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Matt Pizzolo’s Young Terrorists Books Playlist

by Matt Pizzolo

The germ of the idea behind Young Terrorists came when I was blackballed by a Washington lobbyist for distributing a documentary about animal rights activists who were serving time in federal prison as terrorists. It’s kind’ve a long story, and I go into it a bit in the backmatter of Young Terrorists #1. The point is… we all talk about “the system” and how it works or it doesn’t work, but it’s not until the system turns directly on you, til an insider who really knows how to work the machine identifies you as an individual to be targeted and starts grinding the gears around you, that’s when you get an inkling of the scale of it all… It feels kinda like when the eye of Sauron catches sight of Frodo — some omnipotent power has just noticed you and suddenly you’re very very fucked.

This all happened a while back, when the GW Bush Administration passed a law called The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, which made it so any activism against a business that exploits animals is classified as terrorism and punishable under the PATRIOT Act. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is a law that was brought to you by (wait for it) lobbyists who (you guessed it) work for businesses that exploit animals.

I only got the tiniest smidge of the lobbyist’s fury, and it was enough to rattle me. And I’m kind’ve not that easy to rattle, which is sort’ve how I wound up in that situation in the first place.

There’s no shortage of people abusing power across America and around the world. I love comics about superheroes who fights mutants and Nazis and various flavors of dudes-in-pajamas, but in this case I was inspired to create a team of superheroes who fight back against an abusive power structure. The power structure we all call home.

Issue 2 came out last week. Technically it’s over a year late. But… looking around at the world we’re living in right now, kinda feels like it came out right on time. Honestly, it’s pretty upsetting when you write dystopia fiction and people start calling your body of work prescient.

If you’re interested in some of the ideas beneath the surface of Young Terrorists, here are a few of the books I was reading when I wrote it. In several cases they directly impacted the actions on the page, in other cases they’re just sources I relied on to remind me why I’m always so pissed off all the time.

EATING ANIMALS

By Jonathan Safran Foer

This isn’t the book that turned me vegan when I was 17 years old, that was John Robbins’ DIET FOR A NEW AMERICA. But I’d heard good things about EATING ANIMALS and I wanted to re-acclimate before writing Cesar, since I’d lapsed into being a lazy vegetarian over the decades. And yeah, everything’s just as awful as I’d remembered it. Foer has a sincere, every-new-dad approach that makes the whole thing less polemic and more palatable, but it was a healthy shot of rage with specificity and if you read it you’ll note detailed descriptions of some of the treatment of animals that Cesar ponders in issue 1. EATING ANIMALS didn’t inspire the issue 4 illustration of cows being driven into a shredding machine and forcefed to their brothers and sisters though, that image has been burned into my brain since I read DIET FOR A NEW AMERICA.

eating-animals

THE DIVIDE: AMERICAN INJUSTICE IN THE AGE OF THE WEALTH GAP

By Matt Taibbi, with incredible art by Molly Crabapple

Taibbi is a national treasure for his relentless mocking of Wall Street in Rolling Stone throughout the financial crisis. THE DIVIDE delves into real-life stories that paint a mosaic of how our economic infrastructure fleeces the poor by the millions in order to upstream wealth to the elites. The scenes of Sera and Cesar joining migrants forced at gunpoint across the border directly into the hands of drug cartels waiting to kidnap and ransom them is directly inspired by this book (unless that technically counts as plagiarism, in which case I never read it). Taibbi has the guts to list specific locations and name names, whereas I am way too gutless (also I live closer to the border so fuck that—btw, if you’re in a drug cartel: I’m referring to the Canadian border cuz I live in Vancouver… f’real). Anyhow, if you actually want to learn something read his book not mine.

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ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE

By Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera

all-the-devils-are-here

CONFIDENCE MEN: WALL STREET, WASHINGTON, AND THE EDUCATION OF A PRESIDENT

By Ron Suskind

confidence-men

THE BIG SHORT

By Michael Lewis

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GRIFTOPIA

By Matt Taibbi

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TOO BIG TO FAIL

By Andrew Ross Sorkin

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These are various books on the financial crisis, which I’m listing together because only a sociopath would read all of them. THE BIG SHORT is great (I heard it got made into a movie?), GRIFTOPIA is cool, and CONFIDENCE MEN was the one I probably found to be the most enjoyable read (though it’ll really make you grieve Bernie’s campaign), but I ultimately thought ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE was the most thorough account of the financial crisis with a ton of insight and details I hadn’t already heard elsewhere—which is probably why it’s the least popular on the list. TOO BIG TO FAIL was the most popular on the list until Adam McKay came along, and thank god for McKay because TBTF is fucking atrocious and should be stricken from the record—that book helped inspire Sera’s line “history is written by the culprits.”

