CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

The historian’s profession is to make past events “talk” through a narrative process. As a loyal friend of words, he is, however, well inspired to observe and study other means of representing History. In that view, the graphic novel offers exiting mines to explore. What capacity do these comic books for adults have to treat History? What methods do they use to articulate an understanding of the past so different from the historian’s? And, above all, what sort of intelligibility of historical events do they produce? In trying to picture a founding event —dark and mythical— of the first English settlement in Virginia (1607) —and ultimately of the founding of the United States— Christopher Hittinger’s “Jamestown” (2007) is a perfect example of subversion of evidence. With no regard to realism, with large sheets in dense black and white, he makes the narrative work, unties the threads of causalities, gives way to the uncertainty of men, introduces random within the main narrative of the event, and gives room to the point of view of the absents. In short, he demystifies the event, explores the different perceptions of the elders and, through self chosen forms of narrative, questions the means to weave past events into the present.

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