Donald Rooum, born 1928, became an anarchist in 1944 and has contributed articles to the anarchist paper Freedom since 1947. He studied graphic design in Bradford, England, and his cartoons have been published in the British press since 1950. His editorial cartoons have appeared in Peace News since 1962. His strip series “Wildcat” has appeared in Freedom since 1980, and “Sprite” in The Skeptic since 1987. In 1963, he was charged with carrying an offensive weapon, but the prosecuting officer made a mistake in planting the evidence, and in working to save his own skin Donald accidentally initiated the celebrated “Challenor case,” a conspiracy among police officers to discredit nonviolent demonstrators.
Wildcat Anarchist Comics
Author and Illustrator: Donald Rooum • Foreword: Jay Kinney • Colorist: Jayne Clementson
Publisher: PM Press
Page count: 128
Wildcat Anarchist Comics collects the drawings of Donald Rooum, mostly (but by no means entirely) from the long-running “Wildcat” cartoon series that has been published in Freedom newspaper since 1980. Rooum does not just purvey jokes but makes the drawings comical in themselves, “getting the humour in the line,” provoking laughter even in those who do not read the captions or speech balloons.
The chief characters in the strip are the Revolting Pussycat, a short-fused anarchist who is furious and shouty; and the Free-Range Egghead, an intellectual who would like anarchism to be respectable but sometimes appears foolish. Governments, bosses, and authoritarians are presented as buffoons, and quite often so are anarchists. This thoughtful and delightful collection includes strips from The Skeptic and many more, all beautifully colored for the first time by Jayne Clementson.
The book also includes a lively autobiographical introduction that discusses Rooum’s role in the 1963 “Challenor case,” in which a corrupt police officer planted a weapon on Rooum at a demonstration, ultimately resulting in Rooum’s acquittal.
“It is not only a work of genius, but of great originality, using outrageous knockabout comedy to convey serious ideas . . . this strangely effective technique of using utter farce to get below intellectual defences is successful in getting us to face challenges that no mere political pamphleteering could do. And we anarchists, with our eyes open, must accept that we too can be ridiculous in the passionate pursuit of our ideals.”
—Tony Gibson, Freedom
What Is Anarchism?: An Introduction, 2nd Ed.
Author and Illustrator: Donald Rooum • Editor: Vernon Richards • Foreword: Andrej Grubacic
Publisher: PM Press
Page count: 160
Anarchists believe that the point of society is to widen the choices of individuals. Anarchism is opposed to states, armies, slavery, the wages system, the landlord system, prisons, capitalism, bureaucracy, meritocracy, theocracy, revolutionary governments, patriarchy, matriarchy, monarchy, oligarchy, and every other kind of coercive institution. In other words, anarchism opposes government in all its forms.
Enlarged and updated for a modern audience, What Is Anarchism? has the making of a standard reference book. As an introduction to the development of anarchist thought, it will be useful not only to propagandists and proselytizers of anarchism but also to teachers and students of political theory, philosophy, sociology, history, and to all who want to uncover the basic core of anarchism.
This useful compendium, compiled and edited by the late Vernon Richards of Freedom Press, with additional selections by Donald Rooum, includes extracts from the work of Errico Malatesta, Peter Kropotkin, Max Stirner, Emma Goldman, Charlotte Wilson, Michael Bakunin, Rudolf Rocker, Alexander Berkman, Colin Ward, Albert Meltzer, and many others.
Author and Wildcat cartoonist Donald Rooum gives context to the selections with introductions looking at “What Anarchists Believe,” “How Anarchists Differ,” and “What Anarchists Do” and provides helpful and humorous illustrations throughout the book.
Praise:“What Is Anarchism? is a classic. It brings together a marvellous selection of inspiring texts with a clear, comprehensive introduction—now updated—to provide a brilliant account of the cares, concerns and commitments that animate anarchist politics and activities of British anarchists since 1945.”
—Ruth Kinna, author of Anarchism: A Beginner’s Guide
For a calendar of speaking events, please click here
Wildcat Anarchist Comics: A Review
by Donald Room
Donald Rooum has been drawing cartoons for PN since (at least) 1962, and PM’s new selection of his work – many of them featuring his most famous creation, the anarchist moggie Wildcat – takes on a wide variety of familiar targets: religion, the military, police surveillance, the monarchy and capitalism. But we’re also treated to Rooum’s delightfully offbeat takes on Rumplestiltskin and the Garden of Eden (‘When you’re not blackmailing, you quite turn me on’, the miller’s daughter tells Rumplestiltskin.)
Offering an emperor-has-no-clothes critique of contemporary power and foolishness, it is perhaps no mystery that Rooum’s work appears to strike a natural chord with children.
Also included is a compelling 36-page memoir by the author, covering his failed attempt to become a conscientious objector (‘I am an anarchist by conviction,’ he writes ‘but a worm by temperament’), his involvement in the post-Second World War anarchist scene, his activism in the campaigns against the death penalty and nuclear weapons, and his ‘15 minutes of fame’ as the defendant in the infamous Challenor case (in which he successfully challenged an attempt by the Metropolitan police to frame him for possession of an offensive weapon).
Not to be missed.
Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Back to reviews | Back to top