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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Comic Reveiw: CALEXIT issue #1 from Black Mask Studios


CALEXIT issue #1 
Writer: Matt Pizzolo
Artist: Amancay Nahuelpan
Genres: Crime, LGBTQ, Political
Page Count 51 Pages
July 12, 2017
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
July 12, 2017
Cover Price: $3.
What if a fascist, autocratic President took over the United States? And what if that President lost California, the sixth largest economy on Earth, by nearly 2-to-1...a margin of almost 3 1/2 million votes? What if the day after that President took power, the largest mass demonstration in history occurred, and the state with the largest turnout was California. And then, the following week, two of the largest international airports in the world, California's LAX and SFO, were blockaded by protesters? What if California refused to be ruled? From the creators of YOUNG TERRORISTS, Matteo Pizzolo (GODKILLER) and Amancay Nahuelpan (CLANDESTINO), comes this tale of resisting oppression, punching Nazis, protecting each other, kicking ass, and demanding liberty for all.

CalExit is a new comic book series from Black Mask Comics, an independent comic publisher out of Los Angeles. The comic is written by Mateo Pizzolo and drawn by Amankay Nahuelpan. The first issue titled “Chapter 1: If You Want To Scream, Scream With Me” was released on July 12, 2017 and sold out within the first week. There are multiple variants of #1 including virgin covers and several extremely rare covers – 1:50, 1:100, and 1:250. A second printing of issue 1 hit shelves August 16, 2017.

CalExit is set in a near (quite possible) future where California has seceded from the United States of America after the election of a fascist-like President who looks quite a bit like Trump. As a result, California is currently occupied by US government forces. The comic is intended to be provocative and the name itself comes from an actual movement for California to secede. However, Pizollo has made the point that the comic was not intended to mirror reality as closely as it has with its release this summer.

CalExit is an overtly political comic in a recent trend of political comics, most notably Image Comics' Renato Jones and Divided States of America. While Jones is more of a dark individual hero fantasy tale of murdering off the 1% and Divided States is a broad stroke national tale of terrorism and just about every other -ism, CalExit takes a more grounded, character-centric approach in its political statements, which makes it stand out.

The gritty, realistic art style of Nahuelpan's draws comparisons to such artist as Mitch Gerads (Sheriff of Babylon) and Steve Lieber (The Fix). The art helps ground the book in a realistic world while also providing a sense of beauty to a bleak landscape. Additionally, Pizzolo's use of characterization further adds to the realism of the situation. The first chapter introduces the reader to an array of characters who are united (intentionally or not) by the central character - Zora McNulty, a freedom fighter, and secessionist. She is being pursued by an evil government agent who looks in no uncertain terms like Steve Jobs, which is likely a middle finger to such seemingly good corporations like Apple and Google whose dealings beyond the states have been exposed to be less than kosher.

The character we as the reader are to identify with and follow is Jamil, a happy go lucky drug dealer who we are first introduced to as he converses with a US government soldier on city watch duty. This soldier is maybe the most interesting character, though short lived because the interaction on the rooftop helps the reader understand that what is going on here is not as simple as it first appears. And that is the great thing about this book.

Pizollo recognizes this book is dystopian, but he has been quoted as saying it is not the usual dystopian fair, black and despairing, but is instead hopeful. I am inclined to agree. Again, this hope is found in the characters. By the end of issue one, you are either with the secessionists or against them. As the issue title suggests – If you want to scream, scream with [them].

One final interesting and unique aspect of this comic is the conversations at the end with real world and controversial activists. The last pages may send the right wingers to the garbage can with a match, and likely to the internet afterward. Leftists will rejoice in this unusual aspect. No matter your political leanings, CalExit is so well written and drawn that I suspect you will pick up issue 2 anyway. Issue 2 is in comic shops September 20, 2017.

5 Sheep

Cary Gillenwater

1 comment:

  1. Art imitates Life... This sounds both thoughtful and thought-provoking --- I'll be reading Issue #1 for sure!