The “Blackwater Chronicles” may be the first accurate portrayal of Blackwater’s service in Iraq that has yet been published. But it’s not a story about politics or government contracts or the intricacies of security contracting. It’s a story about the people who served their country through Blackwater. It’s a story about the men who did a dangerous job in a dangerous place and the effect it had on them.
“I’m going to be brutally honest in this book,” says author and artist Billy Tucci. “I’m telling the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m covering it all.”
The “Blackwater Chronicles,” slated for completion in 2013, will be a series of illustrated books about the Blackwater experience in Iraq. The first in the series, “Blackwater Bridge,” takes place from November 2004 to April 2005 and will be about 48 pages of illustrations. A preview of “Blackwater Bridge” was released this week at Comic-Con International in San Diego.
“The first issue,” says Tucci, “is what it’s like to ride with these guys, fly with these guys, get shot at with these guys. It’s a very personal story.”
It’s also a very true story. From convincing the contractors of the need to share their stories, to talking to the families of the deceased, Tucci went to great lengths to tell the Blackwater story.
At Comic-Con, one of the largest gatherings in the comic book industry, Tucci’s work was well received. This year’s attendance was expected to be about 130,000 visitors and 30,000 exhibitors. And, as usual, anything with the name Blackwater on it makes a splash.
There to support Tucci were two former Blackwater contractors, known as Miyagi and T-Boy. They signed Tucci’s posters and books for the public, and they proudly represented their work for the company, which hasn’t always been a comfortable or easy position.
In some ways, the convention was like a lithmus test to see how the public would receive both the idea of an illustrated account of Blackwater and the men who did the job. In this case, all parties left satisfied.
Illustrated accounts of actual, historical events aren’t common in the US, or for that matter, in the comic industry. Tucci’s work is a different kind of comic–the kind you can actually learn something from.
“The difference between a hack and an artist,” says Robert Young Pelton, whose book “Licensed to Kill” inspired Tucci’s work, “is that a hack publishes Spider Man volume 486, and an artists does something that’s never been done before.”
To show our support for Tucci and the forthcoming “Blackwater Chronicles,” we’ll throw in a Blackwater comic poster with any order off the Blackwater website while supplies last.