The first issue of The Invisibles introduces us to Dane McGowan and his isolated rebellion. Dane’s background as a teenager from a British industrial town, raised in a single parent household sets him up to be a young nihilist, our favorite kind. Fittingly, by the end of this issue, he has stolen a car, burned a library and a school, and seen the ghosts of two of the Beatles and a demon. The above panel takes its sequential place after Dane has assaulted his teacher, who is trying to stop him from burning the school. Earlier that day, the teacher had asked the class, “Can anyone tell me the name of the anarchist writer of ‘Mutual Aid’ who denounced the Bolshevik Revolution?’
It is appropriate that artist Steve Yeowell captures enraged Dane looking down on us from a skewed angle while yelling about Kropotkin, not only because it ties into that earlier question, but also because of the foundational Russian Anarchists’ popularization of ‘propaganda by the deed.’ Often misunderstood as a political strategy of using property destruction and violence as a scare tactic, more recent works like Benedict Anderson’s Under Three Flags: Anarchism and the Anti-colonial Imagination have argued that these acts were used to create media around anarchist ideas. The anarchists on trial would use their court time and final statements before execution to give speeches about their beliefs that were carried around the world by the increasingly global, news media.
Though Dane is being built up as a smart kid who is lashing out, this moment feeds well into the relations of the sign system Morrison built with the series. The Invisibles is well-known for its abundance of cultural references that resonate into the strange meta-physics he was proposing. And though I read this work as metaphor, giving it less power than the realism Morrison has attributed to it in his interviews, one would be hard to argue that the series did not gain a significant depth from its use of affective cultural undercurrents.
// Notes from the Road
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