J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Boston History Comics Creators in Cambridge, 21 Jan.

The Boston Comics Roundtable recently published an anthology of short comics called Inbound 4: A Comic Book History of Boston. Some of the writers and artists behind this volume will be at Porter Square Books on Thursday, 21 January, at 7:00 P.M.

Inbound 4 is a 144-page paperback with 35 stories that discuss events from the first British settlements in Massachusetts through the search for Whitey Bulger. A few pieces have eighteenth-century or Revolutionary import:

We also get a couple of glimpses of the iconic Paul Revere, and African-American soldier Barzillai Lew shows up in one panel, but his name is spelled phonetically as “Barzilia.”

The art and storytelling styles vary greatly, and some of my favorite pieces are well outside the Revolutionary period: Susan Chasen and Dan Mazur’s story of the last meeting of the Booth brothers in April 1865, Troy Minkowsky and Samuel Ferri’s depiction of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force guerilla-marketers as the Katzenjammer Kids, and Jaime Garmendia and Dirk I. Tiede’s history of the Molasses Flood, which told me stuff I didn’t know.

I’m not sure which contributors will be at the talk and signing at Porter Square, but I understand David Marshall will be there to speak about his efforts to portray Dee Brown’s detention at gunpoint in Wellesley with historical accuracy. Because one of the challenges of depicting history in comics form is portraying details that prose histories don’t have to deal with.

Copies of Inbound 4 are available through the Boston Comics Roundtable and select local retailers; I got mine at the Million Year Picnic in Harvard Square, and of course it will be sold at Porter Square Books.

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