The Anti-Capitalist Resistance Comic Book is the second graphic novel from activist Gord Hill. It is a chronicle of several anti-capitalist and anti-globalization movements over the last two decades, from the WTO protests in Seattle to the recent Occupy movements. Hill also places a great deal of emphasis on the violence that has accompanied these movements, regardless of whether that violence was perpetrated by police or protestors.
As a documentary account of these events, The Anti-Capitalist Resistance Comic Book does a passable job. Hill was clearly involved in many of the movements chronicled in the book and is able to expose events that were under-covered or completely overlooked by mainstream media outlets at the time. This is the greatest strength of the book, which is at its best whenever it is able to provide first person accounts from inside the political actions it depicts.
As decent and occasionally eye-opening a documentary account as Hill’s book can be, it utterly fails for me as work of commentary. A brief history of capitalism and its myriad problems (and I’ll be the first to agree that there are many) is provided but very little in the way of solutions beyond blind rage is offered.
Hill is quick to glorify violence as a method of political activism, often portraying the infamous Black Bloc as heroes of his accounts, and even quicker to mock pacifist movements. Ironically, Hill makes it a point to chastise pacifist movements and protestors for lacking respect for a “diversity of tactics” because of their opposition to the violent practices of the Black Bloc protestors. The violent opposition championed by Hill is often juxtaposed with the violence perpetrated on protestors, both violent and peaceful, by the police. Hill is very critical of this violence (“F**k you pigs” is a staple of the comic’s dialogue) and rightly so considering the actions taking by police at many of the events documented in the comic. Unfortunately, Hills glosses over the connection between the violence of the Black Bloc and the violence of the police.
Ignoring the connection between violent protests and violent response to protests is perhaps my biggest issue with Hill’s glorification of violence as a method of protest. Hill ignores the possibility that the violent protests have the potential to force the police to increase the severity of their own response, much like law enforcement officials often ignore the similar effect that police actions have on encouraging violent groups like the Black Bloc. The Anti-Capitalist Resistance Comic Book avoids any introspection where this cycle of violence is concerned, opting instead to rage endlessly against the man and those protestors unwilling to accept violence.
As a comic book, Hill’s offering also falls short of the mark. The visuals are beyond simple, offering little more than the occasional reminder of images we may have forgotten to the stories told within. Hill routinely clutters his panels with exposition, muddling the visuals and making the act of reading many sequences a chore. Perhaps these stories might be better served delivered in the form of an oral history which would benefit from the eyewitness accounts Hill can offer, rather than a comic book which is restrained by the lack of visual storytelling here.
Ultimately, Hill’s second graphic novel has plenty of potential to provide an interesting and informed alternative perspective to the mainstream portrayal of these events, but squanders it. The author’s blind acceptance of violence as the only solution and weak visual storytelling make it not much more than another angry voice among many shouting “f**k you pig!”