Pocahontas: Princess of the New World by Loïc Locatelli-Lournwsky, translated by Sandra Smith. Pegasus Books, 2016. 9781681772172.
Locatelli-Lournwsky’s retelling of the story of Pocahontas (also known as Matoaka) opens with her becoming a woman and getting married, though she is still treated like a child. Trying to teach herself to hunt, she is injured and rescued by John Smith. After they are found her people want to kill Smith but she intercedes and saves his life. From that day forth she is called Pocahontas, which the book translates as “shameless whore.” Smith returns to Jamestown where Pocahontas visits frequently and learns English. As the white men continue cut down trees and destroy the forest, moving ever closer to the Natives and affecting their ability to hunt, tensions rise. When the Natives are about to attack the settlement she warns Smith in an effort to save lives on both sides, but loses her place among her people because of it. She moves into a different settlement, converts to Christianity, and marries a widower. She is eventually taken to England where she is presented at court.
This graphic novel’s setting and subject matter reminded me of Nick Bertozzi’s epic Lewis & Clark, though this feels like more story than history. This version of Pocahontas is an expressive, strong character quietly determined to move forward despite the difficulties of her life. She pulled me through the story as much as Locatelli-Lournwsky’s artwork — he uses one color, an orangish yellow, along with black, to create a sense of everything from the wild forests of North America to the formality of the English court.
Have a look at some pages from this book.
Black Road Volume One: The Holy North by Brian Wood, Gary Brown, Dave McCaig, Steve Wands. Image, 2016. 97816321587.
Contains Black Road #1 – #5.
Brian Wood is one of my favorite comics creators, and his Vertigo series Northlanders was one of the best things he’s written, so there was no way I wasn’t going to pick this up. In Norway, in about the year 1000 A.D., the Christian conversion of Viking civilization is in full swing. Magnus the Black is just trying to keep his head down as he tries to decide whose side he’s on. He’s hired to escort a Roman cardinal on the Northern Road to Hammaruskk, “…a path
built of misery, sorrow, blood, and bile.” The Cardinal isn’t worried as he says he has a guardian angel. (His angel can’t stop his murder, but she does try to complete the Cardinal’s mission. And along the way she gets vengeance for him.)
Full of double crosses, murder, and gloriously bloody violence, this reminded me of the more brutal bits of Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself. And it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger — I’m happy that there’s more coming.
PS: I highly recommend Wood’s current monthly comic from Dark Horse, Briggs Land, about a woman trying to take control of (and improve) the secessionist community her husband created, after her husband goes to prison. (Her husband isn’t happy about it, but luckily she has the support of most of her sons.)
PPS: You should also try Wood’s Rebels, a graphic novel of the Revolutionary War that features Vermont’s Green Mountain Boys and others. Good stuff.
The Adventures of Dieter Lumpen by Jorge Zentner, Rubén Pellejero. EuroComics (IDW). 9781631406065. 260pp.
This omnibus includes eight shorter comics and three graphic albums featuring adventurer Dieter Lumpen, originally published between 1985 and 1994, written by Zenter (Argentina) and drawn by Pellejero (Spain). I must have ordered it from the Seattle Public Library when checking for new graphic novels, which I do periodically. I’m not much of a fan of realistic European comics of this time period, but artist Tim Sale’s introduction gave me a way in: he talks about Pellejero being a kindred spirit in terms of how he balances black and white in his drawings. If you’ve ever enjoyed any of Sale’s work (my favorites are probably Batman: The Long Halloween and Catwoman: When in Rome) you’ll love these stories more than a little, too.
Full of sex, violence, criminals, and settings around the globe, the eight short comics were the high point of the book for me. “A Dagger in Istanbul” opens with Lumpen on the run from a gunman in a Turkish market. He’s been hired to chauffeur a widow who is out to recover a dagger her husband donated to a museum, which has been stolen. The next short, “Games of Chance,” picks up right where this left off (as does the next, and so on.) After a run of bad luck, Lumpen must kill a man to clear his gambling debt. But after the man saves his life, Lumpen tries to find a way to do what he must and maintain his honor.
See more of Tim Sale’s art and Rubén Pellejero’s art.