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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Monday, September 29, 2014

Colonial Comics, and a Panel about History in Panels

This blog entry is brought to you in part by Colonial Comics: New England, 1620-1750, a new anthology of historical comics edited by Jason Rodriguez with assistance from A. Dave Lewis and myself.

As yesterday’s Boston Globe reported, this book will be published by Fulcrum next month, and the first copies will debut at the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (M.I.C.E.) in Cambridge on Saturday.

What’s more, Colonial Comics is in part brought to you by this blog. Boston 1775 readers know my interest in how the Revolution has been portrayed in comics, including these complaints about schoolbooks on the Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party, and Paul Revere’s ride. Those essays caught the eye of a local comics creator named Dave Marshall. His website clued me in to the Boston Comics Roundtable. And because I became active in that group, Jason Rodriguez invited me to join his editing team.

The first volume of Colonial Comics covers the British settlement of New England and how those colonies developed. I helped to vet story ideas, identify historians to collaborate with, and collect sources and visual references for some of the contributors.

As a writer I collaborated with artist Joel Christian Gill on this story of the first Samuel Maverick introducing chattel slavery to Massachusetts, based on the account I quoted way back here.

I also got to work closely with three writer-artists and see them bring their stories to life:
Other stories in the book cover the Pilgrims, John Winthrop of New London, the bloody Pequot War, Newport’s early Jewish population, and much more.

The team is now working on further volumes, one covering New England from 1750 to the start of the Revolutionary War (which is of course my favorite period) and another on early Virginia and the mid-Atlantic. The goal is to create entertaining, eye-opening stories that are historically solid enough to introduce students to important themes in this period of American history.

To launch the first volume of Colonial Comics, there will be a panel discussion at M.I.C.E. about history comics. The panelists will be E. J. Barnes, Ellen Crenshaw, Eleri Harris, Dave Ortega, and Jason Rodriguez, and I’ll moderate. That hour-long discussion will start at 11:30 A.M. on Saturday, 4 October, in Lesley’s University Hall, near Porter Square, Cambridge. All of M.I.C.E. is free and open to the public, so please check it out!


G. Thomas Fitzpatrick said...

Looks like some interesting projects.

Do you remember a comic that came out at the time of the Bicentennial in the Sunday Boston Globe on the events leading up to the Revolution? It had a more irreverent tone, as might be expected in the post-Watergate/Vietnam era. Name of the strip escapes me. I look for it on eBay from time to time but I only see Revolutionary Era strips from the 1940s & 50s.

J. L. Bell said...

Yes, and I just found a little more information about it. It was called Yankee Almanack. The creator was Larry Gonick, also author of The Cartoon History of the United States and other books in the same style. It started in April 1975 and ran for a year or so, only in the Boston Sunday Globe.

G. Thomas Fitzpatrick said...

Very cool! I'll follow that search on eBay!
Thanks for that jogging of a rusty muddle-aged memory!