Imagine a smaller part of a larger nation grown tired with the hard or extreme right wing politics of the nation as a whole and, rather than endlessly waiting for the nation to align with it for a few short years, it decides to take it’s wealth, infrastructure and people towards independence, yet the parent nation refuses to grant it what it wants?
No, this isn’t Scotland, this is California. In Black Mask’s new Calexit, California has rejected the re-election of Donald Trump, and in return Trump has turned on California, treating it essentially as a ‘rogue state’ by blockading it while cutting off it’s water and power infrastructure as much as he can. Calexit tells of the struggle of the state as it tears itself away from a far right demagogue while trying not to tear themselves apart. In this respect it shares some DNA with Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons Give Me Liberty, though that was a horrible fantasy satire of what America could be, while Trump seems to be that satire made flesh.
Writer Matteo Pizzolo turns in a very European style story, as in it isn’t ‘normal’ to see this type of political comic in America. With Howard Chaykin’s The Divided States of Hysteria, it acts as a double-header in terms of overt political comics in a few months that don’t take the observed point of view of the American comic scene. Calexit isn’t a nice, safe ‘leftie’ comic but one that proposes what would happen if this all happened and frankly, with how simply fucked American politics is, it doesn’t seem as insane at it may have a year ago. Along with artist Amancay Nahuekpan providing able and well constructed storytelling, Calexit does poke at all the right things, sometimes far too over the line, though in a year I’m sure I’ll be looking back at this as something a bit mild and restrained.
The truth is we need more political comics that don’t offer the same Millennial liberalism (with a small ‘l’, as opposed to the party that spawned Nick Clegg) but are there to provoke. As said, Calexit isn’t quite as good as it could be, as it does slip into too easy caricature and stereotypes, but it’s trying, and it does make a point about how easy it is for a nation like America to not only slip into authoritarianism, but break up because of it.
And the beauty is there is a real Californian independence movement right now, and I think most rational folk see their point with each passing day of Donald Trump as their president…