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Local activist publishes an illustrated guide to explain the politics behind Foxconn

Hypocrisy and lies in the political sphere have a long history of visual lampooning. Cartooning, journalism, and fine art meet in the popular genre of a graphic narrative.

I have been an activist artist for 50 years. Although I am better known in Milwaukee for various posters, banners, and recently giant fish puppets for water protection events, I have been writing and drawing stories for the past 15 years.

I was aware of Foxconn since reading about the worker suicides at the Taiwanese company’s mammoth factory complex in China several years ago. I was horrified that the company put up safety nets on the dormitories to catch workers driven to suicide, instead of responding by improving the lives of workers.

And, I was aghast when Governor Scott Walker announced that his “great news” was his plan to give a $4.5 billion incentive from our state tax money to bring the very same Foxconn to Wisconsin.

When the co-editors of World War 3 Illustrated magazine decided that the theme of the next issue would be Now is the Time of Monsters, a graphic discourse on predatory capitalism, it was obvious that I needed to do a story about Foxconn.

As I continue to follow the weekly developments about Foxconn, the reality of false promises proliferate. Local families and the environment will suffer, and are already suffering, while huge amounts of money flow to already wealthy patrons.

The magazine is due out in November and available from AK Press. But the magazine is not widely distributed in Wisconsin. It is critical to get the facts out here before the Midterm elections on November 6. Governor Walker is already airing campaign ads claiming that he is creating 13,000 Foxconn jobs, while Foxconn itself has already backpedaled on the size and scope of the factory, originally promising only 3,000 jobs, with robotics replacing workers from day one.

I did my first graphic narrative as a printmaking graduate student at UWM in the 1990s, Soon after, I was invited to join a gifted group of artists who publish an annual anthology of stories – World War 3 Illustrated magazine, based in New York City. The magazine, founded in 1979 by Seth Tobocman, Peter Kuper, Eric Drooker and others, pioneered and promoted the genre of political non-fiction cartooning. Our work, often based on firsthand experience, are deeply researched narratives ranging from opinion pieces to speculative or allegorical fiction.

I live in Milwaukee and many of my stories are Wisconsin-based, including “A Northwoods Tale” about the Native/non-Native Alliance against the Crandon Mine and “Walk Like an Egyptian,” a highly illustrated essay about the beginning of the Act 10 occupation of the Capitol.

Check out this hand drawn narrative about the Foxconn story and share it. Wisconsin residents should not be forced to pay for this living nightmare for the next quarter century. This cannot be the future we leave to our children.

Susan Simensky Bietila

Susan Simensky Bietila

About The Author

Op Ed

The views expressed in any Op Ed belong to the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the editorial board of the Milwaukee Independent.

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