Thursday, 14 February 2013

Graphic Novel: Cuba: My Revolution

Cuba: My Revolution: A powerful story which takes you to emotional extremes.

Cuba: My Revolution by Inverna Lockpez and Dean Haspiel
Cuba: My Revolution is an affecting account of Sonya, a seventeen year old Cuban girl who dreams of becoming an artist, and who is initially a passionate believer in Fidel Castro and his revolution.  However, as she begins to witness the brutality, oppressiveness and inequality of Fidel’s rule, she gradually becomes more and more disillusioned with the reality of Fidel Castro’s government.

It’s a thought-provoking and affecting story based on actual events in the early life of writer Inverna Lockpez and one which leaves a powerful lasting impression, as well as an appreciation for the freedoms we often take for granted.

The story begins with Cuba full of excitement and enthusiasm for the future, with dreams of justice and equality as Fidel Castro marches into Havana to the triumphant sound of canon salutes.  The nation is in celebration at the removal of former president and dictator, Fulgencio Batista, and when you learn how Batista was violently oppressive of anyone who dared to disagree with him, resorting to torture and censorship, you can understand why Fidel Castro was initially so popular.

Fast forward six years later, however, and the wave of optimism has disappeared and in its turn disillusionment has set in as the principles which were promised haven’t matched the reality.  The equality which was talked about just means that everyone is equally poor and equally afraid.

But Cuba: My Revolution is more than just a history lesson.  Inverna Lockpez tells the story through Sonya’s eyes and that helps create a strong emotional attachment, as you find yourself initially sympathising with Sonya and understanding her support for Fidel Castro.  However, as it gradually becomes apparent that Cuba has simply replaced one tyrant with another, and Sonya herself becomes a victim of Castro’s paranoid and ruthless government, you find yourself desperately wishing she would open her eyes to the truth.  Unfortunately though, as Sonya’s friend, Willi, remarks, “The genius of Castro is in the art of deception.”

The political element obviously makes up the lion’s share of the story, but Sonya’s personal life is also explored as friendship and love are intertwined into the political backdrop and all in all it makes for a powerful emotional cocktail.  It’s an intense and at times painful journey which Sonya travels along, with her dreams of hope and justice for her country gradually turning sour, and as a result it draws you into the story right from the very first few pages.

Dean Haspiel’s artwork also helps in his respect, as the style is perfectly matched with the era of the story and the retro feel to the art expertly captures the atmosphere of the time.  Throughout the book the story takes you to emotional extremes and some of the imagery, portraying scenes of pain and tears, and then eventually unbridled jubilation, left me feeling very humbled.

There are some stories which need and deserve to be told and Cuba: My Revolution is one of them.  Reporting the story from the viewpoint of one of Cuba’s citizens gives this book a personal connection with its readers and ensures that the story will linger on your mind long after you finish reading it.

If ever an example was needed to show how powerful a story-telling medium the graphic novel can be, then Cuba: My Revolution is the perfect example.

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Other recommended graphic novels on Worthy Of A Bigger Audience:
Graphic Novels on 'Worthy Of A Bigger Audience'

Please note, all promotional images used on this blog remain the copyright of the respective artists/publishers and are used in accordance with 'Fair Use' legislation for review purposes.

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