For at least three-four years now, this writer has read comics and graphic novels online. He has no recollection when he got onto Act-i-vate (community.livejournal.com/act_i_vate/; it calls itself an online comics anthology) and Shooting War (www.shootingwar.com). Shooting War, written by Anthony Lappe and illustrated in a completely new collage-meets- vector-art style by Dan Goldman (a co-founder of Act-i-vate), was a favourite (it ran in 11 parts and ended sometime in 2006), even though your favourite columnist isn’t particularly fond of reading comics online.
Shooting War: A graphic take on journalism, new media and blogging.
Shooting War was already popular and became even more so when Wired magazine carried a small story on the comic, leading with a side plot on a suitcase nuke levelling large parts of Bangalore.
Shooting War is set in 2011, even as Republican President John McCain deals with the mess in Iraq (and the angst of being a father whose marine-son has been abducted in Iraq). It is the story of a left-of-centre blogger Jimmy Burns who attains instant fame when he catches the bombing of a Starbucks outlet live as he tests the videoblogging function of his new handy-cam. Soon he finds himself in Iraq, an embedded journalist for a news network.
In late 2007, Grant Central Publishing brought out a hardcover dead-trees version of Shooting War. This writer must admit: The images looked better online, although that might have to do with the fact that print cannot match the kind of resolution today’s computers come with (and it might have to do with the fact that he was looking at the pictures for the first time online, while in print, he was essentially re-reading the book).
Shooting War isn’t really about war and terror and all the other things the story appears to be about. It is actually about the media. Blogging and new media (including citizen journalism or citizen reporting, terms that are loosely thrown about these days) were supposed to present an unbiased, agenda-free view of the world. Despite its hopeful ending, Shooting War is a warning to “new” journalists that they run the risk of becoming pretty much like “old” journalists.
That, though, is the problem with most revolutions.
As Orwell puts it in Animal Farm: “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”
Write to Sukumar at firstname.lastname@example.org