1913: Larkin's Labour War

Gerry Hunt and Alan Nolan. O'Brien Press (www.obrien.ie), $23.95 trade paper (64p) ISBN 978-1-84717-583-0
A detailed and historically accurate graphic account of the devastating Ireland Labor War of 1913, considered the most significant labor dispute in Irish history, with Irish Labour Party cofounder James "Big Jim" Larkin as the near-legendary centerpiece. Writer/artist Hunt's approach is educational and historically accurate, but passionless and matter-of-fact. Written from the perspective of a historian, the narration keeps readers at arm's length from the material and, as a result, emotionally detached. The subject matter is incredibly dramatic, even when presented without fanfare, so it's frustrating to see it so meticulously documented but without the necessary emotional beats that make any story—fact or fiction—compelling. The caption boxes are oddly positioned at the bottom of panels, rather than the top, making for an awkward reading experience. The visuals feel almost like an afterthought, utterly divorced from any emotional component. The book ends abruptly, with a small narrative panel summing up how the dispute ended, and leaving the reader with a feeling that Hunt simply got tired and gave up—an ill-considered way to end such a detailed historical account. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/20/2014
Release date: 02/01/2014
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