THE ARRESTS, THE “RAIDS” and the pepper spray attract the incendiary headlines. When police and protesters skirmish in Zuccotti Park or Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza or on the UC Davis campus, the news flashes follow the flashpoints.
Then, though, there are the more peaceful gatherings and marches and encampments — where Occupied hasn’t quite turned into Antagonized. There are stories to be told, too, in the relatively milder islands of the movement.
“We seem to hear only about the camps which get raided right now, or the ‘occupy’ marches in which there are clashes with police,” comics journalist Sarah Glidden tells Comic Riffs, “but there are smaller camps all across the country which are still standing and which are finding their own way to make things work in their communities.
“I kind of wanted to highlight the fact that just because we don’t hear about what’s happening in these places doesn’t mean they’re not interesting or important in their own way.”
So Glidden — who had touched down on encampments in Oakland and Vancouver — turned her journalistic focus to Florida. The result is “Occupy Miami,” which debuts today on Cartoon Movement.as the second installment of the website’s Occupy Sketchbook.
“I had planned to just go there to do some sketches for Cartoon Movement, but when I started talking to people in and around the camp and got a feel for their personalities, I felt that I wanted to give more context to the drawings,” says Glidden, who created a textured, text-rich work — 10 pages of thoughtfully observed moments that form an Occupy mosaic.
“I tried to keep the mood of the piece light and personal,” Glidden tells Comic Riffs. “This isn’t an in-depth report on the history of Occupy Miami. But I think you can learn a lot from a place by just hanging out and getting to know some of the people who live there and listening to what they have to say, even if you have just a day.
“Of all the camps I’ve visited, that’s been the unifying factor: If you’re a curious vistor, you are welcomed in and people are happy to share their thoughts — and their pasta salad — with you.”
Those people she got to know and hang out with include Alfredo, the early-20s auto mechanic who tells her: “I’ve been waiting by whole life for this.” There’s Chris, the shirtless, crocs-wearing camper who says that come winter, “We’re counting on [snowbirds].” And there is Raul, the uniformed security guard and former Vietnam War-era activist who says of the protesters: “Are you kidding? I love these guys! ... I love what they do.”
[SARAH GLIDDEN: Comics journalist puts herself on the map]
The Brooklyn-based Glidden is perhaps best-known for work she’s researched in the Middle East, including her critically acclaimed “graphic novel” “How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less.”
“Sarah’s reporting has been mostly from overseas, so it’s nice to get something from her taking place in the States,” says Matt Bors, the Portland-based editorial cartoonist and editor at Cartoon Movement.
(Bors notes that this week and next, his website will have more installments of Occupy Sketchbook — including work by Dan Carino in Los Angeles and Sara Rosenbaum in Boston, as well as an international edition.)
[OCCUPY SKETCHBOOK: Cartoon journalists sketch a multi-city composite]
“I like what Glidden came up with here — it’s different from the other things we’ve run,” Bors tells Comic Riffs. “Is it a sketchbook with a lot of writing, or an essay with some sketches? That may depend on your perspective.
“Either way, it’s a great piece.”
Emphasizing her passion for her Occupy contribution, Glidden notes: “It was the first time I reported on, drew and wrote something all within a few days. I’d like to do more of these.
“Not exactly comics, not exactly an article, but something in between.”
[A TALE OF TWO OCCUPY CARTOONISTS: From arrest to arresting humor in Oakland and D.C.]