Jason Borelli writes from his time at New York Comic Con:
You’ll never be free until you free yourself from the prison in your mind.
This seems a little much to put on the cover of a book. The Hunting Accident has the subtitle, “A True Story of Crime and Poetry.” Given that the subject of the book is a man blinded by gunfire, the phrase is above the title, inscribed in braille.
The Hunting Accident is the first graphic novel for both writer David L. Carlson and artist Landis Blair. Released by First Second Books, the story centers on the relationship between Matt and Charlie Rizzo; a blind self-made scholar and the son who returned to him after his mother’s death.
As Charlie grows up and gets in trouble with the law, Matt reveals that he did not lose his eyesight in a hunting accident, but while abetting in a robbery. Soon, Charlie learns about his father’s stint in prison, where Matt fell under the wing of Nathan Leopold, who was serving time for his part in murdering a 14-year-old boy. Leopold is a childhood bogeyman to Matt for his infamous crime, but he wound up educating him, culminating with a jaunt into Dante’s Inferno.
As Carlson and Blair appeared at the First Second booth at New York Comic Con, they talked about the book. Carlson noted that graphic novels are a growing format, with the storyboard in place of a screenplay. While he was not into the genre prior to writing the book, Carlson was inspired the work of Craig Thompson, as well as Edward Gorey.
Carlson cited shifting perspectives in The Hunting Accident, as the scenes leapt from Matt’s time in prison to his relating the story to Charlie, as well as asides into Matt’s attempts at poetry. To fully dive into the world Matt and Leopold shared, Carlson dove into a class on The Divine Comedy, taking seven weeks apiece per book.
For his part, Landis went into crosshatching, creating meticulously detailed artwork to fill almost five hundred pages of story. He wanted to express light coming out of darkness, seeing nothing wrong with slowing the pace of his art to allow the reader to contemplate matters.
Asked about what he wanted readers to get from The Hunting Accident, Carlson said that he wished to show the importance of poetry, and how it can still be relevant. Matt entered prison with a fourth-grade education, but his mind was expanded by his cellmate, allowing him more possibilities even though he was blind.
The Hunting Accident was released this September from First Second. The listed price is $34.99.