Sometimes the important details of conspiracy theories disappear into a swirl of endless names, dates, and statistics. The comic book / graphic novel format is particularly well-suited for explaining conspiracies and other complex topics, since you can read at your own pace, and observe all of the details for yourself. Over the years while researching and writing for Time Samplers, in addition to reference books, videos, and interviews, there have been a few comics that really resonated with Time Samplers.
In no particular order, here is our list of the top 20 comics that are directly based on real conspiracy theory research.
20. Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation
If you’re not familiar with novel this is based on, it’s essentially a preview of what a world dictated by censorship (through the burning of books) would look like. This graphic novel adaption illustrated by Tim Hamilton was released in 2009.
Regardless of how familiar you are with the novel, this comic is worth reading on its own merits. Either as an introduction to the novel, or as a companion to it. There is a consistent theme of simultaneously dumbing down society, while eliminating all controversial points of view through force. Probably something lots of people can relate to today (and arguably, at every point in history).
A book about the destruction and elimination of books. A truly meta-concept, which rings truer each and every day, on our current world of 140-character limited expression. At the end of the introduction, Ray challenges the reader to think of a single book that they would never want to have lost to censorship, and to memorize it, so that it can never be taken away. That’s some powerful stuff.
19. The Big Lie
Written and illustrated by Rick Veitch (and Gary Erskine), The Big Lie is a comic book about the conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11. No matter your personal take on the events of that day, this comic aims to lay out the inconsistencies cited whenever one of the various theories comes up.
The comic goes a great job of keeping to the general facts, and not getting into the weeds about holograms, thermite, remote-controlled planes, etc. Whether you believe any of the various conspiracies surrounding 9/11, you’ll find that the information presented here can be backed up from numerous sources (official, mainstream, and independent media).
This one-shot comic doesn’t hold back on citing specific names, dates, or places either. Although the entire story is woven together with a fictional narrative about time travel (bonus points!), most of the dialog and narration deals exclusively with the events of that day, specifically the attack in NYC.
The official website for The Big Lie was unfortunately down at the time of posting, but hopefully it will be back up. There was an exhaustive list of sources cited, covering every single real-world reference from the comic. The bibliography for this comic was more extensive than most 400+ page reference books on the same topic. Very highly recommended, regardless of what your personal take is.
18. Brought to Light
One of Alan Moore’s early works, the complete subtitle is “Brought to Light: 30 years of drug smuggling, arms deals, and covert operations that robbed america and betrayed the constitution.”
Written way before the dawn of digital comics, the first half of the book called “Shadowplay” by Alan Moore is drawn and lettered in a very original and organic way, something like a conspiracy theorist’s scrapbook. Bush, Reagan, and the Iran-Contra affair are some of the primary topics covered, but the story covers lots of ground.
Moore uses the unofficial military unit of “swimming pools” to measure the amounts of deaths caused by the political actions outlined in the book. Assassinated Director of the CIA, Bill Colby is mentioned a few times – showing that Moore is no stranger to the intricate details of US intelligence.
Of course, the JFK assassination gets a couple of pages, but what’s interesting is that the comic focuses more on the mafia and political ties, and almost completely disregards Oswald. It seems that the more speculative the writing gets, the more the lettering looks like a ransom note, which is an interesting effect.
Of course, being written by Alan Moore, the entire story is narrated by a belligerent (American) Eagle getting drunk at a dive-bar, explaining the state of politics. If that alone can’t sell you on this comic, nothing can.
17. The Secret History
Published by Archaia, written by Jean-Pierre Pecau, and art by Igor Kordey and Leonard O’Grady. This series spans lots of ground – from ancient times to modern day, tracing back another version of history, known to only a few. Since each issue addresses a different time period and “secret history” that goes with it, it’s worth checking out the entire series, starting with the first issue. But for this article, issue #19 (“The Age of Aquarius”) had some really specific references that stood out.
First, a mention of Timothy Leary, how he was under the surveillance of the FBI (and potentially working for the CIA). The story points out his original sources for LSD, and the connections which can be derived from that.
The Secret History leans closer towards fiction, however many of the people, events, and dates are very real. The point of view of the “Powers that Be” are written very well, with a true sense of condescension and irritation at the masses, which fits perfectly.
There’s also no lack of violence. This issue (#19) opens up with the assassination of Martin Luther King, as a way to prevent the country from moving towards the possibility of a black president in the future.
16. 2000AD – Greysuit
2000AD is a science-fiction comic that’s been going on since the late 1970s, and still being published today. One particular storyline started in issue #1,540 from 2007 is entitled Greysuit: Project Monarch. Written by Pat Mills and illustrated by John Higgins .
The main theme of the the comic is that the elites have training a brain-washed squad of highly-trained assassins to do their bidding. Nothing completely ground-breaking for comic-book villains, however this particular storyline seems to have done some real research into Project Monarch.
The storyline continues in the second half of the series, called Greysuit Book Two: The Old Man of the Mountains started in issue #1,617 from 2009. The Old Man of the Mountain is a reference to one of the first brain-washers in history, the creator of the original Assassins. The monarch references continue throughout this second book as well.
Although the main plot is fictional, with lots of fantasy elements – the information about how to program a human mind seems to have been researched thoroughly and used in the writing. It’s extremely interesting to read this sort of take on the subject.
15. The Sinister Truth
Written by Jason Ciaccia (which has the acronym CIA in it twice…) and illustrated by Aaron Norhanian, Sinister Truth is an extremely entertaining take on a variety of very dark topics.
You can read the first pages for free online on the website (http://www.sinistertruth.com), which also outlines the other main characters and overall story. It starts with a focus on the Cuban Missile Crisis, and then starts getting weird. Good weird.
This is a comic completely based on MKULTRA, with Dr. Sidney Gottlieb acting as a main character – CIA mad scientist obsessed with mind control and the MKULTRA program.
One of the best parts of this book, is the amount of references to real documents, quotes, news articles, etc. In the example below, the book cites a US Senate Subcommittee Investigation from August 3, 1977 – which was an actual investigation into the CIA’s MKULTRA project.
14. New World Order
Published by Shadowline / Image comics in 2008, and written by Gustavo Higuera, this is a comic that covers lots of ground – reptilians, New World Order, Freemasons, and an ancient battle between good and evil. The author also gives credit to Jordan Maxwell for being a source of inspiration, which is apparent in the comic.
Aside from Jordan Maxwell and other researchers, fans and followers of David Icke will recognize the shape shifting reptilians right away, which are a constant theme throughout the 3 issue mini-series.
All three issues are filled with fantastic artwork, and the content does the title justice, while weaving in a message of resistance. Freemasons, global economy manipulation, dumbing-down society through consumerism and advertising, it’s all here.
13. Uncle Sam
An awesome concept about “Uncle Sam” coming to life as an actual person, living through all of the great accomplishments and tragedies of the United States since it’s inception. Written by Steve Darnall, with truly outstanding artwork by Alex Ross.
There’s a particularly interesting couple of pages about the JFK assassination, and the “magic bullet” theory. Uncle Sam gets to experience it first-hand.
Uncle Sam lives from freedom to slavery (and back again, in a non-ending cycle) to the conquests of Native Americans, the Civil War, all the way to surviving in modern times, homeless, and living on the street.
Part 2 coming soon!
Check back for the next part in this series, coming soon! If you know of some other conspiracy-based titles we should check out, please send us a message!