Vol.2, COLD OPEN: Musings from Creative Director Dirk Wood


If you’re like me, you stop and wonder once in a while…when was the EXACT moment America jumped the shark? Was it when Marco Rubio and Donald Trump were comparing the size of their penises through the media? Of all the moments to choose from in these insane days, that one works about as well as any, I guess. But I suppose it depends on how far back you take it. Was it Jerry Springer? Morton Downey Jr.? Or do we need to go back to P.T. Barnum? Just when exactly did the idea of American Exceptionalism fold in on itself, and become a parody?

As nuts as our current reality is, the other day I was in the supermarket check-out line, and was doing a scan of all the tabloids, and it occurred to me…America has been playing fast and loose with the truth for a long, long time.  The seeds of our alternate reality were planted long before fake news became a thing.

For me, the moment we sailed past normal and docked our ship directly in crazytown was the O.J. Simpson debacle. And I’m not even talking about the trial, or the verdict, whatever you might think of those things. I’m talking about what it did to the media landscape, and the way our country treats the news. It was when the news, once and for all, became entertainment. I remember seeing talking heads that rose to fame during the trial suddenly getting legitimate news jobs, and reacting with “Hey, that guy isn’t a reporter, he’s a sham divorce lawyer!” Now, that kind of thinking seems a little bit quaint, almost naive.

Even before social media and smartphones, O.J. was the moment when you might make the news by standing on an overpass and waving a sign. It was the moment citizens became armchair lawyers, lawyers became celebrities, and celebrities became The Press. And without being the kind of country that makes Kato Kaelin famous, we could never have become the kind of country that elects a game-show host as President.

So now we’re in the middle of the ultimate Post-O.J. story. Comics fans would recognize this as a Crisis on Infinite Earths, a giant crossover event story, featuring a zillion characters. But how is this particular story going to end? Trump tweeting from Russian exile? Trump driving off a cliff with a porn star, Thelma & Louise style? No potential ending is too far-fetched for a story this crazy. Like O.J. before, you can believe absolutely anything will happen. Would anyone have been shocked if O.J. had blown his brains out on the freeway? Just like those days, we are living in the middle of a bizarre page-turner, and no ending will surprise us. But no matter how it ends, any comic fan will tell you – every giant event story is followed by…another giant event story. So, what lies ten years down the road, in a world moving exponentially faster? It boggles the mind, but let’s get through this particular storyline first.

Sigh. We largely avoided these things in the first volume of Full Bleed, for multiple reasons. In a world where Trump is on the cover of every magazine, we thought “Good God, can’t we at least keep him out of ours?” And we did. We wanted to focus on the positive in the world. Fill it with the words and art we want to see, and keep Trump away, he’s besieging us everywhere else anyway.

And we still do want to do that. But we also have some creeping sense of responsibility. Can we really ignore the biggest story in the world completely? While our main goal remains making a magazine that will stand the test of time and live outside of its era…to avoid it entirely seems disingenuous. So, for one volume, this one, we’re leaning into it a bit. We’re getting political.

For starters, this volume’s cover is a subtle nod. Eric Rewitzer, of 3 Fish Studios in San Francisco, created “California Rising” out of post-election anger. The woodcut image of the normally docile California Bear rising in righteous defiance to a federal government he feels betrayed by. I’ve been in the same mood that bear’s been in for about a couple of years now, so it just felt right to me to make that our cover.

We’ve got some articles that tackle controversial subjects this time around, that feel timely. And this volume’s centerpiece of political upheaval is “President Stable Genius” by Bob Fingerman. Bob’s mad. I don’t blame him.

But this might not all be your cup of tea. Maybe, like me, you’d like some Trump-free entertainment. We have plenty of that this time around, too. And have no fear, not every volume is going to be jammed with political stuff. Which leads me to something I’ve been wanting to discuss. How does one READ Full Bleed?

I’ve received a ton of great feedback on the first volume, but a lot of it had statements like “I’ve only read the first third so far!” Keep in mind, this is a magazine! We’ve created it as the ultimate coffee-table, bathroom-reader, dip-in, dip-out experience. You don’t have to read it cover to cover, although its hardcover nature might make it seem like you should.

And by all means, if you WANT to read it from beginning to end, we’re not going to stop you! But we don’t expect you to be enthralled by every article. When was the last time you picked up a copy of Rolling Stone, read it straight through, and said “I enjoyed every page of that!” You might skip the Taylor Swift review, and jump to the article about climate change. Or vice versa. That’s okay! We’ve got a ton of diverse material in Full Bleed, it’s not designed to be a linear reading experience. This is the world’s only 200-page hardcover comics & culture magazine. It’s an experiment we believe in, but it is indeed an experiment! However you enjoy it, that’s of course up to you. Want to skip straight to the Trump section? Go for it! Want to tear those pages out and light them on fire? Please do that responsibly, but feel free.

So that’s it. We don’t know how The Big Story is going to end. But we can publish a lot of little ones, of all kinds, some set in the real world, some not. And just like the real world, it’s up to all of us to navigate our own way through. Just don’t feel bad if you take a few detours along the way: that’s exactly how this little beauty was designed.

– Dirk Wood, Live From the Pine Street, April 2018