New ‘WW 3’ takes on Trump and other monsters

Satirical cartoons by Peter Kuper, above and below, from the current issue of “World War 3 Illustrated.”

BY GABE HERMAN | The latest issue of “World War 3 Illustrated,” an annual countercultural graphic novel, was released in early December, continuing its tradition of serious social commentary from the left.

Titled “Now is the Time of Monsters: A Graphic Discourse on Predatory Capitalism,” the collection from several artists looks at a number social issues, including Trump, but beyond him, as well.

“We wanted to talk about the morality of the age of Trump without necessarily talking all the time about Trump,” said Seth Tobocman. Tobocman co-edited this issue and co-founded WW3 in 1979 as a magazine from volunteer artists and activists based in New York City.

He said that when the new issue’s theme was coming together, the word “predator” came up, which has often been in the news but has a sexual connotation. The comic’s issue, however, was looking beyond only sexual themes.

“So we thought of the term ‘monster,’ and we thought about how in Greek mythology, monsters are symbolic of the vices of humanity,” Tobocman said, adding that in medieval times, monsters represented human failings.

The economy is a big theme in the issue.

“We wanted to attack this notion of the wonderful robust Trump economy,” Tobocman explained. He said that even though the stock market and employment numbers are up, wages are not and many are underemployed.

Tobocman noted there are high suicide rates among Uber and taxi drivers, which parallel high suicide rates among industrial workers in China. A piece in the issue called “Don’t Be Conned By Foxconn,” by Susan Simensky Bietila, explores a deal that Trump made to bring Foxconn, a Taiwanese electronics company, to the U.S., despite the business’s record of worker suicides and accusations of treating employees poorly.

“The economy is becoming, in a lot of ways, more desperate,” Tobocman stated. “And people have less security, even if they have greater employment than they might’ve had 10 years ago.”

Another work in “WW 3” is “Good Jobs,” by Terry Tapp. An industrial worker most of his life, Tapp highlights the dangers of manufacturing jobs, which he says are only good jobs if workers can unionize for rights.

Tobocman is a longtime East Villager and teaches at the School of Visual Arts. For this volume of “WW 3,” he contributed a graphic comic called “The Monster in Albany,” exploring environmental issues and fracking in New York State. “WW 3” co-founder Peter Kuper contributed comic monster illustrations of Trump, members of his cabinet and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Tobocman noted the collection has a section by Jenny Gonzalez Blitz that looks at the situations of people with mental illness in the workplace, and another by artist and journalist Kevin Pyle that focuses on border issues.

“I could go on about every single artist because I love these folks,” Tobocman said. “They do great work, and I’m really happy to be able to present it to the public.”

More information about the current issue and “World War 3 Illustrated” can be found at www.ww3.nyc . 

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