"REPUGLICANS": Comics Courting Conservative Controversy?

REPUGLICANS Courting Controversy?

Less than a week after controversy erupted over what some interpreted as an unflattering depiction of Tea Party protesters in last month's “Captain America #602”, independent comic book publisher BOOM! Studios has announced "Repuglicans!", a project apparently aimed squarely at riling the political right.

"Repuglicans!" is an upcoming 128-page, digest-sized book by artist Pete Von Sholly with “wry commentary” by writer Steve Tatham. The book will be published by BOOM! Studios' new imprint BOOM! Town, created to showcase "high quality, lit-oriented comix."

The publisher calls it a “completely unfair and not balanced take on Republican Party leaders and apparatchiks,” in an obvious satire of the Fox News slogan. The cover art depicts Wacky Packages-esque “creatures of the right” parody versions of major conservative figures, including former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin as a vampire and Fox News anchor Glenn Beck as a zombie. But artist Von Sholly does not mince words when he describes the book as showing, "…the true face of the right, and it’s not pretty."

Given the timing of the announcement, BOOM! Studios might be hoping to capitalize on the "comic books vs. conservatism" buzz that flooded cable news and political blogs last week.

Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada apologized for a scene in which a protest observed by characters Captain America and the Falcon (interpreted by some conservatives as depicting a Tea Party protest) was characterized in narration as being "a bunch of angry white folks". Though the protestors were not specifically named as such, the scene included a protest sign reading "Tea Bag the Libs before they tea bag you!". Quesada called it a "screw up that happened after the fact," which drew reaction from Quesada’s BOOM! Studios counterpart, Editor-in-Chief (and Marvel Comics freelance writer) Mark Waid. Waid posted last week to his Twitter account that he was "humiliated and mortified" that "Fox News is able to bully us into apologizing to lunatics."

The mainstream comic book industry is traditionally hesitate towards taking political stances. Prominent political figures in comic books are most often fictional creations, or real-life politicians are depicted as unnamed shadowy ciphers. But the election of Barack Obama to the office of President in 2008 has somewhat blown the lid off that convention. The current President has appeared unauthorized in numerous comic book stories since his election, and his guest-starring role in an issue of Marvel’s “Amazing Spider-Man” resulted in the issue being the industry’s top-selling comic book of 2009.

Whether or not conservatives take the bait and respond to BOOM! Studios and “Repuglicans!” remains to be seen. Either way, it seems unlikely an apology will be forthcoming from the publisher any time soon.

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