’Toons of Industry

When I called Darren G. Davis, the president of comic-book-maker Bluewater Productions, he was having a big day. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz was doing some TV appearances, and Davis had been informed that a copy of his comic book on Schultz was being given to him backstage at CNN. Davis doesn’t usually get so close to his subjects. Since 2008, Bluewater, his three-man operation, has specialized in unauthorized cartoon biographies that turn some of the nation’s most powerful business executives into superheroes.

Davis’s freelancers render the life stories of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Donald Trump, and other boardroom heavies as epic adventures. (The company also does celebrities and politicians.) Drawing thought bubbles above Twitter creator Jack Dorsey is a far cry from Davis’s previous job at DC Comics. Still, it’s allowed him to carve out a profitable niche, even if it has provoked some scorn from his fellow comics writers. “I’ve been called a whore and a bottom-feeder because I’m doing comic books that aren’t all superhero, all the time”—Davis got particular flack for his Honey Boo Boo bio—“but biography comic books have been done since the forties. We’re just the next generation,” he says. His best seller so far was his treatment of Michelle Obama, which sold 150,000 copies. The CEO biographies sell around a tenth of that, but Davis is still proud of the work. “A lot of these people, they’re pretty inspirational.”

Jack Welch
As a junior chemical engineer at GE, “Neutron Jack” literally blew the roof off a factory building. His superpowers include gradually climbing the corporate ladder and golf. Achilles’ heel: nasty divorce settlements.

Jack Dorsey
@Jack, a playboy with a penchant for fancy cheese, relies on his superhuman brevity to revolutionize the Internet and the world.

Howard Schultz
Defender of the Italian model of public, communal coffee drinking, Schultz wields a lightning ability to dispense health insurance to his baristas and inject his brand with “soul.”

Mark Zuckerberg
Armed with his Adidas rubber sandals, Zuckerberg fights to free information, especially that of Harvard’s female undergrads.

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’Toons of Industry