On Billy Tucci’s Blackwater propaganda comic

July 10th, 2012 by | Tags: ,

Here’s a quote Billy Tucci is using to promote his new comic, which is all about (and sponsored by) private military company Blackwater:

Like most people, all I had heard or read concerning private security contractors was that they were reckless cowboys whose actions in Iraq and Afghanistan were considered almost criminal by the media who weren’t there.

Mmmm. Here’s the key phrase: “by the media who weren’t there.” It’s a dog whistle. It’s meant to discredit any naysayers by painting them as lying liars. It’s a variant on the old “You can’t judge it if you haven’t tried to do it” thing people use to silence critics. This one is just specific to soldiering. Which, okay, I’ll believe that. I’m from a military family. My granddad served in Vietnam, my father in Gulf War I. I get it, I respect the sentiment. But I respect it when it’s an honest sentiment, not something being used to protect a company that raped and murdered its fair share of people in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One of the “almost criminal” things the lying media reported on was the time the company murdered seventeen innocent Iraqi civilians. Or the time that someone in the employ of Blackwater checked out 200 AK-47s from an armory in Afghanistan and signed his name “Eric Cartman.” Or the time that a Blackwater got drunk, wandered outside, and shot a bodyguard of Iraq’s vice president dead and was then spirited out of Iraq, avoiding being charged by the Iraqi government. Or the time they shot and killed a family traveling to Bagdhad, including a nine-year old boy. Oh wait, my bad. What actually happened is that they opened fire on the minivan, killing the boy. They shot his mother in her back as she bent to shield her 3 month old daughter. The 3 month old caught a bullet to the face. Or the times that Blackwater kidnapped Iraqi nationals for “extraordinary rendition.” That’s code for torture, if you aren’t aware. Ooh, or the fact that they probably kidnapped Iraqi girls, brought them to the Green Zone, and made them give blowjobs to the contractors. Ohhhh, hang on, here’s a video of Blackwater contractors running over an Iraqi woman and then gunning it to get away. Go to around 2:30 to see the impact.

Whoops! Ha ha. Guess you had to be there? Like the media wasn’t, those lying scumbags.

Tucci’s comic, The Blackwater Chronicles, is yet another attempt by this raping, murdering, horrible company to rehabilitate its image and erase the past. A prior effort included an Xbox 360 video game where you play a set of heroic (white, of course) contractors in Fake Arabia. The game was awful, of course, and former Blackwater top dog Erik Prince described it as being “along the lines of kids running around their neighborhood playing cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians.” My favorite of their efforts is changing their name from Blackwater to Xe and now to Academi. Two name changes since 2005? Nice one, bro. That fills me with trust and forgiveness.

These people are war criminals. They aren’t subject to the same rules and regulations as the actual US military, and they are free to do whatever they want, apparently, and get bailed out by their political friends. Y’all hear that John Ashcroft is on the board of directors for Academi? Ha ha, that can’t possibly be significant. Ex-Blackwater vice chairman Cofer Black is Mitt Romney’s “special advisor” on foreign policy issues.

Blackwater is what happens when you turn war from an evil into a business enterprise.

Thank goodness we have a brave soul willing to tell us the TRUE story about how Blackwater is actually a hero to millions, the force we need in these fallen times, a strong bastion against the forces of terror. Thank goodness we’re going to get an action-packed, exciting comic book about these boys, the boys who do what we can’t because it’s the right thing to do.

There’s definitely a vital and harrowing story to be told — a true history, not a eulogy/corrective/hagiography sponsored by Blackwater and its goons — lurking around Blackwater. I like reading about war. I like war comics, too. One of my favorites, one of the hands down best, are the Sgt Rock comics by Joe Kubert and Bob Kanigher. There was this little tag they put in the comics. It said “Make war no more.” I first saw it as a kid in the tattered Sgt Rock comics my uncle gave me. I didn’t get it then. But I grew up. And I read.

The point was that even when war is necessary, or you are forced into action, it isn’t something to celebrate or glamorize. It’s something awful. It’s something unforgivable. It’s something that causes untold levels of misery for everyone involved. It saps the innocence from young boys and turns them into something else. It destroys families, both on the front lines and back home. It makes an entire country complicit in war crimes. The only people it benefits are the people who make money off misery.

Did y’all see Oliver North pimping the new Call of Duty at E3 this year?

This is the world we live in. This is the stuff we expect to entertain us. We have to do better. We owe it to ourselves and our children to do better. Blackwater literally got away with murder, and now they’re trying to paint themselves as heroes, a roving band of do-gooders. The Merry Men, who are unfairly maligned by the media and haven’t left a trail of broken, raped, wounded, and murdered bodies — American, Iraq, Afhgani, and otherwise — across the Middle East.

We’re America, right? We’re supposed to be better than these scumbags. We’re supposed to be the ones in the right. But here we are. And here they are, selling their own story to us using code words like “controversial and dangerous lifestyle.” We keep enabling monsters to get away scot-free and make a fortune. We keep letting these bastards win.

