Academic journal article Anarchist Studies

About This Issue's Cover

Academic journal article Anarchist Studies

About This Issue's Cover

Article excerpt

Anarchist Studies is fortunate indeed to feature a new pen and ink portrait of Colin Ward (based on a photograph taken near Ward's home) by Clifford Harper, one of anarchism's most well-known illustrators and critical voices. Harper's career spans four decades and I was recently reminded of just how significant it has been while conducting research in Leeds over the summer. Checking out the City Museum, I came across a video interview with council tenants who reside in refurbished nineteenth-century row housing ('back-to-backs'). One interviewee, who was black and had been involved in anti-racist activism, had two posters by Harper (one declaring 'class war, not race war', the other stating 'life can be magic when we start to break free') proudly displayed on his living room wall. Which goes to show that Clifford Harper's graphics are not only outstanding for their craftsmanship: they radicalise people.

My own first encounter with his work came by way of a now very battered edition of Class War Comix no. 1 (1974), reprinted in 1978 by 'Kitchen Sink Enterprises, Wisconsin', which had found its way to the Librairie Alternative bookstore in Montreal. The comic relates the story of life on a rural commune, where anarchists must decide how to combat resurgent political authoritarianism after a revolution. I still own it, and I remember how impressed I was by the afterword, where Harper revealed he began drawing the comic 'in 1972, after four years of communal living [and] squatting'. This is the sort of 'reality check' that, for me, has always made his work stand out: that and the ways his illustrations have served as the graphic touchstone for some of the most inspiring developments coming out of the UK. I am thinking of the covers for Elephant Editions' insurrectionary pocket books; the London Anarchist Bookfair posters (always arresting, and at times bitingly ironic); or the remarkable range of politically-charged graphics that have been silk-screened onto t-shirts, patched and sewn into jackets, stickered, postered, spray-painted on walls or banners, reproduced in zincs, journals, books, and now, in the twenty-first century, are circulating the internet. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.