cover image Johnny Appleseed: Green Dreamer of the American Frontier

Johnny Appleseed: Green Dreamer of the American Frontier

Paul Buhle and Noah Van Sciver. Alternative Comics, $19.95 (112p) ISBN 978-1-68148-534-8

Buhle (Bohemians: A Graphic History) and Van Sciver (Saint Cole) explore the strange life of a much-mythologized American pioneer, Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman (1774–1845), whose travels took him from his Massachusetts home to New York, Pennsylvania, and eventually the then-frontier states of Ohio and Indiana, among others. Chapman’s drifting, as he spread the gospel of Swedenborgianism, brought him into contact with Quakers, Native Americans, and frontier families. Like the nomadic Chapman, the creators spin a narrative that is winding and, sometimes, directionless, bogging down in tangents that aim to provide context but can mask the life of the man himself. A surprising amount of speculation underscores how little is known of Chapman, as Buhle and Van Sciver connect his story to modern philosophical considerations about the environment, nonviolence, economics, and how people live; they also stretch to paint a picture of Chapman’s influence on later authors, artists, politicians, etc. Van Sciver’s skillfully drafted b&w artwork handily captures the era in which Chapman lived while accommodating substantial exposition, but the story’s erratic jumps in time and subject may discourage even the most determined young readers. Ages 9–up. [em](Oct.) [/em]