Tag Archives: American History

Review: ‘Pocahontas: Princess of the New World’ by Loïc Locatelli-Kournwsky

"Pocahontas: Princess of the New World" by Loïc Locatelli-Kournwsky

“Pocahontas: Princess of the New World” by Loïc Locatelli-Kournwsky

Here is a story that will greatly resonate with anyone struggling with issues of Otherness. There is so much to love about the graphic novel, “Pocahontas: Princess of the New World.” If you are looking for a powerful and accessible way to talk about race and tolerance, here is a compelling new addition to that discussion. Depicted in a direct and straightforward manner, here is the story of Pocahontas and John Smith as you’ve never seen it before. This is truly a unique gift for young and older readers alike. Originally published in French by Sarbacane in 2014, this spirited and quite informative graphic novel by Loïc Locatelli-Kournwsky is now available in an English translation by Pegasus Books.

Truth is stranger than fiction. Loïc Locatelli-Kournwsky plays with that concept by mining closer to the known facts, at least much closer than a Disney animated feature could. Pocahontas was around eleven years-old in 1607 when she was supposed to have famously saved Jamestown settler John Smith from being executed by the Powhatans. The rest is a bit of history and myth. This graphic novel interpretation has Pocahontas in the role of vigilant defender and protector of John Smith and the English colonists. Originally named, Matoaka, there is some dispute as to how and why she became known as “Pocahontas.” Some versions of the story say the name meant “playful one.” But in this version, the Powhatans feel betrayed and the nickname is supposed to simply mean, “shameless whore.”

Young Matoaka

Young Matoaka

Matoaka, later to be known as Pocahontas, would be baptized by the English as, Rebecca. The Biblical reference suggested a healer to two separate cultures. That myth would blossom in the 19th century as she was portrayed as an emblem of the potential of Native Americans to be assimilated into European society. Keeping close to the facts gives way to some poetic speculation as Locatelli-Kournwsky explores the inner world of his celebrated main character. In a number of key scenes, we see that the the clash of cultures is quite overwhelming for Pocahontas. Even once married to John Rolfe and dressed in the best fashion, English society around her does not really embrace her. She is forever seen as part of the wilderness and best suited to remain there. The die is cast, for better or worse, once Pocahontas, always Pocahontas.

Readers will be pleasantly surprised to read a more enlightened account of such a celebrated figure in history. Locatelli-Kournwsky’s artwork is just the right mix of lightness and precision. And the new English translation by Sandra Smith provides a smooth and accessible path to this most engaging story.

“Pocahontas: Princess of the New World” is a 128-page hardcover, published by Pegasus Books and available as of September 6, 2016. Visit Pegasus Books right here.

9 Comments

Filed under American History, Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, History, Native Americans, Pocahontas

Tacoma Focus: LeMay – America’s Car Museum

"Route 66: Dream of The Mother Road," currently on view at America's Car Museum

“Route 66: Dream of The Mother Road,” currently on view at America’s Car Museum

America’s Car Museum has the proud distinction of being the largest car collection in North America with 165,000 square feet of exhibit space for a 350 car gallery. For anyone who loves the open road and has a sense of adventure, you will definitely want to see “Route 66: Dream of The Mother Road,” currently on view. Take your time to wander and enjoy all the exhibits. This is the place to celebrate automobiles of all kinds dating back to the earliest vehicles all the way up to the present and beyond.

Next to a Plymouth Barracuda

Next to a Plymouth Barracuda

To get a sense of the spirit behind this dazzling collection, you’ll want to see “Lucky’s Garage,” a tribute to the LeMay family that has made this collection possible. Here you can imagine Harold LeMay leisurely toiling away as he works on his latest car project. “Lucky” was Harold’s nickname. As he saw it, a lot of hard work finally led to being “lucky.” That said, Mr.LeMay was hard working indeed amassing a collection of over 3,000 vehicles and thousands of artifacts, earning him a place in the 1997 Guinness Book of World Records.