BLACK FLAGS: THE RISE OF ISIS

By Joby Warrick

I tried a few books about ISIS/ISIL/Daesh trying to get a real breakdown on how exactly they structured a sovereign state rather than just being an insurgent, guerrilla group. Most of the books I found were dumb propaganda, fake-news, or not interesting enough to bother mentioning. BLACK FLAGS is legitimately great though. It’s mainly a pretty thorough biography of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, but it also expands to encompass the ensemble of characters and situations that led to the formation and operation of the Islamic State. And if you’re confused about what the fuck is going on in Syria, this book gives an insightful view through several facets of the prism.

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THE SECRET ARCHITECTURE OF OUR NATION’S CAPITAL

By David Ovason

I can’t remember if any of the Washington DC architectural stuff from the Young Terrorists FCBD story is actually from this book or not. I think I read this book wanting to find existing conspiracy theories about Washington DC architecture, but I didn’t like any of them so I just synthesized my own. This book is mostly about how a lot of the Founding Fathers were freemasons and how that inspired DC’s architecture. (I also read FAITHS OF THE FOUNDING FATHERS which was pretty good and asserts they were Deists.) Third Eye Comics was kind enough to fly me out to Baltimore for a signing, so I went to DC afterward and mapped out how the buildings face each other, that’s when I noticed the Eagle on the Fed building is basically glaring in Lincoln’s direction and I remembered years back reading an observation that Lincoln and JFK were the only two Presidents to go around the central banks and as luck would have it both were assassinated… that observation wasn’t made in this book though, I think it was in Jim Marrs’ RULE BY SECRECY. Which is great and fucking bananas.

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THE DOORS OF PERCEPTION

By Aldous Huxley

Huxley’s my all-time favorite writer, but I never read this book because I’m straightedge and I don’t care about Jim Morrison. Turns out it’s pretty rad though, and it finally made me understand the reason I never needed drugs as a kid is because I got the shit kicked out of me so much. Supposedly science later disproved this, but I’m stickin’ with Huxley.

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Kickstarter Spotlight: The Broken Frontier Anthology

bfanthology_RRodriguezcoverby Tyler Chin-Tanner

The Broken Frontier anthology brings together some of the brightest talents in mainstream and indie comics today, to tell their own stories about pushing beyond the limits and exploring the great unknown.

All the stories in the anthology are completely creator-owned which means that writers and artists have the freedom to explore new concepts, or finally tell that one story that’s been bouncing around in their heads for years. And judging by the response we got from so many established creators, it’s pretty clear that projects like this are vital in the comics industry.

I’ve always enjoyed the freedom of independent publishing and have done my best work under those conditions. Here at Graphic Policy I was given a very positive review for my last graphic novel, American Terrorist, which was about protest and revolution in the U.S. My new story for the Broken Frontier anthology, The Wall, also has some political undertones, but they’re set in an alternate dystopian universe.

bfanthology_bookplateBut don’t worry, I won’t let politics get in the way of a good story. And I’m working with the amazing Toby Cypress (White Suits, Rodd Racer) on this and he’s known for his fast lines and dynamic artwork, so he’ll make sure we keep the pace up.

I can say with total conviction that I’m excited about each and every story in the anthology. Greg Pak and Tom Raney have a soldier with a phantom limb fighting against ghosts. David Hine and Mark Stafford are setting the scene for an existential murder mystery. Fred Van Lente and Alison Sampson are exploring some interesting cultural norms with their female superhero. Marguerite Bennett is telling a tale of folk lore with a park ranger in Alaska. And I’ve already read all of Noah Van Sciver’s story, Down In A Hole, as that one’s in the can. What a great story!

I know this is going to be an incredible book, one that really resonates with readers as something that goes beyond your typical anthology. But we need to fund this project in order to make it happen.

While we’re no longer picking crowd funding projects to spotlight on our site, we’re allowing project creators to make their case for their project on our platform. We remind individuals, we don’t endorse any of these projects, and that by supporting any crowd funding project, you’re taking any risks associated with doing so. – the Management

Get Comics and Help a Charity With Groupees.com

Groupees.com is a website where they organize comic, game, and/or music and bundle them up to benefit charities. Similar to the video game focused Humble Bundle. They’ve launched a Indie Comic bundle with some killer titles including, !, American Terrorist, Evil Diva, Grimm Crew Presents: Dead Future, Grimm Crew Presents: Winter’s Eye, Myth, Smoke & Mirror, Spies, Swipe, The Deadbeat, and The Lexian Chronicles. That’s a whole lot of comics and you get to help a charity!

