Let It Grow

I was digging into my copy of Comics for Ukraine — and so already keenly aware
of the compartmentalization we practice daily to appreciate art in the midst of tragedy or, more generally, simply live our lives even as they or the lives of others are under imminent threat — when reports came in from Israel of the horrifying assaults there
on Saturday.

Man backlit with his silhouette filled by rippling Ukrainian flag, slingshot in hand, facing giant red figure with hammer and sickle

The book, just recently arrived, was crowdfunded in June of last year through Zoop
to benefit the work done by Operation USA. Its subtitle is Sunflower Seeds after the curse directed at Russian soldiers by a bold Ukranian woman who told them to put seeds in their pockets so that when they die sunflowers will grow in their place on the land they attempted to occupy.

Of the wide variety of short pieces the anthology contains, assembled by editor Scott Dunbier, roughly two-thirds (not counting single illustrations) are set within such existing milieux as Kurt Busiek’s Astro City, Matt Wagner’s Grendel, Emil Ferris’ My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo, Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg, and what I’ll vote best of the bunch, Sergio Aragonés’ Groo the Wanderer, in which our sagaciously dimwitted sword-for-hire tells his faithful companion, “There are many things I do not understand, Rufferto! But of all the things I do not understand, I think I understand war the least!” (Mark Evanier collaborates as usual, with Sakai lettering and Tom Luth coming out of retirement to color.)

Larry Hancock and Michael Cherkis of the long-ago indie classic Silent Invasion
reunite for a tale set in the real world. I’m thrilled to see a new Scary Godmother story from Jill Thompson, and while it’s perhaps the farthest afield of the book’s general theme of resistance to oppression that’s hardly a knock. Further contributors whose names will be known in the comics world include Mark Waid, Colleen Doran, Liam Sharp, Walter Simonson, Bill Sienkiewicz, Louise Simonson, June Brigman, and Peter Kuper. Some of the pieces are uplifting, some depressing, and overall it’s very hit-or-miss for me as a reader, but that’s the nature of anthologies and nearly beside the point. I was happy to pitch in to support the book, alongside my all too meager donations to World Central Kitchen and Operation USA directly.

Sunflower in blue and gold of the Ukranian flag rising from ground beneath which skulls are buried

I don’t know right now how editions of Comics for Ukraine will be made available beyond the initial orders, or whether selection will be possible from among the original quartet of covers. When that information becomes available, I’ll add it here if it’s not already at the link in the first paragraph.

Covers A and C above © 2023 Alex Ross and Dave Johnson, respectively.

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