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So Tough

Today on the site, Rob Clough reviews Andy Warner and Sofie Louise Dam's This Land Is My Land.

Andy Warner excels at creating bite-sized pieces of unusual history, as seen in his first book, Brief Histories of Everyday Objects. Those observations weren't neutral, as he was careful to discuss the cultural and political ramifications of familiar objects. Much of his other work is more explicitly political in terms of reportage, but his books couch their political barbs in wit and whimsy. In his new book, This Land Is My Land, Warner teams with Danish artist Sofie Louise Dam to tell the stories of micronations, failed utopias, and other such communities throughout history. Simply relating these stories is important because it helps to establish a continuous legacy of resistance not just to the government, but to the entire cultural status quo.

Dam's art is stripped down and cartoony, and it relies a lot on color to tell each story vividly. I found myself wishing Warner had drawn the book himself because I thought his sharper, more naturalistic style would have been a better fit for a lot of the stories. Dam's art does the job and looks beautiful in a few spots, but some of the stories would have benefited from a denser line.

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Besides his research skills, Warner's true talent is his ability to synthesize that information into engaging, small chunks. Most of the entries in the book are just four to six pages, yet Warner is able to convey what made each micronation and the people behind them unique and interesting.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Lynley Stace has a long post analyzing Olivia Jaimes's Nancy by way of Scott Dikkers' humor theory.

—Elena Goukassian at The Nation talks to Brian Fies about his Fire Story.

The sad thing about something like this is you can’t throw a rock without hitting someone with an interesting story. I very much wanted the expanded graphic novel of A Fire Story to be a work of journalism. I wanted to expand it beyond my little bubble of a story and talk about other people’s stories and about the context of geography and climate, socioeconomics. I was very much aware that my experience was a narrow window into this thing. It was bounded by where I lived, how much money I had, my family situation, so I really wanted to go out and find people living different lives. Like Dottie, who it turned out didn’t lose her home in the fire but was still—is still—in dire straits. She is an older woman without a lot of resources, who still doesn’t know how she’s going to get through the day. I talked to a lot of people to feel them out and decided on a few people to interview in depth, because I thought they captured the breadth of the story.

—Vice News profiles Eli Valley.


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