Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"I am grateful I live in a democracy where my vote is equal to that of the next persons and that my opinion really counts..."
"... For fuck all. The masters of mankind must maintain an illusion of democracy to remain in control. Thus the need to impose democracy upon those not yet within our power."
He has a point regarding the illusion of democracy, if you stop and think about it. Well, two to be precise: the illusion of democracy, and the need of those in control to impose it upon others, elsewhere.
Facts that perhaps more and more people are waking up to. Or "getting woke", as the kids with their annoyingly grammatically inaccurate ways are currently wont to say.
What makes this exchange so striking is that the first statement is from one chess piece, a black pawn, putting a ballot paper into a ballet box, whilst the second, coming from a white king, has shredded paper going directly into a waste bin.
All the characters in the various strips in this work - be they based on existing songs and poems such as 'Strange Fruit' made famous by Billie Holiday plus also some original material written by the creator - are chess pieces, frequently pawns and kings, hence the title, HARD CORE PAWN.
The strips cover a range of pertinent hot topics such as capitalism, gender politics, racism and terrorism, always presented from that black and white gaming-piece perspective. As conceits go, it certainly allows Steve to concentrate on the punchlines, which are hard-hitting and occasionally outrageously amusing.
Art-wise, as you'd imagine, it's not too testing to draw chess pieces, but that's not the point. It allows us all to very easily slip into the position of the pieces.
My favourite strip was probably 'Alcocapitalism' in which Steve charts the rise of alcohol consumption and its subsequent impact on the global economic structure. The punchline there, a slightly reworked reprise of a repeated beat throughout, had me howling. It just goes perfectly to show that politics and farce go hand-in-hand, but we all knew that right?