Monday, May 10, 2010

“The 500 Years of Resistance Comic Book”

By Gord Hill
ISBN No. 978-1-55152-360-6

Batman, Spiderman, X Men; all comic books; all turned into blockbuster movies. For a while there it looked like the comic book had gone the way of the Sunday newspaper funnies: light, disposable entertainment. And now comes “The 500 Years of Resistance Comic Book” and it’s a reminder about just how complacent popular culture has become in the oppression of human rights, and how wonderfully engaging and provocative comic books can be if they’re done properly. The set-up is simple. Gord Hill, a member of the Kwakwaka’wakw nation, and an activist in the Indigenous people’s movement, whose causes stretch from the 1990 Oka Crisis to the anti-2010 Olympics campaign, documents – through historically accurate black-and-white drawings and text – the resistance of Indigenous people to the European colonization of the Americas. The images and stories are shocking – and not just for the gore quotient. They’re shocking because when it comes to the calendar of the world, Columbus’ visit to America in 1492 is pretty recent and still ripe for re-interpretation and correction (both political and humanistic). What’s really impressive about the book, however, is how the medium fits and re-energizes the message perfectly: the anarchy of comic books, and their ability to shape young minds. And therein lies the true importance of a comic book as brave as this one: it has echoes of the topicality of headline-grabbing causes that the government ignores, wishes would go away (and, thus, get worse). Wow…