‘Calexit’ spikes the veins of our discontent with a dose of fury
By Jarrod Jones. Calexit is a buzz word. It’s a state of turmoil. A statement of intent. A state of mind.
Black Mask Studios’ latest marquee title is less speculative fiction than it is suppositional. Suppose the United States elected an aspiring autocrat into the White House. Suppose that President lost the popular vote by over three million votes. Let me guess — next the book will ask me to suppose the drinking water is iffy and the rent’s too damn high.
The November 2016 election lit a fire under the activist element in our country as much as it mollified the super-affluent. It erected a wall between the people who buy what the President is selling and those who absolutely never will. Now suppose a resistance movement spread across the most powerful state in the country. Suppose a movement began to make that state a country of its very own, in open defiance to the disturbing new status quo. Squint as you read your news feed and suppose. It’s easy if you try.
If Calexit isn’t the first piece of sequential art to be created in response to the growing tide of disinformation, violence, and disquiet around the world, it’s certainly the loudest. And wouldn’t you know it? It’s pretty funny too.
It’s satire that keeps things at a boil. Modern day figures take on amplified, cartoonish forms — caricature by way of Bansky. Amancay Nahuelpan tapping that Young Terrorists vein and letting his strengths bleed out onto the page. Trump and Bannon primed for lampoon, easy targets. Jamil the Courier and Zora the Revolutionary are vastly more sympathetic. They reflect the frustration, the apathy, and the fury of those who will undoubtedly love this comic book. And you can bet there will be people who are going to hate it.
Calexit is here to break bones and set hearts on fire.
Calexit establishes a world that’s just slightly beyond the pale. It paints tableaus of what our country might look like once the flimsy structures of our society buckle, when people cease using excuses for hurting each other and just get to it. A story like that demands a storyteller who will let things get messy. Enter Matteo Pizzolo, radical raconteur, assembling the entire might of Black Mask while tying one onto the California Grizzly Bear.
The establishing map towards the beginning of this incisive debut issue is at once fascinating and terrifying. Fresno and Long Beach are under siege. San Francisco and Sacramento are under martial law. The resistance is up against the anvil and the hammer — the Pacific Ocean has the Resistance backed into a corner, and the government is trying its damndest to crush it into dust.
In Calexit, the situation is severe and so is the weather. The U.S. Government saps states’ rights at will and it employs Gestapo tactics. Villains are stock and the heroes are valiant. There are small spaces carved out for nuance, but Calexit puts a bullet between the eyes before things get too sentimental. Its mission statement is clear: damn the man and fuck the consequences.
A book like Calexit should take positions like that in times such as these. Politics have always had the power to make lives virtually intolerable. So Calexit asks the question like any proper revolutionary: Suppose they didn’t anymore?
Black Mask Studios/$3.99
Written by Matteo Pizzolo.
Art by Amancay Nahuelpan.
Colors by Tyler Boss.
Letters by Jim Campbell.
8.5 out of 10