T.R.O.Y.

“The struggle for justice doesn’t end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me. I’m in good spirits and I’m prayerful and at peace.”

— Troy Davis’ last words to his supporters.

Mark MacPhail RIP
Troy Davis RIP
American justice system DOA?

Troy Davis May Be Executed Today

The state of Georgia is about to follow through on another gross potential miscarriage of justice today as it plans to execute Troy Davis. Convicted in 1991 of killing a police officer, Mark McPhail, the majority of the prosecution witnesses have since recanted their depositions, but the conviction has been upheld by the state, which has consistently refused a retrial and yesterday denied a last-ditch effort to obtain clemency for Davis.

As I’ve written about here before, this is not a singular case. There are many such dubious convictions, primarily of minority individuals, who consequently have served long prison terms and face the ultimate punishment for crimes they may well not have committed. The establishment seems to have a blindsided trust in the infallibility of an American justice system, which refuses to consider that it might be at fault, even when presented with evidence that overwhelmingly suggests that they may be about to kill an innocent man. That so many Americans continue passionately to defend the death penalty (some going as far as cheering Republican presidential frontrunner Rick Perry for the number of people he has killed), only makes the situation more chilling.

Please consider the case (Davis’ Wikipedia entry has the basics and there’s more here), but don’t spent too long: join Bishop Desmond Tutu, President Jimmy Carter and thousands of others and go and sign the petition to grant Davis clemency before it’s too late.

UPDATE: Read the New York Times editorial on the execution “A Grievous Wrong.” An excellent summary.

Picks of the Week

The picks of the week from around the web.

  • Commentary on the Danish election. In my reading on this historic election and the uncertainty it promises for Danish politics, I’ve enjoyed the commentary by Anne Knudsen and Rune Lykkeberg (both in Danish).
  • Austin English interviews Warren Craghead. This interview with one of the most original and aesthetically provocative contemporary cartoonists, conducted by a sensitive interviewer, went up on The Comics Journal the week before last, but if you haven’t read it yet, here’s a reminder to do so.
  • Frank Rich and Adam Moss on Ron Suskind’s upcoming book on the Obama administration and its policy failures. A short conversation that whets the appetite for the book and accentuates one’s pessimism about the people presently in the White House. While arguably little more than a puff piece, it involves two smart observers making smart comments.
  • Kolor Klimax!

    Kolor Klimax cover illo by Aapo Rapi


    Helsinki. The comics festival here is just starting up and it’s looking good. In addition to the full program of events, signings and parties, the festival sees the European release tomorrow of KOLOR KLIMAX — Nordic Comics Now, an anthology of Nordic comics edited by me and designed by Frederik Storm with invaluable assistance from Thomas Thorhauge. It is published by Fantagraphics Books under the patronage of the Finnish Comics Society.

    I will be talking about a lot more here and elsewhere, but if you’re in Helsinki do stop by, pick up a copy and meet some of the contributors. Stay tuned for news on other events related to the book and eventually for the American release in the Spring of 2012

    Here’s the text I wrote for the press release:

    KOLOR KLIMAX unites twenty-two Nordic artists to present the best in Nordic comics right now. Focusing on work from Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, it offers a wide range of approaches and genres displaying amply the diversity and innovation in comics today.

    Despite their small size and language groups, the Nordic countries have long had a strong comics culture. The per capita readership is remarkably high and distinct national traditions were shaped during the course of the last century, spanning the field from traditional newspaper strips to small press experimentation. And while the mass markets of the last century have declined, today’s Nordic comics are healthy and ever-diversifying embracing everything from the generalist graphic novel to avant-garde cross-pollination with the fine arts.

    KOLOR KLIMAX focuses on personal creation, made independently of the traditional genres. It unites a very diverse field of short stories by the following artists: Mari Ahokoivu (F), Vanessa Baird (N), Mikkel Damsbo & Gitte Broeng (D), Joanna Rubin Dranger (S), Joanna Hellgren (S), Bendik Kaltenborn (N), Kolbein Karlsson (S), Peter Kielland (D), Johan F. Krarup (D), Tommi Musturi (F), Christopher Nielsen (N), Emelie Östergren (S), Signe Parkins (D), Joakim Pirinen (S), Ville Ranta (F), Aapo Rapi (F), Jenni Rope (F), Mårdøn Smet (D), Rui Tenreiro (Mozambique/N), Thomas Thorhauge (D), and Amanda Vähämäki (F).

