Mumia and the Multitudes
Our graphic narrative series The Illustrated PEN is relaunching in January 2016! We’ll be kicking off the new year with six guest editors—MariNaomi, Robert Kirby, Liza Donnelly, Grace Bello, and Seth Tobocman and Peter Kuper of World War III—whose work we’ll be highlighting over the coming weeks. Up this week is work by guest editor Seth Tobocman. An author, artist, and educator living in New York City, he is perhaps most well known as the co-founder and editor of the comic journal World War 3 Illustrated. Tobocman’s bold graphic style has been immortalized in exhibitions, in the pages of The New York Times, and on the sides of buildings around the globe.
Here is a new comic about an old subject: Mumia Abu-Jamal. Our magazine, World War 3 Illustrated has been active in support of Mumia and other MOVE political prisoners, since long before Mumia wrote a best-selling book and became a popular cause. Immediately after the MOVE bombing in the mid 1980s, I worked with poet Charles Frederick on a poster protesting the police blowing up a block of Philadelphia to attack this small organization. Copies of the magazine were sent to political prisoners and soon we were getting mail from imprisoned MOVE members. In 1993 I produced a piece for WW3 about Mumia’s case. After that, he began contributing to the magazine himself. I was thrilled to see a huge movement develop around his case in the ’90s and equally disappointed when that movement fell apart. But necessity does not follow fashion. Mumia is still in grave danger, and as always, his situation shines a light on the situation of millions of marginalized Americans. —Seth Tobocman
Seth Tobocman is an author, artist, and educator living in New York City. Perhaps most well known as the co-founder and editor of the comic journal World War 3 Illustrated, Tobocman’s bold graphic style has been immortalized in exhibitions, in the pages of The New York Times, and on the sides of buildings around the globe.
The Illustrated PEN is a weekly online series that aspires to be at the intersection of literature, journalism, and visual storytelling, where images and words come together in an ever-emerging and essential creative form. We’ll feature fiction and nonfiction graphic narratives, comics journalism and illustrated reportage, stories of social justice and personal stories that can’t be told through words alone.