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David Rees Interview

March 15, 2004

By

Get Your War On 3/8/04

Copyright 2004 by David Rees. Used with permission.

mf: You post those straight to the website when you create them?

David Rees: Yeah, totally. The only editor I have is my deal with Rolling Stone where they get one strip every issue that is exclusive to them, that I don't post on the website. And in that case, I do have an editor. But he has never said, "Tone this down - this is too outrageous." If anything, they'd probably want me to be more outrageous because it would just generate more controversy and more newsstand sales.

In terms of the website, the whole reason I think it took off initially was because I did what I felt and I wasn't really concerned about how too many people would react to it because I didn't think a lot of people would wind up seeing it.

mf: That's the interesting thing about the internet isn't it? Sometimes what gets the most play is the stuff that's not being run through any kind of corporate filters.

David Rees: Yeah - at least for some subset of the online population. It's funny. When GYWO was at its peak in the fall of 2001, it was a big deal on the internet. But overall a big deal on the internet is not a BIG DEAL. I mean, it's not the NBC Nightly News or anything. It still has kind of a limited audience.

I think the internet is a good place to go for information you're not going to get anywhere else And then I think for better or for worse, the internet is very good at allowing people to find places that reinforce their own point of view. So that the super duper right-wingers can hang out in message boards where it's just an echo chamber, and so can the super duper left-wingers. Because they're both convinced that the so-called mainstream media isn't going to tell the truth, they can enter these internet places where their truth is the only truth going. And I think that's how a lot of people use the internet.

mf: Any sites in particular that you glean for your news?

David Rees: Well, for making the strip, I try to periodically revisit the situation in Afghanistan. That's kind of why I started the strip. I wasn't a big consumer of international news before the war on terror began until we started bombing it. But now that I am kind of interested in Afghanistan and have this connection to it because we're donating this money to the deminers in Afghanistan, it is sad and nerve-wracking to me how little attention is focused on that country.

So, one of the things the internet is really good for is tracking Afghanistan news. Human Rights Watch, the human rights organization in New York, has a whole section on Afghanistan and has been responsible for a lot of damning press releases and reports on how Afghanistan is still not such a great place to be.

There are a couple NGOs like that that are worth visiting because they'll have really in-depth analysis of stuff that might be summarized in a newspaper on page A20 but won't be a news story in and of itself - Human Rights Watch, Doctors Without Borders... and Reuters has this crazy thing called Alertnet which is designed for people who are in the humanitarian relief community. It's broken down section by section, country by country like - what's the worst shit happening on Earth right now...where are people's humanitarian efforts focused.

There's this great weblog called Cursor.org. They have a daily posting where they link to a lot of big articles during the day. And the thing I like about it is - you can tell that they're probably lefty's, like they're skeptical about the Bush Administration, and I should say that they also sometimes link to my comics - but they seem reasonable. They're willing to post stuff from the other point of view, as well.
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