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The Hunting Accident: A True Story of Crime and Poetry

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In order to prevent his son from going down the same dark path he did, a blind poet must tell his son about his secret life as a mobster. "The Hunting Accident" is the true life story of a Chicago gangster who is blinded during a shootout and is sent to Stateville Prison where he learns to navigate life under the tutelage of real life thrill killer Nathan Leopold.


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In order to prevent his son from going down the same dark path he did, a blind poet must tell his son about his secret life as a mobster. "The Hunting Accident" is the true life story of a Chicago gangster who is blinded during a shootout and is sent to Stateville Prison where he learns to navigate life under the tutelage of real life thrill killer Nathan Leopold.

30 review for The Hunting Accident: A True Story of Crime and Poetry

  1. 4 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    I reread this in the past couple weeks because the book won yet another award, and I am sharing my review again because I just don't think enough people have read it, and it deserves more attention. I think I can name four great comics events in this year of 2017 so far, and this is one of them (the others I say are Providence by Alan Moore, Roughneck by Jeff Lemire, and My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris). And now comes along this great book, based on an actual, sensational, true story I reread this in the past couple weeks because the book won yet another award, and I am sharing my review again because I just don't think enough people have read it, and it deserves more attention. I think I can name four great comics events in this year of 2017 so far, and this is one of them (the others I say are Providence by Alan Moore, Roughneck by Jeff Lemire, and My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris). And now comes along this great book, based on an actual, sensational, true story discovered by first time novelist David Carlson and illustrated by fellow Chicagoan Landis Blair. And like the others, it is amazing. Charlie Rizzo was told by his father Matt that he lost his vision in a hunting accident. It wasn't until teenaged Charlie found himself in a jail cell for his petty crimes that he learned the truth and it is not really a spoiler to say it here, because we learn it early on: Matt Rizzo was blinded by a shotgun blast to the face while working for the mob. Imprisoned in Statesville Prison, it was there he met and was educated by Nathan Leopold, of Leopold and Loeb "Crime of the Century" fame (they killed a kid to prove a Nietzchean point about how some superior Supermen can rise above guilt; uh, Nope, Nietzsche was wrong, and this old-fashioned house-spun "philosophy" is actually right: Crime doesn't pay, boys). Yet it was Leopold wo introduced Rizzo to art and philosophy and literature; he introduced him to Dante's Inferno, and it's nine rings of Hell, that in some sense resembled the Panopticon "all-seeing" prison design of Jeremy Bentham. Which is also a story of going through hell (as you do in prison) to hopefully become redeemed. Leopold helped Rizzo to read Braille and become a writer of fiction, and an advocate of poetry/literature. Improbable? A case of truth being stranger than fiction? Ding ding ding. The Matt-Charlie father-son story extends to Matt Rizzo's own father, too, and this is important--it's a father-son story, a story also of male mentoring, and coming of age--but the improbable relationship of Rizzo with murderer Leopold really pleased me ! And it's a Chicago story (I live in Chicago)! It's about the importance of literature, as I said, and teaching/mentoring/parenting and redemption. Highly recommended!! Charlie Rizzo came to David Carlson with his father's writings; and some of it was published in the Chicago Tribune, too. But Carlson spent months getting down Matt Rizzo's story, reading the archives, looking into the Leopold-Loeb connection. Though I spent all my time talking here about the story, the real strength of this volume, the real marvel, is Landis Blair's cross-hatched pen and ink, just breath-taking, owing something to his mentor Edward Gorey. There are surreal/nightmare sequences that are worthy of Gorey but make it clear Blair is is own amazing artist. The artwork alone would make this worth picking up and owning it. See Seth T's amazing review to see some of it! This is the best review of the book, and it was done three years ago, in 2014, of an early, limited edition that required kickstarter to get this to the greater public. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... Leopold and Loeb: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopold... A Chicago Tribune article by Mary Schmich about Rizzo for Father's Day, 2002: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/20...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    This book is the reason I love the graphic novel medium. This was a brilliant way to tell a captivating story. I am not sure that regular prose would have done it justice. Non-Fiction graphic novels are not something you run into that often (at least I haven’t). I recently read My Friend Dahmer, and that was also a very interesting and well-presented non-fiction graphic novel. I think non-fiction works well because you can take what would be a 20 page chapter of “boring history” and tell it wit This book is the reason I love the graphic novel medium. This was a brilliant way to tell a captivating story. I am not sure that regular prose would have done it justice. Non-Fiction graphic novels are not something you run into that often (at least I haven’t). I recently read My Friend Dahmer, and that was also a very interesting and well-presented non-fiction graphic novel. I think non-fiction works well because you can take what would be a 20 page chapter of “boring history” and tell it with just a couple of pages of enthralling drawn images. It is amazing how many words can be held in a couple of comic panels – even without thought/word bubbles . Speaking of the art; it was both simple and complex. Lots of symbolism can be found throughout. On some pages, you might have 15 panels. On another you may have one lone image. And, when shadowing or adding texture, the amount of pen strokes used to add depth is incredible. The artist must have been unable to use his hand for days after every chapter. If you like non-fiction, history, true crime, graphic novels, and/or just damn fine literature, you really should check this one out. I can confidently say, without sounding cheesy or clichéd, that this is an epic masterpiece. Please note: I use the term "boring history" in this review. In general, I don't find history to be boring, but sometimes it can be pretty dry when presented. I think for people who have a hard time staying interested in historical stories, this format could be perfect for them.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jon Nakapalau

