Book Review: Donald Rooum’s Anarchist Wildcat Comics

PM Press, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-62963-127-1
PP: 128
Publisher: PM Press

As it should be, Rooum’s playful illustrations dominate this volume.

Anarchist Wildcat Comics has three parts. The first 40 or so pages are Rooum’s introduction and discussion of his personal history as an anarchist during the middle to late decades of 20th century Britain. Most of the writing centres around the 1960s and his role in exposing police frame-ups of non-violent protesters. It’s detailed, interesting, and easy to read. While this may not be of use to veteran protesters or anarchists, both groups could learn a lot from Rooum’s easy, comfortable style. His capacity to communicate, to connect, is impressive and worth imitating. Much could be gained from reviewing his tenacity in engaging with police in the courts.

The next two parts are comics. “The Anarchist Alphabet” is the best; alone it’s worth the book’s price. It’s a fun, playful approach to some key concepts or vocabulary in anarchism. And, honestly, it might be helpful when talking to people who have no clue just what anarchism is or, worse, they have erroneous ideas. Probably a great gift for those new to or considering the path.

The rest of the book offers a collection of some of Rooum’s anarchist characters, classics like Revolting Pussycat and Free-Range Egghead. Bosses and control freaks are mocked, but so are anarchist hypocrisies and internal struggles.

At 110 pages, the book may seem a bit thin. However, the comics are packed, the large pages are filled with great detail at a readable type size, and layout and presentation are quality.

Rarely do comics or graphic novels retain my attention — it’s not a genre I engage with consistently. Rooum’s book, with it’s diverse specific topics themed around anarchist practice, culture, and cultural critique, though, make it an enjoyable read over a period of several days.

Luther Blissett