Friday, October 25, 2013

The Lindbergh Child

One of the prime contenders for the title "trial of the century" as well as a landmark case in terms of its historical impact, the Lindbergh Kidnapping was a sensational news story. Charles Lindbergh, a national hero internationally renowned for being the first person to cross the Atlantic Ocean solo via airplane was a pioneer in aviation and a hugely public figure. When his firstborn child was kidnapped it drew major attention and attracted many well-wishers, potentially good Samaritans, and shady characters looking to cash in on the situation. The jumbled mess that came of all these figures made for a case that created as questions as answers, and notably led to the use of a central authority to conduct investigations in the form of what would become the FBI.

This books does well in detailing all these various characters and their input into the case. It also does well in accounting for the growing role forensics took in analyzing crime scenes and using evidence to identify suspects. In the end, Bruno Hauptmann, a German carpenter, was convicted and executed for this crime. Even so, he maintained his innocence until his death, and afterward his widow kept up his cause, trying to find ways to exonerate her husband. Today, many of the prime players and evidence of this event are well in the past, and there are those who question whether he was the perpetrator or simply a patsy. And there are also those who claim the Lindbergh baby was not actually murdered, to the point where some have come forward claiming to be that baby all grown up.

The Lindbergh Child is part of Rick Geary's major project, the multiple volumes in the Treasury of Victorian Murder and Treasury of XXth Century Murder series from NBM Publishers. In these books, he presents meticulously researched and excellently rendered accounts of some of history's most famous and infamous events. Geary has received numerous accolades over his long career, and he is considered a comics virtuoso. He posts about his work, providing lots of sneak peeks into his art, on this publisher's blog.

Clearly, there are many moving parts and scenarios involved in telling this tale. I feel like this volume may be a little more text heavy than most, but the story being told is very compelling and full of twists and turns, and Rick Geary lowers the emotional boom with a handful of devastating images. As he has proved fully capable in the past, he balances a journalistic tone and human drama very well (as you can see in the excerpt below).

This book was nominated for an Eisner Award, and it has been very highly regarded. Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review and stated, ""This thoughtful retelling of one of the century's most notorious crimes deserves several readings." Andrew Wheeler called it "another excellent graphic novel about a horrible crime by the master of that very specific form." Greg McElhatton summed it up as "Unforgettable, from start to finish."

The Lindbergh Child is published by NBM Publishers. They provide links to this and many more of Geary's books here. There is a brief preview available from Amazon.

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