Che: the graphic biography

Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon (the pair who produced the bestselling graphic adaptation of the 9-11 Commission Report) have a new book out: Che: A Graphic Biography.

In addition to narrating the remarkable story of Guevara's life, Che is a very good backgrounder on the geopolitics that gave rise to Guevara's pan-Americanism, the Cuban revolution, and his tragic and brutal execution (the press that published Che, Hill & Wang, were last mentioned here for their graphic biography of Leon Trotsky).

The graphic format is especially well-suited to these geopolitical sequences, in which multi-page spreads are used to connect the dots between historical events and nations to give a compact but extremely informative tour through the complex story of Latin American colonization and independence as well as the Cold War.

This background also sets the stage for the complex story of Che, the man; and Che, the symbol. Both are fraught -- Che, the man, was fierce, brilliant, flawed, vicious, and compassionate. As a symbol, Che has become a revolutionary icon devoid of any substance, for sale on mugs and t-shirts (a warped mirror of Guevara's veneration in Cuba itself, where his larger-than-life image has likewise become an ideological icon).

As with every biography, the biographers have had to take sides, and, by and large, they side with Che. They don't whitewash his actions in war, or the disastrous blunders in Africa; but they also give just appreciation to Guevara's bravery, his commitment to justice, and his integrity. Read the rest