News & Politics

What If January 6 Had Worked? A Comic Explores That Disturbing Premise.

An interview with the Harvard prof who’s one of the creators.

Comic-book Illustration by Will Rosado and Gan Golan.

A statue of the “QAnon Shaman” and others entering the Capitol adorns the Mall. Proud Boys and Oath Keepers patrol DC. Confederate flags flutter all over town, including behind the statue in the Lincoln Memorial. This is the world of 1/6, a four-part comic-book series that imagines a world in which the assault on the US Capitol succeeded in overturning the 2020 election. Harvard Law professor Alan Jenkins (pictured below) created 1/6 with activist Gan Golan and artist Will Rosado. We talked to Jenkins about the project, which kicks off this month.


Can you describe the universe of this comic? What’s going on?

We find our main characters about nine months after the successful insurrection, so fall of 2021. We see a raid on news operations that have been dubbed enemies of the people. We see armed militias and white-supremacist organizations roaming the streets. One of the things that we learned in the trial of the Oath Keepers is that they were hoping and apparently asking President Trump to deputize them under the Insurrection Act, so they would have become federal troops or federal officers.


How does their coup succeed when the real-life insurrection failed?

You know the point at which officer Eugene Goodman led the mob away from the Senate chamber? In our universe, the mob turns right instead of left and they enter the Senate chamber. The point is, only a few things had to happen differently in order for their efforts to be successful. In the best tradition of speculative fiction, we just tweak a few things.


Photograph of Jenkins by Jessica Scranton.

How different is life in this book from what Washingtonians experienced during the Trump administration?

[His supporters] were significantly in control at that point, but they were not fully in control. The protections and guardrails of our democracy stayed in place, but they were almost broken. The more research I’ve done in cowriting this graphic novel, the more chilling it’s become. We still have 40 percent of Americans wrongly believing that the 2020 election was stolen. Hate crimes are on the rise, anti-Semitism is on the rise, transphobia, attacks on Asian Americans and people of color. And those are all of a piece. That kind of bigotry, in my experience, is a multi­-headed beast. And it leads back to the same monster.


You usually write in regular prose. What was it like to write this book, then see your ideas represented visually?

We’ve picked an artist we admire and trust. We give him our ideas, and they come back in ways that are true to our vision but also that we could not have imagined. It’s a wonderful experience—even when the images themselves are super-chilling.

This article appears in the February 2023 issue of Washingtonian.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.