The last few weeks have been great for historical graphic novels. IDW’s Calamity Jane: The Calamitous Life Of Martha Jane Cannary, 1852-1903 is a lushly illustrated account of Calamity Jane’s life by Christian Perrissin and Mathieu Blanchin, and Fantagraphics’ Johnny Appleseed contrasts the story of John Chapman’s generosity with the violence of the United States’ Western expansion. These titles are joined next week by The Hunting Accident, which tells a smaller scale story with connections to one of the most notorious crimes in U.S. history. Writer David L. Carlson and artist Landis Blair’s graphic novel explores the true story of a father and son living in 1960s Chicago, whose relationship undergoes a drastic shift when the father opens up about his past for the first time.
Charlie Rizzo had always been told that his father was blinded in a hunting accident as a child, but when Charlie ends up on the wrong side of the law, Matt explains what really happened in hopes that his son won’t make the same mistakes. Matt Rizzo was blinded while committing a robbery with some friends, and when he ended up in prison, he was cellmates with Nathan Leopold Jr., one half of the infamous Leopold & Loeb pair who kidnapped and murdered a 14-year-old boy in what was then being called “The Crime Of The Century.” Leopold ended up being Rizzo’s salvation behind bars, helping him adjust to his blindness and keeping his spirits up during a particularly dark time.
This exclusive preview of The Hunting Accident delves into Rizzo’s time with Leopold, and highlights the complicated relationship he has with the killer. Leopold tells his cellmate about the Nietzchean philosophy that motivated his actions, and how his interpretation differs from the one that inspired Hitler. Blair’s intricately cross-hatched inking adds remarkable dimension to the imagery, and it creates an unsettling atmosphere as these lines chaotically intersect on the page. Because the cross-hatching is so intense, its absence has greater impact, like the two-page spread that has a ghoulish, tentacled being of darkness emerging from Nietzche’s book. That foreboding image is contrasted against the intimacy of the two lovers, and having an all-white background makes this moment even more dramatic. The Hunting Accident is filled with innovative layouts and stunning rendering, and readers can check out this gorgeous nonfiction tale when it goes on sale September 19.