I’ve just completed work on a project that has taken three years to see through from start to finish. It is a remarkable graphic volume on American history that will be published by Hill & Wang this May. It is called, simply enough, Uncle Sam Presents: The Great American Documents, Volume One.
It is gloriously illustrated, in full color, by veteran comics artist Ernie Colon. Ernie’s is a long and brilliant career. He worked at Harvey Comics for a couple of decades, doing Casper the Ghost, Richie Rich, Little Lotta, etc. If you have ever read any of those wonderful titles, you’ve seen some of Ernie’s work. He also worked for the major superhero houses, but the grind-it-out system and in-house politics were never to his liking. He has been doing graphic novels for a while now, making a big, bestselling splash with the graphic adaptation of the 9/11 Commission Report. More recently, Ernie illustrated a beautiful, insightful graphic biography of Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara.
For Great American Documents, Ernie has illustrated the twenty document stories in the book—each document being its own chapter. Uncle Sam himself introduces the stories, and summarizes as well at the end of each. The stories bring American history to life, and take a new look at things. Fort instance, we explore the War of 1812 through the creation of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” written by Francis Scott Key while he watched the British attack on Fort McHenry.
The volume is written by longtime editor and author Ruth Ashby, who has more than 30 books to her credit, many of them dealing with history and historical figures. Ashby, now a teacher of English at a small Long Island college, is uniquely qualified to write the stories, as she is also married to Ernie Colon. AND, she was my very first editor when I began working in books, at Byron Preiss Visual Publications.
Wanna’ learn about your country’s history and have a hell of a good time doing it? Read this book.