Yesterday The New York Times ran a feature in its Arts Section about the new comic book, “Unknown Soldier,” which story is set during the ongoing Ugandan Civil War. Published by Vertigo, an imprint of DC Comics, “Unknown Soldier” is a regular series. The New York Times reports that a collected edition, which reprints the first six issues, will be in bookstores beginning on Aug. 26:
Unknown Soldier … is about Dr. Lwanga Moses, a Ugandan whose family fled the country for the United States when he was 7. He returns as an adult in 2002 with his wife, Sera, also a physician, hoping to put their medical skills to use in a part of the country that has experienced civil war for 15 years. He finds a world filled with violence, boys used as soldiers and girls punished for innocent acts like riding bicycles. Along the way he also encounters an Angelina Jolie-type character in Margaret Wells, an actress and activist.
As a fan and collector of comic books and graphic books with African themes, I am excited by “Unknown Soldier.” I just finished the excellent “Deogratias,” about the Rwandan genocide of 1994 (written by J.P. Stassen); and have copies of “Aya of Pop City” (written by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie), Will Eisner’s “Sundiata” as well as “Stormkaap” (a story about young men on the Cape Flats) by the young South African illustrators and writers Andre Trantraal, Ashley Marais and Nathan Trantaal).
The writer of the “Unknown Soldier” series is Joshua Dysart. The illustrator is Alberto Ponticelli). In the article he comes across as thoughfull and informed. Among others things, he visited Uganda, stayed with the Acholi (the people most affected by the war in Uganda’s north), and took 1000 photographs. The New York Times story also includes a link to an excerpt from the comic book.
Dysart told The New York Times “… Unknown Soldier would eventually move past Uganda 2002. He wants to explore who finances the rebels, among other topics. He also wants to write about corporate involvement in Africa and unethical pharmaceutical testing on ethnic populations, if the series lasts.”