Do you know why Blackwater is controversial? They’re controversial because they murdered people whose only crime was being near Blackwater when their people were drunk and trigger-happy. Not because the media lies about them. Don’t fall for their okey-doke.

Fuck Blackwater and fuck this comic.

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58 comments to “On Billy Tucci’s Blackwater propaganda comic”

  1. I’m surprised they ever stuck with the name “Blackwater” in the first place, that is some Cabal of X-men Villains shit if i ever heard it

  2. @Jordan: And their top people: Erik Prince and Cofer Black. They do deserve to be in a comic book – as the villains.

    Seriously, though, fuck Blackwater, fuck anyone who supports them. The most absurd thing about it, really, is that there is so much support for them, so many people, so many voices in the media, so many portions of our political elite that are willing to carry their water and justify their crimes and defend them. It’s horrifying. Great piece.

  3. On the list of Blackwater offenses, didn’t they also get paid significantly more than our soldiers, many of whom ended up in the military because they were told the pretty little lie that a college education is a ticket to a solid middle-class lifestyle?

  4. My jaw dropped at the “by the media that wasn’t there” line. That’s some grade-A corporate shilling mixed in with ringing endorsement for thuggery and a comfortable sprinkling of condescension to make a perfect shit cake.

    On a depressingly personal note: Erik Prince is considered a local hero around my hometown because he was a volunteer firefighter once. Doesn’t matter that he uses his ill-gotten gains to make himself richer and keep his privatized army exempt from the consequences of their blatant wrongdoing, he’s a swell guy! Local paper even did a write up about how wonderful and patriotic he is, and to this day it makes me want to vomit on the faces of my neighbors.

  5. @David Fairbanks: Soldiers that they also dropped tear gas on (along with some Iraqi civilians) just because of a traffic jam.

  6. I love that this is the first pingback on their article.

  7. The creepiest thing about the whole “by the media who weren’t there” quote is what it implies about his reasoning.

    “I just believed what I’d been hearing from several independent sources, but now that I’ve talked to people with a vested interest in the other point of view, I’ve seen the light.”

    Or, more cynically, “I’m getting a bunch of money to do this, so I’ll just say whatever they’d like.”

    You could probably put together a semi-interesting psychological study just by pulling together the books he’s done and what he’s had to say about them. He did a book about a naked ninja chick, then one about Jesus. Quite the contrast there. On his site, he says the most important work he’s done (up to whenever it was last updated) was a 9/11 charity book. That’s noble, but also probably points to a person probably willing to be deceived into honouring other brave, American “heroes”.

    Blackwater and those associated with them have generally struck me as creepy folks. This does nothing to change that.

  8. Yo, David, you forgot to include “and fuck Billy Tucci.” I feel sad for anyone that buys into Blackwater’s lies, but to help spread them? Nah, fuck him.

  9. Wow! You guys are arm chair quarterbacking video that can’t even be confirmed whether it was a contractor convoy or military. No evidence of in either direction other than your assertions. Second, you have no clue what the ROE was that particular day, how much they had been engaged nor what the intel assessment was.

    You guys are a bunch of hypocritical shills, unwilling to examine your own political beliefs or that of the current administration even though they follow the same policies as the previous administration and seem to be much more efficient killers than the last.

  10. […] Read more… […]

  11. what happens when pliny sees himself in a mirror? does he self destruct, projecting back on himself into infinity?

  12. So Blackwater totally HYDRA? or it’s cousin HYDRO?

  13. @Pliny the Elder: @Pliny the Elder: “efficient” killing would mean minimizing civilian casualties and going in quick and clean. Say, like the operation that killed Bin Laden, as opposed the inefficient clusterfuck that was Iraq War II. So, yeah, in this case, I’m quite happy with the more efficient methods of this administration.

    Also, what rules of engagement involve running over pedestrians?

  14. Shame, and I liked Billy Tucci’s art. Man, fuck him.

  15. War. It’s such a small word, used so off-handedly, and unfortunately so often it doesn’t have any weight.

    It’s a cluster-fuck, if anything could be so accurately described by those words. Its deafening, terrifying, exhilarating, funny, cruel, horrendous; it is the amplification of the human condition. It is complex, complicated, difficult, and wrapped in big ideas, principles, jargon, all simplified before placed back in its tiny little container.

    War. It’s so many things, it’s hard to really make someone understand. It’s endured more than it’s a singular experience.

    I don’t post on message boards, once a year maybe. I’m not one to engage people in this format, since barring the need for endless caveats and clarification of misunderstanding, no one changes another person’s mind, it’s just an excuse to validate one’s beliefs. But I am hoping, before this turns into a pointless shouting match, to just discuss some general feelings on the topic.

    I spent two years in Iraq, and one in Afghanistan. I’ve seen the best and the worst of humanity, without doubt. It is not something particular to where someone was born, or what uniform they wear, what language they speak or how much money they have in their pockets. I’ve seen soldiers risk their lives for children, while hearing of others raping and murdering, just as I’ve seen men killed for teaching arithmetic to girls while I was moving the bodies of children (executed because their parents worshipped a bit differently), just so they could be buried decently.

