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Donald Rooum, 'Wildcat: Anarchists Against Bombs'

Freedom Press 2003; ISBN 1 9044 9101 4; £3.00

Donald Rooum's Wildcat cartoons have been published in Freedom Anarchist Fortnightly for longer than some Peace News readers have been tramping their ecological footprints over the planet. There are series of books available with titles such as the ABC of Bosses, Health Service Wildcat and Wildcat Strikes Again.

Rooum's work has many strengths - the clarity of the line drawings, the self-conscious and self-mocking use of stereotypes (the army general with handle-bar moustache, the porcine police constable, various sub-species of anarchist) and the sharpness of the thought behind the pithily expressed ideas. For me Rooum's greatest strength is his satiric impartiality. He is cleared-eyed not just about the “bad guys”- the arms sellers and warmongers with their greed, hypocrisy and brutality, but also ruthless in his portrayal of the failings and foibles of all of the “left”.

The Trotskyists are drawn as blockheads or sheep, the religious as ignorant or savage, the “crusties” as trend-obsessed. However Rooum's central, self-proclaimed anarchist characters - the egg-head and the pussy cat - are both only partially aware that they represent thought-without-action and action without-thought respectively. He gently chides both positions, while never despairing or detracting from his humorous intent.

Rooum has, like any good satirist, left himself an escape hatch. When the egghead accuses the pussycat of blatant oversimplification, she leaps into the air. “Of course it's a @~#!** simplification!! This is a cartoon, not a philosophical treatise!”

The only flaw is a curious error (page 46) in which he dates the Pinochet Coup and WTC attacks as September 9 [perhaps a typo on the scale of PN or the Graun? Ed].

This funny and thoughtful book, very reasonably priced, is a good source of graphics for leaflets and flyers (see the copyright notice), and would be a perfect “stocking filler” gift for aware-but-not-particularly engaged friends.

Freedom Press should really consider putting all of Rooum's published and unpublished work in one, larger format, volume.

Topics: Culture | Anarchism