Script: Jordan Clark Art: Vince Underwood Colors: Brittany Peer Letters: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou Often times you’ll hear the expression “life imitating art” and, for good reason. In the comic book medium though, we find an outlet that allows art to be a powerful tool for awareness. Elk Mountain is just such a thing. Using several readily identifiable and relatable tropes the power in the message of Elk Mountain is in its truth and sincerity. We live in a world lit with gaslights. Instead of attacking and blaming the story of Elk Mountain brings awareness and speaks to the truths of what we are all facing across the country here in the United States. These issues are real and they are have gone beyond merely threatening people’s safety. Lives are being affected and the fabrics on which the greatness of this nation’s ideals were built has been frayed to the point of tearing.
“What we want to explore in the comic is the way communities are being divided by unfounded fears, how immigrants live in a world of uncertainty…”
The promise of the US is the “dream” and how everyone can come to pursue it. The reality of today tells a tale in stark contrast to that of the open arms of Lady Liberty.
“Instead of focusing on the policy aspect of immigration, we want to look at what has happened to many communities where people are turning on their neighbors due to false information spread to stoke fears and hate. All the data shows that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes, more likely to pay taxes, and are steady contributors to our society and economy. Valor is almost the ultimate example of this. As a superhero and a protector of Elk Mountain, he fights to make the world a safer place and strives to be a positive role model. “ This though, isn’t the narrative being pushed or story being told by those that would have you believe. The very same people that you’ve known and perhaps even loved for all, most, or a good portion of your lives have been called into question unjustly. You have been called into question unjustly. Today, living in America harbors an unnecessary fear that goes against what the foundations were supposed to be. Acceptance.
“An immigrant in America is to live in a world where you never know what tomorrow may bring. People have awakened to find that they’ve lost their jobs, homes, and even their children. Some are sent back to countries they’ve never even been to. Those traveling to America to escape extreme poverty, war, or political corruption face incredible odds even entering the country, and yet they still come. Valor faces a similar experience as one day he is beloved, and then the next day feared. It’s one thing to fight giant robots, but how do you fight the fears that others have of you? How do you persevere in the face of hatred beyond your control?”
Fear is a dangerous weapon. It is much easier to put fear into people than to ease it from them. A scared populous will see things that aren’t there and find issues that don’t truly exist. Sensationalism of the most extreme cases is fabricated as the majority truth and where hugs and handshakes once lived battle lines now resided. It’s not to say that acceptance should be blind or that the natural human fear of something they don’t know and understand should be disregarded. The point is one of understanding from both sides. This is something that Elk Mountain specifically aims to address.
“Finally, we want to play on the Superman origin. As perhaps the most famous immigrant in all of popular culture, it’s an aspect of Superman’s backstory that doesn’t get as much play these days. Yes, he’s an alien, but him not being from this world seems to be less terrifying to some people than an undocumented person from Mexico. Valor represents a modern take on the outsider hero, one who has to fight to be accepted, even by the people he protects. Like Superman, he has accepted that some people will always fear him, but this doesn’t stop him from doing what’s right. Unlike Superman, he isn’t afraid to speak his mind and break the rules when he must. He represents a group of people who are being discriminated against unjustly and must and is willing to do whatever he can to help them.”
As Jordan has stated Superman is the most famous immigrant in all of popular culture. Taking a moment to sit back and look at everything the Superman tale brings to the table, for me, reveals so many points of discussion that are not only still relevant but at the forefront of society today. Elk Mountain dives into the more personal aspects of this archetype and brings the story our front door. While there is the ‘superhero’ element at play it is to enhance the true importance of what makes up the “Superman” tale. This individual that is held up with such regard, seen and depended on as a protector, trusted with lives, and viewed as a symbol ‘truth, justice, and the American way’ both is and isn’t the “ideal” representation.
That’s the heart of Elk Mountain. The fact that we’ve lost sight of what it is that made the US a beacon of light and turned from a helping hand to a closed fist is an issue that needs as much attention as possible. With this book we get the chance to explore the complexity and sensitivity of all of this. Through the manner of a comic book the extremely talented and intelligent team of Jordan Clark, Vince Underwood, Brittany Peer, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou shine a light on and address a plague that is systemic of an archaic way of thinking.
Elk Mountain is political without being preachy. It tackles issues driving wedges between people across the globe. The book delivers both relevant social commentary as well as a damn good superhero story.
The Indie Engine HIGHLY recommends ELK MOUNTAIN Go check out the campaign for Elk Mountain on Kickstarter through MAY 22nd!
*Special thanks to Jordan Clark for the insight and commentary on the project*