This Writer is a big fan of comic books – or graphic novels, if you prefer. They have an immediacy that mere words on paper (or screen) sometimes fails to evoke.
When it comes to political ideology, I’m surprised that comics haven’t been employed to get the points across more often before now.
So I think writer/artist Paul Fitzgerald’s bid for funding to support Tom Paine’s Bones – his graphic retelling of the story of the radical human rights and political reform advocate whose work inspired the American Revolution and the formation of a democratic United States – is well worth supporting.
Here’s a quick description of the man and his career:
Through his strong and vocal stances on human rights and political reform he became a key figure in the American Revolution. His pamphlet Common Sense, which advocated for independence and an egalitarian government for the Thirteen Colonies, became the most widely read pamphlet during the American Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783).
His work reached an international audience and Paine’s The Rights of Man, which defended the French Revolution, so infuriated locals in Didsbury and Deangate, in 1793 that they carried out mock trials and executions, burning effigies of Paine in the process.
Even after his death in 1809, Thomas Paine continued to be a thorn in the side of those in power. His bones were unearthed from his grave in America by the radical William Cobbett and carried to the outskirts of Manchester and Salford, just after the Peterloo massacre had occurred in 1819. Fearing the presence of Paine’s remains would foment rebellion amongst a populace still raw from the massacre, troops prevented Cobbett from entering with the bones.
That’s an influential man; his power extended beyond the grave.
Paul Fitzgerald, an artist from Hulme in Manchester also known as Polyp, has been busily working to take Tom Paine out of stuffy lectures on politics and philosophy and onto the illustrated novel page. You can see an example of his excellent work above.
He has launched a Kickstarter campaign for £15,000 to get the project published and I would urge you to help out if you can. Just click on the link and make your donation.
Hopefully this could become part of a series exploring the origins of modern political thinking.