cover image The Puerto Rican War: A Graphic History

The Puerto Rican War: A Graphic History

John Vasquez Mejias. Union Square, $20 (112p) ISBN 978-1-4549-5246-6

Indie cartoonist Mejias’s energetic trade debut, an Angoulême award winner, depicts 20th-century Puerto Rican history in striking woodcut panels. The bulk of the account takes place in 1950, as members of the Puerto Rican Nationalist movement launch an uprising against U.S. control of the island. After Griselio Torresola meets with revolutionary leader Pedro Albizu Campos, he travels to Washington, D.C., to assassinate President Truman but bungles the job. Back on Puerto Rico, several deadly conflicts occur, including a successful raid against a police station in the village of Utuado and a counterattack by the police. Mejias finds surreal moments of beauty amid the carnage. In one such scene, Griselio experiences a ghostly visitation from the unlikely duo of Gandhi and Irish revolutionary Michael Collins, who speak to him “in words he could understand.” In another, a young boy picks mangoes in a grove. Mejias’s painstakingly hand-carved woodblock art results in vibrant, detailed scenes that lend a poetic touch throughout. This impressive work of art brings history to full and fascinating life. (May)