Guantánamo Voices: An Amazing Comic Book Version of the Guantánamo Story

The front cover of “Guantánamo Voices: True Accounts from the World’s Most Infamous Prison,” and a page from the chapter based on an interview with attorney Shelby Sullivan-Bennis, featuring the campaign to secure the release of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, drawn by Kasia Babis, a Polish cartoonist and political activist.

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I wrote the following article for the “Close Guantánamo” website, which I established in January 2012, on the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, with the US attorney Tom Wilner. Please join us — just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email.

I have nothing but praise for “Guantánamo Voices: True Accounts from the World’s Most Infamous Prison,” a brand-new book, just published by Abrams, which was written by Portland-based multi-media journalist Sarah Mirk, and illustrated by a number of talented graphic artists.

I should say upfront that I was the fact checker for the book, having been in contact with Sarah for many years. In 2018, I appeared, in comic book form, illustrated by the Australian artist Jess Parker, in Guantánamo Bay is Still Open. Still. STILL!, a story in the comics anthology magazine The Nib, for which Sarah is an editor, based on an interview she had conducted with me in October 2017.

Previously, I had met Sarah in London in January 2009, when she came to the UK with former Guantánamo guard Chris Arendt for an extraordinary tour of the UK, also featuring former prisoner and British citizen Moazzam Begg (released in 2005) and other ex-prisoners, called “Two Sides, One Story,” which was organized by the advocacy group Cageprisoners (now CAGE).

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RIP Steve Ditko: You, Jack Kirby and Wally Wood Opened My Eyes to a World of Heroic Fantasy

Steve Ditko's cover for Amazing Spider-Man No. 4, possibly the first super-hero comic I read, as a nine-year old in 1972.Today I’m remembering the US comic artist Steve Ditko, who has died at the age of 90, and was one of three comic artists who opened my eyes to the world of super-heroes — Marvel super-heroes — on a summer holiday in Devon in 1972, when I was nine years old.

On a wardrobe in a B&B where we were staying were pages from a couple of comics, Smash! and Pow!, which were published in the late 60s by Odhams Press, a subsidiary of IPC, featuring reprints of Marvel comics from the 1960s — especially, I remember, Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man, Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four, and Wally Wood’s Daredevil. 

All three titles were written by Stan Lee, whose abilities with characterisation and breezy dialogue helped to ensure that Marvel made super-hero comics cool in the 1960s, and made their main rivals DC, the home of Superman and Batman, look increasingly irrelevant.

However. while Stan may have had the patter, the vision came from the artists. Jack Kirby’s heroic, electric style epitomised the new face of super-heroes, creating a template that continues to fundamentally define the medium. The Fantastic Four started Marvel’s’ super-hero era in November 1961, and in the extraordinarily fertile few years that followed, Kirby, with Lee, also brought forth almost the entire basis of the Marvel Universe — Thor, the Hulk, Iron Man, the Avengers, featuring the revival of Captain America, which Kirby had created with Joe Simon back in the 1940s, and the original X-Men, as well the Silver Surfer, the Black Panther, and a host of memorable villains from the galactic greed of Galactus to the deadly deviousness of Doctor Doom. Read the rest of this entry »

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

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.”

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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 and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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