Save It for Later: Promises, Parenthood, and the Urgency of Protest
April 26, 2021 4:42 PM - by Powell, Nate - Subscribe

"In seven interwoven comics essays, author and graphic novelist Nate Powell addresses living in an era of what he calls "necessary protest." Save It for Later: Promises, Parenthood, and the Urgency of Protest is Powell's reflection on witnessing the collapse of discourse in real time while drawing the award-winning trilogy March, written by Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, this generation's preeminent historical account of nonviolent revolution in the civil rights movement. Powell highlights both the danger of normalized paramilitary presence symbols in consumer pop culture, and the roles we play individually as we interact with our communities, families, and society at large." An excerpt of Powell's book, from Lithub: How to Raise Your Children on the History of Protest.

Powell, previously: About Face 1; About Face 2
posted by MonkeyToes (1 comment total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I was struck by the rawness of this book: Powell not only nails the pervasive sense of anxiety in American life since 2015, but also his own vulnerability to it, both as a parent and as a person. In the preface, in a font that looks hand-drawn, he writes: "One powerfully damaging effect of living through this era of disinformation and authoritarianism is doubt quietly cast over our own memories, our senses, our critical thinking, even trusting our emotional response to that darkness." And that sets the stage to look at recent events through a lens that includes both trauma and resistance. The first chapter, Buttered Noodles, is set on the day after the election of 2016, and shows snapshots of his despair, his ability to eat only a bland comfort food, the vengeful glee of Republican voters, and his daughter's urge to march and push back. The second chapter is about the error of faith in institutions and mechanisms, and having to break the news of the 2016 election result to his daughter. The third chapter is the shock of the old, and how Powell is taken right back to a childhood exposure to the Klan whenever he sees blacked-out trucks flying oversized Confederate/45/blue line flags; "Here we are again, forever." Chapter four, Pecking Order, is his view of how Nazi cosplay at a comics convention was a harbinger. Chapter five is "About Face" (2019; previous discussions linked above), still an outstanding read of military/authoritarian/fascist markers slipping into street use: "That aggrieved, insecure white Americans with an exaggerated sense of sovereignty have officially declared their existence as above the law, consistent with a long tradition of acting and living above it--propped up the normalizing impact of apolitical consumer trends. These are the future fascist paramilitary participants and their ushers--take them seriously." It's not a stretch to say that Powell's sketches look eerily like photos of the domestic terrorists at the Capitol on January 6. Chapter 6, Tornado Children, strips the pandemic apocalypse of any sexy narratives of survivalism. He has a panic attack. And thinks of John Lewis's life. And of what his own family could still do. The final chapter, Wingnut, is a call to action, no matter how small: "Value the beauty of being guided by your conscience. Respect the privilege of doing something, anything. Importantly, it's okay to look like a wingnut." But he doesn't, and there's something deeply hopeful about the only photo in the book, on the last page: a shot of Powell and his daughter, and their signs.

I hope you'll read this; it's powerful.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:26 PM on May 12, 2021

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