It’s only February, but there have been eight school shootings in America this year. Children get shot in public schools so often that “It’s safer to stay home” could be a legitimate excuse for a kid to miss a day of school. But the aftermath of the slaughter in Parkland on February 14 may be a turning point. Children are asking adults why they are not doing anything to keep them safe.
Texas artists are also starting to explore this issue.
Longtime students of propaganda and media influence, Kyle Reynolds and Mike Jordan have been collaborating for a few years on The End Times, a politically-charged comic book—as well as comic strips they post on their website and social media.
They kicked up the intensity after Parkland and recently posted an image of politicians climbing the headstones of children to shove dollars in the mouth of the National Rifle Association’s Executive Vice President, Wayne LaPierre.
Another has Lady Liberty herself giving LaPierre head—His penis is a pistol, of course.
“That was the most graphic one we’ve done and we got a lot of hate mail,” Reynolds admits, with a laugh. “We’ve always been aiming at satire with a purpose. But we get a little more visceral depending on what the situation is.”
“I tend to come up with the ideas for the writing aspect,” Jordan says. “But Kyle is the artist and he’s trying to visually punch someone in the face.”
Indeed, he’s outdone himself with this image of the Statue of Liberty.
“It is about frustration,” Reynolds says. “You should be offended by this. You should be offended about what the NRA is doing. I chose to do it in a graphic way to make that point.”
Jordan admits that he understands how people on both sides of the gun control debate can take issue with the image: “You’re scrolling through Facebook, you see a puppy dog, and then ‘Whoa!’”
“The NRA is basically holding her hostage and he has a twenty-dollar bill in his hand,” Reynolds explains. “Liberty is being sacrificed for the single viewpoint that is being pushed down our throats. The NRA is controlling the narrative so often in these discussions because they yield the most money and influence.”
Street artist Eric Mancini has already made headlines by putting images of Donald Trump’s face on dumpsters. Now he has redesigned the Student Crossing sign.
“I originally started with open carry and campus carry legislation in mind,” Mancini says. “But now people are talking about arming teachers in classrooms. I just think it’s sad that we even have to get to this point. We need to find out why young people are so upset that they will shoot up a school or a church.”
“You either have to tighten security at schools or make it much harder to get a gun,” Mancini continues. “People don’t seem to like either scenario and there’s no simple fix.”
But at least these issues are on the national conscience right now.
“We weren’t really hearing from these other voices until now,” Reynolds says. “These students in Florida are getting their voices out despite not having tons of cash.”
“The NRA is able to force their message on people,” Jordan says. “But they are struggling to control the narrative because there is something different about being called out by children who were in those buildings while their friends were getting shot. It’s really hard to argue with that. I think the NRA is feeling the heat.”
“They are saying they are scared to go to school,” Reynolds says. “You can’t tell them they don’t understand the issue.”
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.