Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your comic, Bronx Heroes in Trumpland, with Arsenal Pulp Press! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the comic, and what inspired you to tell this satirical story?
Tom Sciacca: When I saw Trump coming down that escalator in Trump Towers, right there it looked like parody---and I didn't even know about The Simpsons episode! So, I thought wouldn't it be funny if Trump took over the world and wanted to make NYC safe for billionaires---then the Bronx Heroes would have to free the world!
Ray Felix: I've always been a fan of history and politics in particular. During the Bush years, I did The Mighty Pretenders which parodied the Bush/Cheney administration. Also, in Bronx Heroes 2.0 Black Power's nemesis is Richard Nixon. In my first comic, A World Without Superheroes, Bush Sr. and Ronald Reagan were the villains. So, it is only natural that Trump gets his spotlight on the comic page as a villain in this new adventure.
BD: How did you come to work together on the project, and how would you describe your shared creative process in bringing the story to life?
TS: I brought the idea to Ray with some penciled layouts in October 2015, but at that point we did not think anyone would care. We did nothing until he got elected, and then we had to do it! Basically, I asked myself if Jack Kirby were still alive what he would do with Trump. We did the book in the Marvel method--I penciled the story, Ray did all the dialogue, and Tom Ahearn inked. And Ray had some back-up stories to fill out the book.
RF: Tom conceived the idea, and I helped him build on that concept. Afterwards, Tom sketched out the "roughs" which are basic layouts for Tom Ahearn and me, to do the finished pencils and inks. All along the way, I edited the story to make sure that it flows, and then I added the dialogue using Illustrator. When the pages were complete, I scanned the original art and then colored it in Photoshop.
BD: In satirizing real-world current events, did you find that any aspects of the creative process proved more challenging than others?
TS: First off, after the first few pages I did, I realized that Trump’s real-life actions were crazier than anything I could dream up--so I set the book in an alternate universe. Since there were way too many characters at play in our reality, I kept it to Melania, Trump, and Gorka--plus our heroes. We also used the real Mueller Report as an additional storyline.
RF: I think in the case of Trump that there were overwhelming references since he's the most press-covered president since JFK and Jackie Onassis. Trump is the Bizzaro version of Obama. The exact polar opposite of Barrack. That's why we feel like were are in an alternate path and that we are all trapped in the Twilight Zone. Trump has no filter, so Tom and I had to decide when it was too much information and when we had water it down with humor, because if you think about it too hard, you'll realize what Trump says is actually quite frightening.
BD: What makes Arsenal Pulp Press the perfect home for Bronx Heroes in Trumpland?
TS: I sent samples of the pages to Arsenal Pulp press after hearing on WNYC radio about one of their books, The Antifa Comic Book, by Gord Hill. Luckily, when we submitted Bronx Heroes, they loved what they saw, so they worked with us to shape the final project. We had originally intended to self-publish, since the USA publishers were too afraid to do it. Arsenal Pulp is a great Canadian publisher of LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and social issues – they are courageous and beyond the reach of the USA censors.
RF: I think that Arsenal Pulp Press' catalog of other authors reflects the same sensibilities as Bronx Heroes in Trumpland.
BD: At Fanbase Press this year, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Bronx Heroes’ story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
TS: I think that parody of our politics is dying in the USA, and we are trying to keep that alive--in the manner of MAD magazine and National Lampoon. I think that this book will open the minds of our readers to new ideas.
RF: Trump is like a Shakespeare character of sorts. He is a tragic figure who ultimately will be the source of his own undoing. The Republicans who protect him only do so to pass their legislation to screw the poor and eliminate the middle class. I firmly believe that once Trump accomplishes all that he promised the Republicans, the leaders of Russia, North Korea, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia will abandon him. Trump's supporters who are his base are starting to leave since he continues to spread lies about our own Intelligence Communities. If he is re-elected, we will witness a Nixon/Watergate scenario that will force him to resign.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
TS: Currently, I am working on two graphic novels featuring my characters, Astron Star Soldier (who is in Bronx Heroes in Trumpland), and Lana of the Lost Land--an adventure character that originally appeared in Heroic Fantasy magazine in 1984.
RF: I am continuing the series, The Greatest Hero Black Power, a superhero allegory about the Black Power movement in the mid-1970s. Also, my first series, A World Without Superheroes, turns twenty years old in 2020, and I plan to continue to write new stories that feature Tom's character, Astron. Lastly, I've been working on a memoir of my time living in the Bronx, becoming an artist and discovering my sex as a young adult in New York City.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Bronx Heroes in Trumpland and your other work?
TS: They can order the book from Arsenal Pulp’s website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Target. Plus, you can find us on Facebook on the Bronx Heroes in Trumpland page, as well as the Astron Star Solider Fan art Page and Astral Productions page.
RF: I can be found on my website, www.bxhcc.com, and on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat under BronxHeroes.