"balls-out bravado... well ahead of the curve" David Brauer, MinnPost.com, Twin cities daily
Explanatory sidebars linking each cartoon to actual events
"Daily Show-worthy" Brian Lambert, The Rake, Twin Cities monthly
Possibly the very first ever graphic novel about the War on Terror serialized in a mainstream metro daily paper that is written and drawn by a 43-year-old Norwegian-American on Prozac
"The Daily Show in pen and ink" Lydia Howell, host of KFAI radio's Catalyst program
Anti-war before anti-war was cool
"wields humor like a machete, slashing through denial" Twin Cities Daily Planet
Scathing, irreverent satire sparing no one, including the reader
"Anderson takes aim at Americans acquiescence as much as the actual policies we acquiesce to. Banana Republic is a bracingly funny wake-up call" Twin Cities Daily Planet
Challenges the reader to rethink our conventional wisdom
"Anderson creates political satire that's a modern-day Jonathan Swift on crack." Lydia Howell, host of KFAI radio's Catalyst program
"Pungent, relevant, [and] a little crude" Politics in Minnesota
Creative teaching resource
"groundbreaking graphic political commentary... uncompromising style... compelling narrative and multi-layered complexity... a scathing pictorial indictment" UE News
Offers great stock tips when accurately decoded
"sadly... would be funnier if it weren't so accurate." A-LIST City Pages
"Kirk Anderson is an outrageously bold and talented cartoonist." Banana Republic "entertained me hugely... a hilarious education in recent history."
Howard Zinn, historian and author of A People's History of the United States
Sample page layout
on being considered a "radical" cartoon: Is Banana Republic a radical cartoon about a rogue state America? Hell no; Banana Republic is a wholesome, patriotic, traditional values cartoon about a rogue state America.
For all its melon-balling of political dissidents' eye sockets, Banana Republic is really a wholesome, motherhood, apple pie kind of cartoon. Kidnapping and rendition? Banana Republic suggests maybe trying the Rule of Law. Domestic spying and indefinite detention? Banana Republic heartily recommends the Constitution. Crony capitalism and state corporatism? Banana Republic advocates the Free Market. The cartoons collected here advocate dangerous ideas like democracy, clean government, nonviolence, due process... Hell, Banana Republic makes Family Circus look radical.
on the advantages of fictionalizing U.S. politics: Regardless
of whether we think torture is right or wrong when it's done by our own
well-intentioned, red-blooded, all-American lads, when it's Generalissimo Wally melon-balling some poor bastard's eye sockets? it's wrong.
on whether the worst is over: Guantanamo
is still open. Abu Ghraib is still open. Secret evidence is still
legal. Tortured confessions are still legal. Terrorist suspects suspects
have yet to be charged with a crime after more than seven years
behind bars. We're not getting rid of our banana republic ways; we're
only getting used to them.
on giving up our civil liberties for security's sake: History has given us a word for those who would give up a little freedom in hopes of remaining free: appeasers.
on the book's main theme: When America is threatened, the answer is more America, not less. More freedom, more
democracy, not fewer liberties, fewer checks and balances. We are,
after all, defending these principles, not surrendering them to
on torture: The America I believe in doesn't debate whether our water-boarding is less unconscionable than the Spanish Inquisition's.
Sample interview questions
1. Are we living in a banana republic?
In case anyone's unfamiliar with the term "banana republic," this book
is NOT a collection of haiku about retail clothing outlets, correct?
With the regime change at home, why should we still be worried about
these "banana republic" issues you raise? [torture, rendition, secret
prisons, secret evidence, indefinite detention without charge, state
propaganda, massive foreign debt, unstable currency, widening income
inequality, kangaroo courts, infiltration of religious dissidents, for
4. Banana Republic has been called a "radical" cartoon. You disagree?
5. The cartoons in the book refer to specific dates and events in the past. Are the cartoons still relevant to readers today?
6. You don't
seem to have much good to say about our government's policies regarding
kidnapping innocent people, flying them to repressive countries to be
tortured, dumping them on abandoned roads and then blocking their
attempt at lawsuits. Why do you hate America?
7. Who does Generalissimo Wally represent?
8. Why approach subjects like torture and privately contracted paramilitaries through humor?
9. What are some of the local references readers might recognize?
10. Is it true this book makes a unique and heartwarming gift?
on patriotism: Senator
Pat Roberts summed up our War on Terror-era discomfort with excessive
freedom when he said: "I am a strong supporter of civil liberties, but
you have no civil liberties if you are DEAD!" Banana Republic
agrees with a stodgy old corpse from grade school history class on this
one. On that whole liberty 'n' death thing, Patrick Henry thundered:
"Give me liberty, or give me death!" And now, in less perilous times,
our politicians whimper: "Take my liberty, if it risks my death!" Tell
me, who's the patriot?
on our commitment to civil liberties: There are far too many Dungeon Democrats and Thumbscrew Republicans who believe in a small and petty America that does not even trust the power of its own ideals. They believe in a meek and cowering America, ready to cut and run from its own values. They see America from behind tinted bullet-proof glass and wonder why everything looks dark. They see America from behind the barrel of a gun and wonder why everyone looks frightened.
on surveillance: "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear," we are told. But a child-like faith in central government's omniscient surveillance powers has never been one of America's inspiring gifts to the freedom-craving world. When you have nothing you can hide from your government, you are no longer its citizen, but its subject.
on hope: At the cornerstone of Banana Republic is the historical fact that America can do better on all these issues. America found a way to deal with detainees humanely, even during a revolution. America found a way to hold elections, even in the maelstrom of civil war. America found a way to try the accused in a court of law, even in the wake of Nazi genocide. Don't ever let anyone tell you America can't handle both liberty and security at the same time.