Earlier this week we looked at a non-fiction comic in GQ, which is impressive, because it has a monthly circulation of 900,000. That's more than a mainstream comics readership by several orders of magnitude. But to keep things in perspective, this post is about a non-fiction comic that appeared in National Geographic Magazine, which has a monthly circulation of around 8.5 million.
Like the GQ Osama Bin Laden comic, Editors at GQ were interested in recreating a murder scene, and employed help from an established illustrator (in this case, Alex Maleev, who I particularly enjoyed on "Daredevil" a few years ago.) However, the details of "Ötzi's" death aren't state secrets like Bin Laden's, they just aren't readily available since he died over 5,000 years ago.
Ötzi is the name of "The Iceman," a mummified man discovered near the border of Austria and Italy. Scientists have been examining the body since it was recovered in 1991. From the article in the November issue:
The most astonishing revelation came in 2001, when a local radiologist named Paul Gostner noticed a detail that had been overlooked in the images: an arrowhead buried in the Iceman's left shoulder, indicating that he had been shot from behind. ... The oldest accidentally preserved human ever found was the victim of a brutally efficient murder.
Nat Geo paired illustrator Alex Maleev with Mariel Furlong, a graphics specialist, to create a two-page comics spread portraying the circumstances of Ötzi's death. In the magazine, it appeared amidst the article quoted above.
I really like this! It's brief, yes, but I think it adds to the science, and literally illustrates the brutal encounter, making it more real for a modern audience. Maleev's art works well here and the textures and grit are awesome, but I think it's a good spread of comics as well. I mean, take a closer look at this:
That's a great sequence, and it perfectly conveys a silent death — silently. I can only hope that more magazines experiment in a similar way.
One more thing: Subscriptions to The Cartoon Picayune are still available! Consider giving someone the gift of comics journalism this holiday season.