One hero struggles with identity, searching for a cause in life, coming to grips with how he can bring hope to the world. Another hero stands tall, looking to maintain a long legacy of service, realizing only after losing his freedom how important it is to him. They are not the costumed, super-powered titans found only in the pages of comic books, though, but candidates for President of the United States.
Presidential Material, a pair of deluxe comics chronicling the triumphs and tragedies of Senators Barack Obama and John McCain, was released last week by IDW Publishing. The Obama volume is written by Jeff Mariotte with art by Tom Morgan, and McCain's tale is scripted by Andy Helfer with art by Stephen Thompson. Each comic biography features cover art by famed artist J. Scott Campbell.
"I think the historic nature of the primaries and the interesting backstory both guys have is what really made us think this could work." says Chris Ryall, publisher and editor-in-chief at IDW. "I can't imagine we would've considered doing this in '04 for Bush and Kerry."
Westfield Comics, a weekly staple for many Madison readers, is promoting Presidential Material in a unique way. The shop will be counting the number of individual comics they sell for Obama and McCain and keep a running tally behind the counter.
It's no surprise that Obama has been the early favorite, securing more issues sold at Westfield as well as in IDW's online store. "Obama's vote is younger, perhaps more into the novelty," ponders Westfield manager Bob Moreau. The shop has done its part to offer equal time, though, displaying posters for both and making sure both Obama and McCain issues are well stocked.
Westfield doesn't directly count copies of a combined version unless a customer asks. "We've had some who want their vote counted one way, but want to read both books" says Moreau.
IDW Publishing has done its part to remain non-partisan as well. "We always wanted to do them straight, fair to both sides. Readers view them through their own biases anyway" says Ryall "We're not looking to make any statement here, just wanted to do interesting comics on interesting candidates."
These bio comics aren't the only reminders of the election in the comic book industry. Erik Larsen, via his Image Comics creation Savage Dragon (an alien turned Chicago cop) endorsed Obama on the cover of issue 137, which was so popular it's now on its second printing. Comedy Central pundit Stephen Colbert will appear in Amazing Spider-Man #573, continuing his fictional run for the White House in the Marvel Universe. Meanwhile, DC Comics has a four-way race for the highest office in the land between fictional candidates in DCU Decisions. Wizard magazine provides a closer look at all of the hopefuls.
Westfield Comics is located at 7475 Mineral Point Rd., next to the Frugal Muse in High Point Center. Presidential Material is available in a single issue format featuring either the Democratic or Republican nominee, or in a combined flipbook featuring both.