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A Native Lad
A graphic novel written, drawn and published by Alaskans!

Get the book now at BOSCO'S or

From Sarah Hurst April 2011:

“A Native Lad” has been selected by the Alaska Center for the Book to represent Alaska on a literary map of the U.S. at the Library of Congress’s National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. in September. Congratulations! There is an Alaska booth at the Pavilion of States and it will feature our book.

The dates of the “Native Lad” exhibition at the Dorothy G. Page Museum in Wasilla have changed to April 29-July 1. ... please remember the artists’ event is on June 11. Let me know if you have any questions about that.

Original art from A Native Lad is on display and for sale at the International Gallery of Contemporary Art through December.Go to 427 D Street, Anchorage, Alaska 907.279.1116 Tue-Sun 12-4pm.

A Celebration of A Native Lad: Benny Benson Tells Alaska’s Story
Where: Z. J. Loussac Public Library, Wilda Marston Theatre, level one 360 Denali Street
When: Thursday, November 18, 7pm
Cost: FREE

Author Sarah Hurst and cartoonists Stanley McCauley, Lee Post and Evon Zerbetz discuss the collaborative effort in the creation of the graphic novel A Native Lad: Benny Benson Tells Alaska’s Story with the guidance of moderator John Weddleton, the owner of BOSCO'S.

KNBA newscaster Joaquin Estrus will feature with a group reading of a scene about an Alaska school segregation case from Hurst’s original play, which is the inspiration for the book.

Vocalist Sandy Cunningham will open the festivities with her performance of the Alaska Flag Song.

Books will be available for purchase and signing. This event is in celebration of Alaska Native Heritage Month and is sponsored by the Friends of the Library.

The debut August 14, 2010 at BOSCO'S in the Dimond Center was a real success. Good crowd and lots of books sold and signed.

Here you see artists Lee Post, Sean Jones, Duke Russell and Peter Dunlap-Shohl with Author Sarah Hurst.









Learn more about author Sarah Hurst at the 49 writers blog. See the play this book is based on performed at the school in Tatitlek.

This is a graphic novel teaching the modern history of Alaska. Why? You could spend years at the Loussac Library reading through stacks of textbooks on Alaska's history. Why not use those to learn this story? Why a graphic novel? I mean, really, it's just a fat comic, right?

A good comic can pack more concepts, more character development, more story per square inch than words alone. Sure, comics are often considered low-brow pulp in this country. Around the world, though, the comic form of storytelling is hugely popular for the way words and pictures work together to tell a story, and to educate, in a way they cannot when working alone. Comics are words and pictures combined and there is no limit to how good either can be.

In Sarah Hurst's brisk journey through Alaska's history, we meet dozens of historical figures and learn about the big impact events that led us to today. Our trip is guided by a Native lad named Benny Benson. We bounce between present and past with continuity maintained and modern relevance highlighted with Benny's narration and a dangling Permanent Fund Dividend check. This is no gentle history. There are winners and losers and the result is not always fair. This is history the way it really happens.

The story is a real treat, from the opening scene where we meet Benny Benson drawn by Lee Post with a fun and very approachable style, to the surprise final scene by Peter Dunlap-Shohl whose inimitable style skewered errant politicos for years at the Anchorage Daily News. A good comic story doesn't just illustrate the words. The art is part of the story, usually more than the words. The art sets the pace with the organization of the frames or lack of them, the style of lettering and word balloons, and much of the story can be told in the space between the frames. This is history jumping off the page.

The 17 scenes are drawn by 9 artists, making this a showcase for comic talent in Alaska. The styles range considerably, from Lance Lekander's cartoony style, like early Charles Schulz, to Evon Zerbetz's and Shanley McCauley's very realistic renderings. Dimi Macheras puts us deep into some scenes and sends the action leaping from the page in others. You will be surprised by the way Sean Jones plays with word balloons to draw us into conversations. Duke Russell paces the story with an almost manga style. Gideon Gerlt is unconstrained by frames and lets his characters' eyes tell the story. There are powerful moments in the script, and the artists don't let us down.

This book is a history of our great state. It was first a play and is now a very worthy graphic novel. More than just a look back, the book connects Alaska's present with its past and points to the future. It is fitting that what we know about Alaska's most ancient past is largely from art on tools, clothing, totems... and now we turn to a very modern form of storytelling art, the graphic novel, to continue to educate in a way that has great appeal to modern readers.

John Weddleton Owner, BOSCO'S Comics, Cards & Games

The play and graphic novel can be used to teach Alaska history. Be sure to read the teachers’ and students’ guide that goes with the play.

The title “A Native Lad” is from the first words of the unadopted second verse of the Alaska Flag Song, which refer to Benny Benson designing the flag.

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