Review of “Resistance to Ecocide” in Comics Bulletin
Review: ‘The Minimum Security Chronicles: Resistance To Ecocide’: Don’t let the cute bunny fool you
A comic review article by: John Yohe
Don’t let the cute bunny fool you, The Minimum Security Chronicles: Resistance To Ecocide is a radical and much needed (comic) book on how to save ourselves, and our world, from capitalism.
Writer/Artist Stephanie McMillan uses each of her cartoon characters, human and non, to represent different aspects of, or different philosophies within, the environmental movement, or within its more radical edges. Mainstream environmental activists, the kind that, say, listen to NPR and recycle their Starbucks cups, do appear, but only to be mocked mercilessly by her main characters—McMillan isn’t wasting time with those basic useless ideas, and she assumes her readers don’t either.
Instead, with background incidents like the building of a new nuclear power plant (now considered a good ‘green’ compromise to oil and coal by those mainstream environmentalists)(!) and even worse—a corporation’s plan to implement/commit “geo-engineering” as a way to save the Earth from climate change (and of course make a profit doing so), McMillan’s characters, human and cute-animal alike, have discussions, more like arguments, about what is the best response to, the best way to stop, these acts of violence against the natural world (and us).
The cute bunny, the one who likes to build bombs and commit acts of sabotage, is named Bunnista, and the reason he only has one eye? He was experimented on in a make-up testing lab, as rabbits are. Fortunately he escaped, and now fights the good fight against the corporations. He is one of the more radical characters, though not, like he was in one of McMillan’s other graphic novels, As The World Burns: 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial, he is the most radical, and his methods are kinda sorta refuted in some of the discussions. And though all he does is blow shit up (versus killing) he is, of course, labeled a terrorist, though all of the other main characters are, because they refuse to protest using “peaceful” guidelines enforced by our corporation-controlled government.
Anyone doubting, because many of the McMillan’s characters are cute animals, that she’s making up anything about what the bad guys (i.e. the corporations) in her story are doing, particularly against environmental activists, are encouraged to do more research. Check out, for example, read Green Is The New Red, by Will Potter, which chronicles how, since 9/11, law enforcement agencies (federal and local) are cracking down on activists, under new laws passed by federal and local governments, but written by (and for) think tanks financed by BigPharma and BigAg and other corporate organizations, laws that are making what were considered sacred 1st Amendment rights, like free speech and free assembly, acts of “terrorism.”
I really enjoyed Bunnista’s first appearance in McMillan’s As The World Burns: 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial, also another graphic novel, which might be a better intro for those of you who are already thinking Resistance To Ecocide is sounding a wee bit to radical. As The World Burns’ larger format works a little better, more space for bigger art, and for the text. At times, Resistance, which has a smaller almost square format, though perfect for carrying in a backpack, can feel cluttered with dialogue, as the characters argue their various points of view. McMillan is aware of this though, and uses it to comic effect, like on page 99 when Bunnista is on a roll/rant and his dialogue bubble takes up most of the panel, leaving him a little space at the bottom to peek out of and smile. (In fact, his experimented-on eye actually looks like a continual wink—McMillan’s way of reminding us not to take anything too seriously perhaps).
McMillan isn’t proposing easy answers, except that the problems are systemic—the (capitalist) system is the problem. In fact, while she has some obvious sympathies with the environmental movement, she in fact demonstrates that the correct term would be environmental movements, plural, and her ‘function’ as an artist, at least in this and her other books (she is also active in the Real World as “an organizer for the anti-capitalist/anti-imperialist collective One Struggle” according to her bio) is to act as the court jester: making fun of everyone. Like Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, McMillan is irreverent—there are no sacred cows, everything will (and must) be satirized, though she is of course harsher on the more mainstream ideas about environmentalism. Even a movement considered quite radical by the mainstream media, Occupy!, gets a scathing critique.
These critiques are McMillan’s agenda: by making fun of everything and everybody, including radical environmental movements (again, plural) McMillan forces us to evaluate, and reevaluate, both the ways we are all complicit and complacent, and what we could be doing better. But, you know, time is running out. There are no clear-cut answers, and As Victoria the Guinea Pig and friends say, we need all of the different movements, “Dismantling infrastructure.” “A revolutionary mass movement.” “…organized class-conscious forces capable of pushing the rulers our of power and seizing that power.” Plus? “….a little bit of wild magic.” (65)
Sound too serious and unrealistic? Remember, this is a cute guinea pig speaking. The genius of McMillan’s work is that it deals with heavy, serious, world-threatening, concepts, and makes them accessible, enjoyable, and even fun(ny). To paraphrase Emma Goldman, “If I can’t laugh, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”
I want to be part of Stephanie McMillan’s revolution.