Lewis & Clark promises to be "The Greatest Adventure of American History." Happily, it's a promise that Nick Bertozzi's latest masterpiece of graphic nonfiction fulfills with wit, aplomb, and effortless storytelling.
Even the barest outline of Lewis and Clark's historic journey would likely give the most seasoned of modern adventure seekers real reason to pause. Starting out in May of 1804, their expedition of exploration blazed a pioneering trail through the most remote and dangerous reaches of the Northwestern territories of the then-burgeoning United States, all in search of a water route to the Pacific, and at the behest of congress and then-President Thomas Jefferson.
Lewis, Clark, and their men walked, canoed, or rode on horseback across thousands of miles of untouched wilderness, laying claim to the land for the US while amassing an incredible number of specimens and information about the region and its resources. Along the way, they encountered friend and foe, natives and European exploiters of the people and the land, along with death, privation, swarms of insects, and worse. They were gone for three long, hard years and were considered dead well before they miraculously returned, walking out of the wilderness and into the national consciousness and history books.
At first glance, it would seem nigh impossible to properly capture within the allotted pages the true proportions of that epic expedition. Yet Bertozzi's entertaining and illuminating treatment skillfully depicts not only the sheer scope of that worthy pairs' various accomplishments--and they are many--but also their mercurial natures, all with nary a wasted pen stroke or narrative overstep.
Visually, Bertozzi's vigorous line work is simply a marvel to behold. Alternately sinuous and fine, then abrupt, bold, and sharp, the artist mixes and matches his technique to meet the story's demands beat by beat, even panel by panel, endowing the characters and their actions with a propulsive and vibrant immediacy, and a palpable sense of life. Those same characters are given voice by the artist-writer in real and effective ways, subtlety providing bits of information about them and their world in wholly believable and engrossing ways.
Ultimately, Lewis & Clark is not just a great comic. It's also a great piece of graphic nonfiction and one of the best examples of the genre available to readers today.© 2010 ForeWord Reviews. All Rights Reserved.
In the early 1800s, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led the first official U.S. expedition from the East to the Pacific Ocean: three years of scientific discoveries, Indian encounters, drunkenness, fraying tempers, geographical surprises like the Rocky Mountains, lengthy and exhausting portage of gear between waterways, and an unenviably variable food supply. Tasked by President Thomas Jefferson to map a waterway passage across the country as well as soften up Indian tribes for U.S. trade and sovereignty, the manic-depressive Lewis and his more even-keeled partner commanded a boat crew aided by translator Sacajawea with her baby and Clark's personal slave, York. Judiciously intercutting the emotional with the historical, Bertozzi (The Salon) dramatizes Native American dilemmas as well as those of the explorers in a nuanced and addictive account. Creative use of page layouts and speech balloons adds understanding. VERDICT Rightly described as "harrowing and hilarious," Lewis & Clark should help tweens and up burrow into history through a visceral appreciation of the road trip from hell, 19th-century-style. Recommended for all libraries. This is the first volume of a world explorer series, with Shackleton up next.--M.C.[Page 68]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Bertozzi (Houdini: The Handcuff King) brings new life to the epic westward journey of explorers Lewis and Clark in this graphic novel perfect for history buffs. At the urging of President Jefferson, Capt. Meriwether Lewis gathers a party of hardy men to accompany him into the unknown western territories, through which he is determined to find a water route to the Pacific Ocean. Setting off on May 21, 1804, from St. Louis with his second-in-command, Capt. William Clark, Lewis proves to be a man of singular--often bordering on tunnel--vision when it comes to accomplishing his goal. Bertozzi illustrates the group's interactions with numerous Native American tribes, which grow increasingly strained as the chiefs rebuff the explorers' offers of beads for trade and demand rifles and other weaponry. The challenging landscape plays a major role as well, including the mighty Missouri River, the unexpected Rocky Mountains, and finally rapids in the Dalles, Ore., near the end of the journey. Lewis's dream of finding an uninterrupted water route westward fails. His deteriorating mental state throughout the expedition and particularly on the return trip is eloquently drawn, with Bertozzi managing to combine both history lesson and character study in strong, gripping drawings. Ages 12-up. (Feb.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
Gr 7 Up--Meriwether Lewis, a complex and fascinating figure in American history, was a bold explorer and a man haunted by demons. Both sides of his personality are revealed in this saga of his search for a Northwest water passageway to the Pacific. This retelling begins as Jefferson informs Lewis that Congress has approved this expedition. After recruiting William Clark and obtaining necessary provisions, the expedition departs St. Louis in 1804. Death, stampeding buffalo herds, steep-sided canyons, large bodies of moving water, and encounters with multiple Native American tribes must be negotiated. The author makes excellent use of the generous page size. The vertical orientation of side panels frames a deep chasm and scale the heights of a tall tree. Prairies are depicted with long horizontal panels spanning the gutter, and full-page spreads show the expansive country, contributing to readers' understanding of the vastness of the journey. Traditional panels and speech balloons are used to portray the points of view of the explorers. Shapes and outlines of panels alter significantly when the various Native communities are depicted, with a different design for each tribe. Inventive use of differently shaped speech balloon help readers identify each individual tribe that the explorers encounter. This story continues beyond the conclusion of the expedition; it ends three years hence, detailing Lewis's tragic end as well as suppositions regarding Sacajawea's whereabouts.--Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY[Page 131]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.