This week’s graphic novel selections are of a darker variety than I am used to writing about, but both have some things in common: Murders in rural Kansas and authors that have considered Kansas home at one time or another.
The first selection is Capote in Kansas: a drawn novel. The author of this book is Ande Parks and the artist is Chris Samnee. Unlike the book In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, this book concentrates almost exclusively on the personal life of Capote as he investigates the murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas in November of 1959.
It feels weird to say you have a favorite part of a book that covers such a tragic event, but the interaction between Capote and the murderers in this story offer some very compelling reading. We don’t ever really find any reason for why the murder was committed, but we do start to understand why Capote felt that this story needed to be told. A very fine book by Ande Parks.
The second selection is The Saga of the Bloody Benders, with Rick Geary as artist and author. This story takes place in the year 1870 in Labette County, Kansas.
This book follows the Bender family as they strike out to make a living on the Kansas prairie. They start by running a grocery story that provides a place to sleep for the weary traveler. The only problem is visitors check in but they seldom, if ever, check out. Whereas in the Capote book the murderers are found and brought to justice, no one ever really knew what happened to the Bender family. Some have speculated that they weren’t even really a family, just a bunch of outlaws out to make some money off unsuspecting travelers.
My favorite part of this novel is the amount of historical detail that has gone into the drawing of each frame and into the telling of this macabre tale. The hard part is remembering that such an awful group once called the beautiful prairie lands of Kansas home.
Great book for learning about this infamous family in Kansas history.
Check both of these books out if you have the chance. But be warned, you might find yourself pulling the blankets up a little higher and checking the locks in the middle of the night.