"Lucky's Garage," a tribute to Harold E. LeMay

“Lucky’s Garage,” a tribute to Harold E. LeMay

America’s Car Museum is certainly a testament to Harold E. LeMay’s dedication to his community and his passion for cars. Walk through the four stories of display space and you can’t help but get caught up in the heady mix of vivid history and a sense of excitement. Just letting my imagination run wild and thinking about all the heart and humanity behind all these classic cars made my head spin.

Wow, a 1931 Auburn Boattail Speedster!

Wow, a 1931 Auburn Boattail Speedster!

What a beauty, a 1960 Chevrolet Corvette!

What a beauty, a 1960 Chevrolet Corvette!

You get lost in them, decade by decade. Do you want to know how to instantly gain some insight into American history? Just go back to our love affair with cars.

You don’t have to know anything about cars to understand how so many have fallen under the automotive spell. You will find favorites among so many wonderful dream cars. Hey, here’s one you can’t help but love, an undisputed classic, the DeLorean DMC-12, which gained immortality when one of them appeared in “Back to the Future.”

LeMay – America’s Car Museum is located at 2702 East D. St. in Tacoma. It is adjacent to the Tacoma Dome. You can find easy access to it via the link rail. Be sure to visit the website right here.

16 Comments

Filed under Cars, Classic Cars, History, Museums, Route 66, Tacoma, Travel, Washington state

Review: REBELS #1

Rebels-Brian-Wood-Dark-Horse-Comics-2015

If Brian Wood were a high school teacher, he’d be the one any kid could turn to. Wood is at his best when he’s writing about rebellious youth, and just plain rebels. That’s why it’s brilliant to have him on this unusual comic book project. For those who read comic books, when was the last time you read a compelling comic book series set in the American Revolution. Never? Well, here it is.

Wood loves to get his readers deep into the story. He succeeds here as we can’t help but root for Seth, a boy with a very distant father. And then nothing is ever the same again. It turns out that his old man is keenly interested in killing redcoats. And he means to teach his son all he knows. And, before it’s too late, he might even get to express his love for his son.

In the first issue of “Rebels,” we begin a six-chapter arc, “A Well-Regulated Militia.” It is all about the education of one Seth Abbott. Wood does a fine job of laying out Seth’s journey as he, lucky for everyone around him, finds his voice. In time, Seth becomes a man who matters and who can contribute to the rebel cause.

Art bt Andrea Mutti perfectly compliments Wood’s script with authentic settings and characters. It’s very important to Wood to get you inside the story and he certainly succeeds with that.

Yes, if Brian Wood were a high school teacher, he’d be more concerned with a student understanding a subject than whether he or she got an A. So far, “Rebels” has got an A and it looks like it will maintain it.

“Rebels #1” is available as of April 8. For more details, visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics right here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Brian Wood, Comics, Dark Horse Comics, History

Review: ‘Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences’ by Matthew Christopher

Abandoned-America-Matthew-Christopher

The immediate impact of these photographs is undeniable: Outrageous oblivion. Everything torn apart, inside and out. Nothing spared. Nothing redeemed. You quickly draw your own conclusions despite what your more sober thoughts might tell you. This is a book about total destruction, along with numerous more measured considerations. “Abandoned America” takes you on a most unusual journey with this collection of photography by Matthew Christopher, published by JonGlez Publishing.

Continue reading

9 Comments

Filed under Art, Art books, JonGlez Publishing, Photography

Memorial Day Review: NORMANDY: A GRAPHIC HISTORY OF D-DAY by Wayne Vansant

Wayne-Vansant-Normandy-Zenith-Press

World War II may seem ancient in comparison to today and yet its impact remains very much alive. This year, we mark the 70th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy, beginning with the landing on D-Day on June 6, 1944. This Memorial Day, as the U.S. honors members of the Armed Forces who died in service, we can look back at the heroic efforts of those who quite literally helped to save the world seventy years ago.

Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, History, War, Wayne Vansant, World War II

Book Review: MOUNTHAVEN By B.P. Chamberlain, Jr.

