CSI creator Anthony E. Zuiker has teamed with comic book writer Felipe Cagno, artist BRÄO, and letterer Deyvison Manes to produce a series of four graphic novels exploring the events of the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting that killed 58. The shooter, Stephen C. Paddock, is the titular character in One-Eyed Jack, which also stars The Devil (King of Spades), the Grim Reaper (Ace of Spades), and Lady Luck (Queen of Hearts).
The Kickstarter page explains the book's mission:
One-Eyed Jack is a protest graphic novel designed to raise awareness to political and social issues in our country while chronicling the tragic Las Vegas shooting perpetuated by Stephen C. Paddock on October 1st, 2017.
Zuiker was born and raised in Las Vegas. Went to school there, university, made a living and went on to create the TV show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation taking place there.
And revenue from the book will also be donated to the families of victims of the shooting.
A preview of the book's opening features Paddock driving through the desert in a pair of sunglasses, picking up the Devil as a hitchhiker, and it's hard not to at least be reminded of Johnny Depp and Benecio del Toro driving a red convertible through the desert in the 1998 film adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. More on that in a moment.
The style of this preview and the way it reads does invite the question of whether it unintentionally glorifies Paddock, as well as whether the character might end up gaining the sympathy of readers in a way similar to fictional Batman villain The Joker. It would be unfair to judge a book by a few pages without giving the creators a chance to respond, so we reached out to Cagno and Zuiker to see if they wanted to address this potential interpretation, and they responded with the following statement:
The Joker is a fictional and colorful character, one with many iterations over the years that eventually became a character study and pop icon. He's a fantasy. The Las Vegas shooter is a real person, better yet, a real monster. There's no "glorifying" this person or what he did from any angle in any way and we're certainly not trying to understand or justify his motives. No. Instead we want to understand what circumstances allowed such a tragedy to happen and why they keep happening in the US more so than any other country in the world.
The spirits of the dead of Las Vegas, and of those who have died in shootings before and after, cry out to all of us. Maybe news anchors must go numb in their reporting to be able to press on. Maybe many Americans must try to forget as a way to preserve their sanity. It is left to those of us who are strong enough to finally end the gun madness. Each of us must apply our individual gifts to create one mighty irrepressible power for change.
The deeper I delved into this tragedy – the more I had to ask the question nobody was asking — who is the real monster in this story? The sweeping of the tragedy under the proverbial rug seemed conspicuously abrupt. The lack of compassion in constructing a proper Memorial seemed unceremoniously calculated. The voice of the 58 killed and countless injured seemed surgically silenced. As an artist, global story teller with a 74 million viewer following, and hometown kid of Las Vegas, I had no choice but to pick up a pen and be heard.
There is one power greater than protest marches and letters campaigns and calling out NRA-owned lawmakers, necessary as all these are. Only the power of Art can transform hardened hearts and raise up our youth to value love and compassion. A "fictional" tale well told by a master storyteller sears its lasting brand on the reader's brain. "One-Eyed Jack" will make forgetting Las Vegas impossible. It will raise more than money for the cause – it will raise consciousness and keep the memory of justice for victims alive forever.
The 64-page first volume was fully funded within three days of the Kickstarter launch, though there are five days remaining to back the project and receive rewards or help it meet stretch goals, if you're so inclined. Pricing for basic copies is $5 for digital, $25 for softcover, and $50 for hardcover. The book is planned to ship in May 2020.