We’re no fans of staid platform speakers here at rabble. That said, some of us did our time arguing the toss over Kronstadt and elections in the kitchen at parties. No wonder then that the Great Moments In Leftism comic tickles our funny bone.
So, who are you? A bunch of embittered old anarcho-punks, closet hipsters? I can smell the primitivism from your use of the term ‘leftism?’ The CIA sowing discord?
I get the term left communist thrown at me a bit, which isn’t too off the mark. I usually just go with communist, or ultra left.
Where do yer ideas come from? Do you drum them all up yourselves or in this age of social media, do people send stuff in?
Most of the strips are my ideas, but I have collaborators who regularly come up with ideas. Readers also send in ideas, which are sometimes used.
Does Great Moments In Leftism come in for much abuse online? Tell me about your worst trollings?
I wouldn’t say there’s been trolling, just negative feedback.
Your humour depends on the how homogenous the left is globally,and how and replicates itself without much localisation. Is this not worrisome?
I’m not losing sleep over it.
Your work is part of a more general, internet based viral humour around the left. I can think of the recent Facebook page demanding wages for social media users, the Deterritorial Support Group and the full communism meme. Has the left finally learnt to laugh at itself?
There’s been self-referential left-wing satire in the past. John Sullivan‘s writings on the UK left, Paul Petard’s excellent comics, and even the odd sect or two have found moments to laugh at themselves.
What’s been your most viral comic about the left to date?
The Ukraine one has been shared quite a bit, along with the capitalism-into-socialism magic trick comic. They’re also the most viewed comics on the blog.
You’ve pilloried plenty of people too, I’m thinking of the Joan Walsh comic over wage slavery and interns, Chomsky over his anarchism, Kshama Sawant over sewer socialism. Are there no sacred cows? Have you experienced any online storms over these call outs?
The Joan Walsh comic wasn’t controversial and I didn’t expect it to be, given that she isn’t even associated with the left. It’s so far the only Great Moments in Liberalism comic, but I might do some more if there’s a good target.
The reactions to the Chomsky comic were interesting. A lot of people didn’t like it, and some went as far as calling the comic dishonest regarding Chomsky’s support for Democratic Party politicians during elections. Of course, if you were to take a few seconds to do a search for evidence, you would find plenty of articles about Chomsky encouraging a vote for various politicians, going at least back to John Kerry in 2004.
The Kshama Sawant comics got pretty angry reactions. Here was an electoral campaign for a seat in a municipal government, with an unabashedly center-left reform-oriented platform, all under the banner of a self-proclaimed “revolutionary socialist” sect. I look forward to future Socialist Alternative analysts, pundits, and policy wonks to tell us why we’re not being serious with the whole “communism” thing.
The left does get seen as a rather humourless creature, but it wasn’t always that way. For instance, the IWW used to carry a rather hilarious strip called Mr Block back in the day. What left wing comic artists or illustrators do you look to for inspiration? Is there any?
I’m a big fan of the Mr. Block comics. There’s a lot of cartoonists out there I like and who inspired me, but there’s not many associated with the left who I look to as an influence. Ted Rall is certainly there, not only for the political content of his comics, but equally as much his characteristic rough and rudimentary drawing style (and I mean that in the best possible way). I’d also include the Mexican cartoonist Rius, for similar reasons.
Some of your comics have a twinge of embarrassment, it’s as if you are saying, the left needs to move on, that its flogging a dead horse. What’s the alternative?
The alternative is that “the left” needs to get over itself.