July 20, 2013

Manifest Destiny comic book

'Manifest Destiny' maps Lewis and Clark vs. monsters

Chris Dingess imagines the Louisiana Purchase going a lot differently in new comic book.This fall, Chris Dingess ventures from Being Human to being Lewis and Clark.

The TV screenwriter tackles two of America's greatest explorers and sends them on a much different journey—with a lot more weirdness—than history books would have you believe in Manifest Destiny, a new ongoing Image Comics/Skybound title announced today that launches in November.

Dingess takes the legend of Meriwether Lewis and William's Clark's famous three-year expedition in the early 19th century and posits it as America's first black-ops mission.

"The reason we got the Louisiana Purchase for so cheap from Napoleon was because the land west of the Mississippi was full of dangerous creatures and monsters," says Dingess, who wrote much of the series while on hiatus for the Syfy series Being Human.
Some details:Q: So how does this fictional take fit into actual history?

Lewis and Clark are put together by Thomas Jefferson, and they assemble a rag-tag group of soldiers and convicts to go west and just destroy monsters and eventually make a deal with the devil to allow the expansion of the United States.

The whole time Lewis is keeping two journals. There's the journal you're forced to read in eighth grade, and there's the real journal depicting all this horrible, bloody chaos, which I would have rather read in eighth grade as opposed to how much fruit stock they were loading on the boat.

Q: Which of their crew is your favorite so far?

I really enjoy writing Lewis and Clark together, because they are our eyes for this thing, but we meet Sacagawea. In their real journals, the young Native American woman is their guide—we've reimagined her here and she's a really fun character.

She's not just a passive woman showing them and communicating with other Indians for them. She's the one who gets her hands dirty—if this were G.I Joe, she would be Snake Eyes. She's a badass.

Lewis and Clark are strong, but a lot of times they're going to have to rely on Sacagawea's cunning and skill and strength to get them out of the big jams they're in. They're slowly going to realize just how important she is to them.
Comment:  This is an interesting idea, but a lot depends on the execution.

Since it's supposedly a secret history, it doesn't have to follow actual history too closely. But there are still potential pitfalls. For instance:

  • Turning positive or neutral characters from Native mythologies into "monsters."

  • Portraying the Indians along the way as savages, or using Plains stereotypes.

  • Making Sacagawea super-sexy in a revealing buckskin outfit.

    Alas, given her bare midriff on the cover, the last pitfall may come true.

  • For more on Lewis and Clark comic books, see Burgas Reviews Bertozzi's LEWIS & CLARK and Lewis and Clark Graphic Novel. For more on Lewis and Clark, see Jefferson's Indian Removal Policy.

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