    I don’t play war games, read war comics, or generally talk about what I’ve seen and done. If I have any point in all this is not to judge one’s beliefs or politics, but to ask that a small amount of consideration is given to the cluster-fuck that our recent conflicts have been. I’ve fought along men and women of every color, religion, democrat and republican (some of whom couldn’t even call their loved ones as often as they’d have liked since “don’t ask, don’t tell” was in effect), and economic background.

    I personally find this comic to be in poor taste, but I don’t think it’s too far removed from Sgt Rock or GI Joe. I don’t know anyone working for whatever it is Blackwater calls itself now, but I can say with most certainty that a majority of the men involved in the organization didn’t leave their morality when they left the military. They don’t wake up and say “I’m going to shoot a baby in its mother’s arms or get drunk and kill someone I’m working with.” This comic, just as war comics do, is promote the virile and virtuous man, strong in resolve, anguished over the action he must take and comrades he’s lost, pay lip service to war being hell, and resume with the action and mayhem next issue. It’s a load of crap, of that I am equally certain.

    The root of the issue is the accountability we as a nation have with our leaders, how they conduct themselves and deal with gross violations of the law, and what can be done to prevent such instances in the future, or even why, in such extreme cases that our nation has gone to war, there’s no draft to ensure we don’t need such companies in the first place. I think there’re some obvious answers there as to why we do business the way we do. As for the men involved, I think you’ll find Mr. Cofer Black works in risk assessment, which has very little to do with instructing people on how to commit negligent homicide, and that the man running the company now (not the overall conglomerate, i.e. founder) was chief counsel for President Clinton as well as Vice President Gore’s Chief of Staff, so at least we can all agree it’s bi-partisan. Were Blackwater’s failings systemic (not their business since what corporations isn’t terrible when money is more important than people), or the result of individuals caught up in, well, war and all its baggage? (Meaning bad police officers in an overall good police department, bad department, etc. -you get the analogy)

    And now I’ve gone off on too many tangents and for far too long. Sorry for that. It’s just when I see people talking in absolutes, such as the author(whom I respect) in his most justified anger or the commenter who believes that all soldiers must be poor illiterates in need of college money, it reminds me of how the most complex of topics can become most topical, and a way of thinking that leads to such devastating conflicts in the first place. Be better than that.

    And just to be clear: I’d rather buy a copy of whatever Before Watchmen book JMS is writing and try and get Alan Moore to sign it than buy or even read that Blackwater propaganda piece.

  16. Can’t believe some people are actually promoting this piece of shit. Thanks for the great article, David.

  17. @Pliny the Elder: “You guys are a bunch of hypocritical shills, unwilling to examine your own political beliefs or that of the current administration even though they follow the same policies as the previous administration and seem to be much more efficient killers than the last.”

    You’re presuming that A) we hate Blackwater simply because we’re liberal, rather than because their yahoo actions led directly to the battle of Fallujah (the deadliest in the entire war) and have this general trend of brazenly killing civilians (look at that video again: swerving to hit a woman who was on the curb. No way is that justified by ROE), and B) we think Barack Obama is good and just. Both of which you pulled out of your rectum. You call us “hypocritical shills” but you’ve exposed yourself as the real thing by trying to turn this into liberal vs. conservative. Only someone who is “unwilling to examine their own political beliefs” would engage in that sort of behavior.

  18. @ben: Well spoken. And you’re right, the problem is systemic, that much is abundantly clear. I’d argue the difference between this and Sgt. Rock is that Rock isn’t trying to cover up the criminal actions of a group and paint them as heroes. Also, and I’m basing this on what David has said since I’ve never read them, it seems the Sgt. Rock comics were not about glorifying war but rather about reminding people what a dirty business it is (“Make war no more” and all that).

  19. And the worst part is this is actually BETTER than the way things were run in the past. Humanity is a horrible thing…

  20. I’m not going to comment on the rape, murder elements because those crimes are true with every military, revolutionary, armed force ever so not to minimize that suffering but its a moot point. I know a few Blackwater guys, they’re not all bad dudes.

    Its private security protocol (and for most military operations) that when you’re out on assignment you never never never stop or slow down. The reasons for this are obvious. Theses guys are under equipped and virtually alone and all “missions” are high risk. They are easily spotted and can be easily tracked once they leave the green zones by insurgents. You gotta move, and look that lady stepped off the sidewalk and into traffic, that vehicle was switching lanes and by no means jumped the curb. The whole video shows people blatantly disregarding on coming cars. It looks like a traffic nightmare with what i’d assumed to have a high number of pedestrian deaths. These guys got contracted to do the jobs the coalition military didn’t want to do i.e VIP transport, protect supply lines etc.

    And David I don’t understand your white of course comment to the video game. Would you have brought race up at all if they made him black? But ya know of course they’ll make a WHITE guy the hero! Its irrelevant to the whole article and counterintuitive if your trying to paint them as racists.

    @ben: Well said and well written. Its not a one way street.

    Also many of these protocols were put into place after 4 blackwater members (I believe ex navy seals) on assignment were ambushed and killed by insurgents while on sitting in traffic in Fallujah then have their bodies burned, mutilated and hung from a bridge.

