August 08, 2008

Lewis and Clark graphic novel

An article from 2004 reveals a little-known graphic novel about Indians and the exploration of the West:

Lewis and Clark become a comic bookBefore there were 196 pages of creatively drawn pictures and storyline, and before there was a year of research and two years of work, there was a simple suggestion.

Why not do something with Lewis and Clark?

The suggestion from Washburn sculptor Tom Neary has blossomed into the aforementioned work, an epic-length comic book by writer-designer Orville Evjen, of Turtle Lake. "Jefferson's Lewis & Clark Expedition: Heroes Unlimited" was printed in August, three years after Evjen started the project. It's for sale now out at the University of Mary, during the Circle of Cultures bicentennial event.
And:When he started the project, Evjen thought it would be boring. Instead, he became enthralled with it. He said he really felt for Sakakawea throughout the story. That's depicted in scenes in the book where the Shoshone woman is kidnapped, and in hardships she faces along the journey.

Evjen is half Sioux and half Norwegian. His parents died in a car accident when he was 18. He said he has battled bouts of depression in his life, and can relate in part to the depression felt by Meriwether Lewis.

Evjen and Schell took some artistic liberty in the comic book, creating dialogue and images where there were gaps in the journals. But the book is derived almost entirely from quotes and facts relayed by the Corps of Discovery in their writings.

The comic book was printed in Bismarck by United Printing/Spit'N Image. It is the main title in the cousins' recently created BraveCrow Comics. More information is available online at
Comment:  Why did Evjen and Schell derive their story "almost entirely" from Lewis and Clark's journals? For the same reasons movies strive for historical accuracy. Because it creates a sense of realism that draws the audience in.

The "Heroes Unlimited" subtitle seems gratuitous. It sounds like something you'd use if the world's superheroes united to fight a cosmic menace such as Galactus.

Not many Indian count Lewis and Clark among their heroes. They represented the first wave of the irresistible tide that was manifest destiny.

For more on the subject, see Comic Books Featuring Indians.

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