LOS ANGELES – Superheroes have special powers. People who can draw large crowds, get on the debate stage and raise enough money to run for president — considered elite politicians — also have special powers that leap off the pages of comic books.
The “Political Power” series from TidalWave Comics tells the stories of Democratic candidates running against President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
“I want to get to the heart of who they are,” said author Michael Frizell, who wrote comic book biographies on senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s biography will be released in May.
Weeks of research
Before writing each book, Frizell spends weeks researching each candidate, “watching a lot of video, reading a lot of interviews, especially early on in their careers.”
“We keep these (comics) so unbiased, and we keep these so middle of the road. We don’t have an agenda with these whatsoever,” said publisher Darren Davis, who has been publishing biographical comic books since 2008.
The books have featured celebrities and politicians. Davis said while some of the biographies are authorized, most are not, to keep them unbiased.
With a targeted audience of 10-year-olds to adults, Davis said he had an obligation to keep the books neutral, because schools and libraries are picking up the series. He described the biographies as informational, educational and entertainment.
“If somebody is curious about the person and maybe hasn’t made a decision politically on that [candidate],” that undecided voter would be the comic book’s audience, Frizell said.
The reception of a series of comic books about Democrats has not all been positive. Davis said he’s needed thick skin when negative comments appear.
“People are writing the nastiest things. You just don’t read the comments. It’s kind of what I’ve learned,” he said. Davis attributed the pushback to the highly polarized political environment in the U.S.
Democrats are not the only politicians featured in the comic books. Biographies on former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Trump, both Republican candidates in the 2016 presidential election, have also been published.
Publishing comic book biographies on politicians can have its drawbacks, such as when a candidate drops out of the race, like South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who was featured in a biography.
“You just feel sad, because I feel like they are my comic book characters,” Davis said.
For politicians who are still in the Democratic race, being on the national stage highlights their unique power.
“Rhetoric seems to be their power. They’re all good at it,” Frizell said.
Davis said he will keep publishing biographical comic books every election cycle.