Portraits of Violence: An Illustrated History of Radical Thinking


From political philosopher and New York Times writer Brad Evans, and Eisner-nominated comic writer Sean Michael Wilson (The Faceless Ghost, Breaking The Ten) comes an examination of violence in today’s world and different approaches to the problem.

Violence remains one of the most complex problems facing our societies. The problem is multiple, comes in various forms and affects us all in one way or another. How we respond must begin with the power of education in innovative and accessible ways. Bringing together established academics and award-winning comic book writers and illustrators, Portraits of Violence takes up this challenge by introducing the most compelling ideas and episodes in the critique of violence.

Wilson and Evans have selected some of the most established academics on the subject including Noam Chomsky, Paulo Friere, Judith Butler and many more. In ten chapters, they present a fascinating examination on violence from these great minds’ many different viewpoints. Particular highlights include a piece on Hannah Arendt that mainly focuses on her findings while reporting for the New Yorker on the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1961. Her conclusions based on what she witnessed are a quite frightening prospect that normal people have come to regard violence as commonplace and as a result have distanced themselves from thinking critically on the subject – especially when the author applies them to today’s world where acts of cruelty of all varieties are shown to exist in all walks of life from riding on the Tube to atrocities on the field of war. Chris Mackenzie does a particularly sterling job at conveying these frightening images and thoughts through his art.

Also worth checking out is the great opener that puts a discussion Brad Evans had with New York Times journalist Natasha Lennard into comic format which looks at different modern approaches to violence whilst taking into account past approaches. Artist Inko provides great contrasting styles with an almost shojo-esque approach in the discussion scene which are interspersed with a more gritty style when it comes to showing scenes of historical and modern day violence. There are plenty of other great art standouts including two pieces illustrated by Carl Thompson focusing on the work of Edward Said and Noam Chomsky, and frequent Sean Michael Wilson collaborator Michiru Morikawa produces a great chapter about Judith Butler’s musings on how people and countries need to understand acts of violence from a wider perspective.

Evans and Wilson’s passion on the subject strongly shines through making this collection a fascinating read whilst being a great showcase for diverse group of talents and offering varied discussion points on a very serious issue.

Portraits of Violence is published 12 October by New Internationalist

9781780263182  p/b  £9.99

Post by Leo

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