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Graphic Journalism by Dan Archer


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Alcatraz Comic now finished, support my next comic on human trafficking in SF on Spot.Us!

Behold! The first glimpse of final artwork for my Alcatraz comic, based on the abortive escape attempt made my John Giles in 1945. Soon to be published by the National Park Conservancy Trust and available in Alcatraz, as well as through their (and my) online store, date tba. If you can’t wait for a hard copy, I’m previewing pages on the locked part of this site – though you’ll need to subscribe to the Archcomix Newsletter (which you can do here) to get the top secret password.

Now that’s over, I’m already headfirst into my comics project on human trafficking in San Francisco, parts of which will be published by the SF Public Press and Truthout. The SF Public Press is funding the publication through journalism crowdsourcing site, so click here and support investigative comics journalism. Only 6 days left!

Lots of other news and announcements to share with you below the fold, so scroll down for the full skinny.

Art as a tool for political change?

Just finishing up the last page of part 1 of my graphic novel, featuring the White Horse tavern in NYC. Click here for more of an intro to the project. The above panels continue on from the last post and feature a conversation between Harry and Kwame, two idealistic NYU students, about the effectiveness of art as a tool for political change.

Chagos Update and Tweeting in Court

More from the follow-up on last week’s post revealing the real reason behind the UK government’s support for a marine preserve on Diego Garica – namely to use the leverage of the environmental lobby in the UK against the less powerful Chagos Support group, who are fighting to return the expelled islanders to their homeland.

Another legal revelation here (though not as scandalous and therefore far more likely to stay in the headlines) is that tweeting is now possible in court, as ruled by the Lord Justice Judge of the High Court (quite the title):

“The use of an unobtrusive, hand-held, virtually silent piece of modern equipment for the purposes of simultaneous reporting of proceedings to the outside world as they unfold in court is unlikely to interfere with the proper administration of justice.”

As opposed to a camera…

Radio silence of late has been due to our snowy return to the UK, where naturally all transport has ground to a halt in the wake of a few inches of snow. As the itinerant comics journalist, I’ve been using the time to chronicle the wonder of the big smoke in my sketchbook – above is the commercial black hole of Mordor, aka Oxford St, in all its festive glory. Some washes to come later on this week, along with a long post on Honduras and Canadian Mining Companies in Central America. It doesn’t get more festive than that.

Belated Human Rights Day and Chagos Wikileaked

Friday marked not one but two important anniversaries: Human Rights Day and Day of Action against US Military Bases. For more on the former and to find out exactly what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is all about, go here.

Speaking of human rights, last week also saw more revelations from the Wikileaks Datadump – this time to do with the displaced Chagos islanders and their fight for the right to return to their homeland in Diego Garcia. Read my 4-page comic about the case here. As has often been the case with the Wikileaks “revelations”, it’s only cemented what we’d feared all along – that the MPs in charge of the project had treated the entire case with the sort of disabused colonial mentality that the Foreign Office is often parodied for. Here’s the quick summary: [USG=US Gov’t). My highlights in bold. For more detail, read this Guardian article.

  1. Use of the Marine Park Alibi to Counter Exiled Islanders’ Resettlement Claims:

The official insisted that the establishment of a marine park — the world’s largest — would in no way impinge on USG use of the BIOT, including Diego Garcia, for military purposes. He agreed that the UK and U.S. should carefully negotiate the details of the marine reserve to assure that U.S. interests were safeguarded and the strategic value of BIOT was upheld. He said that the BIOT’s former inhabitants would find it difficult, if not impossible, to pursue their claim for resettlement on the islands if the entire Chagos Archipelago were a marine reserve.

2. And as if there was any doubt about the real purpose of Diego Garcia in either UK or US govts’ minds:

Designating the BIOT as a marine park could, years down the road, create public questioning about the suitability of the BIOT for military purposes. Roberts responded that the terms of reference for the establishment of a marine park would clearly state that the BIOT, including Diego Garcia, was reserved for military uses.

