Nazis have long been associated with the occult, explaining the monstrous acts committed by the party by putting them in a supernatural context. Dark Horse’s new graphic novel, Aleister & Adolf, by writer Douglas Rushkoff and artist Michael Avon Oeming, delves into the connection between Nazis and magick by bringing together notorious English occultist Aleister Crowley and Adolf Hitler. But the scope of the story goes beyond World War II.
“It started with the thought, ‘What if Aleister Crowley had been enlisted in an occult war against Hitler at the end of WWII?’,” Rushkoff told The A.V. Club via e-mail. “And as I began to research, I learned that Crowley was responsible for Churchill’s ‘V is for Victory’ salute, falsifying star charts for Hitler’s astrologers, and a bunch of other stuff. It’s really about two kinds of magick—the sigil magick that we might charge with meditation or sex, and the sort of black magick with which the Nazis were involved—that required the deaths of millions to charge it.”
“The bigger idea is the corporate-cyber-universe as the progeny of fascist sigil magick,” Rushkoff said. “Swastikas and other sigil logos become the corporate logos of our world. And given that we’re living in a moment where those logos are migrating online where they can move on their own, it’s kind of important that we consider the origins and power of these icons.”
Oeming is an artist skilled at balancing fantasy and reality (see his extensive work on the superhero cop procedural Powers), and that skill makes him the ideal collaborator for Rushkoff on Aleister & Adolf. “It took us two years to find an artist who could do both the humanity of the characters and the magical vortex of this world,” Rushkoff said. “It’s a bit like The Hasheesh Eater or Eyes Wide Shut, in which a young guy we can identify with descends into sex, drugs, and magical weirdness. Mike is spectacular at bringing us into that world where nothing is quite what it seems, but maintaining the clarity of action and, most importantly, the emotional through lines of the characters. There’s also some visual trickery in this book, where the things we ‘see’ are revealed to be otherwise later on. That’s really hard, and until Mike started doing it, I wasn’t sure it was going to work.”
Readers can get swept away in the magical weirdness when Aleister & Adolf hits stores in November, and judging by these black-and-white preview images, it’s going to be a striking journey into the relationship between two key figures of the 20th Century.