Black Mask Studios Billionaire Killers Asks, What If Ivanka Got Woke?

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Black Mask Studios, an LA-based indie comic publisher home to titles such as 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank, Space Riders and Kim & Kim, has announced its latest: Billionaire Killers, a brutal take on the children of a corrupt generation who refuse to accept their tainted legacy.

Writer and Black Mask CEO Matteo Pizzolo (Calexit, Young Terrorists) and artist Soo Lee (Fantomah) collaborated on the project, “a family saga about an elder generation that went to extreme lengths for power, and the younger generation forced to look at the parents they love and reject the bloodied legacy handed down to them.”

Billionaire Killers is the story of Sera and Pru, two teenage heiresses to elite family empires. It's a coming-of-age story about a younger generation grappling with the actions of their industrialist fathers who did so much damage to the world and caused so much harm in building their legacies,” said Pizzolo. “On the macro level it's about a new generation assessing the deeds of the previous generation, and then on the personal level it's about loving someone who has done terrible things.”

Like Calexit, Pizzolo’s earlier work about California’s secession from an autocratic U.S. president, Billionaire Killers centers on a spirit of resistance against corrupt systems. “I was inspired by this generational shift we're all living in right now and the idea that it could possibly transcend class distinctions ... what if the children of the .0001% suddenly became woke? What if Ivanka Trump became radicalized?” said Pizzolo.

Though the premise of Billionaire Killers is set in a world similar to our own, a “New Gilded Age” filled with “plutocracy, predatory global capitalism, and the synthesis of banks/megacorporations with governments,” Pizzolo has made an effort to infuse his comic with hope. “The story has an authentic point of view and there's a message in its authorial voice, but it's not a polemic … Obviously a comic book isn't going to change the power structure, but fictional characters do inspire us and we're just trying to do our part in celebrating people who rise up and seize the power back,” said Pizzolo.

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“Billionaire Killers #1” Photo: © Black Mask Studios

Billionaire Killers marks a return to Pizzolo’s 2015 comic Young Terrorists, which tells the story of a secret armed rebellion against globalist cabals. “ Billionaire Killers is a standalone story that takes place in the same world as Young Terrorists, maybe easiest to describe as similar to the way Rogue One functions as its own story on a larger canvas,” said Pizzolo.

In fact, Pizzolo first wrote the plot for Billionaire Killers in 2015, just after the launch of Young Terrorists. “At the time it seemed like a fascinating bit of speculation to imagine an era when titans of finance might become our highest ranking politicians and diplomats, the shadow government stepping out of the shadows essentially, and manipulating social media to present themselves as celebrity-leaders,” said Pizzolo.

If this sounds an awful lot like our current political climate to you, Pizzolo agrees. “In reworking the story for publication in 2018, everything was recontextualized because that no longer feels like speculative fiction --not just in terms of the President and his Cabinet, but also the persistent news cycles of the regressive tax bill, oligarchic mergers, the attacks on Net Neutrality ... so I hope that anyone who enjoyed the ‘fist in the air’ sensibility of Young Terrorists and Calexit will fall in love with Billionaire Killers too,” he said.

Billionaire Killers’ home with Black Mask Studios, a publisher created to fill the void in supporting “fearlessly personal comics,” feels perfectly natural to Pizzolo. Many of the books in Black Mask’s line-up share Billionaire Killers’ raw, revolutionary perspective. “While the books are all totally different from each other, there's a shared sensibility and camaraderie that draws each of us to bring our projects here,” said Pizzolo.

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“Billionaire Killers #1” Photo: © Black Mask Studios

“It's wonderful to get to see Billionaire Killers come to life alongside books like The Wilds (Vita Ayala and Emily Pearson's tale of Daisy, a young woman battling her way through an apocalypse to find Heather, her lost love), BLACK, Kim & Kim ,The Dregs, 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank and so many more... none of these books are really all that much like Billionaire Killers but they all have that DNA of fearless creators telling personal stories that are also highly entertaining, which is certainly what we're aspiring for with Billionaire Killers,” Pizzolo added.

Ultimately, Billionaire Killers is part of what Pizzolo feels is Black Mask’s editorial obligation. “I feel like we have a responsibility to be telling stories of characters who challenge the status quo,” said Pizzolo. “[I]f not for Black Mask there would absolutely, definitely be no publisher for Billionaire Killers … [T]his has become a special place in that Black Mask can support us as storytellers while also protecting each work's authentic message and vision.”

Billionaire Killers #1 is 36 pages and will retail for $3.99 when it goes on sale on March 28. The comic’s 3 covers are by Soo Lee, Alexis Ziritt and Amancay Nahuelpan. It can be purchased at comic book stores across the country or via http://blackmaskstudios.com/.

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