As thousands of news reports and opinion columns reflecting on the ongoing financial crisis continue to fill major newsprint pages across the world, rare in the media-driven noise are carefully crafted written works that breakdown contemporary economic turmoil at the roots in anti-capitalist terms that stand as bedrock to current protests in New York City.
Understanding the Crash is a standout book collectively drafted by iconic street-driven graphic artist Seth Tobocman, author/activist Eric Laursen and writer Jessica Wehrle, all based in New York City.
Over decades Tobocman’s hand-drawn comic works and protest stencils, voicing anarchist ideals or challenges to unchecked political power, have emerged as visual reference points for grassroots activism all around the world.
In recent weeks Tobocman’s imagery has taken to the streets in New York within the #occupywallstreet protests, illuminating picket signs and pointing to the skilled drawing hand of an artist rooted in and respected in social movements.
In Understanding the Crash, community-driven narratives on city-specific struggles against market-driven speculative economics are skillfully outlined. From the Miami housing market bubble burst that ignited housing rights battles, to community struggles for affordable housing in Cleveland, the book etches a detailed picture of a corrupt economic system and stories on grassroots organizing for change. Incredibly, the graphic book finds a balance between presenting a numbered critique on extreme capitalism in the US and providing factual political context to the current economic crisis, while also beautifully outlining human stories that inspire a reader in the heart.
Artistically the book is incredible, rooted in Toboman’s unforgettable comic stylings, each frame contains numerous layers and symbols that keep you flipping back to read and re-read the chapters.
Essentially, Understanding the Crash is an inspired visual arts, comic-culture rooted educational tool that is an timely essential read. In breaking down key moments in the process of US governments deregulating the financial sector, the book details how economic wealth in America has increasingly shifted into few hands over the past decades in critical detail, striking a balance between being educational and highly accessible.
As economic injustice sparks protests across the US, banking on revolts and revolutions across the world, Understanding the Crash is a wonderful example of the important bridge that artists play in popularizing facts and inspiring people to join grassroots movements. In the next days as people tune in to the spreading #occupywallstreet protests across North America and encourage activist networks in your own communities to take action, order a copy of Understanding the Crash to arm your mind, soul and spirit for the struggle ahead.