Comic Book Star: My Role in a Comic Explaining Why Guantánamo is Such a Bad Idea, and Why It Must Be Closed

5.2.18

A panel from the comic 'Guantanamo Bay is Still Open. Still. STILL!' by Jess Parker and Sarah Mirk, featuring Andy Worthington.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

Three weeks ago, while I was in the US on my annual tour calling for the prison at Guantánamo Bay to be closed, to coincide with the 16th anniversary of its opening, on January 11, I received some great news from a writer friend, Sarah Mirk, that a comic about Guantánamo, in which I featured, had just been published on the website of The Nib, “a daily comics publication that is part of First Look Media,” the organization set up in 2013 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, which also includes The Intercept.

A panel from the comic 'Guantanamo Bay is Still Open. Still. STILL!' by Jess Parker and Sarah Mirk, featuring Andy Worthington.The comic is entitled, Guantánamo Bay is Still Open. Still. STILL!, and Sarah had interviewed me for it in October, although I didn’t know at the time that I would actually be immortalized in comic form!

As I explained when I posted the link on Facebook, “OK, this is very, very cool. I am now a comic book star! What else is left to achieve? Sarah Mirk, who I met in 2009 when she came to the UK with former Guantánamo guard Chris Arendt for Cageprisoners’ powerful ‘Two Sides, One Story‘ tour of the UK, with Moazzam Begg and other ex-prisoners, interviewed me recently, and used that interview as the basis for a comic about Guantánamo, illustrated by the talented Australian artist Jess Parker.”

Sarah is a Contributing Editor for The Nib, and describes herself as “a multi-media journalist who explores issues around gender, politics, and history. She worked for four years as the online editor of feminism and pop culture non-profit Bitch Media, where she hosted the podcast Popaganda. She’s the author of the relationship guidebook Sex from Scratch: Making Your Own Relationship Rules and the sci-fi graphic novel Open Earth.” You can find Jess’s Facebook page here, and her page on The Nib here.

A panel from the comic 'Guantanamo Bay is Still Open. Still. STILL!' by Jess Parker and Sarah Mirk, featuring Andy Worthington.As I also stated, the comic “explains very well the story of Guantánamo, and how and why it is still open.” I also encouraged people, “Do check it out, and share it far and wide!”

So I’m posting it again here on my website in part to mark for a second time my comic book immortality — because, you know, it would be cool even if I wasn’t a massive comics fan, which, although many of you may not know, I am, and have been since I first stumbled on some British reprints of Marvel comics, featuring the original exploits of Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and others, on top of a wardrobe on a family holiday in Devon when I was eight years old, a discovery that was, for me, something akin to stumbling through a wardrobe and discovering Narnia!

In my teenage years I continued to devour Marvel Comics, branching out into more grown-up fare when Alan Moore arrived on the scene to revolutionise the concept of super-hero comics (and comics in general, to be fair), via V for Vendetta, Watchmen and Swamp Thing, to name a few of his celebrated projects, and also embracing other aspects of the comics world, like Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez’s Love & Rockets, for example, the work of Eddie Campbell, and Hugo Pratt’s masterly Corto Maltese.

A panel from the comic 'Guantanamo Bay is Still Open. Still. STILL!' by Jess Parker and Sarah Mirk, featuring Andy Worthington.I then drifted away from comics, although I retained an interest in the medium, particularly enjoying how Studio Ghibli — via films like Spirited Away, Porco Rosso and Totoro — mastered the art of creating films that looked spectacularly like graphic novels brought to life, and found my interests swinging back round to Marvel comics when the first movies began in 2000 with X-Men, and particularly when Marvel Studios began its run of wildly-successful films in 2008, largely capturing the fun and wonder that was so central to Marvel’s success in the 1960s, with Iron Man.

I’ve long thought that Guantánamo deserved some sort of proper comic treatment, and while I think that Guantánamo and the “war on terror” deserve a detailed graphic novel, or a full comics series, Sarah and Jess have created something excellent here, which ought to be printed in bulk and made available to all American schoolchildren, as well as — in a timely manner — explaining succinctly why Donald Trump was so wrong to issue an executive order last week officially keeping the prison open, and doing so in a manner that Trump himself might even understand. OK, he still might need someone to read it to him, but even he ought to be able to understand this comic’s powerful and compelling message.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Donald Trump No! Please Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2017), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

5 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    While I was in the US recently, campaigning for the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay on the 16th anniversary of its opening, I was delighted to be immortalized in comics form by the artist Jess Parker, working with writer Sarah Mirk, who had interviewed me a few months before, in a comic about Guantanamo on The Nib website, explaining why Guantanamo is such a wretched lawless place, and why it should be closed. At the time I posted a link to the comic here on Facebook, but I’ve now featured it in an article on my website, in the hope that more people will see it, and also to target Donald Trump. As I explain, “Sarah and Jess have created something excellent here, which ought to be printed in bulk and made available to all American schoolchildren, as well as — in a timely manner — explaining succinctly why Donald Trump was so wrong to issue an executive order last week officially keeping the prison open, and doing so in a manner that Trump himself might even understand.”

  2. Anna says...

    Oops, my half-finish comment disappeared so once more:

    Congratulations Andy, with this exceptional recognition which is altogether deserved! Tyler is to be envied to have a dad who’s been immortalised in such a very special way.
    The fight continues, no matter what!

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Anna. Great to hear from you!
    Yes, the fight definitely must continue. Hope you’ve seen my latest, a reminder to those with short memories that the president who set up Guantanamo mustn’t have his story rewritten to make him appear somehow acceptable: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2018/02/07/exactly-16-years-ago-george-w-bush-opened-the-floodgates-to-torture-at-guantanamo/

  4. Tom says...

    Comic book star? Impressive.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Tom!

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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