    Edited by art historian Ph. D. Matthias Wivel, KOLOR KLIMAX inaugurates a series of Nordic anthologies under the auspices of the Finnish Comics Society’s Nordicomics intiative. It is published in partnership with seminal American small press publisher Fantagraphics Books. By making it available on the American market and, by extension, for worldwide bookstore distribution, it aims to expose an international audience to the best in Nordic comics today.

    Kolor Klimax : Nordic Comics Now, Fantagraphics Books 2011, 256 pages in color, suggested retail price $29.99.

    Be One of a Thousand Ferzats


    The Syrian regime’s disgraceful behavior is current headline news and the brutal beating by Syrian forces of treasured cartoonist Ali Ferzat the week before last is but one of many horrific examples of its efforts to contain the rebellion there.

    In support of Ferzat and his beleaguered profession, as well as freedom of expression everywhere, cartoonists Allan Haverholm and Maria Sputnik have launched a site devoted to publishing cartoons commenting on the assault on Ferzat and on freedom of expression more broadly. Called “One Thousand Ferzats,” it aims to compile a thousand cartoons. They accept original contributions as well as ones initially published elsewhere.

    Go check it out, and consider submitting a cartoon.

    Cartoon by Pedro X Molina, originally published in El Nuevo Diario.

    Picks of the Week

    The picks of the week from around the web.

  • 9/11: The Winners. The Village Voice‘s muck-raking isn’t always that credible, but this panorama of hucksterism and profiteering off the national tragedy makes for compelling if disconcerting reading.
  • Kirby’s 70th. Jack Kirby interviewed on the radio in 1987, with Stan Lee calling in! Great listening for afficionados of Kirby and the Marvel Age.
  • Kirby Crackle. More Kirby! This is the kind of nerdy article examining pertinent minutiae of a given artist’s work that I can’t help but enjoy. Rob Steibel brings a discerning eye to Jack Kirby’s development of his graphic crackle-effect, crucially aided by his sixties inker Joe Sinnott.
  • Happy Labor Day!

    Picks of the Week

    “Of course London’s riots weren’t a political protest. But the people committing night-time robbery sure as hell know that their elites have been committing daytime robbery. Saqueos are contagious. The Tories are right when they say the rioting is not about the cuts. But it has a great deal to do with what those cuts represent: being cut off. Locked away in a ballooning underclass with the few escape routes previously offered : a union job, a good affordable education : being rapidly sealed off. The cuts are a message. They are saying to whole sectors of society: you are stuck where you are, much like the migrants and refugees we turn away at our increasingly fortressed borders.”

    — Naomi Klein

    The picks of the week from around the web.

  • “An Empty Regard,” William Deresiewicz on the American reverence for its troops. I’ve long been mystified by the unquestioned reverence in America for its military personnel. It depersonalizes their (often admirable) efforts and suggests that they are somehow inherently more valuable human beings than everyone else. Deresiewicz addresses the question smartly.
  • Naomi Klein on the UK riots. Often prone to hyperbole and tendentious hypothesizing, Klein remains a great rhetoritician and this eloquent op-ed piece very effectively situates the riots and the pathetic official reaction to them in a valuable perspective.
  • Harold Bloom on his influences. Speaking of great communicators, here’s Bloom on five great works of literary criticism and the decrepit state of literary studies. You can’t argue with him, you just wanna hug him.
  • Questlove on the last fifteen years (or so) in hip hop. One of the subculture’s greatest raconteurs offers some intriguing tidbits from his storybook, such as how Puffy screamed at him and his Roots cohorts for their player hating back in the gay nineties.
  • Nelson George on the Civil Rights struggle on film. Enlightening and pointed survey, offered on the occasion of the opening of The Help this week.