    If you told me there was a book that meshed the Divine Comedy with the Panopticon I would have been happy with just that; but this book goes so much deeper in the way truth, lies and redemption are balanced. The most amazing aspect of this story is that you feel the weight of guilt that has weighed on everyone in this story; guilt not only of deed but of lessons not learned, or (even more importantly) not taught. The poetic aspect (a blind criminal prisoner) is in and of itself brilliant. This w If you told me there was a book that meshed the Divine Comedy with the Panopticon I would have been happy with just that; but this book goes so much deeper in the way truth, lies and redemption are balanced. The most amazing aspect of this story is that you feel the weight of guilt that has weighed on everyone in this story; guilt not only of deed but of lessons not learned, or (even more importantly) not taught. The poetic aspect (a blind criminal prisoner) is in and of itself brilliant. This writer/artist team is on my list to watch!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Seth T.

    I have always had a good relationship with my dad. I have always felt a care and a closeness and, so far as it matters, an honesty between us. So far as it matters. Certainly there are things about his past that I’m interested in but unwilling to inquire into. He was a mad hippie in the late ‘60s, a drug fiend who spent debauched days living careless amongst the surf communities of Kawaii and Southern California. The era of Janis and Jimi, of Woodstock and Monterey. In the months after a cataclys I have always had a good relationship with my dad. I have always felt a care and a closeness and, so far as it matters, an honesty between us. So far as it matters. Certainly there are things about his past that I’m interested in but unwilling to inquire into. He was a mad hippie in the late ‘60s, a drug fiend who spent debauched days living careless amongst the surf communities of Kawaii and Southern California. The era of Janis and Jimi, of Woodstock and Monterey. In the months after a cataclysmic bad trip on Christmas Day in 1970, he reformed, a newly minted member of the Jesus People movement, hippies high on the Holy Ghost rather than on tabs of sunshine. That’s the father I grew up knowing, the ardent believer, the artist dedicated to the cause of Christ. Even today, an old man, he surfs on his vacations back from his missionary work in Eastern Europe. He will die a convert, his former life in the hippie movement dead and ghosted for more than four decades now. And it’s a life I’m curious about—but will never ask after. There are boundaries, and I know enough to respect the privacy of people in regard to their shames, their guilts. There are some things that hurt too much to relive, to admit in the light of day. And I get the feeling that some of my father’s past may settle in those trenches, even as some of mine does and even as some of yours doubtlessly does. Truth and dare is a great children’s game because children have so little to hide. I get hints of what that era was to him, usually the highlights (seeing Cream live, with Ginger Baker wailing an obscenely long solo) or the funny stories (how swimmingly high he and his three comrades were while handling bomb ordinance in the belly of the USS Forrestal during Vietnam[1]). Very occasionally, I would get some sense of the long past troubles that haunted him—his staunch recollection of his involvement in the hippie movement not being characterized by love, peace, and freedom but instead by darkness and turmoil. That always sparked my curiosity. I wanted to know what he meant: in specific terms (whenever I learn of anything, I like to understand it in as much detail as I can easily obtain). But that always seemed a bridge too far, so I tamped down my interest. Still, despite what may be counted in some sense a secret life, I never felt my father was hiding anything from me. We just had some sort of mutual sense of discretion and privacy. Good for everyone involved probably. That makes Matt Rizzo’s story doubly fascinating to me. Not only is it a gripping exploration of a very real intersection between an unfortunate, haunted young man and a famed criminal, but The Hunting Accident is also (and perhaps primarily) about fathers and sons and that turmoil that builds when hidden pasts are not encountered in an environment built on trust. The Hunting Accident in the main spans around four decades, moving us from around 1930 to 1970. Some episodes occur earlier, and the epilogue travels all the way to the present day. Matt Rizzo has a problem with his son. In 1959, Rizzo’s son arrives from California where his mother has just expired. Rizzo is blind and an unsuccessful writer, but he tries to do well by his son. He explains his blindness as the result of a hunting mishap when he was a child. There’s more to it—much more—but Rizzo feels compelled to hide the truth of it from his son as much in order to protect the young boy as to protect his own heart. Eventually, it comes out that Rizzo spent time in prison as a young man, cellmate to Nathan Leopold Jr (of the famous Leopold and Loeb). From there begins a raucous, wonderful exploration of mid-twentieth-century history, prison life in the same