The sedition and riots that happened at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, were a stain and dark day on American history. What was supposed to be an abnormal certification of the election victory for President-elect Joe Biden turned into an attempted coup by the outgoing President Trump.
The connections and who were behind the criminal act are still coming out but there were numerous groups and individuals who organized the seditious and deadly act.
One of those organizations behind the rally was Women for America First, which helped organize the “March to Save America”. The 501(c)(4) nonprofit is allowed to engage in limited political activities by the IRS and doesn’t have to publicly disclose their donors. But, we know of at least one of those donors.
America First Action is a political action committee chaired by Linda McMahon. The organization’s 2019 990 disclosure form showed they contributed $25,000 to Women for America First. American First Action is affiliated with America First Policies, a political organization started by Trump and Pence staffers.
McMahon is the wife of WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. Both are friends and allies of Trump, and Linda McMahon headed up the Small Business Administration. She resigned from that position in 2019 to assume her role as Chairwoman of America First Action.
A donor to America First Action is Isaac (Ike) Perlmutter and his wife Laura. IkePerlmutter is the Chairman of Marvel. Together, the two donated $21 million in 2019-2020 over 4 donations. $15 million was donated on September 24 and $6 million on September 8. America First Action was founded in 2017 but 2020 was the first time either donated to the super PAC.
The Perlmutter donations happened after the 2019 donation to Women for America First but America First Action has yet to file a new 990 form since 2019. Who knows what might turn up in their next one. Women For America First’s donors are generally unknown. It’s near impossible to determine who directly donated to that organization and funded their failed coup which is why crumbs like this raise questions and concerns.
As of this article, in 2019 and 2020 the Perlmutters contributed 100 reported times to Republican candidates or organizations for a total of $26,067,600. That includes the maximum donation of $11,200 to Donald J. Trump for President, $1,871,200 to Trump Victory, and $1,207,000 to the Republican National Committee.
Jane Cleaver: “It’s words. It’s a game. You say whatever it takes to win.”
David Murch: “Well, maybe that’s the problem.”
This dialogue exchange happens early in Homecoming (dir. Joe Dante), a strange but unique zombie story from the Masters of Horror anthology series created by director Mick Garris (The Stand). It serves as a preamble for what’ll come soon after the two conversations between the two characters ends, which flips the zombie formula on its head with bravado. An army of undead war veterans rallies from beyond the grave for one final mission: to vote against the president that sent them to war based on a lie. A lie that killed them.
The episode came out in 2006, two years into George W. Bush’s second term as president, at a point where the ‘weapons of mass destruction’ excuse used to justify the War on Terror was wearing off and being heavily portrayed as the lie that got the US stuck in the Middle East (and the reason why dead soldiers come back to vote in Homecoming).
Homecoming follows a White House speech writer called David Murch as he navigates Bush’s reelection with a team of public relations pundits hellbent on winning the election, by any and all means necessary. During a televised panel discussion, Murch is confronted by the mother of a dead soldier who’s protesting the war, which inspires the conflicted speech writer to sincerely wish her son could come back and tell the world why he died for his country. He gets his wish, only it comes with a battalion of undead combatants desperate to fulfill their civic duty.
Watching it now, just as Americans are casting their ballots on the Biden v. Trump election, it’s unsettling how relevant this story still is, if only for its discussion on how politics is ultimately a game of words. As Murch and his team pick up on the fact zombie votes are leaning towards the other side, a mad dash for control of the narrative takes place. What was first scene as an act of patriotism—rising from the grave to vote—becomes an un-American rebellion looking to steal the election from the living.
While Homecoming is firmly rooted in the context of the Bush presidency, it comments enough on the dangers of political storytelling to effectively turn its metaphors on the politics of today. Murch will struggle with his own morality throughout most of the episode, always hesitant as to how and when to use the undead as part of the campaign. Here’s where Jane Cleaver comes into play.
Basically a stand-in for Ann Coulter, Cleaver becomes the right-wing commentator that puts on her radical pro-America persona when in front of a camera only to later admit she’ll say anything to secure her party’s victory. She basically stands as the unethical extreme of public discourse. The game, as Cleaver puts it, is won by the best storyteller. Homecoming does a magnificent job of proving this point through her, with the other PR people acting as her chorus, encouraging her to further spread her warped political views.
There are a lot of parallels between Cleaver’s philosophies and Kellyanne Conway’s media performances (which she had to put on as the former counselor to the President), especially when she was asked to explain or defend Trump’s comments on most about everything. There’s a scene in Homecoming, after the soldiers have revealed who they’re voting for, where Cleaver doubts the legality of undead voting after previously championing it. She supported the undead vote before she knew the problem it posed to her party. Conway’s “alternative facts” statement comes to mind here, which was uttered when asked to comment on the actual number of people that attended Trump’s inauguration. It’s as if you can trace a solid genealogical line, if you will, from Bush era politics to Trump era politics. The side with the best spin on information wins the crowd, and potentially their vote.
