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, March 20, 2017

Colonial Comics at the Royall House, 22 Mar.

On Wednesday, 22 March, I’ll be part of a panel discussion with comics creators E. J. Barnes and Jesse Lonergan at the Royall House and Slave Quarters in Medford.

We’ve all contributed to the two volumes of Colonial Comics: New England, whose main editor is Jason Rodriguez. Volume I told stories from the years 1620-1750, and the new Volume II brings the history up to 1775.

Both books feature an array of writing and illustration styles from many talented creators. They focus on lesser-known events that expose the fault lines of colonial society—“stories about Puritans and free thinkers, Pequots and Jewish settlers, female business owners and playwrights, gravedigging medical students, instigators of civil disobedience, college students, rum traders, freemen, and slaves.” Here’s a recent review of the first volume from Comics in the Classroom.

In volume 1, E. J. Barnes wrote and watercolored the story of Thomas Morton, an English settler in what’s now Quincy who was at odds with the Massachusetts Bay Puritans. She created portraits of historic figures for volume 2. She’s also the author of “Caroline’s Catalog,” about astronomer Caroline Herschel, and “A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed,” based on a poem by Jonathan Swift.

Jesse Lonergan is the author of the graphic novels All Star, Flower and Fade, and Joe and Azat, as well as many short stories in comics form. For the second volume of Colonial Comics he and I created a story about watchman Benjamin Burdick working to solve a mystery about one of the victims of the Boston Massacre.

We’ll talk about how we created these stories, the choices we made historiographically and artistically, and the potential of the comics form, especially in schools.

This event is scheduled to start at 7:30 P.M. It is free for Royall House members, $5 for others. There will be copies of Colonial Comics and other publications available for purchase and signing afterward.

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