era, great literature, and the struggles that sons have with their fathers. The story is dripping with fathers and sons—and while all of those relationships resemble not even remotely my own relationship with my father, there’s still a little something that sounds familiar. The world is recognizable. Writer David Carlson does an admirable job taking what could have been a story told via a wikipedia summary and twists it into something ranging and delicious, a complexity revealed by pieces and parts through visions and allusions. It’s an informational book that educates while it goes. Don’t know what a glim box is? You’ll soon learn. The history of Bentham’s panopticon? Covered. Want to know more about Braille? This is your book. Education is only employed so far as it will make the story come alive, but for that Carlson chooses exactly the right things to highlight. Like a map of the railroad lines circa 1929. Just a bit piece, almost entirely unnecessary. But it informs and magnifies the work. As well, The Hunting Accident is a very literary work. Those of you who’ve read my review of Fun Home may recall that I was skeptical of Bechdel’s use of the literary allusion, that I found it skirted pretension too closely for me to be entirely comfortable with it. It often felt tacked on and sometimes gimmicky. With The Hunting Accident, we feel none of that because the profusion of Homer and Virgil and Dante and Emerson and more obscure authors are intimately connected with Rizzo’s own Infernal descent through the hell of Stateville prison. And not only do we find lengthy quotation from those well-regarded, well-established authors, but Carlson spends significant time in the writing of Rizzo himself, a complicated, dizzying exploration of worlds and purposes, inspired by Dante and Milton and others. This is a thick work. It could have been simple and dull, but Carlson makes The Hunting Accident something grand and beautiful—a story of reinvention on a massive scale, made concretely evident by our excursions into the narrator’s own body of work. Sometimes, when you have a larger-than-life figure, the best way to approach them isn’t through straight biography; sometimes you want to sneak up on them obliquely. My favourite treatment of Hollywood legends is David Niven’s Bring on the Empty Horses . Niven collects a series of personal anecdotes to paint the portrait of a bucketful of Hollywood names. Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, Bogart and Bacall, etc. The story is resolutely Niven’s but through him, we unveil full and real lives for these other giants of the era. It’s delightful and probably far better than a straight biography would have been. And that’s exactly how we see Leopold in The Hunting Accident. He’s not the star. He’s not the focus. But he’s so much a looming presence—and so essential to the development of Rizzo’s story—that the book can’t help but pull back the curtain on who he was a bit. The Hunting Accident is never not the story of Rizzo and his son, but since Leopold plays such a tremendous role in that story, it becomes his story as well. [Landis Blair, in the process of ruining his wrist and eyesight for all time] Artist Landis Blair gives a bravura effort, packing 423 large square pages full of detail. Blair is a bit of an unconventional comics artist, placed solidly in the indie stream of the medium. He seems aware of the weaknesses of his art and uses both his tremendous design sense and ultra-patient hatching technique to mitigate what could otherwise damage the story. Instead of being a hindrance to The Hunting Accident, Blair ends up being perhaps its most evident grace, delivering a work of beauty and intelligence. In a lot of ways, The Hunting Accident unveils itself to be something like a working class Habibi—with all of the invention of Craig Thompson’s drawings minus their rarified elegance. His pages are endlessly creative and he does as well illustrating the literal horrors of Stateville Prison as he does the dreams, the visions, and the metaphorical. By his hand it’s made evident that The Hunting Accident could likely exist only in the comics medium (possibly in animated form, though much would likely be lost). Really though, check out these page designs. It’s pretty magnificent work: In the end, there’s really only one problem with The Hunting Accident. It’s just not available. I happened to see it being Kickstarted and jumped on because I thought it looked interesting (and it ended up being much better that I expected, which is always nice). But apart from those original 500 copies, it’s (hopefully very temporarily) out of print. The authors do not wish to self-publish and, as of their last update on 19 June 2015, are looking for a legit publisher to take it on. It’s a worthy book and one of the best comics I’ve read this year so hopefully someone like Drawn & Quarterly or Fantagraphics or Pantheon or whoever will take it on. I’d love to see this get wider play. _______ [Review courtesy of Good Ok Bad.] _______ Footnotes 1) The Forrestal would ignite later in his tour and twenty years later he would recount to me the smell of burning flesh and the fact that cars backfiring would send him wild-eyed with nascent terror.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Truman32

