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Comic: Ctrl.Alt.Shift Unmasks Corruption

A selection of the world’s most compelling graphic novelists and comic artists are to collaborate with experimental youth initiative Ctrl.Alt.Shift, to create a limited edition comic book Ctrl.Alt.Shift Unmasks Corruption which aims to highlight corruption as both the cause of poverty and a barrier to overcoming it.

Comprising original work from leading comic artists, satirists and creative figures from around the world including USA, South Africa, India, Sweden, Serbia and the UK, Ctrl.Alt.Shift Unmasks Corruption will engage and challenge the issues of social injustice in a bid to politicise a new generation of activists through the medium of popular comic culture.

VV Brown, Dan Goldman, Aleksandar Zograf, Bryan Talbot, Pat Mills, Asia Alfasi and Dylan Horrocks are a few of the high profile individuals who will create original bespoke comic strips inspired by stories of corruption. The finished comic will be 96 pages long and made up of more than 20 unique illustrated tales. Edited by Paul Gravett (Comica Director), John Dunning and Emma Pettit, Ctrl.Alt.Shift Unmasks Corruption will be available to buy for £4.99 online at Ctrl.Alt.Shift and all good comic retailers from November. Profits from the comic book will go to Ctrl.Alt.Shift.

Contributing artists to Ctrl.Alt.Shift Unmasks Corruption include:
Adele Austin & Woodrow Phoenix (UK)
Aleksandar Zograf (Serbia)
Asia Alfasi (Libya / UK)
Ben Dickson & Warren Pleece (UK)
Bryan Talbot (UK)
Cole Johnson (USA)
Dan Goldman (USA)
Daniel Merlin Goodbrey (UK) - online comic only
Dave McKean (UK)
Dylan Horrocks (New Zealand)
Elettra Stamboulis & Gianluca Costantini (Italy)
Ferry Gouw (UK)
Floodworks (Ethan Ede / Adam Rosenlund) (USA)
Fredrik Stromberg & Jan Bielecki (Sweden)
Jason Masters (South Africa)
Josue Menjivar (El Salvador / Canada)
Laura Oldfield Ford (UK) - cover
Lee O’Connor & Pat Mills (UK)
Lightspeed Champion & Luke Pearson (UK)
Patrick Dean (USA)
Paul O’Connell & Marcus Bleasdale (UK)
Sean Michael Wilson & Michiru Morikawa (Japan / UK)
Vishwajyoti Ghosh (India)
VV Brown, David Allain & Emma Price (UK)

Below, some of the contributing artists discuss their aims and motivation in taking part in the project.

Dylan Horrocks:
I’m in my early 40s, but sometimes when I read what’s happening in the world, I feel like a tired old man. It’s easy to feel hopeless and cynical, when things just seem to get worse (wars, environmental crisis, poverty, tyranny) no matter what we do. But then I remind myself of the growing awareness and concern people have - not just about the problems, but also their causes and possible solutions. The level of discussion and understanding seems ever more sophisticated, thanks to the work of NGOs, the alternative media, and above all the internet. So I’m hopeful that some kind of cultural shift is going on that provides a glimmer of hope on even the darkest days. Of course, governments and corporations don’t like it when people rock the boat, and they’re pushing back - trying to tighten the limits on free speech, net neutrality, democracy and even basic human rights. But we’re not going to let them get away with that, are we?

Elettra Stamboulis & Ginaluca Costantini:
Corruption is a common illness in Italy. It is a wide-spread phenomenon, so wide-spread that sometimes it seems to disappear. But when catastrophes like Abruzzo’s earthquake happen, it becomes very clear how dangerous can it be to our everyday life. It is not only a question of justice, but of survival.

Dan Goldman:
When presented with the opportunity to do a short comic on corruption in the world, I felt I’d be doing my nation-of-origin a disservice if I didn’t focus squarely on it. But rather than creating a calling-out of individuals or organizations agit prop piece, I rather wanted to address something more systemic: Take Two is about the insidious and pervasive tango of the pharmaceutical/food industry and the media that sells it all to us as reality, how it affects/controls and even shapes culture. Showing one man’s journey from birth to old age, and how this chemical kosh he swims in throughout his life affects him and those around him.  Conceived as a comic “tone poem”, I wanted to wordlessly show these chains of manufactured consumer-reality from the point-of-view of a young man doubting who he is, where he comes from, and the possibilities inherent in breaking free of them… even if by then it is too late.