  21. @ben: You’re correct, of course. Thanks for providing perspective.

    I do think that this is a little different than Sgt Rock or GI Joe, if only because this is a comic sponsored by a company seeking to rehabilitate its image. Rock and Joe are fake. Joe especially is a cartoon that’s so far removed from realistic war at this point that it isn’t even really a war comic. It’s like how Die Hard is technically a cop movie, but really isn’t. Back when Larry Hama was writing the original comic, though, things were different. He pulled on a lot of his Vietnam experiences for that, I think. But anyway, a fictional account meant to entertain feels different than something that purports to be the true story, which is part of the source of my anger. But thank you for your post, regardless. I pretty much agree with you 100%. I tried to be sure to place the blame on Blackwater as a company, rather than the general employees for that reason.

    @Pliny the Elder: Sure, Obama is History’s Greatest Monster I guess

  22. Bravo. And right on, David. Propaganda is definitely the key word.

  23. Awesome. People who haven’t even seen the book, making shit up “sponsored by Blackwater”, waging warfare from their high moral ground. The above video is the US Military not Blackwater. Blackwater and many others were hired to guard the USG in Iraq and under their direct control. ALso the novel looks to be based on a book by a guy who actually is pretty famous for not taking shit from anyone. Not quite seeing anything close to propaganda yet.

    From what I read Billy’s book is about real people, ex marines, Rangers and cops who worked the streets of Iraq. I am looking forward to the book and I will stop by and shake Billy’s hand for picking a controversial subject.

    And lets talk about whoring. Dull rehashes of 50 year old characters for DC & Marvel to pay the rent. That’s whoring.

    This is an original and IMHO pretty brave move for Billy who also chose to work in a story about Asian Americans for Sgt Rock. His last book was based on the Bible. Billy takes risks because he is an artist not a hack.

    So flame away but ask yourself where the artists who take risks are these days.

  24. and by the way…last time I checked Blackwater doesn’t even exist anymore.

  25. “Not quite seeing anything close to propaganda yet.”

    This might help:

    …and how exactly is doing a bible-related project original, brave, or risky?

  26. Did y’all see Oliver North pimping the new Call of Duty at E3 this year?

    You heard about Trent Reznor scoring the theme tune?

    I’m glad he and good ol’ Ollie have reconciled their differences!

  27. “Last time I checked Blackwater doesn’t even exist anymore.”

    Even if their multiple name changes did, in fact, erase their existence from the world, rather than obfuscate it, how does this account for the fact that they committed multiple crimes and were never held accountable for them?

  28. @Pliny the Elder: Wouldn’t it be backseat driving? Not armchair quarterbacking?

    I mean, if you were right.

    (You are not right.)

  29. @Pliny the Elder: The Rules of Engagement should not EVER involve running over civilians. My understanding is these mercenary companies abide by ROE far more lax than any actual army operates under, rules that don’t abide by international law, like the Geneva Convention. Also, considering how many “incidents”(massacres) have occured at the hands of recognized national military forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, I scoff at the idea that the Rules of Engagement being used in these wars are legitimate any way. Time and time again soldiers have complained about the constantly changing ROE. In reality the ROE are a joke. ROE that can be shifted instantly by the higher ups from clear and strict adherance to the Geneva Convention to Free Fire zones in dense civilian areas are not rules.
    Have a listen to the Winter Soldier testimonies and see how little the ROE really matter.
    I was amazed when hearing about the Haditha Massacre in Iraq that the soldiers involved had ROE that, once attacked, enabled them to fire upon anyone running from the area. Anyone running from bullets, explosions in a civilian area? That makes sense doesn’t it? Anyones natural instinct in a situation like that is to run. These so called ‘rules’ are designed to protect soldiers lives over the lives of civilians. If your army is in a war which involves controlling and occupying a civilian population whose population you’re supposed to be helping then it should and must preference their lives over its own. Hard to swallow but this will involve its soldiers dying at the civilians expense. That military contractors aren’t held to even the same (inadequete) scrutiny that actual armies are is a fucking disgrace.

  30. Good lord. I can understand Tucci wanting to pimp for PMCs- because to a guy like him, even if they’re answerable to no one, Above All, Capitalism Must Be Defended- but could he choose one NOT as morally murky and compromised as BlackWater/Xe/Academi? I mean, they’re not the only PMC in Iraq, right?

  31. Also: aren’t there PMCs who don’t treat their employees as badly as Blackwater has in the past? Wouldn’t the guy who gave us Sgt. Rock: The Lost Battalion (a good series) have an issue with that?

  32. @ david brothers, I absolutely agree that there is a vast difference between Sgt Rock or GI Joe and the Blackwater books. I was heavy-handed in grouping them together. I was trying to imply that the way the subject matter is treated they can easily fit into a general mold, beyond genre, can read as a form of propaganda, simply because it is easy for us, as a nation, to differentiate between good and bad soldiers, and always see our actions as a nation, to be just. As an add on I think that this is more relevant to younger readers who miss the heavier undertones or implied tragedy. So yeah, I wasn’t trying to lump Joe Kubert into the same pigeon hole as Mr Tucci in the way the subject matter is addressed.