It should come as no surprise to Joe Dante fans that this movie is as blatantly political as it is. As Homecoming’s director, Dante pulls out every trick in his book to make each metaphor land. Be it the violent nature of American politics (seen in his werewolf movie The Howling) to a people’s inability to keep chaos at bay by following simple instructions (Gremlins), Dante likes to put his movies’ messages in full view, covered in blood if he has to. Homecoming is no different.
During a televised Presidential rally, Murch and Cleaver ruminate on Bush’s ability to command an audience. Cleaver asks just what it is about the President that makes people adore him. Murch responds, “He’s not stupid. He has a way to make stupid people feel like they’re just as smart as he is.” A bit crude, but it speaks to the power of storytelling. In Bush’s America, militaristic values were the way to win hearts and minds, especially after 9/11. There was an appeal to patriotism that the Bush administration took and turned into a party value. As a result, to criticize the war was to criticize the need to protect America, to badmouth its soldiers. Being anti-war meant being un-American.
In Trump’s America, the idea is to show America as a place that’s been robbed of greatness by liberal policies that see their own country as the problem. The principle is the same. It’s just a matter of taking outdated story elements out and putting new ones in. By then, it’s a race of two stories and it all boils down to the side that tells it better.
Homecoming is a horror story with a call to action. It’s not cynic in its entirety but it’s not entirely hopeful either. It’s about awareness. Stories are never one thing or another in the world of politics. They’re in constant spin and can spiral out at any moment to the benefit of those who can harness their power best. It might take zombie voters to come back and put us all in our place for things to get better. Until then, it’s up to the living to make sure we don’t screw up so bad this time.
Written by Anthony Del Col, art by Josh Adams with Nik Virella, colors by Charlie Kirchoff and Irma Kniivila, and lettering by Taylor Esposito, the comic is a two-part look at two key events that have defined who he is as a leader. The comic takes a look at Charlottesville and then the George Floyd protests in June of this year focusingon some of the factors leading to his actions and reactions.
This is the fourth comic Del Col has created with Insider. Previous releaes have included a look at Trump’s impeachment, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s departure from the Royal Family, and Trump’s response to COVID-19.
The newest comic is available as a traditional comic and motion comic.
Starting in April, iPOP! started commissioning journalists to research and report on the most important issues facing voters this November – focusing on actual quotes from Donald Trump and Mike Pence, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
Starting today, iPOP! will start putting those words into the mouths of babes. iPOP!’s artists and animators have created a series of Deathmatches featuring Bad Babies characters acting out, in their infantile ways, what Republican and Democratic candidates have been acting out in theirs. Enter the Baby Deathmatch: 2020 Election!
Everyone who watches a Baby Deathmatch and votes for a winner, can sign up to receive a unique digital prize!
Legendary creator Jim Starlin has found inspiration for his next villain in the current one in the White House. King Plunddo Tram will appear in Starlin’s Dreadstar Returns. Plunddo Tram is an anagram of Donald Trump. The crowdfunded Dreadstar Returns is Starlin’s return to world of Dreadstar for the first time in 30 years.
The further failure of Trump to do anything about COVID-19 had Starlin revisting and rewriting the script to his new series. Plunddo Tram wasn’t as despicable as he wanted him to be so he made him worse.
The comic series is sure to piss some off as it includes a drawing of King Plunddo Tram’s head on a pike, similar to Kathy Griffin’s 2017 photoshoot that caused controversy. But, 2020 is a different moment than 2017.
Fan-favorite series Bomb Queen returns, after eight years, with a brand-new four-issue miniseries in Bomb Queen: Trump Card by Jimmie Robinson. The explosive satire will launch this August from Image Comics and Shadowline. Bomb Queen is rated as VERY MATURE!
Set in the year 2024, Bomb Queen: Trump Card follows supervillain Bomb Queen on her quest to stop Donald Trump from becoming president for life. Her plan: campaign against Trump, steal his voter base, and lay bare America’s dark underbelly in the process.
This new chapter in the series promises the kind of irreverent, twisted fun longtime fans of the character have come to expect—in other words, it’s pretty much guaranteed to offend everyone!
In the announcement, Robinson said:
I returned to Bomb Queen to get a few things off my chest. From social politics to the state of the comic industry, nothing is safe from the Queen of obscene. Sometimes the best medicine is bitter and hard to swallow, and considering the current state of things, it seemed the perfect time for her to return to add to the chaos!
Bomb Queen: Trump Card #1 (Diamond Code JUN200030) will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, August 26.
After my initial feeling of being violated, seeing that pompous fool using my creation to stroke his infantile ego, it finally struck me that the leader of my country and the free world actually enjoys comparing himself to a mass murderer. How sick is that? These are sad and strange times we are going through. Fortunately, all things, even national nightmares, eventually come to an end.
