Edward Snowden stars in a comic book

Whistleblower Edward Snowden's life is laid out in illustrated form. The writer discusses what surprised her most about Snowden and how she tried to remain objective.

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"Beyond: Edward Snowden" is available in print and digital formats. Bluewater Productions

Edward Snowden has been called a hero and a traitor. The recently released comic "Beyond: Edward Snowden" takes a look at the whistleblower to explain what could have motivated him to commit one of the biggest leaks of classified information in U.S. history.

"I thought he was a fascinating and cryptic individual and I really wanted to learn more about the man behind the headlines," Valerie D'Orazio, the comic book's writer and a Marvel comics writer, told Crave. "I also thought, since he apparently came from a 'geek' cultural background, a comic book would be a very appropriate format to tell his story."

In research for the Bluewater Productions comic, D'Orazio was surprised to discover just how normal Snowden had been.

"He could have been any funny, charismatic person you might meet on a forum, talking about video games or anime or whatever, goofing around, and posting selfies," D'Orazio said.

While writing "Beyond: Edward Snowden," D'Orazio found it harder and harder to remain objective.

"My first intention was to make this a strictly objective educational comic on his life, but as I got further into the research I couldn't help but feel more emotionally invested in various aspects of the narrative," D'Orazio told Crave. "I think it is very important for the public to be made aware of the fact that their personal online communications and actions could be accessed by government agencies. That said, there were also some gaps and inconsistencies about Snowden's story that I acknowledge as well. So I like to think I've given a balanced viewpoint in the comic."

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Artist Dan Lauer created the book's illustrations. Bluewater Productions

Narrowing down someone's life story into a comic book isn't an easy feat considering the word limitations for dialogue, and D'Orazio had to omit quite a few elements of Snowden's life for the sake of space.

"I would have liked to get more into his earlier years, because he had developed quite an interesting online persona," D'Orazio said. "At that time he was essentially taking a lot of 'glamour' photos, like you would do for a model's portfolio. When you consider everything that has happened up to the present day, it's kind of fascinating that he had this period of his life. As an adult he's still in the spotlight of the cameras."

While everyone seems to have their idea of who Snowden is and what he represents, D'Orazio hopes that her comic sheds some light on other aspects of Snowden's life and personality rather than merely a hot-button debate topic.

"I hope the comic gives them more insight into Snowden as a person, rather than just the icon he has become, and makes them think a bit more about their online privacy rights," D'Orazio said. "In a very broad sense, I hope it encourages looking at such a divisive topic with more of a balanced eye -- seeing both sides to the story, and being encouraged to go off on one's own and find out more."

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"Snowden has a certain self-awareness of his 'image' -- as would any public figure," the author says. Bluewater Productions

Print copies of "Beyond: Edward Snowden" can be ordered exclusively for $3.99 at Comic Flea Market. This title is also available on Kindle, iTunes, ComiXology, DriveThru Comics, Google Play, My Digital Comics, Overdrive, Iverse, Biblioboard, ComicBin, Nook, Kobo and wherever e-books are sold.

Bluewater Productions has featured other political and technology subjects in the past such as Jack Dorsey, Steve Jobs, Sheryl Sandberg, Colin Powell, Hillary Clinton, Bill O'Reilly, Chris Christie, Anderson Cooper, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama.

 

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