Graphic novels come in different forms. You see them in extended commercial comic book hero formats, where it’s like reading a mega-comic book –– a comic form novel that clearly is the result of extra time, effort and love put into its drawing and scripting. There are the ones that are descendents of classic “underground comics,” offering what the Comics Code Authority would never sanction in terms of sex and/or violence. And then there are those with a political point which — if done correctly with wonderful art and witty scripting might even be enjoyable to the (many) people who may not agree with its not-necessarily-in-the-middle viewpoint due to top-rate cartooning and scripting.
Crude Behavior is topflight in all of the departments needed to make political satire communicate swiftly an artist’s/writer’s viewpoint and intellectual world. If people who don’t agree with the main thrust of its satire — its point that corruption and oil were key factors in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and its critical look at the conduct of the war on terror — just sit back and enjoy seeing artwork and script magically blend into a cohesive whole to make the artist’s and writer’s point (which will be controversial) they will spread the word about Crude Behavior. It’s an instant classic in its genre.
It’s key narrator is Kidd Millennium, a diaper clad…kid…who has become a popular figure in weekly editorial cartoons published worldwide that has the kid delivering adult satirical political messages. Kid Millennium is descended from the early 20th century “Yellow Kid” comic strip character who thrived during the era of what was termed “Yellow Journalism” (“yellow journalism” in those days meant muckraking, versus the way that term is now applied by critics who feel journalism today is too timid, too pack-drive and too corporate).
Writer Ron Callari’s script sparkles with wit and surprises. Artist Jon Donohoe’s illustrations are world-class and contain some special cameos by famous cartoon characters such as Bugs Bunny. The narrative is also aided by three political celebrity guest stars. Written when George W. Bush was President, Crude Behavior contains its creators takes on issues such as 911, food for oil, Enron, Dick Cheney and energy policy, outing a CIA agent and civil liberties. And there is a twist at the end (reality mirrored art).
Crude Behavior, and graphic art political satire in general, CAN easily be enjoyed by people on the left, right or center who don’t agree with all of the ideas and images presented…providing it’s read by people who don’t believe a)if you are exposed to an idea you don’t agree with it will give you terminal brain cancer, b)if you see an idea you don’t like you must battle to remove it from a website or the entire Internet. For people who savor seeing worldclass art and pointed political commentary meld where the image and message become one, Crude Behavior is great fun. And those who celebrate the joy of cartoon art will find it thought provoking, even if they don’t agree with it. (Two of the best news satirists on the web are two people who don’t often see eye to eye: Andy Boorowitz on the left and Scott Ott on the right If you love satire a real treat is to read one after the other.)
A fascinating tidbit: Freelance journalist Callari lives in New Jersey and Donohoe lives in Dublin, Ireland. They have never met. Callari found his artistic partner after an Internet search some years ago. Meanwhile, they’re looking for a publisher for Crude Behavior.
But Crude Behavior has been released by Robot Comics and you can read it on Kindle by going here.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.