Mounthaven-B-P-Chamberlain-Jr_2013

“Mounthaven” is the story of a man on a journey of self-discovery stymied by his own personal set of blinders. Those blinders prove to be a costly problem for him. He seems to be aware of them. He wants them off. He is certain he can see the blinders others wear. That alone is the stuff of novels. This is also the stuff of life which makes this biography, thinly veiled as fiction, all the more remarkable. Throughout the book, there is a narrator leading you through a family history intertwined with the family estate, Mounthaven. By the last third of the novel, it is revealed that the narrator is the main character. And the main character happens to be my father. If that’s not remarkable, at least in my world of reading, I don’t know what is. In fact, out in the world at large, this book should find many interested readers.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under American Civil War, Book Reviews, Books, History

Review: MARCH: BOOK ONE by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

March-Top-Shelf-Productions-2013

The 50th anniversary of the March on Washington is today, August 28, 2013. It is one of the most inspiring moments in American history and all of history. It will only grow in stature and significance as time continues its own march. The United States of America was desperately lagging behind in full self-awareness as a nation when it received an opportunity for collective clarity. It was a beautiful, gentle, and energetic plea for understanding. There were marches before and after this distinguished one. Progress would still take time. His words would still be dismissed by some. But, on that day, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to a nation. He gave a speech. He spoke of a dream.

MLK-March-on-Washington-28-August-1963

We continue to remember that moment, and that movement, in new ways. One shining example is “March,” the new graphic novel, published by Top Shelf Productions, written by Rep. John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, and drawn by Nate Powell. “March: Book One,” the first part of a trilogy, has already gained critical and popular acclaim. It has made it to the number one spot on The New York Times bestsellers list for Graphic Books. The creation of this book is inspiring in itself. Congressman John Lewis is a perfect guide. He was an active participant in the civil rights movement right from the start. He is the last surviving dignitary who gave a speech during the March on Washington. And he’s a wealth of knowledge and goodwill. The “March” trilogy gives us a front row seat to the civil rights movement in America through the eyes of Mr. Lewis. The story is framed all in one day, January 20, 2009, the day of the inauguration of President Barack Obama. It’s an ambitious project that reads quite smoothly, just as if Mr. Lewis was there to tell you the story in person.

March-Book-One-2013

The script seems to embrace a cinematic pace. The main character is recalling his life all in a short span of time with each recollection triggering an extended flashback. It is left to Nate Powell’s storytelling ability as a cartoonist to bring out aspects that gel with the comics medium. You see this in the various ways that Powell plays with text and composition like when he has a favorite passage from the Bible run across a silhouette of young John Lewis: “Behold the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” And, of course, the distinctive drawing style of Nate Powell takes over. We easily become immersed in the intelligent and caring ways of this boy who is compelled to preach to the chickens on the family farm. In due time, the young man’s compassion becomes refined and focuses on the social gospel, the idea that church principles can guide social justice.

Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, published by F.O.R. in 1955

Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, published by F.O.R. in 1956

March-Book-One-Top-Shelf-Productions

March-Book-One-Lewis-Aydin-Powell-2013

It is a dangerous world that young Lewis must navigate. There is constant humiliation and intimidation. You could easily be killed, just like 14-year-old Emmett Till. But a violent reaction would not be the answer. The key was passive resistance and keeping faith. There were various techniques to learn in order to outwit one’s attackers with the prevailing goal being to draw out your enemy’s humanity. We find an actual comic book pamphlet of the time laying out the Montgomery Method that worked so well for Dr. King and his followers. It is a satisfying comics reference within a comic. It was an inspiration for the young John Lewis. And it’s a compelling link to the past to this contemporary look back.

It will be great to see the whole trilogy. It’s so important for new generations to have something contemporary in order to help them hook into history. The civil rights movement is really relatively recent history depending on how you look at it! This book and “Lee Daniel’s The Butler” make a big difference. The United States of America has a lot of wounds that are still healing and we still have a lot to learn and relearn. It’s this book and that movie that provide essential hooks for young people, give them proper context, help them appreciate when they hear on the news that our voting rights as a people are, even today, being compromised. You can’t put enough value on a book like “March” and more power to Top Shelf Productions for publishing it.