    As far as other commenters on ROE, it would be absolutely illegal to state you could hit someone with your vehicle (of course barring an imminent threat to life, such as them holding a weapon with the intent of using it obviously) and also to then not stop to treat that individual, meaning to provide aid. As to the video, that is obviously clearly wrong, regardless of who perpetrated the act. I can offer a variety of plausible explanations as to what happened, but I find it unlikely that they were active duty military ( meaning operating in the country as uniformed armed forces of the US). It is possible, especially earlier in the war, but unlikely. Best case scenario, is the suburbans and lead humvee were Iraqi and the video was taken by US troops which is why they were shocked. Either way what happened was absolutely wrong. I only bring this up because I’ve reported violations of the Geneva Convention committed by Iraqi Army and Interior Ministry troops; I worked in times in support where I, with two other people, would be the only Americans in such a convoy. Though the violations I reported were not of a vehicular matter, more along the lines of what I considered abuse/torture of what would loosely be termed suspects (drIving while Sunni?).

    As far as hitting vehicles, that was a practice until mid 2005 when it was less and less common and never in 2007 (not that there weren’t car accidents, just that it was uncommon), so I won’t explain that; it was done and it was stupid, clearly.

    These aren’t issues that have to do with politics, these are clear legal issues, which require serious thought; not addressing them clearly and concisely is what leads to their recurrence. Even the “shadiness” of Blackwater needs to be addressed in such a manner. The prosecution of the Blackwater employees involved in alcohol and prostitution was bungled by the Justice Department and State Department. Statements were made to the State Department (admissions of guilt) that were forced as a matter of convenience, to be used to explain what happened to the Iraqi government; it was determined that statements made under this duress, used to build the case, were inadmissable, which is why it fell apart. The fault lies in political expediency and a little ruling made about a guy named Miranda…
    As for killing civilians, that’s a tough one. There are a variety of reasons as to why a vehicle is shot at; ROE would essentially dictate at what distance that would occur (as well as what steps, from flashing lights, warning cones, loudspeakers, warning shots, etc, would be used before that last resort) and under what situation. I’m of the opinion that common sense prevails, and that violations should be prosecuted. ROE doesn’t dictate whether you can defend your life or not; it is primarily a tool that allows you to keep yourself and civilians safe from such misunderstandings while trying to accommodate the specific threat present. However, being war and therefore a cluster-fuck, accidents happen, and sometimes a perfect confluence of events leads to tragedy through no fault of the participants. So I won’t necessarily rush to judgement when I read about such events…

    However, I will emphatically state that absolute transparency, after an investigation, is essential to eliminate these problems, as well as ensure negligence or outright wrong and criminal is dealt with appropriately. We expect no less of those who police us, or should at least. That is what I believe is essential to discussions such as this; saying a company is inherently evil, I’m kind of eh; only because some simple transparency can lead to clarification.
    Additionally, I do believe that the Blackwater or whatever it’s called fills a realpolitik need that for a variety of reasons that the government can not or will not. That is the fundamental purpose of the PMC, beyond any risk assessment (legitimate) purpose, that is troubling; it directly circumvents accountability from the taxpayers through Congress and our other elected officials and allows the government to do things that it wouldn’t should that accountability be present. Coupled with a troubling lack of accountability when situations where laws may or may not have been violated leads us to a very dark place indeed.

    AND to then decide that the best way to address this is to put out a comic (my favorite medium BTW) that is all combat, bravado and what not…yeah, I guess it’s quite clear I’m not falling on the this is okay and appropriate side of the debate. But the previous statements are just my way of explaining how I get there, and while still giving the benefit of a doubt to individuals and even the organization in general, should they stop out of the shadows at some point and demonstrate that they were in effect doing the right thing. Maybe they could do that instead of comics, but whatever.

  33. I’m basically in agreement with blitz. The entire war was a giant unforgivable atrocity. I feel that talking about good and bad participants is like talking about good and bad slave owners, there is a difference, but it’s all swamped by the giant structural injustice that they were participating in.

  34. @Concrete: Billy Tucci took the risk of making a propaganda comic and is getting called out for it.

    I do love your sentiment about modern superhero comcis, but are you aware of what blog you’re reading? This is a guy who publicly gave up Marvel/DC comics and has expressed distaste at the corporate policies for quite some time.

  35. @Concrete: “making shit up ‘sponsored by Blackwater.'”

    From the press release: “The series of books is being done with the direct approval of Blackwater founder and former owner Erik Prince and the contractors.” That’s what folks call sponsorship.

  36. My name is St. Paco, and I support this message.

  37. Actually went and saw the book and met Billy and the two guys who are in the book. Amazing story. All the Chicken Little stuff above seems to be based on “blackwater’s coming, blackwater’s coming! What I found out.

    Blackwater hasn’t existed or functioned for quite a while.

    The story is based on a book written by a famous war journo and the guys who were blown up on one detail. There is nothing corporate or rah rah anywhere in this book. I can see why Billy took on this project.

