Friday, December 15, 2017

The Hunting Accident: A True Story of Crime and Poetry

The Hunting Accident is a complex series of tales that are surprisingly true. Overall, it tells a series of stories about fathers and their sons, and the main narrative pertains to Charlie Rizzo and his father Matt. After the death of his mother, Charlie has to live with his dad, who is blind and lives in Chicago. Charlie did not know much about his father, but over time he learned of how he lost his sight in a hunting accident when he was a teen. He also begins to help his father in editing literary reviews and commentaries, primarily about the medieval Italian poet Dante.

Life in Illinois is much different than life in California, and over time Charlie falls in with an unsavory crowd. When he is implicated in a crime, he learns much about his father's murky past, including the real reason he went blind and also that he served time in prison. Of course, these revelations cause quite a stir. But the accounts of the truth that come from this discord are full of surprises and unexpected turns, including the strange fact that part of Matt's redemption in prison came from the circumstance that his cellmate was Nathan Leopold, a thrill killer whose exploits were once termed "the crime of the century."
Overall, this graphic novel is one that makes me appreciate reading comics. The story is full of twists and turns as well as plenty of emotion and the artwork is exceptional, with dark flourishes and nightmarish imagery, both combining to make a narrative that could only really be told via comics. I read a lot of graphic novels, and this one is impressively well crafted.

The Hunting Accident is the first graphic novel by both writer David L. Carlson and artist Landis Blair. The duo originally produced a limited run of a slightly different version of this book with a Kickstarter campaign. Carlson is a Renaissance man, and Blair is a painter and illustrator who has also illustrated the book From Here to Eternity by writer Caitlin Doughty. Carlson speaks more about his work on the book in this interview.

All of the reviews I have read of this book have been very positive. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called it an "ambitious debut graphic novel" and added, "Blair’s exceptional pen-and-ink work, which mixes the tangible world with the psychological, brings all the strands together seamlessly and powerfully." Seth T. Hahne elaborated that this tale could have been very dry but that Carlson "twists it into something ranging and delicious, a complexity revealed by pieces and parts through visions and allusions." Oliver Sava called it a "gorgeous nonfiction tale" that "is filled with innovative layouts and stunning rendering."

The Hunting Accident was published by First Second, and they have a preview and more information about it here. There is also a separate official website devoted especially to the book here.

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