Written and illustrated by Sue Coe
Published by OR Books ISBN 978-1-68219-074-6
Reviewed by Spencer Hill
The latest book from Sue Cole is published this month, and it isn’t for the faint of heart. Sue is described on her website as a ‘graphic witness to realities more often overlooked or avoided’, and this latest book is no exception to that. Sue prefers pictures rather than words, so this book consists of 115 black and white prints from woodcuts, with minimal text. Other than some words included within some of the illustrations, the manifesto itself at the back of the book is really the only text, and it is very short.
Artistically this book demonstrates Sue’s skill with woodcarving and printing. The images are detailed, expressive, emotional and often quite disturbing. They show scenes of animal cruelty and abuse from slaughterhouses to zoos, circuses and much more. This book is aiming to upset you, because the message it is communicating is upsetting. The images in this book don’t pull any punches, and even if you were reading this as a student of printmaking I challenge you to get through it without feeling a little sad at the state of the world. The last 32 illustrations do have a more upbeat feel to them though, so if you are feeling delicate, start at page 86. Also, to demonstrate the artist’s commitment to her beliefs, you should be aware that the carvings which produced the prints were made from trees chopped down to make way for a gas pipeline.
If you believe that as artists we should be using our powers to campaign against social or political injustice, then I highly recommend this book as an example of how to achieve this. I am a vegan myself, and I have used my cartoons in the past to communicate my disbelief that we treat animals so poorly. They were still funny though, whilst this book is as far from humorous as you could get. This is an illustrated manifesto from animals to humans imploring us to stop torturing, killing, eating and wearing them. It does nothing to dispel the belief many omnivores hold that we vegans are always angry and outraged, but sometimes this is the best way to get a message across and make it stick.
I won’t be using this handy handbag sized book to knock a chicken wing off a fellow diner’s fork in protest any time soon, because I take the ‘each to their own’ approach to life. However, I will keep it in my collection to remind myself of the reasons I chose this vegan lifestyle in the first place, whilst simultaneously admiring the skill of the artist.
If you liked this book then you may enjoy these books too:
A to Z of Socialism