What really struck me about Nat Turner was the whole concept of retelling a real historical event through the medium of the graphic novel. The ability for the images to stir up such intense emotions in a reader really speaks to the power of graphic novels as an art/storytelling form. And certainly after reading Barker’s novel, we’re all very aware of the historical events surrounding Nat Turner and won’t soon forget them. It seems to me that if you really want a story to be told, and want it to resonate with readers who might otherwise be unfamiliar with the events surrounding it, you could really make use of storytelling through a graphic novel.
We’ll be seeing this again later in Maus, for sure, but I was curious to see what other pieces of human history have been retold through the eyes of graphic novelists. I came across a pretty long list of graphic novels that deal with “historical events,” which indicated that a lot of writers have already latched on to my assertion about this medium is perfect for connecting readers to people, places, and events of the past. I’m providing links to the PDF “Learning History through Graphic Novels” as well as some links to the particular novels I thought paralleled the conceptual storytelling behind Nat Turner.
Yossel, April 19, 1943 by Joe Kubert: a story about the Warsaw ghetto uprising.
Fallout by Jim Ottaviani: graphic novel about the Manhattan Project’s key players, like Oppenheimer
Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms by Fumiyo Kouno: follows the story of a family post-Hiroshima bombings
Vietnam Journal by Dom Lomax: the story of a war correspondent based on real events from the author’s life.
Deogratias, A Tale of Rwanda by J.P. Stassen: deals with the Rwandan genocide
There were tons more, so definitely check out the PDF if you’re interested in doing some graphic novel reading outside of our class!