In the future, every move you make will be tracked by a microchip under your skin. And you’ll do anything to get one.
That’s the tagline of Illegal, an upcoming comic miniseries written by Jeremy Whitley, best known for his Eisner-nominated series Princeless, and illustrated by Heather Nunnelly, the artist behind the webcomic Vacant.
To get the planned fifteen-issue miniseries started, Whitley and Nunnelly are running a Kickstarter campaign to raise at least $6,000, the amount they need to print the first issue and fund the digital distribution of the next five.
The comic centers around Gianna Delrey, an undocumented immigrant trying to stay under the radar in an enormous American city. A citizen of Mexico, she came to the US with her mother with the hope of a better life, away from her abusive father.
But in the police state that the country has become, all citizens have microchips implanted under their skin that not only tracks their movements, but stores the history of their lives. Undocumented immigrants don’t have them—and law enforcement considers them public enemy number one.
When such “illegals” are discovered, they are sent to deportation camps without so much as a trial. Once there, according to the official summary, “the wait to be deported has become so long that most people die just trying to survive.”
In the comic’s five-page preview, Gianna explains, “Used to be that people like me were everywhere. Undocumented, unrecorded…invisible.
“Ain’t like that no more.
“Not since the passing of the United States Naturalization Immigration Terrorism Prevention Education and Deportation Acts, also known as the U.N.I.T.E.D. Acts.
“I still remember those plastic smile senators signing my warrant.”
On the campaign page, Whitley says that Illegal was inspired by his grandfather, a Mexican by birth who was “one of the most amazing people that I’d ever met.”
He explains, “As a white kid growing up in the South, other white kids used to talk trash about ‘Mexicans’ and ‘illegals’ around me all the time…I got to hear all about how the ‘Mexicans’ were ‘stealing all the jobs’ and how they were ‘ruining this country’ and how they ‘need to go back to Mexico.’ Never mind that half of the people they were talking about weren’t even Mexican.”
Whitley also told 429Magazine that the series will have its share of LGBT characters.
In an email, he said, “I think there’s a great deal in common between the stories of the undocumented and the stories of those closeted or disowned because of their gender or sexuality. So often they are forced into these boxes by people who want others to hate them. They are otherized and portrayed as the enemy. Often they are separated from everything they know and care about and quite often they don’t have a choice in the matter. There are people who would rather you think about immigrants or LGBT people as one nameless threatening group that has some sort of agenda to push on you.
“It’s just not the case. In both instances those people are real people. Individuals that care about the same things as you—just differently. They’re mothers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, and fathers. But beyond that—they’re people and deserve to be treated as such.”
Kickstarter backer rewards the include printed issues of Illegal, digital copies of the entire series, posters, and more—including prizes related to Whitley’s and Nunnelly’s other works. As of this writing, the campaign has raised $4,923 out of its $6,000 goal, and has stretch goals ranging from ensuring the creation of issues six through eleven ($12,000), to all fifteen issues ($18,000), to sketchbooks and variant covers ($50,000 – $60,000).
The campaign runs through Saturday, September 6.