Delphine by Richard Sala
It’s not easy, at first, to quite know what to make of Richard Sala’s Delphine. There are things that it very obviously is — for instance, a dark and surreal romp through the subconscious. Also, a riff on the the subtext of fairy tales, especially in regard to fears and relationships. But specifically what does it add up to?
The story itself is a simple one. A young man — let’s call him Prince Charming — has a fling with Delphine, a beautiful fellow student who is called away suddenly to tend to her sick father. He doesn’t appear to see it as a fling, and casually drops his serious emotions towards her even as she rebuffs them with an equal amount of surprise and care.
Sometime later — it’s purposefully unclear for most of the book — Prince Charming decides to track her down to her home. It appears she never returned. Even in her hometown, though, she proves as emotionally elusive as before, and Prince Charming faces wolves and mysterious old women and ogrish humans and witches and weird hermits in the woods on his path to finding his long lost love.
What unfolds is not a straightforward fairy tale riff, the likes of which are popular these days, but more an application of the psychology of fairy tales to the story of a guy trying to come to terms with the one that got away, the girl he loved too much. Fairy tales are stories that reflect our desires and fears and misfortunes — so old that they cement these desires and fears and misfortunes as constants in the history of humanity.
Sala is melding past and present here, bringing the explanatory mechanism of an older world into the situations of a modern one. This is perfectly suited for his artwork. Prince Charming’s journey is creepy and jarring, and the trappings of the likes of the Grimm Brothers take on a heightened presentation that becomes more personal than you would ever expect them to be.
Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco
“Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” is a pretty grim account of not just the corporate victory over America, but the historical context of why such a victory is neither unusual or unexpected. In documenting lives within the so-called “sacrifice zones” — that is, areas that have been destroyed in the name of profit, leaving a ravaged and dazed populace that cannot save itself — reporter Hedges and cartoonist/journalist Sacco provide a passionate exposé of the price of our corporation- dominated country.
Hedges’ essays provide the larger swathes of the issues, which are brought down to earth by Sacco’s monologue vignettes providing the stories of individuals who he and Hedges come into contact with.
The book opens with a portrait of current Native American lives, the result of a free fall of cultural destruction at the hands of moneyed interests and government. From there, it’s a gloomy stop in the corrupt wasteland of Camden, N.J. and then West Virginia, where coal mining companies routinely rape the land after stealing it from the people who lived on it in order to create a nightmarish ant colony of sunken graves beneath the ground and a campaign of terror against anyone who opposes them.
The book also covers the absolutely depressing and shameful virtual slave labor endured by migrant workers in Florida— with a complete history that makes it a sadly inevitable situation — and the Occupy encampment in Zucotti Park.
Any of these situations can be summed up like this: Steal from the victim, obstruct opportunities for the victim; offer no support for the victim and then blame the victim when shattered lives lead to desperate behavior; stick them in jail and say it’s their own fault.
Hedges frames the Occupy movement as the final result of the continued assault on American citizens by money and business. It’s no longer just the minorities and the aliens who are used and destroyed — anyone can and will be, including supporters of the institutions doing the raping. By not correcting the wrongs of minorities and the poor, we, the middle class, have failed to fortify our own battlements and are probably doomed. It’s a dreary vision of America. It’s also a clear one.