“There’s a monstrous tradition of using cremated remains and blood to make comic books,” states Kelly Roman, author of The Art of War graphic novel. “Marvel editor Mark Gruenwald had his ashes mixed with ink and made into commemorative issues of Squadron Supreme. KISS had their blood used to print their first comic. We are adding a live performance element.”
The “live performance element” Roman and illustrator Michael DeWeese are adding is extracting their own blood before a live audience and stamping it on book samples that will be given away to fans. The 19 May. 2011 event marks the beginning of a year-long awareness campaign for the 336 page comic book that !t Books, the pop-culture imprint of HarperCollins , will publish in Spring 2012.
A 50-page sample is currently available for free on the book’s website at www.theartofwargraphicnovel.com. Even at this stage and on a screen, the story is difficult to read and impossible to put down even when you want to look away. The basic black white and red color scheme is not only eerie but possibly a metaphor for the stark black and white view it offers of the future.
The comic book’s sample chapters have already begun generating buzz among the comic book community.
“Kind of a James O’Barr vibe with the art. I dig it,” tweeted Lee Black, who writes for Marvel Comics.
The graphic novel depicts a future when China is the dominant economy and Wall Street is militarized. Author Roman was inspired to write the story in 2007 after reading a Wall Street Journal article about China investing billions of dollars in Blackstone, an American private equity firm.
Named after and drawn to look like author Kelly Roman, the graphic novel’s protagonist has his own Facebook page and Twitter identity. The author has also created a YouTube channel to feature videos of average Americans expressing their views on China becoming the most powerful nation on Earth.
The live blood draw event will take place in Columbus Park, in Manhattan’s Chinatown on 19 May, 2011 at 7 p.m. A medical doctor will extract the artists’ blood. A custom stamp featuring the Chinese characters for “The Art of War” will be used to stamp the blood on bound 3-chapter samples (presumably the same chapter featured on the website) that will be given away to fans. Clear tape will be placed of the dried blood.