"Crime Lords"

By Allan Angel

(February 16, 2017)

It was 2008, I had been taking my first business class at San Jose City College and I was utterly bored. So I started doodling drawings into what would become The Crimelords, a bunch of criminals with names taken from legal terminology such as felon, arson, hacker and such.

In my college years, I always chose classes that would give me the option to switch to a major which could lead to better jobs. I always longed for a job that treated me fairly. Unfortunately, that will never happen. I needed something to fall back on just in case I couldn’t make a living doing what I wanted to do, which was either music, dance or art.

Business has always been a subject that interested me. My first school award besides Spelling Bee was an award in business I had taken while in high school. After having experienced working in professional comics with my title Snake Eyes, which was distributed wordlwide and sold out except for a few copies I kept for myself, I knew that the characters I was creating, Crimelords, would be as commercially viable.

All in all, I had about 10 characters thought up and drawn. Being a business major and an artist, I was intrigued by the idea of combining the world of Silicon Valley and comic books. So the idea came about where a CEO Bill “Shrimp” Williams would pluck criminals out of nowhere and force them into saving the world.

It is through criminals that guilt can be mitigated when instigating genetic experiments to make humans more powerful. The main idea is how technology and innovation by a public company sector such as Shrimp Technologies uses genetically enhanced criminals to ‘rescue the world from itself’. Corporate intrigue combined with the bombast and style of American comic books. I thought it was a brilliant idea.

Of course, because the characters were criminals, I didn’t want to glamorize acts of crime to my audience. So I modeled the characters from people I knew who for some reason could never do the right thing. It was in conjunction with a documentary I was filming at the time that featured my cousins using my mom’s credit to buy a house and then defaulting on it and leaving my mother out to dry and being hospitalized. I scrapped the project due to the legal difficulties that would ensue. I was working on real reality tv- raw and unscripted unlike the ones on Bravo, E television,etc. The first version of the comic book was viciously attacked by my photography teacher. After being intrigued by the quality of my artwork she asked for a copy when I had it available. I gave her a copy once I got it from the printer and the next day slammed it in front of me and said how ugly it was in front of my classmates. That it was the most revolting thing she’s ever seen.

Her comments ranged from how abominable my characters were and how much she detested the violence. People hitting people, etc. She attacked me in front of class. I have never asked her to read it but she insisted. I thought college people were smarter or better than that! I had realized that the truth was abominable. That although the characters were vicious criminals, I had to desaturate the truth into a Disney type world of cliches and commercial nonsense.

I realized soon afterwards, that I may have been ahead of my time. I wanted to tell stories about my experiences. I wanted to transform the world of corporate comic books into something more than just selling products, although I thought it had commercial appeal for I did not write or did not draw a comic book if it didn’t have any.

I wanted to talk about real people. I soon realized that I had been around very sheltered individuals who have never experienced betrayal or violations to their body, pockets etc. I wanted to talk about real villains/heroes borne from real models. I grew up in the ghetto, I have seen evil and evil being done. I was never sheltered as a child and so my inclinations was to talk about what I knew.

Thus, before you is a desaturated version of my characters. In writing Crimelords, I had realized that the biggest crime of all was telling the truth. And it cost me.