Last month, Marvel sent a cease and desist letter to NYC Council Member Ben Kallos for his use of Marvel characters in a fundraising email. The company’s Deputy Chief Counsel asked that Marvel’s “character not be used for political purposes or to support political campaigns.” It’s unknown if the company will send a similar letter to the Trump reelection campaign. Marvel’s head Isaac Perlmutter is one of Trump’s largest donors and is a shadow advisor for the administration. We’ve asked the company for comment and will follow up with any updates.
We spoke about Trump’s trade war with China and the raising of tariffs to 25% of items from the country in our second episode of Graphic Policy Weekly. Tariffs are a way to “even out” the cost of foreign goods so they’re on par with domestic goods.
While President Trump claims that the foreign government pays the tariff, that’s incorrect. In reality the importer does and that cost is passed along to the consumer in the retail cost of the goods. It’s a tax on consumers.
Much of the comic, game, and toy industry’s production is in foreign countries, especially China, and thus this policy is directly impacting our hobbies.
John Fleskes has spoken out about the impact of the tariff on his company, Flesk Publications. Flesk Publications is a high end art book publisher of which many art books highlight the talents of comic artists. You can read his full post below.
As he points out, this policy also include Hong Kong where his books are printed. He has checked on working conditions, which he describes as “stellar,” and has verified that the paper and materials have been sourced in an environmentally and sustainable way. The facility is “clean” and a “professional environment.” This directly disputes the narrative of “slave labor” producing our goods.
As he describes in his post, this policy decision directly impacts his company making it go from a “good year” to a possible “negative year” and that hiring a new employee won’t happen and bonuses provided to employees won’t happen. Prices up books will also go up while production will be on hold for future books.
Read his full post below while another good read about the reality of book production can be found here.
We have been notified by our shipper today that by the end of June there will be an implementation of the 25% duty tax that will effect books manufactured and imported from China. This includes Hong Kong (where we have our printing done). At the moment, we have Ballpoint Beauties by Frank Cho, the new Terry Dodson sketchbook, Bombs Away, and the new Art of Gary Gianni for George R.R. Martin’s Seven Kingdoms in transit with an arrival date in the US port at the end of June. If our books arrived a week or two earlier, we would have avoided the duty tax. (Update: This is up in the air at the moment.) As a small publisher, this is how a sudden duty tax will affect us. We plan our book releases anywhere form 8-12 months in advance. At that time, we set our cover prices, then promote and advertise the book, as well as list it with our distributor. We sign contracts with the printer so that we can secure a quote, then they order the paper and place us into their production schedule. Unlike just about every other item you find in a store, the cover price is printed on books. So, if a publisher is hit with a sudden tax or unexpected expense, we can not adjust the cover price to compensate. The discounts with the distributor have already been negotiated. I cannot charge the distributors more to compensate. The duty tax comes straight out of our narrow profit margin. In essence, because of this duty tax, I am preparing for the following. Due to the direct loss to our profits: 1. We will not be able to hire the new employee that we planned in securing this summer. 2. We already signed our printer contract and set the pricing for Spectrum 26. Due to the duty tax, our profits for this book will be greatly reduced. Our 6 months of work on this title will break even, at most. 3. We will not be able to provide the bonuses that we normally provide to our employees. 4. Any funds that we planned on saving for the future are greatly compromised. 5. All of our plans for growth are on standby since we have no idea how this duty tax will be implemented. 6. All books in development are currently being produced, but are on hold as we learn how this will impact us further. 7. All book prices will go up to make up for the duty taxes. How much? We can’t tell yet. We are going from having a good year, to having a possible negative year due the trade wars. We need a full year notice if new duty taxes are going to be implemented. That would give us time to plan and make changes. Unfortunately, using printers in the US is not an option. They charge upwards of three times the costs, even after shipping, than China or Hong Kong printers do. Also, the facilities and printers who can print deluxe hardbound books simply do not exist in the US. It would take years for someone to invest in the creation of a premium US art book printer, and it would be a risk since if the duty tax was to be removed in the future it would put them out of business. Creating incentives for US companies to grow manufacturing here, instead of penalizing us for going outside of the US for manufacturing, would make more sense in my opinion. The infrastructure simply does not exist in the US for us to print here. We have no choice but to go overseas. This will be a tough year for us. We’ll get through it. We’re strong, yet we wish we didn’t have to be. I’m saddened though. Saddened that I can not take care of my family and employees like I had hoped this year. I’m saddened that much of the slim profits that we make will be taken away from us by a trade war. Publishing is my passion. Making books is my great love. Not even a duty tax will stop us, as much as it may try. But it will be one hell of a speed bump to drive over.
It’s new comic book day today! What’s everyone excited for? What do you plan getting? Sound off in the comments! While you wait for the shops to open, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.