Class Struggle Through the Eyes of Food

An article by, Aaron Burton

I was approached by a man while I was walking into work the other day. He told me he could send healthy meals directly to my house. This man was spending his day starting up conversations with strangers in order to sell them gourmet meals. All of this was occurring a block away from a sidewalk full of food trucks. A block away from the food trucks is a small artisan donut shop filled with and uncommon combination of flavors.

Americans have always had a passionate affair with food. We seem to be living in an era where the culture surrounding food is changing. People are more interested in organic and fresh food. Artisan food crafting gives customers access to different types and combinations of ingredients. Farmer’s markets and food trucks are popping up all over cities and towns. Americans have access to a wider variety of foods than ever before. Food has also made waves in the political realm to the point where policies and regulations regarding food are common political issues.

Many people see the perks of this cultural shift as a positive. There is a large group of people eating healthier foods with higher quality ingredients. The access and selection of gourmet foods has never been higher. Others, however, see this as a further separation between the wealth classes in the United States. They believe that the lower class is being priced out of these benefits. There are many places in America where it is difficult to find fresh, non processed food.

Starve is an Image Comic written by Brian Wood with art by Danijel Zezelj and Dave Stewart. This story takes the gentrification argument to its extreme. In a country where only the wealthiest citizens can afford quality food it is up for one man to change the status quo. Gavin Cruikshank is known as one of the best chefs in the world. His once humble television program has turned into the most extreme cooking competitions. To make it to the top, contestants must commit crimes and acts of violence to prepare their meals. This is all done for the satisfaction of the cultural elite.

Gavin's journey is filled with obstacles and pitfalls. Brian Wood made sure that his character was put through the wringer to achieve character development. Gavin is working toward rekindling a relationship with his estranged family. He is also fighting with network executives who are entrenched in their way of thinking. All of this is happening on top of being a contestant on an all-star season of his own television program. There never seems to be a dull moment for our protagonist.

The political theme of this book becomes stronger as the story unfolds. One consistency in Gavin's character is his distaste for the rich and famous. He believes that everyone should have access to fresh and high quality food. This is the main motivation for his actions. Gavin's journey takes him across all walks of society as he attempts to bring food to the people. Not only does Gavin fight against the upper-class food elite, he also brings aid to the working class in his city.

The artwork in Starve illustrates Gavin's bleak outlook on his current situation. The art style is mostly dark, with the occasional brighter, contrasting color. Zezelj and Stewart found the perfect balance of darkness and vibrancy while keeping the color palette low resulting in pages that look dull and bright at the same time. The drawing is often busy and chaotic, which is a good fit for the story elements. Starve excels at creating an immersive reading experience.

Another interesting aspect of Starve is the book’s built in recipes. The panels often include montages of the characters cooking. When this occurs details about the cooking process are written on the page. These panels may not provide all the information needed to prepare the meal, but give readers a good idea on the composition of the dish. This serves as a great break in the action, and will be a treat for kitchen-savvy readers.

It is hard to change the world on an empty stomach, especially when you are fighting against the rich and powerful. Gavin Cruikshank uses his fame and resources to start a food-based cultural revolution. The story makes an argument for why fresh food should not be a perk of the privileged. Wood, Zezelj and Stewart come together to present comic book lovers with an exciting tale forewarning of the possible downsides of good eating.

For The Love of Indie #30- We Can Fix It, Deadly Class, Spill Zone

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Featuring stories by:
Kel McDonald & Molly Muldoon
Alina Pete
Aud Koch
Kendra Wells
Mariah McCourt & Aliz Fernández
Meredith McClaren
Monica Gallagher
Rashad Doucet
Rhiannon Rasmussen-Silverstein & Cat Farris & Melanie Ujimori
Seanan McGuire & Caitlin Like
Shauna Grant
Sophie Goldstein
Zach Lehner

Publisher: Image Comics
Learn about some small town serial killers here
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Writer: David M. Brown
Artist/Colors: D.N.S.
Letters: Mira Mortal
Publisher: 5d Comics 
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 Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Wes Craig
Check out the TV show announcement here
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 Writer/Artist: Jess Fink
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
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Writer/Artist: Kyle Starks
Colorist: Chris Schweizer
Publisher: Image Comics
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Publisher: First Second
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Comic releases for June 21st, 2017