The platform is aimed at turning the digital download experience into a fun, social event. This campaign includes titles from Alterna, Markosia, Raven Warren, GrayHaven, Angry Viking, and A Wave Blue World. When people buy the bundle they can choose for part of their contribution to be donated to one of 3 wildlife charities, Wolf Haven International, Animal Welfare Institute, and Farm Sanctuary.

Having read a few of these comics, it’s well worth the money, even if it’s just a dollar (we encourage you to give more though). When certain goals are met, new comics unlock as well, this is a great idea and we encourage everyone to pitch in! The event runs until March 6.

Preview: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #264

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #264

Larry Hama (w) • Netho Diaz (a & c)

G.I. Joe battles for justice, liberty, and freedom around the globe, and with the evil terrorist organization known as Cobra slithering around every corner, the stakes have never been higher! Living Legend Larry Hama and superstar artist Netho Diaz continue the latest explosive arc of… G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero!

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #264

Review: Ricky Rouse Has a Gun

Ricky Rouse has a Gun CoverRick Rouse is a US Army deserter who, after running away to China, gets a job at Fengxian Amusement Park, a family destination heavily “inspired” by Western culture, featuring Rambi (the deer with a red headband), Ratman (the caped crusader with a rat’s tail), Bumbo (small ears, big behind) and other original characters. The park’s general manager is convinced that Rick was destined to greet Fengxian customers dressed as none other than Ricky Rouse. But when American terrorists take the entire park hostage, only Ricky Rouse can save the day. In a furry costume.

Ricky Rouse Has a Gun is part action story, part parody, part commentary on intellectual property, and totally entertaining. What I found amazing about Ricky Rouse is its layered storytelling. You can read as much, or as little as you want. Is it an action story? Is it commentary about China’s habits when it comes to copyrights? Is it commentary about the United State’s creativity? Is it all of the above or more? This is a graphic novel that you can read, and debate about for hours after, and no answers would be incorrect. The foreward of the book is provided by Christopher Sprigman, a professor of law and New York University, and it sets the tone to get you to think of it all.

But beyond that depth, the characters are entertaining, moments are hillarious, and action worthy of the big screen. Ricky Rouse to me is an ode to action movies, and the sequels they spawn, with some great commentary thrown in there. Though it’s presented on printed page, I had many of the scenes playing through my head as if they were directed by Bruckheimer or Bay. For every thing that gets you to think, there’s also more than enough explosions to allow you to turn off your brain too.

Mix it all with some fantastic art, and the graphic novel is one that both entertains and gets you to think, and there’s enough in there about Chinese culture, you might learn a bit too.

Story: Jörg Tittel Art: John Aggs
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Self Made Hero provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Fighting America: The Ties That Bind #1

FIGHTING AMERICAN: THE TIES THAT BIND #1

Writer: Gordon Rennie
Artist: Andie Tong
Color: Tracy Baily
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Editor: David Leach
Cover A: Jerry Ordway
Cover B: Jack Kirby
Cover C: Andie Tong
Publisher: Titan Comics
FC, 32pp, $3.99
On sale: March 7, 2018

In 1954, NELSON FLAGG took part in an experimental US Military procedure that saw his mind transferred into the enhanced and revitalized body of his dead brother, JOHNNY FLAGG, to become America’s first and only superhero, FIGHTING AMERICAN!

63 years later, FIGHTING AMERICAN and his sidekick, SPEEDBOY, have found themselves marooned in the 21st Century.

With MADAME CHAOS now safely behind bars, FA and SB have begun the mammoth task of tracking down all of the stolen PROFESSOR DYLE TWISTER tech that she sold on the Dark Web to every whack-job, fanatic, terrorist and weirdo she could find.

Meanwhile, one of FA’s old 1950s villains (sent through time by CHAOS LAD), the notorious DOUBLE HEADER, is now the head of the FBI and starting to make life difficult for our two-fisted man of action.

Marvel and ComiXology Announce Deadpool: Secret Agent Deadpool

Marvel Entertainment and comiXology have announced the next exclusive comiXology Originals digital comic series: Deadpool: Secret Agent Deadpool, a 6-issue bi-weekly series written by Chris Hastings, drawn by Salva Espin, with colors by Matt Yackey, and covers by David Nakayama.

