IN REAL LIFE, the Yes California movement aims to put the question of state secession on the 2018 ballot. In the world of comics, by contrast, assessments of that question will be rendered by May.
That’s when writer Matteo Pizzolo and artist Amancay Nahuelpan will launch “Calexit,” an indie comic from Black Mask Studios that will dramatize the question: What might it look like if California refused to be ruled by a “fascist, autocratic president”?
In the new series, the Golden State is home to the largest mass demonstrations the day after an iron-gloved president is sworn in, with swaths of protesters even blocking access to LAX and SFO airports.
“’Calexit’ is really about the cultural rancor we’re embroiled in across the country and around the world,” Pizzolo, who is also co-founder of L.A.-based Black Mask Studios, says of the comic’s chief universal theme. Yet he notes why California works especially well for his story.
“California is enormously diverse. It’s a blue state, population-wise, but there are huge swathes of red country,” Pizzolo says. “There is cultural conflict between the metropolitan cities and the rural regions and exurbs, but they’re all interdependent. L.A. can’t survive without central California agriculture, and vice versa.”
“Calexit” will explore requisite interreliance as a mass social dynamic.
“Even if we chose to try and disengage from one another, it’s impossible,” Pizzolo tells The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “We’re in this together, and we need to find sustainable solutions to our problems.”
Within the larger conflict, “Calexit” will focus on such daring characters as a smuggler named Jamil and Zora, a Pacific Coast Sister Cities Resistance leader; the pair escape from an Occupied Los Angeles prison camp, where martial law has been in effect “ever since America’s demagogue president signed an executive order to deport all immigrants, and California responded by proclaiming itself a Sanctuary State,” Black Mask’s announcement says.
Each issue, the publisher says, will include nonfiction content about such political aspects as grassroots campaigning for the 2018 elections.
“I can’t think of a time,” Black Mask co-founder Brett Gurewitz says in a statement, “when confronting the status quo with progressive, political art has been more important.”