Imagine a Los Angeles plagued by electrical outages, drought, and placed under martial law by Homeland Security. Pretty bleak right?
This is the world imagined in "Calexit," a comic published by Black Mask Studios that debuted in May. Set in an alternate reality, the California of "Calexit" succeeds in "exiting" the U.S. after a fictional president issues an executive order that would deport all immigrants.
If that sounds a bit like a heightened version of our current reality, well, that's intentional. While series writer Matteo Pizzolo didn't set out to create something polemical, he didn't want to shy away from the real world, either.
"Our chief intention is to serve the story and the characters, and be entertaining," Pizzolo told Take Two host A Martinez in an interview. "Even if we are also being responsible about the historical place and time that we live in."
According to Pizzolo, this is not out of the ordinary. Comics have always had potential to be political.
"There is not... as many gatekeepers between... the writer, and the artist, and the audience," said Pizzolo. "And certainly comics have a long history of really taking bold political positions, whether it's 'V for Vendetta,' which... became the face of Anonymous ,or more recent books like 'DMZ.'"
But for Pizzolo, political is not the same thing as partisan. He and artist Amancay Nahuelpan wanted to create a California that was more varied than just "Republican vs. Democrat."
"One of the premises that we have for the book," said Pizzolo, "is that if California were to secede, it is so diverse that there would be a civil war within California before any government soldier could get across the border."
"It takes place in California, and it's true to California. We tried to make it as authentic as possible."
Echoing this, Pizzolo is using his earnings from the comic sales to fund his super PAC, Become the Government, with the intention to help non-partisan, progressive candidates get elected in the 2018 midterms.
Comics are a great vehicle for this, says Pizzolo, because of that direct interaction with readers.
"It makes it a place where we can do something and have our beliefs on our sleeves," said Pizzolo. "And make sure that we are entertaining people, but also being very clear about where we're coming from and what we want to do."
"It's interesting that comics are taking a more central role in our politics these days than I think people would necessarily have assumed."