    The two guys there were cool. A former cop and baseball player and a former Marine and celeb bodygyard who were gracious enough to sign some stuff for people.

    The artwork and story are superb, as would be expected from a guy like Billy. There are only 12 pages of final art but it gives a great feel for what is come. Its about three or four guys each with a backstory and a dramatic ending (failed marriage, getting blown up, missing a plane and having someone die in your place, etc)

    The rest of you rehashing or arguing Bush era politics without actually knowing what you are talking about need to go over to war profiteer Tony Stark’s booth or bashing right wing Captain America.

    I think its very cool that in the whole hall Billy seems to be the only guy with the balls to take risks as an artist.

    I can’t wait for the full 48 page book!

  38. @Von Hellman:

    Well, here’s the thing; I very much understand where this confusion is coming from and the emotions people are expressing without thinking, frankly, calmly and rationally about this project.

    And in case you haven’t read my earlier comments, I give a brief recap as well as some follow on information; I’m a veteran with quite some military and combat experience. I also grew up in a jewish family, though were generally non-practicing, and yes, that will be relevant in a moment. The analogy I’m using isn’t to compare the actions of one group against another, so if that’s what you’re thinking, I’m not going where you think I am.

    I’ve read a few books written by and about the officers and men of SS divisions who fought against the allied advances in western Europe. I can absolutely relate to them, as soldiers and as leaders, who cared for their men, as well as the hardships they faced. I know these aren’t the same men responsible for the holocaust, and that generally speaking, the politics of the conflict didn’t matter. The point is, that as a human interest piece on the cost of war, these books are interesting, and even though I had known holocaust survivors, I didn’t automatically label these men the monsters I was constantly expecting them to be. Most of them in that situation fought for their comrades and their families back home, and really didn’t think about jews (either positive or negative- at least in the narrative provided).

    And obviously, none of that negates the function of the overall organization and its responsibility for its actions. The SS is as evil as it gets.

    The issue is context, and I understand, as everyone else here, that there is a bit of hyperbole used in the selling of comics. The comic, as I understand it, is based on Pelton’s book titled “License to Kill.” It is about private military corporations, their history, with the book’s focus being the recent conflict in Iraq. Pelton employs some Gonzo journalism (referring of course to Hunter S Thompson) where he inserts himself into the story in order to get to the “truth” of the matter. Of course this can lead to a myopic view of a situation, which is a valid criticism if it were an academic account, but it also factual in its approach. The comic is a telling of an event the author of that book participated in or was relayed to him by the participants. A brief search of Pelton, his site and the internet will give every reader a clear indication of his style and point of view (which I’ll add doesn’t often bother me since I prefer author’s make their inherent biases clear).

    i understand that this is a human interest piece, much like the book Soldat by Siegfried Knappe (an example- he was not an SS soldier BTW), and generally chronicles the experiences of a few individuals in a greater historical setting.

    Books like Soldat are considered important because of that human aspect. But in context, they also aren’t sold as the “true adventures of a nazi” or SS soldier or whatever, or inversely “the true adventures of a slave owner” when referring to Thomas Jefferson. There is a definite lack of gravitas when approaching a narrative in that fashion, especially if the Blackwater book ends with personal hardship at the end.

    So yeah, a human interest piece that sells itself on the controversy of the organization which the people were employed by, yet took no part in such events; and the comments here reflect that controversy.

    So not some much a rehashing of any particular administration’s politics, just the politics of the book’s marketing (since the book is unfinished I’ll reserve judgement) and its apparent (their press release, not mine) treatment of the greater context in which this narrative is placed.

    And so it’s clear, I do not approve of “the real-life adventures of the controversial private security company” as a selling point, but look forward to see the risks, extensive research involving all points of view (of the combatants and civilians present like all good journalistic endeavors), all while maintaining impartiality since he said he will address those controversies head-on.

    I just ask that you forgive our collective pessimism that the aforementioned would occur when “the series of books is being done with the direct approval of Blackwater founder and former owner Erik Prince and the contractors. Although the series begins with Pelton’s book, he felt that there was also so much more that needed to be told.” I’m just that hoping the more includes the warts and all, and doesn’t focus on the “heroics” of the participants.

    The quotes are taken from Mr. Tucci’s press release BTW.

    And if you’d like, I would gladly cover the controversies and scandals of the “Blackwater or whatever it’s called” (as I refer to it now) later, in case you think it’s some political rant on my part.

  39. It’s called “Xe” now, still murdering with impunity.

  40. Tucci did an spectacular job with Sargeant Rock. Weaving in real stories of Asia American veterans. and he appeared with those veterans to promote their contribution. Sure Rock was a fictional character but the art and the story were head and shoulders above most graphic novels.

    Based on what I read and saw at Billy’s booth..the first book revolves around a guy who would have been murdered in Fallujah, an AsianAmerican guy who was blown up, lost his wife and his home and the other members of the team. Its pretty ballsy stuff. And if you google the book its based on or read the Amazon reviews, I fail to see any of your points being based on reality. “Fear based reviews” is a good way to describe the tone on this thread.

