August 12, 2009
For a lot of us, green living means changing our light bulbs, doing our best to recycle, and signing a petition to save polar bears. Baby steps, we tell ourselves; we can’t overhaul the system overnight. But according to the graphic novel As the World Burns: 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial, penned by activist-writer Derrick Jensen and South Florida political cartoonist Stephanie McMillan, this kind of thinking is precisely the problem. Partly because the Earth will incinerate before we get off our collective asses. Partly because “simple” solutions reduce the urgency of the problem. But mostly because it places blame on us, the individuals, instead of them.
. . . McMillan’s artwork very rarely incorporates anything into the background. In fact, entire pages are devoted to one panel with one character and one quote, forcing the message front and center. The first such page depicts a withdrawn, somewhat dejected Kranti, clad in her signature black, sitting knees-to-chest, arms folded across her knees. Though usually all sass and snarl, Kranti, whose name translates to “revolution” in Hindi, sits in the middle of the white page. The already-limited detail of her body gets even more lost through her positioning, adding a bleakness to her gloomy state: “We will go quietly, meekly, to the end of the world, if only you allow us to believe that buying low-energy light bulbs will save us,” she says.
. . . Though it doesn’t overtly state it, As The World Burns, at its core, is a lesson in anarchist philosophy, implying that the Earth would be better off without a government beholden to an industrial economy. Initially, the graphic novel’s underlying message may seem heavy-handed and preachy, but the writing is so acutely entertaining that the message doesn’t feel force-fed. Despite all the dark humor and doom-and-gloom, the book actually ends on a hopeful note. Plus, the drawings are so darn cute.
For the full article, please see the Broward/Palm Beach New Times.