'Calexit' Comic Book Pits California Against the President

Happy Presidents Day.
Amancay Nehuelpan/Black Mask Studios

A fascist is elected President of the United States, but loses the popular vote in California by a margin of almost 3 million votes — it's not a retread of last year's election, but the inciting incident behind Calexit, a newly announced comic book series from Black Mask Studios that sees California lead the resistance against America's commander in chief.

"Last month, I was on a train to the Women’s March with my family and it was packed," series writer (and Black Mask Studios co-founder) Matteo Pizzolo tells Heat Vision when asked about the origins of Calexit. "My family and I had to go 30 minutes in the wrong direction to get a train with enough room for us to board. When we did, it was crowded, I had my kids and a stranger’s kid piled on top of me. And then when everybody was about to lose their minds, someone started singing 'America the Beautiful' and the whole train joined in. And then it got to 'crown thy good with brotherhood,' and some people sang it as 'sisterhood' and some sang 'personhood' and some sang in different languages and some sang it the traditional way and everybody was laughing." 

Pizzolo says Calexit is about all of that. 

"It’s about that hope and inclusion and also the challenges of finding solidarity among a diverse group but figuring it out and supporting one another," says Pizzolo. "Even if California split off, we’d still need to work together across cultural and political lines, probably even moreso. We’re not going to solve the problems we face alone. There's a darkness to the situation and the world, but it's a story of hope."

In real life, the election of President Donald Trump sparked talk of a Caliexit, which would see California succeed from the union. 

The comic book series opens a year after the release of a presidential executive order to deport all immigrants, which led to California declaring itself a Sanctuary State. "As you can imagine, things escalated quickly," Pizzolo explains. "When our story begins, martial law has been in place in California for over a year. The series follows two twenty-something rebels who continue to resist, after they escape from a prison camp in Occupied Los Angeles. Working with the Pacific Coast Sister Cities Resistance, they continue to rise up against the government. … It's informed by the issues we're all currently facing and inspired by comics like V for Vendetta and films like Battle of Algiers. There's a lot of things happening that are depressing and infuriating, but this book is about celebrating resistance."

The comic — which will feature background information about grassroots campaigning and activism in each issue — continues a history of political material from the publisher, which launched with 2012's Occupy Comics, with titles such as Young Terrorists, Black and The Dregs following. "I can’t think of a time when confronting the status quo with progressive, political art has been more important," co-founder Brett Gurewitz said in a statement from the publisher.

Calexit is set to launch in May.