    If you are a vet, seem to care about hate and blind rage at stereotypes then maybe you should actually read the story, talk to Billy and then form your opinion. He is giving away free preview copies and I had a chance to talk to one of the ex Blackwater guys that was in the story. I don’t exactly see what “Blackwater controversy” has to do with Billy’s book and the individual stories. “Prejudice” or pre judge is the exact mode in effect here. I think that is why Billy is doing the book. He sees the hate and knows that most of these guys were vets working to pay their mortgages etc.

    I think the trumped up outrage and controversy will be good for this series because once people actually read the book they enjoy reading the frantic hater reviews :)))) You mention ” like all good journalistic endeavors), all while maintaining impartiality ” I am not seeing you follow your own advice. At least I read the preview, talked to Billy and formed my own opinion. I think you will like it.

  41. @Von Hellman: One. Two. Three. Four. FOUR grins on that one smiley as you make the “it is okay if people condemn this becuz that means CONTERVARSY SELLZ lololooololol haters gunna hate” argument.
    These are the signs of a man reaching for the Big Book Of Internet ‘Debate’ so desperately hard and fast that he is going to sprain his entire torso all at once.

  42. The rest of you rehashing or arguing Bush era politics without actually knowing what you are talking about need to go over to war profiteer Tony Stark’s booth or bashing right wing Captain America.

    Those guys are fictional.

  43. @Red Scharlach: In hindsight, Bush is looking more and more fictional himself.

    Future historians will never stop laughing about the time the United States invaded another country because of claims about hidden superweapons, and then nobody could find any.

  44. @Von Hellman:

    See, even from what you just said, I don’t think we’re in disagreement or you aren’t debating my point: this book has a narrow focus (human interest piece) on the experiences of a few men. I was merely pointing out that Mr Tucci said he was addressing all the controversies in his press release ( I didn’t – he did) in follow on books. He stated he was using Mr Pelton book as a resource (as of this writing) in addition to interviews, done with the full approval and support of the company in question.

    So even you must agree that doesn’t seem the way to approach a research piece on a controversial topic, and that was really my point. If it’s prejudice, it’s academic predjudice and not in regards to the subject matter or even the topic.

    Additionally, I’ll admit my predjudice that it seems unlikely to me a company that has repeatedly denied, under oath and executive branch protection, access to testimony or records (relating to the controversies) to US Senate oversight committees and investigations, would then in turn give said access to a cartoonist to tell the true story. But again, this is for a future installment in Mr Tucci’s series covering the true adventures, so I’ll, as I said, withhold judgement of a book that has yet to be written.

    And so we’re clear, even at its worst, my criticism doesn’t have anything to do with politics, this is about a book in a proposed series of books, and whether my aforementioned complaint about subsequent books (or even this one since they’re all unfinished) warrants it’s labelling as propaganda (propagating an agenda).

  45. @Von Hellman: And just a bit for added perspective, from another angle;

    “The Countrywide Cronicles: the true adventures in sub prime lending and FHA approvals in the mortgage markets.” Will address all the controversy head-on, featuring stories of tellers and phone agents, and their daily struggle in a 9 to 5 workplace. It is being done with the direct approval of the CEO of Bank of America. It’s not about improper foreclosures, just guys working to feed their families, etc.

    See when you just change the company, keep the focus on the guys on the frontlines/ lowest level but say you’ll address the controversy it may seem like maybe, just maybe, it’d rile people up, and seem like there would be a propaganda element?

  46. fair enough. You are right. I was focused on the actual “work of the artist” (ie What I Saw) versus looping into the entire future universe.

    My apologies.

    And a comic book about the foreclosure/homeless/screwed up american way of life is also long over due

    Will anyone write the modern Grapes of Wrath in graphic novel form??

    I kinda see Tucci’s work along those lines. Regular guys who risk their life to pay their mortgages. I didn’t really see any rah rah Blackwater in the piece or in talking to him. So I guess I just reacted to the whole tired stereotype of contractors. Men who were former soldiers and cops just keeping other people alive.

  47. Actually, since it’s based on a book, I can see why Tucci chose Blackwater now. But… again, there are plenty of OTHER PMCs out there who don’t have the horrible record Blackwater/Xe/Academi does. I think there were other ways of accomplishing this goal.

    @damanoid: Bush said when Decision Points came out of his Presidency: “It was an unbelievable experience.” Well, from my end, it was certainly that.

  48. Ben said every single thing that I wanted to say (barring the fact that none of the people in my former command structures would send me to Iraq), and far more eloquently.

    And Pliny the Elder is a total blue waffle.

  49. I think this review makes the point pretty well. Based on this site and other reactions, people don’t want Blackwater to have a human face because it was their government Blackwater worked for. Please note that even Obama and Hillary want to hire 7000 mercenaries to work in Iraq. Twice as many as Bush. How do you spell hypocrisy?

    Can’t wait to read the completed book.


  50. @Von Hellman: Sure, okay, but:

    -Blackwater’s crimes aren’t a partisan issue, and I’m not happy about them being back in the good graces of the State Department
    -I’ve seen Blackwater’s human face, I know exactly who it is they work for, and I know that my tax dollars have helped them get away with murder
    -Don’t you call me a hypocrite on my own site when you don’t know a single solitary thing about me.

