Failed State is not a protest. It’s not a stance. It’s a perspective. There are no answers here.

Going into this, Steve and I had lengthy chats about making a ‘crime magazine,’ an anthology of short black and white comics where by us where crime was the element that would somehow tie everything together. That's not exactly how things turned out, though. These shorts aren't whodunnits or thrillers. They're not genre pieces. They are tone comics and character profiles; stories from the third person in a fictional but not unbelievable East Coast America.

Failed State is not so much about crime as it is about criminality, and further, questions regarding criminality and what makes a person bad. In each short comic, characters do or have done things morally questionable (inciting suicide in Steps; manipulation of racism in Bus; adultery in Balance; brutal shaming in Criminal/Rookie) or flat-out criminal (mostly murder). The question that lingers is always: Why? Why do these things happen? How did those criminals get to this point? Where did things go wrong in their lives and how have we failed them? And why does it keep happening? How come it always feels like things are getting worse? Or is that how things have always been, it’s just now there are more windows to see what’s going on throughout the world?

In addition to the comics, Steve and I also wrote some supplemental nonfiction articles for you. Steve profiled his hometown’s most famous murderer, The Alphabet Killer, while I touch on what life’s like in the more sordid parts of Tokyo. There’s also an excerpt of a novella I am working on tentatively titled Lack about a young, inexperienced kidnapper who accidentally shoots his hostage in the head.

I hope you get something out of this.