Deadpool: Secret Agent Deadpool #1 arrives September 5, 2018 for $2.99 on comiXology and Kindle as part of the comiXology Originals line of exclusive digital content and will be available to current subscribers of the popular comiXology Unlimited service. New subscribers to comiXology Unlimited can also enjoy it for free as part of their 30-day free trial.

A perfect entry point for new fans and longtime readers alike, it’s a case of mistaken identity when Wade Wilson, the regeneratin’ degenerate you know as Deadpool, kills an American superspy on a mission to stop the deadly terrorist agency called GORGON! Now, it’s up to Wade to complete his victim’s mission as only he can – with excessive violence, an accelerated healing factor, and maybe, just maybe, a few laughs along the way.

Preview: The American Way: Those Above and Those Below #1

The American Way: Those Above and Those Below #1

(W) John Ridley (A/CA) Georges Jeanty
In Shops: Jul 12, 2017
SRP: $3.99

It’s been a decade since the Civil Defense Corps was exposed as a fraud created by the U.S. Government for propaganda purposes. While most of the heroes who survived the catastrophe have retired or disappeared, the New American still carries on, trying to keep communities safe amid the social turmoil of the 1970s. But with the nation split in two over civil rights and the changing political landscape, this isn’t easy. Some of the American’s former colleagues are on opposite sides of the law: Amber Waves joined a group of domestic terrorists, while Missy, a.k.a. Ole Miss, has thrown her hat into the political ring. As the ground shifts beneath his feet and new threats arise, which side will the American choose? This sequel to the hit miniseries by the original team of writer John Ridley (Oscar-winning screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave and creator of TV’s American Crime) and artist Georges Jeanty (Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight, Serenity: No Power in the ‘Verse) moves the story forward in history, factoring in how real-life events might be affected by the presence of superheroes, and how those events change the heroes in turn.

Review: Scarlet #3 (of 5)

Scarlet has fought back against the corruption that destroyed her life-and now the next American revolution is underway! The city of Portland has been shut down-or, in the eyes of some, taken hostage-and Scarlet must decide how far she is willing to take her crusade. Enter Kit, the woman who will reduce Portland to rubble.

It’s weird to read and review a comic about revolutionaries (or terrorists depending on your side) on a day when some is sending bombs to likely political opponents in real life. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Scarlet #3 describes itself as telling the “story of a generation pushed too far in an alternative world we may soon find ourselves in.” Except, it doesn’t feel all that alternative at all and that we’re in the beginning stages of the world Bendis created so many years ago.

When Scarlet began, it was a response to the situation of the time which gave rise to the Occupy Movement. It was Occupy gone to the extreme of militancy. Since then, while the book slumbered awaiting a return, Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock, the Women’s March, March for Science, and so many more movements have risen up and mostly simmered down. Scarlet is what happens when that spark finally happens and it questions what comes after the revolution?

And this is specifically looks at that spark, the first gunshot, the moment that takes things to the next level. And again asks, what’s next?

It’s an interesting issue that explores how this, all of this comic and the real world movements, are born out of abuse by those in power, those with privilege. And it shows that some just won’t stand for it anymore and whether consciously or unconsciously, we’ll fight back.

The art by Alex Maleev, with lettering by Joshua Reed, is amazing as always. There’s a reality to it all despite the destroyed American city. We, the reader, can still connect and relate to everything. This doesn’t feel like a foreign future but a reality we can experience now. Reed’s lettering too is key as Scarlet has a habit of talking directly to the reader and with subtle switching of the speech bubbles, a different tone and experience is had.

There’s something surreal about this issue’s release today of all days and it feels as though it’s as pertinent to today’s political situation as it was when the series debuted 8 years ago. It’s the rage many of us feeling and a reality many of us would like to see happen. All it’ll take is a spark and some inspiration. But for now, we can imagine that revolution kicking off and experience that possible reality on the printed page.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis Art: Alex Maleev
Lettering: Joshua Reed Design: Curtis King, Jr.
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: James Bond #6

James Bond #6

writer: Benjamin Percy
artist: Rapha Lobosco
covers: Dom Reardon (A), Jason Masters (B), Patrick Zircher (C), Jason Masters (RI-B/W), Dom Reardon (RI-Virgin), Patrick Zircher (RI-Virgin)
FC • 32 pages • $3.99 • Teen +

In the action-packed finale of the Black Box story arc, James Bond descends into the secret headquarters of Saga Genji — deep below the Fukushima nuclear reactor — where he finds himself lost in a labyrinth of dark tunnels and political deceptions. He must overcome both his cyber terrorist adversaries and American and British allies to destroy the black box of vulnerable data that threatens to upend the world.

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