Jack Jackson’s American History: Los Tejanos and Lost Cause

Jack Jackson, Author, Jack Jackson, Illustrator, Ron Hansen, Introduction by
Jack Jackson. Fantagraphics, $35 (320p) ISBN 978-1-60699-504-4
Reviewed on: 11/19/2012
Release date: 01/01/2013
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Comics’ current vogue for nonfiction was pioneered in these two works from the late underground comix founding father Jackson, who died in 2006. Jackson brought an R. Crumb–style crosshatching and love of facial grotesquery to these two densely researched historical graphic novels. Lost Cause (1998) is a tangled and bloody history of mob violence and vendetta that uses the Taylor-Sutton feud in post–Civil War southern Texas (featuring that highly homicidal teenager, John Wesley Hardin) as a fascinating prism through which to view many white Texans’ reactions to Reconstruction. Jackson’s conscious decision to use his protagonists’ point of view results in many wincingly racist moments that some readers may find hard to swallow. Even better is Los Tejanos (1981), which follows the tragic history of Juan Seguin, a heroic tejano who fought brilliantly for Texas’s independence. Anglo racism forced him into exile, where he was forced to fight with his former enemies in the Mexican Army. Disavowed by both sides, this heroic equal to Jim Bowie and Sam Houston was later written out of the history books. Jackson writes, “sooner or later, the truth finds us all.” In these epic, scrupulous, and compulsively readable histories, Jackson does his best to find the truth for us. (Dec.)
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