By Scott Brown
June 13, 2006 at 12:00 PM EDT

So you’ve heard about these so-called graphic novels, but you can’t locate the ghetto where Barnes and Noble keeps them. Or maybe you’re slightly afraid of your community’s fan-tense comics boutique, with its large and menacing Shazam standee. 

Worry not, comics-curious masses. You can explore the more serious side of the splash panel online, courtesy Smith magazine. Shooting War, (written and created by Anthony Lappé, art by Dan Goldman) is a fearsome, near-future vision where the thrills and chills have no supernatural or science-fiction component: It’s 2011, McCain is president, the war in Iraq drags on, and society is starting to come apart at the seams. Our hero is an anti-corporate video-blogger rocketed to fame when a terrorist bomb destroys his apartment. (The moral: In the near future, do not live atop a Starbucks.) He catches the whole thing on film, gets exploited by a Fox News-type cable network, and then, equally furious at capitalist and terrorist culture, ships out to blog from Iraq.

The anger, the artistry, and the very local detail (a Gawker 2011 page, a future issue of New York Magazine with headlines like  “Tom Cruise, Mary-Kate Olsen Call It Quits” and “When Did Staten Island Become So Cool?”) make this a must-read. What’s more, the comic’s “trailer” opens up a completely new way to tell stories with still pictures. It’s an intense and bracing read, torn from the headlines of tomorrow. And if there’s something excessively petty about Lappé’s at times casual equation of a hard-drive lost and a life ended, remember who your narrator is: a guy who calls himself “the hipster who’s going to save the world.” Only in the funny pages, kids…