A Modern and Relevant Take on Vigilantism

An article by, Aaron Burton

The tale of the vigilante hero has been around about as long as humans have been settled and civilized. Regardless of the presence of a formal government, every civilization throughout history has developed a set of rules for it's members. Over time, while humans transitioned from tribes into larger societies, the rules became more complex. Humans started developing laws and regulations in order to maintain a peaceful society.

As a society grows it becomes increasingly difficult to form a set of laws which encompass the views and philosophies of every individual. This leaves gaps and overlaps which may cause people to deter from their rulers. All of this is occurring on top of human imperfections, political and religious struggles, and competitions for resources. In a system with all of these moving parts it is not strange that individuals would take the law into their own hands in order to right some wrongs.

Most of us are familiar with the story of the classic vigilante hero known as Robin Hood. Stories of Robin Hood can be traced back to ballads and poems in the 1300s. He stood in the face of the corrupt and greedy leaders in order to increase the quality of life for the common folk. Comic book readers will easily be able to see correlations between Robin Hood and many of their favorite superheroes. There are even story lines where Robin Hood is killed off only to have another man step up and take up the mantle.

The Tithe, created by Matt Hawkins and Rahsan Ekedal, adds a creative spin to idea of the proletariat vigilante. This comic is a property of Top Cow Productions and is distributed under Image Comics. The Tithe tells the story of a secular vigilante hacker collective known as Samaritan who target corrupt megachurches.

For those unfamiliar, a megachurch is a Christian organization that draws thousands of people for their religious services. On this large of a scale the offering plates bring in a substantial amount of money. The money collected by churches is typically used to keep the church running and to help those in need. In many instances, the large amounts of money moving through megachurches have been used to fund the lavish lifestyles of the church staff. Many people view this as fraud, especially since religious organizations are tax-exempt in the United States.

This is where Samaritan comes into play. The band of revolutionaries steal money from these corrupt churches, leaving just enough behind for authorities to bust the churches for their fraudulent activities. Samaritan also has a duplicitous relationship with the FBI similar to that of superheroes with their local law enforcement. The authorities are trying to catch Samaritan, but at the same time benefit from their actions.

The Tithe offers a modern take on the vigilante genre. Samaritan uses advanced hacking skills in order to reach their goals. Though hacking is a not a new concept for comic books, The Tithe offers a relevant look at computer-based activism. Their style is reminiscent of real-life hacktivist groups suck as Wikileaks and Anonymous. Stories like these have been very popular in world news over the past decade. The Tithe does a great job on providing commentary on this topic.

Hacking isn't the only way The Tithe stands out from other comics. Typically heroes target violent criminals such as a drug dealers and hit men. This book deals with the white collar crime of fraud. This is further enhanced by the fact that the fraud is being committed by famous religious figures. Going against the church is still taboo in much of of American society. Though The Tithe is not a scathing indictment of Christianity, it does give a look into the corruption that can be seen from within some religious organizations.

Ekedal does an exquisite job with the artwork.This includes creative uses of the pages such as overlapping and uneven panels. My personal favorite aspect is the style of the eyeless and cracked Jesus masks worn by Samaritan members. The masks really intensify the action packed parts of the story. The corrupt church staff face justice by people donning the visage of Christ himself.

Hawkins and Ekedal came together to make a very intriguing take on a mythological vigilante hero. By combining computer technology with American society's views of religion, readers are treated to a story that reflects the current world. Robin Hood may not have had access to the FBI's file database, but I am sure he would have been proud of Samaritan's revolutionary activities.

For the Love of Indie #29- Tekkonkinkreet & Katie Skelly

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A Chat with Katie Skelly
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Buy Nurse Nurse here
Preorder My Pretty Vampire here

Writer/Artist: Taiyo Matsumoto
Publisher: Viz Media
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Comic Releases for June 14th, 2017