In the weeks following the January 6, 2021, uprising, Harvard Law School professor Alan Jenkins struggled to sleep.
“I was waking up in cold sweats at 3 a.m. morning after morning worrying about our democracy,” he says.
Jenkins believes the breach in the US Capitol posed an existential threat to America and its democratic institutions. Almost immediately after the violent attack, he knew he wanted to explore and amplify what he saw as far-reaching implications. He also knew exactly how he wanted to do it: through a graphic novel that could, potentially, reach those who don’t follow politics beyond the immediate news cycle.
So he teamed up with New York Times bestselling artist and author Gan Golan to co-write the story of 1/6: The Graphic Novel, a four-part novel partially crowdfunded series who imagines what could have happened if the insurgents had succeeded. Jenkins and Golan call their character-based graphic novel “a story of what was, of what could have been and of what could still be.” The first chapter will be available for download this Friday, January 6, appropriately.
It’s called Remember This Day Forever and can be purchased at Amazon for $2.99.
“Comics can be a way to say the things that aren’t said and bring the stories that are below the surface into public conversation,” Golan said. “And that’s one of our main goals in doing that in such an accessible and entertaining art form.”
Expect the remaining three chapters of 1/6 to be released roughly quarterly — the authors are still processing the vast amounts of information from the Jan. 6 congressional committee television hearings. The bipartisan panel released its 845-page final report in late December, saying former President Donald Trump was responsible for the riot and should be banned from holding office again.
The graphic novel combines speculative fiction with carefully researched verified events, and the first chapter features chilling scenarios. Armed militia regiments patrol the streets and storm a news station about to air a success story about the 2020 election. “Under the authority of the Fair and Balanced Media Act 2021 , this network has been declared an enemy of freedom”, shout the officers, weapons in hand. “Turn off those cameras.”
Art by veteran comic artist Will Rosado adds to the unease through engaging visual storytelling. Scenes featuring activists protecting boxes of ballots (“the last proof of our democracy”) unfold in icy blues, grays and greens for a decidedly post-apocalyptic feel. Pages with tanks and militiamen burst with incendiary oranges and reds that look like bombs are about to explode. Faces across the political spectrum register powerful emotions: terror, rage, shock, concern.
“There are notes and elements of hope in the following chapters”, promises Jenkins, which teaches courses on race and the law, communications and Supreme Court jurisprudence. “Part of that hope comes from ordinary people who believe in our democracy and are willing to take action to protect it.”
Comics, of course, have long addressed themes of social justice and inequality.
Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus depicts the horrors of the Holocaust. Captain America famous punch Adolf Hitler in the face when Marvel first introduced the American flag-clad superhero in 1941. DC Comics powerhouse Superman exposed the secrets of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s, and he once again battled the hate group a few years ago in a comic book targeting young adults. Marvel’s Black Panther also battled the Klan, and the X-Men’s mutant struggles served as an allegory for racial persecution.
As Jenkins and Golan talk about this comic book tradition on Zoom, it’s clear I’m talking to two ardent fans of the genre.
“Collectively, we have a shameful amount of interest and history in comics under our belt,” laughs Jenkins, who got into comics when he was 10 and has Daredevil, Submariner and Black. Panther among his favorite characters.
The authors hope their graphic novel will inspire people to take action in the spirit of the couple’s favorite comic book heroes. It is published under the auspices of the Western States Center, a pro-democracy organization based in Portland, Oregon, where both are senior fellows. The book is accompanied by a digital toolkit that includes strategies for civic leaders to combat sectarian political violence and for schools to help children distinguish between reliable information and lies.
Jenkins and Golan constantly rewrote their story during the hearings, investigating new revelations and details and trying to discern what to incorporate and how.
However, “the part of the story that cannot be told in the January 6 final report is what could have happened and what could still happen, the long-term trajectory of this anti-democratic movement,” Golan explains, an architect of the large-scale activist event People’s Climate March and author of the graphic novel The Adventures of Unemployed Man, which chronicles the adventures of an unemployed crusader and his sidekick Plan B.
“Like all dystopian fiction,” adds Golan, “it gives us a picture of the world that we have to work very hard to avoid.”
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In This New Dystopian Graphic Novel, the Jan. 6 Attack Succeeded – Up News Info