Friday, July 15, 2011

Cuba: My Revolution

Cuba: My Revolution is not strictly factual, as the main character is a stand-in for the author named Sonya and some of the other characters are composites, but the events it portrays are based on Lockpez's experiences. Sonya is a budding artist who is swept up in the romantic, hopeful message spread by Fidel Castro in overthrowing the Batista regime in Cuba. Hoping to pitch in with the freedom fighters who had cast off American-backed oppression, she became a doctor. Over the course of time, she finds that not all of the utopian ideals and proposed reforms went as she hoped. Instead of a socialist paradise, a Soviet-style communist dictatorship ascends. She sees an atmosphere of continued conflict, paranoia, and want under Castro's rule, which makes her question her choices and allegiances.

The author Inverna Lockpez is an artist who has been showing sculptures and paintings internationally since the 1960s. She has been friends with cartoonist Dean Haspiel for years, telling him her stories. After he kept telling her she should share her experiences with others and she saw his work with Jonathan Ames on The Alcoholic, she agreed to co-create this graphic novel. This interview sheds light more on their collaboration. Haspiel has been making comics for years, and is well known for his work on The Quitter, the webcomix collective Act-I-vate, and the Emmy Award winning titles to the HBO series Bored to Death. This interview touches on his work on this book.

Reviewers have found the story very moving and well executed. Evelyn Finch wrote that it is "a passionate, profound and compelling piece of work that will stay with you long after you put" it down. David Pepose appreciated how Sonya evolved over time and concluded that it "has the potential to be an important" book. Jesse Schedeen opined that the story is personal, compelling, and affecting, though the ending did not feel very climactic. I found the story to be gruesome, powerful, and emotionally charged. Additionally, Haspiel's clear, strong lines contributed to impressive imagery that is highlighted by the limited color palette of black, white, and red.

Cuba: My Revolution was published by Vertigo. Previews are available from Techland and Big Shiny Robot.

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