3. But here’s the real, unedited UK gov’t take on the issue:

Roberts acknowledged that “we need to find a way to get through the various Chagossian lobbies.” He admitted that HMG is “under pressure” from the Chagossians and their advocates to permit resettlement of the “outer islands” of the BIOT. He noted, without providing details, that “there are proposals (for a marine park) that could provide the Chagossians warden jobs” within the BIOT. However, Roberts stated that, according to the HGM,s current thinking on a reserve, there would be “no human footprints” or “Man Fridays” on the BIOT’s uninhabited islands. He asserted that establishing a marine park would, in effect, put paid to resettlement claims of the archipelago’s former residents. Responding to Polcouns’ observation that the advocates of Chagossian resettlement continue to vigorously press their case, Roberts opined that the UK’s “environmental lobby is far more powerful than the Chagossians’ advocates.” (Note: One group of Chagossian litigants is appealing to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) the decision of Britain’s highest court to deny “resettlement rights” to the islands’ former inhabitants.

The BIOT “has had a great role in assuring the security of the UK and U.S. — much more than anyone foresaw” in the 1960s, Roberts emphasized. “We do not regret the removal of the population,” since removal was necessary for the BIOT to fulfill its strategic purpose, he said. Removal of the population is the reason that the BIOT’s uninhabited islands and the surrounding waters are in “pristine” condition. Roberts added that Diego Garcia’s excellent condition reflects the responsible stewardship of the U.S. and UK forces using it.

(Because, let’s face it – why would you let the natives steward the land when the UK and US gov’t could do such a better job at it?)

Time-lapsed panorama – now inked!

Holidays are here again, so what better way to relax then by pencilling and inking the largest comic I’ve ever done on sheets of MDF? Here’s the time lapse video so you too can revel in the 6 hours it took me to wrestle with this brute. Stay tuned for the next tier. I was amazed at how well the ink (Higgins speedball) took to the gesso’d wood surface. Naturally there were a few issues with the grain of the wood, but nothing major. The china marker I used also added a nice medium tone, along with some drybrushing.

Starting today: panels from the archives, feat. Mountain Top Removal (circa 2007)

As I’m currently working on my Knight project these days, I thought I’d point you towards some of my earlier work you may not have seen – a piece that ran in Bash Magazine a few years back. Go here to read the whole comic, hidden as it is under the US Politics tab at the top of the page. Remember to RT/share it around it if you liked it, or -even better!- head to the Archcomix store to order your hard copy. ($5 plus shipping/P&P).

Honduran Comic Cover: The premiere

Voila, the cover to the Honduran Coup comic, destined for the printers later this month. News, non-lethal weapons and Hillary Clinton in Honduras below.

Honduran coup pt3, no.3

Panel 1: Direct quote from Hillary Clinton on the State dept website.

Panel 2: Read the COFADEH report here.

And if you haven’t already…

Become an Archcomix fan or order a copy of the Honduran coup comic – less than a week left for pre-orders.

School of the Americas, part 2

Next three panels of my piece on the School of the Americas. To start at the beginning, just hit previous for an intro to the SOA and its heinous past.

Remember, this piece and the Honduran coup comics I put together with Nikil Saval are available in hard copy format via the chipin widget on the right hand side bar, shipped directly to your door for $5 plus $2 shipping. Or you could just click here.

Below is a film I highly recommend, viewable free online, about the SOA and the part Father Roy Bourgeois has had in fighting to get it shut down:

Prologue, p1

For regular readers of this strip, pretend that the next three pages come before everything else you’ve read. I won’t give the game away about what happens – but the Army General in question is Rene Schneider

so feel free to follow that link and spoil the surprise for yourselves. And welcome to new readers – you’ve joined at the perfect time. I’ll post the correct page order soon once more of the strip is up.