Graphic Novel Supports Terrorists?

ArmyofGod-cover-finalDavid Axe and Tim Hamilton‘s latest work, Army of God, has gotten the attention of the Office of Foreign Assets Control. The entity has confiscated the majority of an advance payment to Hamilton, claiming that they were laundering the money for onward transfer to a terrorist organization.

The graphic novel is a non-fiction telling of Joseph Kony’s activities in the Congo. The graphic novel, written by journalist Axe, was originally serialized on the Website Cartoon Movement, and is being published next year by Public Affairs, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

Earlier in December the money was seized when Hamilton’s agent attempted to wire the advance payment for extra chapters that the artist illustrated for the graphic collection. When Hamilton’s agent contacted the bank to find out more, he was told that the party holding the funds was the federal wire fraud unit, which suspected that the creators were laundering funds for a terrorist organization.

The federal banking authority, which monitors every wire, foreign and domestic, apparently seized the funds due to the title of the book, which threw up a red flag.

At the time of the press release about this issue, the funds have not been released to Hamilton or his agent despite the involvement of lawyers. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has also been contacted and apprised of the situation.

The book itself is listed with Amazon and in Public Affairs’ online catalog.

Here’s the solicit text of the book:

It started with a visit from spirits. In 1991, Joseph Kony, the leader of a Ugandan rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army, claimed that spiritual beings had come to him, instructing him to lead brutal raids against civilians supporting the Ugandan government. In the decades since, wars have been waged to supplant him, yet for all the horror and condemnation his brutality has aroused around the world, Joseph Kony still survives. In ARMY OF GOD, war correspondent David Axe collaborates with illustrator Tim Hamilton to create the first-ever graphic account of the global phenomenon surrounding Kony, from the chaos he has left behind to the long campaign to defeat him for good.

David Axe is a freelance reporter based in Columbia, South Carolina. Since 2005 he has reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Somalia, Chad, Congo and other conflict zones, for Wired, the BBC, Salon, Esquire, C-SPAN, Voice of America and many others. David is the author of War Fix, War is Boring, and, most recently, The Accidental Candidate.

Tim Hamilton is a Brooklyn artist who has produced illustrations for The New York Times, Cicada magazine, DC comics, Marvel comics, Mad magazine, Nickelodeon magazine, and Lifetime. He adapted Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 into a graphic novel, which was nominated for an Eisner award.

To say this is an overstretch by the federal government is an understatement. It violates first amendment speech as well as interferes with the journalistic process. I’m not even sure how one would connect these dots to begin with.

Graphic journalist Matt Bors, who edited the graphic novel offers:

OFAC hasn’t responded to my request for comment yet, but their answering machine urged me to visit the U.S. Treasury’s website. Comics wouldn’t be a great way to fund terrorism. They don’t pay very well. But now we know no one fighting terrorism knows how to use Google, which sure makes me feel safe.