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Graphic Journalism by Dan Archer

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Knight fellowship

Comics and Social Change Event at Stanford on Thursday!

Welcome to Archcomix – if you’re new here, take a look around by clicking on the tabs above. Some have drop-down menus for individual stories under that theme. See what I’m working on at the moment as part of my John S.Knight Fellowship here and please support my Borderland comic through Kickstarter here – less than a week left to raise our money or it all gets returned. And we wouldn’t want that. Also, check out the new comics journalism page I’ve set up.

Knight Fellowship 2.0, Torture Awareness Month

It’s nose to the grindstone time at Archcomix HQ (temporarily based out of Ithaca, NY for the next 2 weeks), as I’m fighting to reach my daily goal of 1.5 pages of Borderland (my human trafficking comic), inked and penciled. So far, so good – even managed to get some done in Detroit airport at 6 in the morning. Just finishing a story about a worker who was kept enslaved at a Polish bakery and about to move on to a construction worker who was treated like an animal in one of Moscow’s most prestigious patches of real estate.

On a more upbeat note, my Knight Fellowship for 2010 is now only a summer away, so I thought I’d shed a little more light on the program and give you a chance to see what previous fellows spent their year working on.

June is Torture Awareness Month, so at the very least you can check out this video from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. (Yes, even if you’re a devout pagan). Here’s a good place to start if you’re new to the US’s private use and public condemnation of torture. As for the discrepancy over why the debate over torture continues to preclude taking any actual steps to end it, check out this article from Slate on Maher Arar, best summarised by this quote:

Each time an American court declines to address this issue because it’s novel, or complicated, or a matter best left to the elected branches, it reaffirms yet again that there is no precedent for doing justice in torture cases. By declining to find torture impermissible, they are helping to make it acceptable…Given that [torture is illegal], he wondered, why was the majority of the panel searching high and low for some diplomatic, national security, or supersecret policy reason to defer to the other two branches of government to set the parameters of U.S. torture policy. There is no U.S. torture policy. We don’t torture. So why are the courts leaving it to Congress to set its boundaries?

Which is all the more interesting in light of Ex-VP Dick Cheney’s comments from last year on Fox News, as reported by the NYTimes:

“I knew about the waterboarding, not specifically in any one particular case, but as a general policy that we had approved,” said Mr. Cheney, who noted that neither a gun nor a drill had actually been used on detainees. “The fact of the matter is the Justice Department reviewed all those allegations several years ago…

…The judgment was made then that there wasn’t anything that was improper or illegal”

You have to love that relative clause in the first sentence. Move over Jack Bauer, Fox has a new all-american hero re-writing its constitution.

Knight fellowship update, Trafficking, Karla Lara and Honduras in Berkeley

A bit more information on Monday’s big news about my Knight Fellowship: it’s essentially a year-long stint at Stanford university during which fellows are expected to develop a project thesis on a specific area of innovation within their journalistic field. Not to mention having full access to the gold mine of Stanford’s classes and resources, fellow Knights and students/faculty. My pitch, as you’ll see from the impressive line-up of project summaries, will involve the creation of a rich content digital comic, taking full advantage of the flexibility of the web’s infinite canvas along with its capacity to stream video, animation and include interactive elements. Once the fellowship begins in September I’ll start chronicling the development of the project as I tie its disparate elements together.

Speaking of innovation, one project that’s been slowly percolating over the last several months has been my work with Fulbright fellow Olga Trusova on raising awareness about human trafficking through digital/interactive comics, in conjunction with the International Organization of Migration (IOM). Olga’s been in the field since the end of last year, visiting NGOs in her native Ukraine and interviewing staff and victims who have dealt with the reality of trafficking first-hand. She then sends me her detailed notes which I translate into comics. We recently premiered the first comic at an NGO meeting in Kiev and are currently revising the artwork to incorporate the feedback, so I’ll post some finish panels sometime next week.

Karla Lara performing at Sunrise Cafe, SFO

Karla Lara performing at Sunrise Cafe, SFO

Last week I made it down to the Sunrise Cafe in the mission to hear Honduran artist, performer and activist Karla Lara sing and report back on the situation in Honduras. It was a great chance to meet members of the resistance (local to SFO and Tegucigalpa), as well as promote the comic, which went down really well. I’ll be attending the Sunday May 16th meeting at the Berekely Fellowship of Unitarians to sell more comics and talk to delegates fresh from Honduras, so save the date if you’re in the bay area – more details to come.  If this is the first you’ve heard of the Honduran comic, then click here to find out more.

AIPAC comic preview pt 2 and a Knight Fellowship!

The rest of the piece will be published next week by Religion Dispatches. As ever, see below for sources:

Panel 4: Rosen’s quote from this 2005 New Yorker article. The comment about Rosen’s past as an espionage defendant concerns his August 4, 2005 Indictment on suspicion of passing US govt information to Israel. Read more here.
Panel 5: quote from p2 of Kenen’s book, Israel’s Defense Line: Her Friends and Foes in Washington, available to read online here.

Big news: I am delighted, proud and excited to say that I have been awarded a John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford 2010-11. For more, here’s the official press release. More on this when I come back down to earth.