Blood Upon The Rose
Reviewed by David O' Leary
BLOOD UPON THE ROSE OGN (Cover Date: 2009)
Story by: Gerry Hunt
Art by: Gerry Hunt
Colours by: BrenB
Cover by: Gerry Hunt
Publisher: O'Brien Press
Cover Price: 12.99
Reviewed By: David O' Leary
Book Summery: The rebellion that set Ireland free, told as a graphic novel. The 1916 Easter Rising was an attempt by a small group of militant Irish republicans to win independence from Britain. It was the most significant rebellion in Ireland. Though a military failure, it set Ireland on the road to freedom from Britain. The book covers the story from the early planning to the final executions and includes the tragic romance between Joseph Plunkett and Grace Gifford. Following on from the success of political graphic novels such as Maus and Persepolis, this is accessible, informative and insightful history at its best.
Truth be told there were a few thing that drew me to this book. First, it was the recommendation of it by Rira Editor Aidan Courtney. Second, as far as I know, this is the first graphic novel in this country to be distributed by a major mainstream publishing house in O'Brien Press. Other Irish graphics have been distributed by independent houses prior to this and finally the subject matter was one that I could find myself being vested in as I have an interest in Irish political history if somewhat passing.
Gerry Hunt is a former architect that got into producing comics as a late stage. Gerry is in his seventies and this is his fourth published work. Also, this is the first dedicated work to the Easter 1916 rising against British rule in this country to be published in graphic novel format.
The book is written in a quite a matter of fact manner. I know that Gerry did a lot of research into the book and was bound by O'Brien Press to a 46 page count. So he had to leave certain items out like reducing Dev and Michael Collins to small parts in the book and instead focusing on the main leaders who would end up getting executed in Kilmainham Gaol in May 1916 for their parts in the uprising. He paces the story in such a manner that it is able to jump about the city of Dublin with a surprising ease and cohesiveness while portraying the Rising in all its ups and downs. By presenting the book like he did, he manages to tell the reader many thing that he may not have known previously. I studied this subject in school, like just about every student in Ireland but at the time you never really grasp it fully in that its importance could be lost on the youthful mind. But here where it is shown in all its visceral grittiness is a remarkable show as it makes everything all the more existent.
One of the great scenes in the book is the telling of the final few days in the life of Joseph Plunkett, who apart from being a Nationalist, was an accomplished poet and journalist. Following the surrender of the leaders, he was brought to Kilmainham where he was court marshalled for his part and was sentenced to execution by firing squad. Hours before he was shot, he married his sweet heart, Grace Gifford in the Gaol's chapel and Grace had to be physically removed from his presence before he was led out to the yard for his sentence to be carried out.
Although public opinion was not entirely in the favour of the ';shinners', the executions helped sway opinion back towards them. Particularly the execution of James Connolly who was shot while tied to a chair due injuries sustained in fighting. Another factor was the senseless gunning down of a family waving a white flag while crossing the street by British forces helped the popularity of the fighters against what was now seen as barbaric actions by the enemy.
To help give a sense of realism to the story, Hunt presents an art style deeply influenced by his architectural background. The buildings presented, which play a large part in the story setting look beautiful. His major protagonists look the real part and a ton of research went into the laying out of the story. The way a scene can seamlessly jump from one street to the next without an obvious break in the telling of the story was a nice touch but an overall sense of the inevitable was always present. Although I knew well the outcome, you could still find yourself hoping for a different outcome.
This is a remarkable book and the actions contained within paved the way for a further insurrection just a few years later that was a bigger struggle but laid the groundwork for a new democracy. This book has potential sequel written all over it and if it can be done, Hunt is the man to do it. Highly recommended.
Rating the Issue
Story: Overall 9.33
Concept - 9 out of 10
Plot - 10 out of 10
Dialogue - 9 out of 10
Take A Look Inside
Name: David O' Leary
Been reading comics: for about 12 years now.
Review Bio: I am a 26-year-old Hotel Manager from the west coast of the Republic of Ireland and think this is a great way to talk to others about this cool medium. I am a husband to one wife and father to one girl (so far).
Favorites: ONI's Whiteout, Vertigo's Scalped and Garth Ennis Preacher and Punisher in Trades. In comic form I am reading a lot of Marvel and a bit of IDW, Dark Horse & WildStorm among others.
Website: Sorry, I don't have one!
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