“March: Book One” is a beautiful book. It is a new way to honor and understand what has come before us and be inspired for what lies ahead. It is a 128-page trade paperback and is available for $14.95 (US) print and $9.95 (US) digital. Visit our friends at Top Shelf Productions here.

4 Comments

Filed under American History, Civil Rights, Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, History, March on Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., Race, Race Relations, Social Justice, Top Shelf Productions

4th of July Review: THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS: A GRAPHIC ADAPTATION By Jonathan Hennessey and Aaron McConnell

The-Gettysburg-Address-A-Graphic-Adaptation-McConnell-Hennessey

“The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation” makes for compelling reading, whatever your prior knowledge of American history. It is a a wildly inspiring presentation in all its power to convey detailed facts, insights, and nuanced concepts. Is the 4th of July a good day to read this book? Of course! You could, for instance, read it on your Kindle with plenty of time to spare before the fireworks display. Are you one of those persons who just enjoys the fireworks and doesn’t know, or believe they care, about why today is a good day for fireworks? Well, even you would likely enjoy this book. Rachel Maddow calls it, “the coolest thing since Schoolhouse Rock.” And who doesn’t love Schoolhouse Rock? We love to learn and sometimes we want it to come at us from a more accessible venue. This would be the book to do just that.

Sure, the 4th of July and the Battle of Gettysburg appear to be strange bedfellows. However, in a ghoulish twist of fate,it was on a 4th of July, 150 years ago today, that the carnage from the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War rested on the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It had been a three-day fight and the results so ghastly that it sent shockwaves through both camps and led the President of the United States to create and deliver a masterwork of argument in defense of a unified nation. It was a way of communicating to his fellow Americans, then and in the future, on what was at stake. What this book does is run with that desire to communicate. It does a most remarkable thing. It breaks down Lincoln’s famous speech, a relatively brief and easy to follow piece of work, and examines in depth what was really being said. In doing so, we explore the inner workings of that great ongoing experiment in democracy known as the United States of America.

Gettysburg-Address-Hennessey

And there’s more to that 4th of July connection. In this book we explore the origins of the Civl War in a variety of ways not the least of which is the tension between the two founding documents, The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States. In law, if there’s any chance to take an inch, a mile will be taken every time. That’s what happened with what we commonly celebrate as the founding document on the 4th of July. The Declaration of Independence, of 1776, is a rallying cry for freedom and, left open enough to interpretation, a murky blueprint for states to do as they please, even secede from the nation. Once such a notion takes root, well, not even ratification of The Constitution, in 1788, can put a stop to it.

The-Gettysburg-Address-A-Gaphic-Adaptation-2013

If you want answers to all your questions about how America found itself at war with itself and where we’ve come since then, you’ll want to get this book. It is by writer Jonathan Hennessey and artist Aaron McConnell, the team that created 2008’s “The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation.” Apparently, these guys really love explaining American history and they’re very good at it too. Both of them relish completing a thought in an intelligent extended manner while also keeping pace with a dramatic narrative. In a steady conversational tone, we come to appreciate the deep-seated conflict between a desire for limited government, as supported by Thomas Jefferson, and a robust government, as supported by Alexander Hamilton. We see how Americans allowed slavery to take hold in the first place and then, once it did, found it nearly impossible to abandon it.

Gettysburg-Address-Graphic-Adaptation-2013

We come to better appreciate the task at hand for the founding fathers and the inevitability of passing on one generation’s burden onto the next. Would the founding fathers have put an end to slavery if they had all the time in the world, if they could have seen into the future? Would Lincoln have acted any faster in his own actions? In his case, he certainly appears to have acted as quickly as anyone for his time could have. What is clear is that, once he was gone, America took a number of steps back for each step forward. That would not have been lost on Lincoln one bit. If anyone came close to having a crystal ball to foresee the future, it was Lincoln. All you have to do is read The Gettysburg Address.

