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Graphic Journalism by Dan Archer


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More from Eisenhower’s Military-Industrial Warning

Hit ‘previous’ for the full lowdown on Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex speech, and the first part of this comic. Scroll down to read about what I’ve got up to over the last month at Stanford.

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?)

Comics Journalism in Brazil and my Miami Book Fair Panel

A brazilian comicsphile feels the inky pull towards a page of Archcomix

Congrats to Augusto Paim for organizing the Comics journalism conference in Brazil at the Porto Alegre Goethe Institute. I wasn’t there in person sadly, but some of my artwork made it through the ether- check out this photo from my comic on Chagos, a panel of which is above, back in the days when I used to watercolour.  To read the whole comic, click here.

More details are now out about my upcoming talk on comics journalism at the Miami Book Fair, so those of you on the east coast looking for some thanksgiving sun prime your diaries for 4pm this Sunday. Get the full skinny here. I’m sharing the panel with war correspondent David Axe, writer of War is Boring, which was then turned into a comic by Matt Bors. (Wars might be, but coups definitely aren’t).

For an update on my Knight fellowship project at Stanford, click here.

A Ministerial reply on Chagos, Chris Ware’s Fortune Cover and Satire’s shortcomings

At last a full reply (at the very bottom of this post) from Chris Bryant, the Minister responsible for the Overseas Territories on the subject of the Chagossians’ right to return. To read my comic on the issue, go here. Meanwhile, Chris Ware, the visionary comics artist behind Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Kid on Earth is in the news for his recent prank cover art for the new Fortune 500 list, which is surprisingly pointed for a graphic novelist who usually steers clear of politics: here are two highlights, including Guantanamo prisoners and an ‘exploitation ware1wareguantanamofactory’. For the full story and the entire cover art, go here. As always, the piece has attracted its fair share of fans and critics, the latter of whom rails:

“My main objection is that this kind of smarmy, artsy-fartsy assertion of intellectual/political superiority only reaches the people who already know about and are convinced of corruption in the American economy. What’s the point if the people who need to make changes are only offended or don’t even “get it”? Mr. Ware would do better to donate half of what must be a lucrative income to charity, write letters, hold a sign up in front of a capitol building, and or spend his lunch hour serving in a soup kitchen.”

Interesting point, most deflated in my opinion by the flawed suggestions (let’s not even go into the ‘lucrative income’ part) for enacting grass-roots change, but it does beg the question: is laughter the goal of satire, even at the expense of informing a

viewer? It reminded me of a recent piece in the Guardian about the golden era of British TV satire, spearheaded by Spitting Image (see left for a quick intro to the show). Again though, this sort of entertainment could only appeal to those already familiar with the political hot topics of the day, and could arguably be said to only flatter the egos of the same people it sighted in its satirical crosshairs (see 4mins 10 secs). Can visual news media be informative/educational AND entertaining/humorous? Leave your comments/link suggestions below.


Join the discussion forum! Plus Chagos update and a Greenpeace cartoon

img_0414It’s been a busy week since the cover went up on Monday – plans are afoot to secure distribution of the comic in Honduras, but more on that once it -finally- goes to print. After the success of the interactive cover vote last week, I’m launching more ways to get you, dear readers, to voice you own vitriol down the archcomix megaphone. The main way for now is through the forum I’ve set up on the Archcomix fan page here – go and post comments or share links/info that you want to see included in an upcoming piece that I’m working on about the Jewish lobby in the US. Any suggestions for a wordpress-friendly forum widget would also be good.