    The Hunting Accident by David L. Carlson and illustrated by Landis Blair is a factual graphic novel that has a really intriguing premise. Charlie Rizzo is only a teenager, yet he has already been arrested repeatedly for numerous minor crimes. His warmhearted and artistic father who has been blind since a childhood hunting accident sits him down, trying to get him to straighten up. It is then that Charlie discovers that his father actually lost his sight committing an armed robbery. Dad was on th The Hunting Accident by David L. Carlson and illustrated by Landis Blair is a factual graphic novel that has a really intriguing premise. Charlie Rizzo is only a teenager, yet he has already been arrested repeatedly for numerous minor crimes. His warmhearted and artistic father who has been blind since a childhood hunting accident sits him down, trying to get him to straighten up. It is then that Charlie discovers that his father actually lost his sight committing an armed robbery. Dad was on the receiving end of a shotgun blast by the manger of the liquor store he was holding up in 1935. His father, now sightless, was sent to Stateville Prison in Chicago where he ended up sharing a dank cell with the notorious thrill killer Nathan Leopold Jr. (of the hit sensation: Leopold and Loeb). Though to be honest, Leopold’s true crime is not cutting that fuzzy caterpillar of a unibrow above his eyes in half. Wretched and despairing, Charlie’s father’s life was saved by this infamous killer. Sure, discovering the secrets of our fathers is a kind of right of passage these days (shudder)--I remember when I found out my Dad was a member of the Jersey Shore Cast for season 5 (he was known as Banana John and I would have used Clorox if it could have successfully wiped that drunken hot tub scene between him and Snooki from my brain). But having pops committing a robbery and then befriending a murderer—wowzers! This is the kind of graphic novel that you show those snooty high falutin friends that cannot believe the medium can be anything other than flying men in tights. The story is multilayered and emotional (man, these stories about fathers and sons get me in the ticker every time) and the artwork, done in stunning pen and ink, is a wonder.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Glen

    I won this book in a goodreads drawing. A graphic novel account about a boy learning his grandfather's true story. All his life, the boy thought his grandfather was blinded in a hunting accident, but it turns out his grandfather was a gangster, who went to prison for years. There, he met Nathan Leopold Jr, who taught him to appreciate and write poetry. Not bad.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth A

    Book blurb: "The Hunting Accident" is the true life story of a Chicago gangster who is blinded during a shootout and is sent to Stateville Prison where he learns to navigate life under the tutelage of real life thrill killer Nathan Leopold. The True Crime genre has been exploding over the past several years, so it's no surprise that it has spilled over into the comics arena. There are several interesting and intersecting narratives in this one. