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VPLA 2023
Our Members Be Unlimited: A Comic About Workers and Their Unions

Non-Fiction Award Shortlist

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Title: Our Members Be Unlimited: A Comic About Workers and Their Unions

Author: Sam Wallman

Publisher: Scribe Publications

An original and visually powerful exploration of unionism.

In our current political climate, people are looking for answers – and alternatives. The promise of unions is that their ‘members be unlimited’: that they don’t belong to the rich, the powerful, or special interests, but to all workers.

How did the idea of unionism arise? Where has it flourished? And what are its challenges in the 21st century? From Britain to Bangladesh, from the first union of the 18th century to today, from solidarity in Walmart China to his own experiences in an Amazon warehouse in Melbourne, comics journalist Sam Wallman explores the urge to come together and cooperate that arises again and again in workers and workplaces everywhere.

With a dynamic and distinctive art style, and writing that’s both thoughtful and down to earth, Our Members Be Unlimited serves as an entry point for young people or those new to these notions of collective action, but also as an invigorating read to those already engaged in the struggle for better working conditions — and a better world.



Judges’ report

The history of the union movement, as told through both historical detail and personal experience, can be expected to be an informative if dull read. Yet, by applying the innovative artistry of an underground comix sensibility with a deeply impassioned belief in the need and worth of unions, Sam Wallman has created something rare and wonderful. The panel design and page layouts combine to give each section its own emotional resonance, and Wallman’s art and writing feel breathlessly compulsive. Reading Our Members Be Unlimited is an experience, one that rewards with each revisit.




View the PDF file here.



About the author

Sam Wallman is a comics-journalist and cartoonist based in Melbourne, Australia. His work has been published by The GuardianThe New York TimesThe Age, the ABC, and SBS. Sam is a committed unionist, having worked as an organiser for the National Union of Workers, and a delegate on the shop floor prior to that. He has drawn cartoons for over a hundred trade unions and worker organisations around the world, and is currently developing large-scale murals and banners. He works out of the Workers Art Collective studio in Trades Hall, Melbourne, the oldest union building in the world.

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