January 24, 2013

Feds see red, seize funds from book


David Axe is a freelance reporter and author of the graphic novel Army of God, which details the aggressive and violent exploits of Joseph Kony, the leader of Central Africa’s Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group.

Kony, you probably know, is accused of terrorizing Ugandan civilians and using children as soldiers and sex slaves; he was the subject of Kony 2012, an online campaign designed to remove him from power before the end of 2012. The campaign went viral after thousands of celebrities and media personalities endorsed the effort on social media channels across the globe.

Axe wrote Army of God based on his visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2010. The novel’s art, by Brooklyn-based artist Tim Hamilton, was serialized by the Dutch website Cartoon Movement. The paperback rights were then acquired by publisher Public Affairs.

Things were moving along pretty smoothly for Axe and Hamilton … until the feds stepped in.

According to War is Boring, a collective (including Axe) of citizen journalists with an interest in world and national security, the federal office of Foreign Assets Control confiscated the majority of Army of God’s advance payment, claiming it was being used to fund a terrorist organization.

Public Affairs sent out a press release late last month, reading, in part:

Brooklyn, NY — Tim Hamilton, artist of the Eisner-nominated adaptation of Ray Bradbury’sFahrenheit 451, had his advance payment for the upcoming graphic novel ARMY OF GOD, a non-fiction telling of Joseph Kony’s activities in the Congo, seized by the OFAC under suspicion that the money was being laundering for a terrorist organization.

The graphic novel, written by journalist David Axe, was originally serialized on the Website Cartoon Movement, and is being published next year by Public Affairs, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

Hamilton’s money was seized early in December 2012 when his agent attempted to wire the advance payment for the extra chapters that the artist illustrated for the graphic collection. When Hamilton’s agent contacted the bank to find out more, he was told that the party holding the funds was the federal wire fraud unit, which suspected that the creators were laundering funds for a terrorist organization.

The federal banking authority, which monitors every wire, foreign and domestic, apparently seized the funds due to the title of the book, ARMY OF GOD, which threw up a red flag.

At the time of this release, the funds have not been released to Hamilton or his agent despite the involvement of lawyers. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has also been contacted and apprised of the situation.


Kevin Murphy is the digital media marketing manager of Melville House.