depict the efforts of regular people standing up to the evil system that seeks to ruin the earth.

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