Thursday, March 14, 2013
On the Ropes (W.W. Norton), by James Vance and Dan E. Burr
With their 1988 collaboration, Kings in Disguise, writer James Vance (The Crow) and Milwaukee illustrator Dan E. Burr were among the pathfinders of a genre that became well-established within a few years, the graphic novel: historical division. With On the Ropes, they return to their protagonist, Freddie Bloch, and his Depression-era setting. Drawn in stark black and white with images and text recalling the period's grittier movies, On the Ropes is firmly grounded in history as Bloch joins the Communists, becomes a labor union agitator and learns that nothing is easy or simple. "Most of us don't want a better world, kiddo. We just want the old one back," says one of Bloch's companions.