Graffiti Wars – When Art Saved the World
Science Fiction/Fantasy Graphic Novel Trilogy
by Mark Lewis Wagner
The God of War is enslaved by men, power, and money. Two Oakland graffiti artists, with the help from an alien universe, a Vietnam Vet, ghosts, a whale and a dog, journey through time and madness trying to save the world and each other.
Mark Lewis Wagner’s debut graphic novel, “Graffiti Wars” is a shamanic journey of initiation through an artist’s creative imagination. Gorgeously illustrated, the science fiction/fantasy book includes rough sketches, drawings, paintings, digital art, and a Spotify playlist.
An artist named Birde, a time traveler, is being hunted by a deadly mythical beast that belongs to the God of War. The Beast is searching for her because she will put War out of business, and War just isn’t going to let that happen. A young tugboat pilot and artist named Hiro, working the Port of Oakland, gets entangled with Birde, who sends him back in time to an insane asylum with an art studio. She needs to protect him from the Beast and have him create a key that will open a doorway to an Alien Universe that is in desperate need of the creative arts.
Bernie (another time traveler and Vietnam Vet struggling with PTSD), a dog, humpback whale, ghosts, a submarine temple, and the spirit of the Earth all conspire to help our two heroes liberate War’s creative spirit from being imprisoned by the military industrial complex. We aren’t sure if all this is just the crazy imagination of someone in a mental hospital, or perhaps they are onto something more serious and real.
Sixteen years in the making. This is the first book of a trilogy. What a journey this has been. I’ve raised kids, got divorced, continued to be a college art teacher, moved for half the year to rural Northern New Mexico, and have been blessed with two amazing dogs. Zander started the journey with me; he was Mr. Z in the story. Then the beautiful Karma came into my life and sadly disappeared one day on my land, and I never saw her again. She now lives eternally in this story.
The next two books won’t take nearly as long. The first of anything is a big learning curve. I have learned so much about storytelling, words and images, sticking with something and not giving up, working when I didn’t know what I was doing, graffiti, drawing, and learning InDesign. There are almost 12,000 images in my Graffiti Wars computer folder.
From Last Page of the First Book:
Graffiti Wars: When Art Saved the World
I grew up playing Army. My first awareness of War was on TV when helicopters were being shot down in the Vietnam. My first piece of Art about War was in art school in the early 80’s. Many years later I lived on an island off the coast of Oakland where there was a decommissioned Naval Airbase which I explored thoroughly with a dog, camera, and small kids. While listening to music I would often have downloads of images and story slices.
The first photos for this project began in 2007 when I snuck onto a shipyard and saw tugboats on dry dock, their propellors so large they looked like spaceships. Out on the Base I explored an abandoned military hospital and was blown away by the graffiti inside: totally blown away!
I’d never seen such sophisticated, complex, and brilliant artwork. It felt otherworldly, like a portal into the Imagination & the Great Mystery. I discovered several other large warehouses that were filled with the most amazing graffiti I’d ever seen. If I were rich I would have turned them into museums. Instead they are now Target parking lots.
I have used several of these graffiti pieces from photographs I took as inspiration in this book. I do not know the creators and hope to meet you someday so I can respectfully acknowledge you and your breathtaking artwork.
The earliest evidence of War was 14,000 years ago in Sudan. Over a 3.5 billion people have died from War throughout history. Last year alone, the world spent over two trillion dollars on War. More than half the $ coming from the USA. This business plan needs to change, so we’ll change it here – one story at a time! Stories are Power. The imagination is real.
War is a big topic. It deserves to be looked at more closely. It’s complicated, horribly painful, unconscious, religious, wrong, and expensive. It’s also noble, sophisticated, intelligent, and necessary at times.
War is archetypal. The root of the word War is “confusion.” There are many mythological Gods of War, which means it’s part of us. It’s in us. We are all at War with something, inside and out. It’s human nature.
We need to “IMAGINE WAR DIFFERENTLY” for it to ever truly transform and evolve, says James Hillman, the renowned psychologist who wrote in “The Terrible Love of War.” Ed Tick’s “War and the Soul” is also good medicine. There is so much here in this book to ponder: mental illness, psychiatric hospitals, combat vets, PTSD, the industrial military complex, corporations, mythology, being an artist, time, love, ghosts, and the Alien Universes, of course.
The first moment when we realize that the Beast is a mythological creature the book does what it sets out to do: it Mythologizes War. It helps War move back into the realms of the imagination where it can live gloriously (video games and football are excellent examples) and greatly decreases the destruction of the Earth and everything that lives upon it, including future generations, all of nature, the living Earth itself.
BOOK ONE sets up the scene, characters, and ends with a great question. We learn that tugs and whales fly.
BOOK TWO has Hiro lost in his imagination while Birde tries to find him after she accidentally becomes a Time Traveler like Bernie. Birde needs to find another artist who will help create something the “Other Worlds” need to arrive. The Alien advanced technology will simply put War out of business. War does not want this to happen and will do whatever it takes to make it not. A submarine temple, prayer wheels, ghosts, a bone graveyard are pieces of the puzzle.
BOOK THREE finds Hiro going mad. With Bernie’s help, Birde finally locates Hiro, and War goes berserk with the entire planet at risk of total destruction. There’s a big plot twist at the end before the Other Worlds show up. Well, you’ll have to read the story.
There are so many people to thank: you know who you are. For years you’ve listened to me tell a crazy tale and show you strange artwork. I couldn’t have done it without you and the Creative Spirit. And two amazing animal people ~ Mr. Z & Karmalita.
T h a n k y o u ! T h a n k y o u ! T h a n k y o u !
~Mark Lewis Wagner