In the early ’90s, South Africa was on the brink of a full-blown civil war. Tensions between the white colonial government and the black population were blowing up into bloody conflicts—violence that intensified when Nelson Mandela was released from prison after 27 years, signaling the death knell of the apartheid era. Mandela & The General is a new graphic novel from Plough Publishing House delving into this turbulent period from the perspective of General Constand Viljoen, a chief in the apartheid military who secretly met with Mandela to prevent war.

Written by John Carlin—who wrote a book about Nelson Mandela and the 1995 Rugby World Cup that was adapted into the Academy Award-nominated film Invictus—Mandela & The General similarly focuses on one specific period of Mandela’s life, rather than trying to condense his entire story into a single graphic novel. Featuring expressive artwork by Oriol Malet that brings vitality and soul to the detailed likenesses, this story immerses readers in the chaos of the time, shining a light on the horror and hope that existed side by side.

Advertisement

This exclusive preview of Mandela & The General, on sale November 4, highlights the triumph and joy felt by Mandela’s supporters when he was released from prison; these feelings are contrasted with the chilly response of the white South Africans who opposed him. This tension is reinforced by the coloring, a high-contrast combination of warm golden hues and cool blues. The image of Mandela walking out into the sunlight after 27 years in prison is all about celebration and excitement, but the energy changes considerably when the action shifts to white people watching the event on their televisions indoors. That enthusiasm and that anxiety grow over the next few years, and this graphic novel looks at where they intersect, and how leadership had to step in before they lead to total devastation.