The hard copy of the Independent World Report also arrived this week, featuring my Chagos comic, as well as a moving photo journalism piece on African immigrants who are permanently stranded in Malta after abortive efforts to get to europe and have adopted a WW2 hangar as their home. Speaking of Chagos, for those of you from glorious Britannia who contacted your MPs about the Early Day Motion I mentioned last week, here’s to hoping the response you got was more successful (not to mention vague) than mine: “whilst I cannot commit to signing EDM 960 at this point in time, I will certainly give the issue my consideration”. Any chance the said point in time is after the elections have been and gone? The Chagossians’ plight has recently been added to with the introduction of a plan to turn the surrounding nature area around the base on Diego Garcia into Britain’s ‘Great Barrier Reef’. A big coup for conservation, but unfortunately Foreign Secretary David Miliband’s conservation focus lies on flora and fauna, and not the thousand or so remaining displaced inhabitants who were evicted or born in exile since the 1960s. Worse still is the fact that many people were duped into signing a petition for the creation of the said area, with no idea that the organizers had been forced into denying the Chagossians’ their rights in its establishment. More on this from the Guardian UK here.  Speaking of marine conservation, here’s a great example of animation being used for edutainment – though is it informative enough to inspire/engage with someone with no background knowledge of the issue? Leave a comment and let me know.

People of the UK – make a difference for the Chagossians!

A recent communique from the UK Chagos Support Associations reveals that next week an Early Day Motion (EDM) is being proposed in Parliament to discuss the possibility of a final settlement for the displaced Chagossians whose stories I tell in my 4-page comic, ‘The Right to Return’. You can see a sample page above, and the whole comic is at the bottom of this post.

For even more background info, read my original post on the comic here or visit the UK Chagos Support Association’s website. If that’s still not enough, I highly recommend David Vine’s ‘Island of Shame’ or John Pilger’s film, ‘Stealing a Nation’, below:

So here’s where you Britishers come in: you need to contact your MP and ask them to sign EDM number 960 Chagos Islands as soon as possible. Here’s the link. Don’t know who your MP is or how to contact them? Then turn to the ever-excellent They Work for You site, type in your postcode and hey presto – instant constituent power is yours.

The gist of the EDM proposes:

That this House believes that the interests of the Chagossian people and of Mauritius must be fully protected in the proposed Marine Protected Area; urges the Government to withdraw its case from the European Court of Human Rights and to settle out of court, as already suggested by the Court; and requests the Prime Minister to engage with Mauritius and the Chagossians, before the general election, in order to initiate discussion on an overall settlement of the issues, including timetable for eventual transfer of sovereignty of the Outer Islands to Mauritius and provision for a limited settlement on the Outer Islands.

As ever, please forward, RT and share the links in this post around – this is the last hope of the displaced Chagossians after a protracted legal struggle that has lasted decades.


Last Page of Diego Garcia and what happened in Maine?

Here’s the tragic end to the Diego Garcia story, which covers up the House of Lords’ decision a year ago to deny the Chagossians the right to return to their homeland. Speaking of tragic outcomes, after a massive turnout in Maine, prop 1 was passed yesterday banning same-sex marriage in the state. I’m thinking of doing a piece on the money trail behind the yes campaign – which also worked in California, so stay tuned.

Get Involved – Vote no on 1 in Maine and Help the Chagossians!

Here’s the next page of my Diego Garcia comic – those of you new to the site, skip back using the previous posts on the toolbar to the right, or else visit the COMIX page to read the whole thing as a slideshow. Thanks for all your support, and remember to spread the word about the Chagossians’ struggle.

Beyond that, you can take steps from wherever you are in the world here – just follow the ‘How you can help’ link on the left toolbar.Donating aside, you can directly contact the relevant MPs who are defending the British government’s stance on the issue, as well as read their little back and forth in the House of Commons from back in 2004. If you’re a brit, it’s worth registering at – it’s a free, easy way of keeping tabs on exactly what your local MP is doing for you. And if you’re American, then remember to support the Vote No on 1 campaign in Maine and help stop the ban on same-sex marriage that went through here in California last year.

Diego Garcia Comic p2

As returning readers to the site will see, I’ve added some new widgets to let you share my comics far and wide to spread the word about topics like the US base on Diego Garcia and the Honduran coup. At the bottom of every post is a veritable plethora of links to facebook, twitter, email, you name it – so feel free to pass on the link. It also looks like I’ve found a home for the Diego Garcia comic outside the confines of this site. More details to come when it’s all official. For now, here’s p2 of 4.

Thanks to the Jan Oberg, Director of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research and Celia Whitaker of the Chagos Support Foundation for their support.

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