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When we started CROSS, our new anthology, we had contemporary issues on our minds: the growing power of corporations, the rush to the centre-ground of party politics, the inequities in our society.

It turns out that these – and our response to them in comic book form – are nothing new.

The image below was produced by William Hogarth in 1721 and is catchily titled Emblematic Print of the South Sea Scheme:

HogarthIt’s Hogarth’s response to the public madness of the South Sea Bubble – think everyone putting their money in the hands of  speculators and then being surprised when they got ripped off…. You can read the full story of the South Sea Scheme and the print here.

It’s a great image: you have people riding a wheel of fortune, in front of a monument to the City, which is bigger and bolder than St Paul’s, a monument to faith. Meanwhile, Honesty is being broken on a wheel, and Fortune has her limbs cut off by a winged devil.

Suddenly I worry that CROSS is a bit tame!

The point is: comics and cartoons have long been used to critique society. We’ll be putting the spotlight on more over the coming weeks (and I can heartily recommend the British Cartoon Archive if you want to delve into things more).

We’re playing our part in this tradition with CROSS. It’s a comic anthology of short stories from some of the UK’s finest established and emerging creators. We wanted to poke at the fat belly of the establishment, to highlight some of the illogical or inequitable aspects of how we live, and to raise the debate about engaging with politics in the run-up to the next General Election. We’ve tried to be apolitical, poking in equal measure at the right, the left and the middle of the belly…

If that sounds like your sort of thing, we’d encourage you over to our Kickstarter page. We’re fundraising during October to help with the print and production costs of the book. A £10 pledge on Kickstarter will get a copy of CROSS delivered to your door before Christmas.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for supporting CROSS.

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