Wayne Vansant’s latest graphic history concentrates on the major military events leading up to and including the turning point of the American Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg. As with his previous book Normandy, Vasant presents a detailed, balanced account accompanied by 400 vivid color illustrations in a 96 page graphic novel format.
The brutality of American fighting American in the downhill bayonet charge at Little Round Top, Devil’s Den, the Wheat Field, Peach Orchard and the infantry assault known as Pickett’s Charge at Cemetery Ridge on the final day of the battle on July 3, 1863 is told with a descriptive, historically accurate narrative with artwork that illustrates the grim reality of death on the battlefield.
Key figures such as Medal of Honor recipient Brigadier General Joshua Chamberlain, Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee, Confederate General James Longstreet and victorious Union General George Meade are highlighted by accomplished writer and artist Vasant. Maps of key battle plans on both sides add to the interest and President Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address speech serves as a fitting conclusion.
This book will be of interest to anyone seeking a greater understanding of the Battle of Gettysburg and also serves as an excellent introduction for youngsters with its mix of historical text and graphic imagery. Vansant uses a scratchy ink line and sketchy style to convey action in an effective manner.
One is left with the impression that the outcome and history of the United States could have taken a different route had General Lee taken the advice of General Longstreet not to attack from Culp’s Hill on that fateful final day at Gettysburg.
Available March 2013 in softcover and as an e-book by Zenith Press. Thanks to Nichole Schiele at Quayside Publications.
Review copyright Paul Green 2013.
On Veteran’s Day
I’m expanding beyond the normal genre limits of Weird Westerns to talk about a new graphic novel by writer and artist Wayne Vansant, who is best known to comic book fans for his five-year stint on Marvel’s The ‘Nam
. His latest work is a 96 page full-color graphic novel depicting events covering the D-Day landings
on Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches and the Allied liberation of Europe.
Vansant has done an outstanding job detailing the major events of the Allied success in Normandy from June 6 to August 25, 1944. It is no glorified depiction but a realistic and historically accurate portrayal of the hardships faced by the American, British, Canadian, Polish and French in their battle against the Nazis.
Major battles included the capture of the French port of Cherbourg, the town of Saint-Lô and the city of Caen against the resistance of the fanatical and ruthless “Hitler Youth Division.” Following three months of warfare 50,000 German troops had been killed, 200,000 troops captured and Paris liberated. But it came at a great cost to the Allied forces and the local French towns, villages and inhabitants.
Vasant recalls the historic events with text accompanying each illustration rather than dialogue. There is no dramatizing of events but facts. His graphic style adopts a sketchy, dynamic line that adds to the subject matter. There are heroics but also tragedy and no single country is portrayed as being more heroic than another. It is a sober approach to be commended. This is a perfect introduction for youngsters to the historic events of Operation Overlord and a reminder of the sacrifices of the the World War II
generation that ensured freedom for future generations.
Published by Zenith Press
September 2012. Review copyright Paul Green 2012.
Escape To Gold Mountain by David H. T. Wong chronicles the history of the Wong family from 1835 to the present day and in the process presents a history of the struggles, injustices, prejudices and cruelty toward the Chinese in America and Canada. We all know about the Chinese railroad workers in the Old West but the part the governments of America and Canada played in exploiting the Chinese for labor and taxes yet granting them no rights is often ignored today.
Wong’s graphic novel is an introduction to complex issues ranging from subjugation, discrimination, the head tax that charged individuals up to $500 for entering America and the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act that forbid the Chinese to emigrate to America. Meanwhile the Chinese were victims of racial hatred resulting in death from lynchings and shootings and the burning down of Chinatown in Tacoma, Washington in 1885. The local populace accused the Chinese of “stealing our jobs” when the truth of the matter was they were working for the lowest possible wages. When the Chinese moved north to British Columbia they encountered familiar hostility from both the “red hairs” and government who imitated America’s earlier actions with the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923 that barred the Chinese from entering Canada.
Despite numerous obstacles the Wong family perservered with the help of strong family bonds that offered emotional support in times of economic hardship. The search for “Gold Mountain” (North America) for Chinese immigrants was only achieved in spite of government intervention that blocked their efforts to succeed. It was only in the post-WWII years that they finally saw real political progreess being made.
David Wong has written and illustrated an excellent debut graphic novel. His simple artwork style is effective in conveying the plight of the Chinese immigrants and his text encourages further detailed study of complex issues. This isn’t a Weird Western but the real life horrors endured by the Chinese are nore frightening than any zombie or ghost terrorizing the Old West.
“Copyright Arsenal Pulp Press, 2012. Escape to Gold Mountain: A Graphic History of the Chinese in North America. Art and text by David H.T. Wong.” Publication: November 2012.
Review copyright Paul Green 2012.
While Johnny Depp has admitted he based his Tonto make-up on Kirby Sattler’s painting and not on historical fact it may come as no surprise to some that birds were sometimes incorporated in real-life American Indian tribes. The Library of Congress archive of Curtis’ The North American Indian features this Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952) photograph of ”Two Whistles” taken in 1908, showing a medicine of hawk attached to the head of a Mountain Crow Indian.
Born in 1856 of the Not Mixed clan “Two Whistles” fought battles against the Arapaho and Sioux. In 1887 after being shot in the arm and breast the arm was amputated above the elbow.
Source: The North American Indian (1907-1930) v.04, The Apsaroke, or Crows. The Hidatsa ([Seattle] : E.S. Curtis ; [Cambridge, Mass. : The University Press], 1909), plate no. 111
Northwestern University Library, Edward S. Curtis’s ‘The North American Indian’: the Photographic Images, 2001.
Read more: Indian Country