A Native Lad: Benny Benson Tells Alaska's Story by Sarah Hurst
Regular price $ 19.95
This is a graphic novel teaching the modern history of Alaska. A good comic can pack more concepts, more character development, more story per square inch than words alone. Around the world, the comic form of storytelling is hugely popular for the way words and pictures work together to tell a story, and to educate, in a way they cannot when working alone. In Sarah Hurst's brisk journey through Alaska's history, we meet dozens of historical figures and learn about the big impact events that led us to today. Our trip is guided by a Native lad named Benny Benson. This is no gentle history. There are winners and losers and the result is not always fair. This is history the way it really happens. The story is a real treat, from the opening scene where we meet Benny Benson drawn by Lee Post, to the surprise final scene by Peter Dunlap-Shohl. A good comic story doesn't just illustrate the words. The art is part of the story, usually more than the words. The art sets the pace with the organization of the frames or lack of them, the style of lettering and word balloons, and much of the story can be told in the space between the frames. This is history jumping off the page. The 17 scenes are drawn by 10 artists, making this a showcase for comic talent in Alaska. The styles range considerably, from Lance Lekander's cartoony style, to Evon Zerbetz's and Shanley McCauley's very realistic renderings. There are powerful moments in the script, and the artists don't let us down. This book shows the history of this great state. It was first a play and is now a very worthy graphic novel. More than just a look back, the book connects Alaska's present with its past and points to the future. It is fitting that what we know about Alaska's most ancient past is largely from art on tools, clothing, totems... and now we turn to a very modern form of storytelling art, the graphic novel, to continue to educate in a way that has great appeal to modern readers.