The historic victory by President-Elect Barack Obama is still sinking in for many Americans, and among the majority of creators in the comics industry, the mood is jubilant. Support for Obama has been notably strong within comics, where scores of creators publicly expressed their support for the Democratic candidate, and even Image Comics hero Savage Dragon endorsed Obama in a recent issue (thanks, of course, to writer Erik Larsen). The industry enthusiasm lead to a fundraising initiative called The Comics Industry for Barack Obama, which raised over $5,000 through auction donations of art and autographed books from comics pros like Alex Ross, Mike Mignola, Eric Powell, Jaime Hernandez, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Amanda Conner.
“Incredible Hercules” and “Marvel Zombies 3” writer Fred Van Lente and his wife got personally involved in the election process, working at a phone bank in Brooklyn, New York on the night of the election to help get out the vote for Obama.
“It wasn’t even run by the Obama campaign, these two [women] just did it on their own and used the tools on the [Obama] website to organize it,” says Van Lente, who used his personal cell phone to make the calls, but quickly discovered that he had no reception within the building. “I had to do all my calling right out on the street, right by the East River, so I froze my ass off … Usually my motto is ‘Never help anyone,’” jokes Van Lente. “But now I feel personally invested in the win.”
Comics writer Brian Wood, who created the Vertigo title “DMZ” about a modern day American civil war, told MTV News that he found it hard to muster the requisite cynicism to script the gritty series the morning after the Obama victory:
“Real-life politics has played a huge role in my work, from the Rudy Giuliani ‘Quality Of Life’ regime in the '90s to the W. Bush legacy of war, torture, illegal politics, occupation and terrorism. But this morning it was impossible to get up after a long night watching election news and put myself into the necessary pessimist headspace to work on the latest ‘DMZ’ script. It's been a long eight years in this country, where things unimaginable only a few years before that have been committed in our name, flying in the face of our own Constitution, domestic and international law, not to mention common sense and decency. It's impossible not to get excited even at the idea or possibility of a change, and the fact that Obama was elected so quickly and with such surety is amazing, just absolutely world-changing. As cliché as it sounds, nothing will be the same from this point on. So while my writing on ‘DMZ’ has trained me to look at politics in the most cynical way possible, for today at least I just pushed the keyboard back and enjoyed thinking of the best-case scenario instead."
Bill Kelter, the author of the upcoming “Veeps” book from Top Shelf Productions, a humorous historical chronicle of the nation’s vice presidents, adds that “speaking from a strictly selfish standpoint, and what it would have meant for "Veeps," it would have been a joy to go back to the Sarah Palin well again and again for the next four years. We would never have gone thirsty for a moment. I'm not sure that would have been the best thing for the country, though.”
“K Chronicles” cartoonist Keith Knight, who recently attracted controversy with a comic strip about a political canvasser’s real-life encounter with racist slurs directed at Obama, agreed that “many cartoonists will miss Bush and Cheney, because they made our job so easy.” More importantly, he says, “It's nice to see America at its best again… I'm personally looking forward to visiting the Hall of Presidents at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.”
For some, the excitement over the Obama win was somewhat tempered by the votes on various propositions around the nation, particularly the passage of Proposition 8 in California, which stripped away the recently granted marriage rights for gays and lesbians in the state.
“The icing would have been getting 'No' on [Proposition] 8, but I know that one's not over by a long shot,” “Love & Rockets” creator Jaime Hernandez told us, who added that nonetheless, the Obama win left him feeling like “a giddy schoolboy...Even if this happens only once in our lifetime, at least I got to see it. As Tiny Tim observed, ‘God bless us, every one.’ And he meant everyone.”
“Hate” and “Apocalypse Nerd” creator Peter Bagge, who has created comic strips for the Libertarian magazine “Reason,” says that he is pleased with the Obama victory “mainly because the Republican Party has so thoroughly disgraced itself that they needed to be sent to exile. Plus the symbolism behind the election of a non-white male for once can't be underestimated, especially regarding how we're perceived in the rest of the world.”
Comics creator Dan Goldman, who is currently at work on the campaign travelogue graphic novel “’08,” was literally at the drawing board when the presidential race – and the end of his book – was announced. “I think this is a new day for America; we have a chance to empty all the pollutants out of the tank and have a fresh start.” Goldman also drew the 2007 graphic novel “Shooting War,” which took place in a dark, near-future setting where McCain was President and the U.S. lay in shambles. “That was not a world that I wanted to live in,” Goldman said.
Now, as the glow of victory begins to recede for many Obama supporters in the face of the challenges ahead, their view of the future was perhaps best summed up by “Uncanny X-Men” and “Casanova” writer Matt Fraction, who described himself as “overjoyed, under-rested, and ready to get to work. The next four years starts today.”
Are you happy with the election results? Do you agree with what these comic artists and writers are saying? Sound off on the comments.