Isaiah Broussard is best known for his lighthearted, all-ages comic Transyltown, which follows a young vampire named Timmy and his friends on a series of adventures. However, when the news turns grim, especially involving police shootings and domestic terrorism, he puts out another entry in his phenomenal political webcomic, Crackers & White Wine.
“It was during the whole Trayvon Martin thing when that was still trending in the news,” says Brouusard. “I had just gotten very, very fed up with having to constantly describe what systemic racism is. I got very upset by a lot of the ignorant comments that I saw going around, especially once things like the riots started to happen. I felt I needed to express this somehow.”
Broussard’s subjects range from Kim Davis being compared to Martin Luther King to the role privilege plays in our lives to the differences in how blacks are treated in the media as opposed to whites. His tone is often blunt, but with a certain empathy that lets it escape from the typical internet cynicism. There’s a feeling of heart being the strips that reminds a reader that Broussard feels very deeply about his subjects.
However, there’s no doubt that C&WW is meant to provoke. The language pulls no punches, and is matched by Broussard’s stark, minimalist style. Most of the comics are in in black and white with little shading, giving them the punch of a Shepard Fairey image, and his skill at recreating famous faces within his style so that they are immediately recognizable is amazing.
“Being nice hasn’t really helped with change,” says Broussard. “I’m not really concerned with toning down my expression in a way that’s palatable to people who would be uncomfortable with my expression and my confidence in the first place. Not everybody is my audience. A lot of people don’t feel comfortable confronting race in general and I don’t feel like coddling them.”
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He also isn’t afraid to take on multiple sides of the political spectrum. He received a fair amount of vitriol for a comic claiming that the women who interrupted a Bernie Sanders rally to talk about #BlackLivesMatter were as legitimate a form of activism as any other. Ditto Bree Newsome, who climbed a 30-foot flagpole to tear down a Confederate Flag on the South Carolina state Capitol. The post drew ire from Sanders supporters on Twitter and racists on Facebook.
He also found himself at swordpoint for mocking Raven-Symone’s odd pink hairstyle after she remarked on The View she wouldn’t hire people with ghetto names, which some called a sexist move. Broussard shrugs it off, acknowledging that he knew it would receive that reaction, but that he felt commenting on her perceived hypocrisy was worth that.
Currently C&WW is very much a side gig for Broussard. Transyltown and commissioned work take up most of his time, though he has started selling small zine versions of the comic that are the size of Chick Tracts. Usually he’s sparked into creation by a piece of news or commentary he feels he just can’t sit quiet for. It’s an exhausting mental process, though, which keeps it on the back burner no matter how much he loves it.
“Crackers and White Wine can get a taxing emotionally sometimes, so sometimes it’s a good idea to distance myself from it,” he says.