Antarctic Press, Politixploitation and how I spent my money at Comic-Con
Comic-Con was last weekend and everyone’s sick of it. If something isn’t reported, blogged, tweeted, retweeted, dugg and posted to Facebook before the last Leia leaves the convention center, then it’s no longer worth mentioning.
Yeah, whatever. I’m going to dump this here because only today have I finally had the clarity of mind (and the freedom of deadline) to string it all together.
Plus, I’ve finally put my new poster on the wall.
Why, yes, that is a poster of President Barack Obama trying to escape a swarm of undead reporters. And I’m also wearing this T-shirt today:
Yes, that would be Barack and Michelle Obama adapted to the movie poster for Army of Darkness. And yes, I’m totally fan-boyed out with Politixploitation from Antarctic Press, a print house I’d never heard of before Comic-Con. I’m must’ve returned to that table a half-dozen times to buy more of their product. I’ll explain….
One thing most people may not realize about Comic-Con is that it’s not just comics and Hollywood blockbusters–it’s got something for everyone. That’s a cliche, sure, but the fact remains if you’ve got a fetish for cuddly kidneys, I Heart Guts sells “When Urine Love” T-shirts. For those obsessed with “Good Times,” that classic sitcom from the 70s, The stars were signing autographs. And for political junkies there’s Antarctic Press.
I love political memborabilia and the weirder the better: I won a national award for my examination of Texas gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman’s merchandising campaign, which included selling talking Kinky dolls. At the Democratic National Convention in Denver in 2008, I bought Obama frisbees, pins portraying Obama as Jimmy Hendrix, a giant lizard-colored poster of John McCain’s profile. I adore the RNC McCain-Palin hat, exclusively produced for the 2008 Republican National Convention, that San Diego County Republican Party Chair Tony Krvaric recent gifted me.
Politixploitation takes it one step further.
I think I just made up that word, so let me define it. “Politixploitation” is a genre where the creator takes the public’s fascination with politics and not only satirizes it, but shamelessly capitalizes on its pop culture aspects. If there’s a better word, please let me know.
Now, I’m not talking about graphic novels that set out to illustrate elections in a graphic way, like Michael Crowley’s awful “08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail.” That book was little more than a depthless retrospective of a years worth of MSNBC segments. I’ve filed that one under “Melobama.”
No, AP–specifically illustrator and artist David Hutchison—takes iconic political characters and forces them into comic-book storylines.
AP largely sees itself as a print and online publisher of American manga, zombie comics and a steampunkish series called Time Lincoln, starring Abraham Lincoln. Politixploitation is a relatively new thing for the outfit, which started with the President Evil series a year ago.
“[The presidential candidates of 2008] did far more than just offer to serve America, they sparked the imagination and reinvigorated the ideals of a nation,” Hutchison writes in the introduction to Issue #1. “Barack Obama gave Americans a reason not just to hope for change, but to do something to bring it about. John McCain showed us what true patriotism and self-sacrifice really mean. Both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin made us realize just what a woman can achieve if given an even playing field…”
And so, why not throw them altogether to fight zombies.
What drew me initially to the AP booth at Comic-Con was the giant image of The Governator. In March, AP published issue #1 of its send-up of California’s Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Is it good? Not really. Is it coherent? Barely. For the most part, the comic is designed to jam in as many of Arnie’s most memorable movie moments and one-liners, from Predator to Kindergarten Cop.
It is, however, like all of AP’s books, vividly colored, love-laboriously drawn and creatively gruesome.
Told from the point of view of his buxom, anime-style new intern, the story revolves around Arnie as he protects “de political interests of Kahlifohnia from de flabby, short-sighted spoilsports and pahty-poopers vit’ their girly, special vussy interests.”
In this first (and perhaps only) installment, Arnie rushes from his Hollywood mansion to Sacramento in order to veto a “Holographic Repurposing Plan” that would start by replacing action stars with holograms and end with replacing everyone. And so, Arnie’s got to fight commando-lobbyists to get to Sacramento.
Actually, it felt kind of awkward to me, since it portrays Arnie as a champion of labor and bitter enemy of business interests. But, you gotta suspend your belief frequently when it comes to comics.
Once I was the table, I couldn’t resist picking up Rogue Warrior, a one-off issue published in April that features 11 comic-book artists’ treatment of Sarah Palin. It’s perhaps one of the most profane, yet exquisite things I saw at Comic-Con. It’s just, well, totally sensational, with the hyper-sexualized anatomy of the cover (which is duplicated as a double-page pin-up inside) and how the artists translate her into Xena: Warrior Princess, Tank Girl, Alice in Wonderland, The Terminator and vintage Wonder Woman. With the exception of stupid, wordy comic about what-if-politicians-played-Dungeons-and-dragons,” the collection is truly inspired.
Because Palin is inspiring.
The comic book expresses something a lot of politics fans have struggled to grasp: A love for Palin as a pop idol, an ever-flowing fountain of folly, full of style, charm and personality. She’s the villain we have trouble admitting we love to hate.
This comic may go too far, but that’s all the more reason I’m drawn to it.
I’d wanted to interview Hutchison at Comic-Con, but, for various reasons, he just isn’t the kind of guy who does well in interviews. Instead, I convinced him to draw something exclusively for CityBeat. Here’s Congressman Darrell “Antagonizer in Chief” Issa:
If Issa gets in touch with me, I’ll totally give it to him.