“They own the skies, we own the streets…”
In the year 2277, gasoline is an illegal substance. New cities get built over existing cities, making the original an infrastructure of the city above. And those who live below must pave their own future, or decay like the environment around them. This is the world of the MOPED ARMY.
Paul Sizer, creator/writer/artist of LITTLE WHITE MOUSE, self-published the graphic novel MOPED ARMY in September 2005 under his own Café Digital Comics imprint.
While MOPED ARMY may sound like science fiction, it is in science fact a real organization that inspired Sizer within his home city of Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Moped Army is a gang of moped owners and riders who banded together in the late 90’s because of a mutual love of old traditional mopeds from the 70’s and early 80’s. Members were required to repair and rebuild their own mopeds, and since then the few initial members have grown to hundreds. The Moped Army has branches across the United States, each branch with its own identity and name (i.e. The Decepticons, The Blue Shirts, The Tom Cruisers, The Mosquito Fleet).
The Moped Army is the epitome of the vision that William Gibson had for the future in his writings about the cyberpunk culture. They ride around on old, reclaimed machines, yet communicate with cel phones and PDAs, and tape web cams to their handlebars and run them from PowerBooks crammed into their sidebags to make digital movies. They embody a very pure essence of punk culture, in that they make what makes them different their strengths. What is considered a liability is taken and made into an advantage. Most of the members of the Moped Army are kids who are the left of center/alternative crowd, very intelligent and savvy and very dedicated to this part of their lifestyle. This is not a ‘purchase into the club’ scenario; the Moped Army is all about sweat equity, investing time and heart into what you love doing, and being ready to defend that investment any way they have to.
Because the Moped Army hosts such a diverse spread of members (both male and female) with such a wide area of expertise, they are an incredibly well organized organization, hosting the most comprehensive moped informational website in the world (www.mopedarmy.com), filming their own digital documentaries and producing their own DVD.
They ‘own their geek’, and use their love of technology to make opportunities for themselves. Most of the members work day jobs, programming HTML, working retail or going to college. But at night, you can hear them cruising the streets of the city, like a swarm of angry hornets on their way to the all-night coffee shop.
Sizer approached the heads of the Moped Army with the idea of doing a graphic novel based on them in a near-future world, and they were interested in helping with reference and consulting on the mechanics of the story’s content.
All images and characters ©Paul Sizer/Café Digital Studios. Not for use without express permission, except for use of excerpts for review purposes.