A year ago I interviewed Tyler Chin-Tanner, creator of the indie graphic novel  American Terrorist, recently released at the New York Comic Con, and now available through a choice of outlets.

There has of course been excitement of other sorts, also breaking through in The Big Apple. Some of the scenes of the “Occupy” protests bear a striking resemblance to the fictional events of American Terrorist.  I recently re-connected with Tyler to get his thoughts on the matter, and he shared some fascinating illustrations of the connection between his fiction and live current events.

Tyler Chin-Tanner: When I first began writing the American Terrorist graphic novel over four years ago I felt as if it was a fairly topical story in terms of its take on current American politics and where we were headed. But now, at the time of its release, even I find myself amazed at just how relevant it is in terms of its similarities to the mass protests of the Occupy movement.

The theme of the graphic novel happens to be one of the central tenets of Occupy Wall Street (OWS); that in a democracy, it is the responsibility of the people to stand together as a majority and hold their government accountable.

Even the way the characters in American Terrorist get their message out to the people is very similar to the way news of Occupy Wall Street spread around the country. They use the Internet and social media to circumvent a biased and ineffective mainstream media.

And while searching for information on the movement online and looking through the photos, I couldn’t help but draw a connection between a lot of what I was seeing and many of the images in the American Terrorist graphic novel.

Here are some examples:

 

 

 

Now, I don’t mean to claim that my graphic novel had anything to do with the inception of the movement or that it’s in any way responsible for inspiring or predicting this mass uprising. I wrote American Terrorist on a topic that I felt strongly about and followed the arcs of my characters in a way that made logical and psychological sense given their circumstances in the post-9/11 climate. I wrote it out of my own sense of frustration with what the military, medical, and corporate industrial complexes have done to this country and with how our constitutional right to express dissent has been surreptitiously
criminalized. And that’s exactly what the Occupy movement is all about – a lot of people feeling the same way as I did when I wrote American Terrorist.

It seems as if this connection is catching on with many of the people connected to Occupy Wall Street. At the release of American Terrorist at NY Comic Con 2011, a woman who bought a copy for herself mentioned that she would also like to donate a copy to the OWS public library. I gave her an extra copy so she could do just that and she sent me this picture when she dropped it off:

 

 

I followed up a few weeks later by going down to OWS myself and donating 3 more copies in order to give more protestors the chance to read it. But in the wee hours of yesterday morning, the NYPD destroyed the People’s Library, throwing all its books into dumpsters during their raid on Zuccotti Park. Books and the ideas within them are clearly so powerful that they pose a direct threat to the powers that be and the 1% they are privileging. But, as many of the OWS protestors have been saying, “You can’t evict an idea whose time has come.” The People’s Library has already been reestablished. We will donate more copies of American Terrorist for the brave men and women who are sticking it out. When they read it, I hope they realize that even though American Terrorist was written well before OWS ever got started, it was people like them who inspired the story.

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UCHE OGBUJI is a founding editor of the TNB Poetry section. He is also co-creator and co-host of the Poetry Voice podcast. His short collection of poems Ndewo, Colorado (Aldrich Press, 2013) is a winner of the 2014 Colorado Book Awards. To expand a bit, Uche Ogbuji was born in Calabar, Nigeria. He lived, among other places, in Egypt and England before settling near Boulder, Colorado where he lives with his wife and four children. Uche is a computer engineer (trained in Nigeria and the USA) and entrepreneur whose abiding passion is poetry. His poems, fusing Igbo culture, European Classicism, U.S. Mountain West setting, and Hip-Hop influences, have appeared widely. Uche also snowboards, coaches and plays soccer, and trains in American Kenpo. You can catch more of the prolifically fraying strands of his life on his home page, or, heck, even on Twitter.

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