Wobblies! A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World
, .. Verso, $25 (305pp) ISBN 978-1-84467-525-8
The Wobblies, as members of the Industrial Workers of the World were known, were influential in the labor movement at the dawn of the 20th century. A grassroots organization that fought for equality and safe working conditions, the Wobblies also had ties to women's rights and socialism. This book attempts to encapsulate the rich history of the movement through comics (and connective essays) by such contributors as Peter Kuper, Harvey Pekar and Seth Tobocman. It's a colorful story, from Chicago's Haymarket riot in 1886 through epic strikes in Lawrence, Mass., and Patterson, N.J., to the controversial 1915 execution of folk singer Joe Hill. Peripheral characters include a parade of activists, including Margaret Sanger and "Mother" Jones. Though the group was most active from the turn of the century through the 1920s, later chapters address the Wobbly influence up to the present-day (noting, for example, its protests against Starbucks). The materials are assembled in as anarchic a manner as the substance of the source material, and all the lynchings and riots can start to run together. The loose structure and sometimes crude artwork do succeed in capturing the energy and emotion of the movement, however, and its spirit of activism, which continues today.
Reviewed on: 05/09/2005