Image Comics' publisher Eric Stephenson has released a statement following his company's publication last week of Howard Chaykin's new creator-owned series The Divided States of Hysteria, at the same time the company announced plans for a second printing due to "overwhelming demand." The first issue featured with a controversial scene depicting a violent attack on a trans sex worker.
“The history of comics isn’t exactly filled with political thrillers, but Howard Chaykin made his name in the ’80s with American Flagg!, and The Divided States of Hysteria is very much in the same mold," said Stephenson. "One of the things I’ve always admired about Howard’s work is his unflinching reluctance to pull any punches, and this series about a society, not on the verge, but in the midst of collapse is no different. If you’re looking for escapism, this probably isn’t the book for you, as its warts-and-all depiction of the modern world reveals it to be an ugly place, governed by hatred, fear, and intolerance. Rooted in the worst aspects of reality, this is indignant, rebellious fiction, designed to make readers both angry and uncomfortable, but more than that, it’s intended to provoke thought about how and why things have reached a state where the tools for progress - discourse, understanding, cooperation - are shunned in favor of treating anyone with an opposing viewpoint as an enemy combatant. If The Divided States of Hysteria prompts just a single productive conversation about the present state of our society, then it has succeeded in its goals and is a story worth sharing.”
Chaykin has not addressed the controversy specifically, but did release a comment on The Divided States of Hysteria #1's second printing.
“A fictional dystopia selling out in the midst of a real life slow motion societal collapse - how much more thrilled and grateful could I possibly be at this?” said Chaykin.