By Osvaldo Padilla
There were three shots fired — p-kow! p-kow! p-kow! Some folks think they heard a fourth. Some only heard two.
For decades since those shots rang out on a clear November morning in Dallas, we’ve continued to feel their reverberations. What has also persisted: confusion (two shots? three? four?), conspiracies, paranoia and the disillusionment that resulted from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Those shots ring through as a narrative motif in “The Warren Commission Report: A graphic Investigation into the Kennedy Assassination.” The nonfiction comic novel probes the events of Nov. 22, 1963 and the resulting investigation into the president’s murder. Comic book veterans, Dan Mishkin, Ernie Colón and Jerzy Drozd collaborate to render a historical study that is equal parts fact and pathos.
“Within days of the murder of President John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson appointed a seven-member commission to investigate the assassination. In its report, the Warren Commission determined that there was “no credible evidence” conflicting with its conclusion of a lone gunman, a statement that was immediately subject to intense public scrutiny that, an incredible five decades later, has not subsided…
The Warren Commission Report uses the comics medium to provide a unique means of testing the commission’s claim, using graphic storytelling techniques to unravel competing narratives and make plain how decisions taken in the days that followed the events in Dallas shaped the way those events would be reconstructed by the commission.”
Mishkin manages to get it all in there, the politics, the players and the conspiracies. From the outset, the story is infused with moments of heart and honesty. Competing storylines and histories are woven together, and we’re reminded why this event maintains such a revered position in America’s emotional pantheon.
Colón and Drozd’s art is stunning and instructional. I asked Mishkin about the art, and here’s how he explained how it came together:
“Ernie and Jerzy both laid out pages, with Jerzy working within Ernie’s nonfiction, reportorial style (which takes an objective stance while leaving room for artistic variety and for emotional effects). Ernie also produced much of the finished foreground art. Jerzy did all the lettering and coloring.”
With a clever and gorgeous ink palette and a parade of compelling faces — shocked, sneering, grinning, devastated — we relearn a story that’s not only about an assassination, but the nation’s character itself. It’s a snapshot of a paranoid and troubled time that continues to resonate and define us.
The Warren Commission Report
By Dan Mishkin, Ernie Colón, and Jerzy Drozd
Abrams/September 16th, 2014
U.S. HC: $29.95/PB: $17.95
ISBN: HC: 9781419712302/ PB: 9781419712319
Hardcover with jacket and paperback with flaps
160 pages / 6½ x 9¼
Available on Comixology, Amazon, BN.com, Abrams.com and bookstores everywhere.
Images supplied courtesy of: The Warren Commission Report by By Dan Mishkin, Ernie Colón, and Jerzy Drozd © 2014, Abrams ComicArts