Garry Reed combined a professional technical writing career with a passion for all things libertarian to become the Libertarian Opinionizer.
Commentary From Your Libertarian Opinionizer
It’s been half a year since your Libertarian Opinionizer interviewed Jaime Sherman, the creator and driving force behind his libertarian superhero “Voluntaryist” and the 8th full-color professionally published paper and digitized comic book in the series. His offering then was titled “Origins,” the backstory for his crusading character.
But his history was incomplete, which explains the title of the current issue: “Origins II.”
“The Voluntaryist” is a young costumed crusader for Liberty, Justice and the Voluntaryist Way, leading his band of dedicated freedom fighters in “Humanity’s Last Stand Against Government.”
In past issues Voluntarist and his fellow superheroes have battled the Statist Zombies, confronted the TSA, rescued whistleblower Edward Snowden from Vladimir Putin and shielded Julian Assange from the NSA, all the while combating a coalition of superpower governments that wants to dominate all of mankind.
Book Break: Your Libertarian Opinionizer’s Pick
Vetting ‘The Voluntaryist’
But every superhero, caped or otherwise, superpowers or sans superpowers, needs a beginning, a history, a backstory. Superman came from the planet Krypton; Batman inherited millions from his murdered parents; Spiderman was bitten by a radioactive spider; and Wonder Woman is an Amazon warrior descended from ancient Greek gods.
So what about Voluntaryist, the libertarian superhero? What is his Curriculum Vitae?
As his creator Jaime Sherman explained in the earlier interview, “The origins story is rather complex. In the simplest summary I could give, the main character is affected by radiation which strikes Earth from the collision of two black holes in space. This radiation gives him special powers along with other humans and creatures who are hit and survive the initial impact.”
The super powers turn young Jack “Cap” Lloyd into superhero Voluntaryist. And the government wants to force him into helping them conquer the world. And when the newly created Voluntaryist gives them a resounding “NO!” … well, that’s why it takes two (and maybe more?) action-packed daring-do editions to tell it all.
But Part II, unfortunately, has been long delayed.
In his email to his Voluntaryist Fans—your Libertarian Opinionizer has been one from the very beginning—Sherman thanked everyone for their patience and finally announced the digital release of Voluntaryist Origins II. As for the holdup on the traditional slick page full color physical comic book Sherman explained on his website, “I have not been happy with the delay from the publishing group.” He further lamented:
“They are late on contract, and I have reached a critical point where I have told them that the comic must be delivered to me, in full, by January 26th or I will have another team finish it.”
So even as superhero Voluntaryist fights villains in an anti-free society in the comic pages his creator Jaime Sherman must fight the battles every creative business person must fight in our current semi-free society.
The Sherman Show
What few people understand is that Jaime Sherman is not a publishing empire. He isn’t even particularly artistic.
In his Libertarian Opinionizer interview Sherman confessed, “I am not the cartoonist. I studied art in grade school up to a year-and-a-half in college. My interest was digital arts and sciences.” He further explained, “I kept my artistic passions up as a hobby with photography and some digital design. While I can do some digital artwork, I am not gifted in drawing high-end comics, so I had to make a few rough sketches to send to professionals to make the final comic art.”
Nor is he independently wealthy. During the conception and planning phase of each installment of Voluntaryist he launches an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, offering rewards and perks and advertising space in exchange for contributions. Voluntary contributions of course. The more supporters he gets and the more money he receives the bigger and better each edition becomes.
To quote Sherman once again at the end of his campaign:
“I am ecstatic to announce that Voluntaryist Origins II closed at a record-breaking $5,544 supported by 119 backers, making this issue the highest funded, most received, longest, and most successful Voluntaryist comic to date!”
In short he’s a libertarian entrepreneur, a one man show with a vision. He creates all of his own characters, conceives and writes the storylines, blocks out the action panels and contracts with a team of professional comic strip artists to design the page layouts, draw, letter, colorize, produce and ship the finished product.
Jaime Sherman is an example of a libertarian who has found his calling, his raison d'être, his own activist niche. There are libertarian politicians and economists and philosophers and artists and actors and singer-songwriters and essayists and authors and journalists and novelists and at least one Libertarian Opinionizer, and they also have all found their own special venue as well, and that one particular thing that they do best becomes their platform for prodding their belief in a free society forward.
While many may find a libertarian comic book character silly or irrelevant the reality is that Sherman is reaching an audience that none of those other activists could ever reach. And that audience needs reaching.
Finding Your Forte
Yet even as superhero Voluntaryist fights anti-freedom villains in the comic pages he is, perhaps even more importantly, fighting the real anti-libertarians online.
There are a multitude of anti-libertarian memes, cartoons, caricatures, jokes, comic strips and comic books strewn across the digital expanses of the Internet.
As an example the digital comic book called “The Adventures of Libertarian Spider-Man” is actually a libertarian—what? Parody? Lampoon? Burlesque? Send-up? Or Contempt? Mockery? Derision? Scorn?—prefaced by its author this way:
“Disclaimer: I am a centrist lib myself who is just posting this purely out of satire. Not trying to ridicule anyone for what they believe in”
In the comic we see a cynical “libertarian-like” imitation Spidey saying things like “Fire departments are socialism” and “Is it racist to hate poor people” and “The government making it illegal for me to walk around naked is literally exactly like slavery.”
“Posting this purely out of satire” you understand.
There’s even a Facebook page called “The Libertarian Spider-Man” that purports to be all-in-good-fun but actually attacks libertarianism with every conceivable cliché, stereotype, inanity, banality, platitude, vapidity and tritely insipid strawman fallacy ever conceived by anti-freedom hate-mongers and fun-loving satirists alike.
The cartoons have also been posted on another FB page, “Americans Against the Libertarian Party” where the admins fully expect everyone to take their anti-libertarianism seriously. No funning or punning here.
While many libertarians may find “The Libertarian Spider-Man” perversely hilarious it will still have the effect of confusing and discouraging newcomers to libertarianism.
If freedom advocates think it’s a good idea to fight authoritarian politics with libertarian politics, Keynesian economics with laissez-faire economics, collectivist philosophy with individualist philosophy what could be more appropriate than fighting ignorant anti-libertarian caricatures with heroic Voluntaryist superheroes?
As for Jaime Sherman’s goal for the future? “I plan to keep working on Voluntaryist and producing it until I die. It’s a lifetime endeavor.”
(All panel prints courtesy Jaime Sherman)
References and Links
Interview Everything you need to know about the origins of the Voluntaryist comics and their creator Jaime Sherman.
Website Here's where it all comes together: The Internet home of Voluntary Comics’ heroes, villains, action figures, videos, game cards, links and more.
Facebook Keep up with Jaime Sherman and Voluntaryist with the latest news, videos, interviews, commentary, outtakes from the comics and more.
IndyPlanet Forget digital downloads, buy back issues of Voluntaryist comics you can hold in your hands like you did when you were a kid!