As the country prepares for the inauguration, many artists are making their own preparations.
For some that means community installations; for others, large-scale performances. For Françoise Mouly, the art editor of The New Yorker, and her daughter, the writer Nadja Spiegelman, protest comes in the form of Resist!, a tabloid newspaper filled with art and comics that will be distributed in Washington D.C. and across the country during the weekend of the inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington.
The tabloid was originally the idea of Gabe Fowler, a Brooklynite who owns a comics bookstore and edits and prints a quarterly comics tabloid named Smoke Signal. Motivated by the results of the election, Fowler reached out to Mouly and asked if she would guest edit an all-female protest edition of Smoke Signal, a project that quickly took on a life of its own.
At the start of the project, Mouly and Spiegelman put out an open call for comics and artwork on the web, then began asking artists they already knew to submit. Soon word had spread, and they were pulling in dozens of submissions every day. They ultimately received more than 1,000 submissions from women around the world from a diverse array of backgrounds, from immigrants to teenagers to Midwesterners, along with people from across the gender and sexuality spectrum, some of whom were not professional artists.
The result is Resist!: 40 pages containing 143 comics, drawings, and other pieces of visual art that are motivated by the election, but also speak to much larger issues like civil rights, immigration, and health care. (Mouly and Spiegelman have also posted hundreds more online.)
“The intimacy of hand-drawn comics combats the alienation everyone has felt after this election,” Spiegelman says. “They draw someone into a personal universe of both space and time. There’s something really intimate about that that lends itself well to telling personal stories.”
Intriguingly, Resist! is made up of only images–no essays allowed. Spiegelman believes that while there’s plenty of room for writing in the media, there isn’t enough space for political images–something that contributed to the lack of a singular poster or piece of art that summed up the 2016 election.
Despite its robust online presence, Resist! is first and foremost a print artifact–which is part of the point. Mouly was inspired by the French satire magazines , Hara-Kiri, and Charlie Hebdo; Fowler drew inspiration for Resist! from countercultural newspapers that told stories the mainstream left out.
“The power of print is if you can stop the flow of the river, you can see all the molecules,” Mouly says. “A physical object is such an affirmation.”
The team plans to harness an army of volunteers to distribute the tabloid in Washington, D.C., during Inauguration Weekend as well as major cities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Des Moines, and Dallas.
“It is a snapshot, a record of what people felt but also a stepping stone toward mapping out the future,” Mouly says. “Once you see that this is possible, because it’s there, it’s in your hands, staining your hands with its newsprint ink, then you take heart in the future.”