“The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation” is published by Harper Collins. It is a 222-page trade paperback, priced at $15.99 U.S. and you can find it in print or digital here.

2 Comments

Filed under American History, Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels

INTERVIEW: CRAIG FRANK AND JKF SECRET OPS: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL

JFK SECRET OPS: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL by Craig Frank

JFK SECRET OPS: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL by Craig Frank

JFK survived the assassination and is out for revenge. That is the premise of Craig Frank’s humorous and thrilling work, JFK SECRET OPS: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL. It is currently the subject of a fundraising campaign that runs through May 25. You can visit the campaign HERE.

JFK-Secret-Ops-Craig-Frank

As you’ll see in this video interview, Craig is a down-to-earth guy. He’s very gracious and thoughtful. His idea for this book first took root after a visit to Dealy Plaza and visiting The Sixth Floor Museum. He is a seasoned animator and painter. He has always loved the comics medium and the limitless possibilities of the graphic novel. He comes to this project with the skill and the storytelling sense required for the job.

JFK-Secret-Ops-Kickstarter-2013

As a fellow participant in Kickstarter (I have my own campaign here), I fully appreciate where Craig is now. The timing is just right for his book in more ways than one. It’s the perfect time for him to be taking on such a project. And, it just so happens that we’re observing the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination this year. 50 years later and that event still has the power to haunt, confuse, and strangely fascinate.

The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced how appropriate this seemingly “inappropriate” graphic novel really is. It didn’t fully occur to me until after the interview that we can’t lose sight of the fact that John Fitzgerald Kennedy was only human, right or wrong, and the man could be egregiously, horribly, wrong with his treatment of women. What happens is we get caught up in the myth, fostered by powerful interests, run by the Kennedy family, the Democratic party, and, perhaps, the whole damn system that we can only imagine in all its machinations.

There is, of course, the fact of his tragic death that seems to wipe the slate clean for eternity but maybe not exactly. And the fact, and this is even as tragic, is all that was genuinely good about the man. It’s complicated for sure. Give an inch and admit the shortcomings of one leader and look at his lesser rivals swarm to exploit it. All that said, hell yeah, bring the icon down to earth. This graphic novel is a good and healthy thing.

Enjoy the video interview!

Support JFK SECRET OPS: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL at Kickstarter right here.

2 Comments

Filed under animation, Comics, graphic novels, Humor, JFK, Kennedy Assassination, Kickstarter, Marilyn Monroe, politics, pop culture, Satire, Thriller

The Troubled Genius of Al Capp

copyright © Capp Enterprises, Inc.

copyright © Capp Enterprises, Inc.

Denis Kitchen is a name synonymous with comics. An opportunity to discuss comics with him is to be treasured. Micahel Dooley interviews Denis Kitchen for Print Magazine’s Imprint blog about his latest project, a biography of master cartoonist, Al Capp. It is co-written with Michael Schumacher and entitled, “Al Capp: A Life to the Contrary,” which you can find here.

copyright © Capp Enterprises, Inc.

copyright © Capp Enterprises, Inc.

Al Capp was a larger-than-life pop culture icon without equal. His career is unique in every way. Never before, and never again, will there be such a comic strip superstar. Given a few more years, there won’t be any newspaper comic strips because there won’t be any newspapers. But, once there was a time when newspapers and comics strips were held in very high regard and an integral part of life. And, at the height of that era, there was one king of comics, Al Capp, creator of the transcendent comic strip, “Li’l Abner.”

Unfortunately, Al Capp was not without huge flaws. Despite his command of beautiful women with his ink brush renderings, he had great problems with actual flesh-and-blood women. It is documented that he attempted to rape a number of women, from college co-eds to Grace Kelly. Does it take away from his reputation? Yes, indeed, it does, as it should. However, the art, the career, and the accomplishment remains.

You can read the interview here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Al Capp, American History, Comic Strips, Comics, Humor, Li'l Abner, politics, pop culture, Satire