Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cuba My Revolution

written by Inverna Lockpez
penciled by Dean Haspiel

I really appreciate the fact that more writers and artists are turning to the graphic novel genre to tell their story. It's just another great medium to express one' self. While novels can paint pictures in the reader's mind, a graphic novel allows the reader another window into a writer's world. I have read graphic novels of certain classics and enjoy watching an artists rendition of the characters and scenes.

I expected “Cuba, My Revolution” to be a pro Fidel graphic novel. I am used to pro Fidel tracts especially when it comes to the comic book/arts community. I was wrong. I love when that happens. Getting thrown for a loop makes the ride much more interesting. It also teaches me a lesson: not everyone is in love with Fidel Castro.

Inverna Lockpez' story is compelling. The protagonist is 17 years old and like many Cubans in 1959, she is behind Fidel Castro. Once Castro drives thru Havana, Lockpez signs up for the militia as a nurse. Like most of her peers, she is caught up in the revolution despite seeing questionable acts being committed by the close followers of Castro.

During the Bay of Pigs fiasco, Lockpez is sent to the front lines and encounters a long lost love who is part of the invasion. Her final exchange with this gentleman is witnessed by comrades. Lockpez is accused of colluding with the enemy and is sent to prison where she is tortured. Although she is tortured severely and only freed through bribes, Lockpez maintains her allegiance to the new regime.
As many of her friends begin to leave the island for Florida, Lockpez continues to dedicate her life to the revolution. She keeps her torture and imprisonment a secret and deludes herself into thinking that everything will eventually work out.

Dean Haspiel's pencils and inks along with Jose Villarrubia's colors seem to match the period of the early 1960's Cuba. Villarrubia splashes red on certain figures and articles throughout the story giving it a more “red” revolutionary feel. The panels are nicely done as they fade into one another depending on the mood of each scene. It works well especially with a non super hero graphic novel.

This is a great graphic novel to use in middle schools. Its definitely a historical piece when discussing cold war and the Bay of Pigs fiasco. The discussion of Santeria is also an interesting point of how religion can be used to legitimize certain forms of oppression. While the torture and the battle scenes might be too graphic, it is something that should be discussed especially with two wars going on.

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