    Have fun with your comic.

  51. Wow, when I first heard mention of Tucci’s book I figured it was a real book/history, not a whitewash paid for by the company.

  52. Thanks for this, David.
    Yeah, fuck Blackwater and all their name-changing, getting-away-with-war-crimes bullshit. And fuck anyone who defends Blackwater. For shame, Billy Tucci, for fucking shame.
    P.S. If you think you have a rebuttal or point-of-view that makes Blackwater any less than the rapists and murderers they are: fuck you too. Blackwater doesn’t have a human face because sexual assault, sexual violence and wholesale murder are exclusively subhuman. Fuckers.

  53. Actually you are the definition of a hypocrite David.

    I thought you of all people would defend the right of an artist to explore new themes and controversial ones at that. The fact that you haven’t even seen what you are talking about makes the whole barrage of bs even less impressive. Like New Yorkers talking about how they never watch TV and then spend half an hour trashing Sex in the City.

    Want to fight ethical rot? Why not support people who are so far away from the system it feels like somebody opened a window. Tucci may have put in his hack time at DC and Marvel but Sgt Rock and this project are pretty fresh.


    You clearly known nothing about the content or story but you launch off on some political screed about a company that doesn’t even exist anymore as if that is relevant to the book. If you read reviews of the project or what the series is based on, the one thing that comes across on Amazon is how the writer of the original story doesn’t have an agenda but he accurately documents his experiences in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Africa.

    It is clear that Billy is doing his own research and interviews with the contractors that are in the series. Anyone who wanted to do propaganda wouldn’t waste time on getting their ass shot off or checking facts. Thats’ what makes me wonder why went all hater on this.

    If you want to write polemics about the Nazis in Germany go for it but that doesn’t make the Sound of Music a bad or good movie. Its a cool brave project and Billy should get kudos for clearly identifying why he thinks this story should be done. Remember when they spit on returning vets from Vietnam? When they locked Japanese in internment camps but their children chose to fight in Germany like Tucci wrote about in Sgt Rock. All the “fuck you” and “Blackwater sucks” posted above is probably exactly why this book is needed. Your logic is that because you believe something (not based on experience or facts) then no one else should challenge your perception.

    Imagine if the artistic community was actually bullied by people who have fucking idea what they are talking about but don’t want anyone to change their minds? All we would get would be DC and Marvel crap along with titties and zombies. I don’t know if Billy is making money off of this but I know he could have easily cranked a series of Shi wearing skimpy contractor gear and whacking zombies if it was about whoring himself.

    The blind hatred of Blackwater is as much a form of propaganda as any attempt to whitewash or reconstruct their past. This project based on the first few pages and description is not even close to that. So until you get your hands on a copy or talk to Billy, you will sound like a mindless politically motivated hater who has zero (repeat, zero, facts) to base your opinion of the project on.

    As I said before I would love to read your opinion of the art and story not what your political opinions think of a long defunct company and Nazis.

    When you actually dig into the book or the comic I will be all ears. For now I can google left wing dimwits like Schaill if I want mindless hate on Blackwater. Pandering to an audience is the worst kind of propaganda and ethical rot.

  54. @Von Hellman:

  55. Imagine if you had to find hay in a haystack. That’s what finding flaws in Von Hellman’s commets is like.

  56. @Von Hellman: If this comic was actually daring, it would really tear into Blackwater. As it stands, if a product designed to entertain has the approval of the military, then the product will probably depict the military in a glowing light. Michael Bay’s Transformers films, for example – the reason why NEST, the US Army and other paramilitary organisations figure so heavily, and why they end up doing more than the Autobots, is because Bay likes to be as technically accurate as possible. To do so, he would need the Pentagon’s approval, so the US armed forces must be portrayed as glowingly and heroically as possible.

    See also Act of Valor, which is also propaganda.

    The book might be good. Unfortunately, Blackwater/Xe/Academi don’t have an impressive CV – their actions led to Fallujah and the shootout in Nisour Square – and the video game that Erik Prince commissioned was condemned from all corners for not being fun to play. Why does he need the approval of Blackwater to tell his story? Why can’t it be about any PMC? I was tempted for a while to read Minutemen, but for moral reasons I didn’t, even though I like Darwyn Cooke.

    Same principle applies here. David isn’t attacking this from the creator’s right standpoint (no idea how you got to that conclusion), he’s attacking it because he morally disagrees with it. That’s what I took from this, at least.

  57. @Von Hellman: Also, yes, Blackwater still exist. They just changed their name. Hell, they changed their name while Erik Prince was still on the board of directors. For all I know, Al Clark is still in charge of it even though it’s now called Academi. The organisation may have restructured, but it remains a PMC, and the war crimes they’ve committed can’t be forgotten just because they’ve changed their name.

  58. “We’re America, right? We’re supposed to be better than these scumbags. We’re supposed to be the ones in the right.”

    You’re kidding, right? The America you’re talking about has never existed.