The webcomics blog about webcomics

Tuesday’s Gonna Be Busy

That’s when a pair of books by a pair of webcomickers drop, and they could not be any more different.

  • First up, Vera Brosgol continues her alternating pattern of graphic novel with at least some elements of growing up Russian (Anya’s Ghost, Be Prepared) and childrens picture book, sometimes with a Russian feel to the whole thing (Leave Me Alone!), when she releases The Little Guys via Roaring Brook Press.

    It’s about these guys who are little, maybe half-height to a Smurf. They wear acorn caps for hats, they’ve got prominent noses, and I’m not sure if they have shaggy bodies or that’s just beard covering their bodies, but they’re totally charming. And, crucially, the eponymous Little Guys are the villains of the piece. Slowly the tale turns — they are little, but work together (that’s good!) and together they are mighty (admirable!) They meet any challenge (you go, Little Guys) to get what they want (uhhh, maybe slow down, Little Guys?) with the clear message: None for you! All for us! Hand it over to the Little Guys!

    Look, I’m not saying this book is to teach 3-6 year olds about the perils of in-group conformity and out-group oppression and how easily fascistic systems can evolve from seemingly benign messages … but I’m not not saying it. And I’m definitely not saying that this is a story that said 3-6 year olds should be kept from, since inoculation against virulent pathogens (of both the biological and sociopolitical varieties) is a good thing for herd immunity.

    I reserve the right to revise my impressions of Guys, Little and otherwise, once I get my hands on a copy, but in the meantime you can get a look at how such a book gets put together, and to check out Brosgol’s upcoming book tour dates, starting Sunday the 31st.

  • Second, Box Brown continues his alternating pattern of graphic novel that’s a biography of somebody related to wrestling (Andre The Giant, Is This Guy For Real?) and sociological examinations, sometimes with a Russian connection (Tetris), when he releases Cannabis via :01 Books.

    Moreso than some of his earlier works, Cannabis depends on its subtitle to give an idea what the book’s really about: The Illegalization Of Weed In America. There’s a brief history of cannabis use going back a few millenia in India, its spread to the Old and New Worlds, and then it hits the meat of the story: how the prohibition of cannabis was an explicit grab for power and social control, largely by the singular efforts of Harry Anslinger, the first drug policy commissioner.

    (If you don’t know Anslinger’s story, On The Media included a detailed profile of the man in their history of the American drug war, which left me with the inescapable conclusion that Anslinger was motivated, more than anything else, by the fact that he was a racist shitbag. Dude basically murdered Billie Holiday, because she was performing her blackity-black music around decent white folk.)

    All of which makes Cannabis a unique book — not a social history of weed, or arguments for its beneficial nature or why it should be legal, but rather an examination of why it was outlawed, and how very much overemphasis on its dangers has come not from medical proof, but from political expediency to oppress the poor and non-white. My review copy was an early, uncorrected proof, so I’m interested to see what the final version looks like when it comes out. In the meantime, you can make plans to catch up with Brown on his book tour, which technically started last weekend at C2E2.

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