Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Andrew Vachss' Heart Transplant

I just read Andrew Vachss' Heart Transplant, a graphic novel about bullying and let me tell you, if you know any kids you suspect might be being bullied in school, you need this book. It would be a great way to open a dialog with a child and it might teach you a few things and blow away any preconcieved notions you might have about bullies. It's that good.
It's also a very good graphic novel, written with the razor sharp prose I've come to admire from Lawyer/Author Andrew Vachss over the years. Vachss has a way of going straight to the heart of a matter, pulling no punches because they shouldn't be pulled, and never flinching from uncomfortable truths.
If you're unfamiliar with Vachss, he is the author of the long running series of Burke crime novels and many other books. More importantly, he's a remorseless enemy of anyone who would harm, abuse or neglect a child. I interviewed him many years ago for Comic Shop News and it changed my life. Many of the hardest and most important lessons I learned about the world, I learned from Andrew Vachss. Some day I'll go on about that in more detail, but just let me say that when Vachss talks, I listen. When he said join PROTECT. org, a non partisan organization for the protection of children, (Kind of like the NRA but lobbying for kids instead of guns) I signed on. I'll provide a link at the bottom of the post. Help out if you can.
The art for Heart Transplant is by Frank Carruso, a talented cartoonist who uses mixed medias in this book to carry the story along. His art is catoony when it needs to be and more realistic when that will get the point across better. It reminds me somewhat of Will Eisner's later work, such as A Contract With God and The Building.
The last few pages of the book contain an informative essay on violence and bullying by Zak Mucha. I learned a lot from that as well.
Anyway, I highly recommend Heart Transplant. Like most of Andrew Vachss' work, it might make you a little uncomfortable, but that's okay. There are things we should be uncomfortable about, and we're lucky there are writers and artists who take the hard looks.

For more about PROTECT go here:


And for more about Andrew Vachss, go here.


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