Pat Mills:
I have strong personal connections with Iran, so I jumped at the chance to write a story about the elections. And I think the relationship of an Ayatollah and his rebellious son (based closely on real-life people and incidents) has great dramatic potential which I want to explore further in subsequent stories. BTW… Have a lovely quote from my source about Ayatollah’s Son… how the biggest problem in Iran is the break-up of the family, as children turn against parents etc because of the rule of the Mullahs. Will pass it on in an interview or something.

Ben Dickson:
When was the last time you saw a story on the news about Latin America? Not recently, most likely. This is why I jumped at the chance to be a part of this anthology.  Corruption is something that thrives in silence.  In Colombia (as in several other parts of Latin America), the exceptional levels of corruption persist largely because the rest of the world simply doesn’t know about it, and many of the powers that be (both governments and corporations) have a vested interest in keeping it that way. What my friend Nate witnessed that day was just one incident amongst thousands, where innocent people crossed the self-interests of the Colombian state, or simply got caught in the crossfire. Yet in the intervening years Jhonny Silva has become a symbol of state oppression, for the simple reason that those who witnessed it want this story to be known. If there was one message I would wish you to learn from reading this book, it’d be this: talk about what you have read. Learn more about the stories and their backgrounds. Because the more you read, the more you learn and the more you talk, the harder you make it for people to do it again.

Asia Alfasi:
Through this girl’s story on YouTube I make a comment on media handling of situations like the Palestinian conflict. In this case the “the Israeli army takes all precaution and care to not kill civilians”. The parroting of these statements while simultaneously glossing over facts that show otherwise is my accusation of corruption. I translate the girl’s story within the pages as she tells it herself.

Sean Michael Wilson:
I’ve found an interesting case of a successful community based effort against corruption in Thailand. It involved an alliance of citizens, NGO’s and local business against corrupt practices in the health service there. It resulted in prosecutions of leading politicians and ongoing process of checking such things. I have tried to personalise it by putting it into the mouth of a fictitious Thai activist lady being interviewed by a journalist and showing some scenes of what happened, plus putting them in a cute ‘tuck tuck’ taxi they have there, allowing some street scenes to be included too.

Vishwajyoti Ghosh:
In the times we live in, we are not anymore bothered with the prevalence of corruption, but the accepted normalcy of it. We all go around it in our daily lives, whichever background or profession we come from. In today’s times it is an autonomous institution accepted by all of us both as a nation that is moving towards being a regional super power or as a world that looks up to a brighter future round the corner. It’s there, it’s fine, we are fine. Corruption is a comfortable cancer we have all learned to live with.

Aleksandar Zograf:
I believe that corruption is one of the problems of modern societies. Our contemporary world is based on the frantic need to gain funds and material goods, which only enlarges space for different (and more sophisticated) forms of corruption. Yet, as a phenomenon, it’s nothing new - it is as old as the human race! In my story, I was refering to the origins of corruption in the Balkan area - connected with the historical situation in that part of Europe. It was a place where big empires were dominating for centuries - and the local societies were suffering either because of the strict rule by a distant centre of power, or because of the lack of it, when the local state officials would take control of the government. I think that it’s important to collect the stories about corruption in a comic anthology, because we can learn from each other’s experiences, historical or present, personal or general. As a very picturesque and communicative medium, comics are good as a means to communicate all that.

Fredrik Stromberg:
This is a story about a trip I made to Romania while it was still under the rule of the Communist dictator Ceausescu. The story starts with my 20th birthday party at the very best restaurant in Romania, which we could frequent since we changed money on the black market and got about ten times the official rate due to everyone craving for foreign currency to be able to buy things in the so called “Dollar shops”. I then describe what it was like for us tourists having more money than we could spend, switching to shortly tell the story of Ceausescu’s regime and all the problems it caused, ending with me today, looking at the party and the naive 20-year old, freely using the situation to get ahead, not considering the people who were mistreated more or less on my behalf.

When: Sunday, November 1, 2009


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