Writings on labor & union labels

one of the classic television commercials from the early 1980s featuring members of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union

A few years ago, I was obsessed with the stories and symbols involved in union labels and the label movement. Most people remember the Look for the Union Label ad campaign of 1978/81, but labels have had a long and complex tale that is completely intertwined with the history of the labor movement.

Here I am collecting links to some of my label related projects. It is my hope, someday, to do a book about this.

Here's an old blog post about my original concept for the label project: Signs of Unity: Stories and Symbols of the Union Label Movement.  

In 2008, I participated in "Syndicate," a piece for Bay Area Now 5 at YBCA, a collaboration with Jessica Tulley, Wendy Crittenden and Tom Griscom that included a gallery installation, street stencils of historic photos, and a walking tour. Out of that project grew our 2015 Labor Landmarks show Dual Views, hosted at SFSU by the Labor Archives and Reseach Center, featuring the photography of Griscom and Crittenden. In support of this show, I wrote "The Fight for San Francisco" which was published in Places Journal about the historic sites in SF important to the labor movement.

I have several articles published on academica.edu and on slideshare, including "Evolution of an Emblem: the Arm & Hammer" and "100 Years Hand-in-Hand: a Brief History of the AFL-CIO Emblem." I was honored to speak at the AFL-CIO Union Label Department's national convention about their history in 2009 (Pittsburgh, PA), as well as at the national convention of the Popular Culture Association (Albuquerque, NM).

As more people are giving up the power of numbers that unions provided them, I hope that in some small way I have been able to help the stories of the sacrifices workers made to win fairer pay and treatment live on.




Two articles in Fall/Winter 2016 IJOCA

Two articles I finished last year have been published in the Fall/Winter 2016 issue of the International Journal of Comic Art: "A Collaborative Journey: Malcolm Wyte, Troubador Press, and the Founding of the Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco," and "How the French Kickstarted the Acceptance of Comics as an Art Form: the Books and Exhibitions of Maurice Horn" (pages 61-155) The IJOCA does not publish articles on-line. They are posted on Academia.edu, and IJOCA articles sometimes appear in the JSTOR database.

Thanks to the following people who shared their stories with me: Maurice Horn, Brian Walker, Rick Marcshall, Denis Kitchen, Paul Gravett, Art Spiegelman, Carol Tilley, Trina Robbins, and Steve Leialoha. Malcolm Whyte, Jenny Robb, Andrew Farago, and Mark Bode. Also, thanks to Brian, Randy Duncan, Matt Smith, and Marc Greenberg for their advice throughout these projects. 

The article about Maurice Horn, French scholarship, his publications, and the 1967 exhibition at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs will be the topic of my upcoming presentations at WonderCon and the Popular Culture Association's National Convention.

cover of the Fall/Winter 2016 issue of the IJOCA.

cover of the Fall/Winter 2016 issue of the IJOCA.

Conference schedule 2017

After a hiatus, I've scheduled speaking slots a few upcoming conferences:

San Diego Comics Fest, Feb 17-19. Print Magazine's Michael Dooley and I will talk about the art of Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman, and Jules Feiffer, particularly about the way that exhibitions of their original art keep their legacy alive with fans old and new.

Comic Arts Conference at WonderCon (Anaheim, CA), March 31-April 2. 50th Anniversary of the Bande Dessinee et Figuration (1967) Exhibition at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris. 

Popular Culture Association National Conference (San Diego, CA), April 11-15. 50th Anniversary of the Bande Dessinee et Figuration (1967) Exhibition at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris. 

Comic Arts Conference at San Diego Comic-Con International, July 20-23. Exhibitions of Will Eisner and Jack Kirby.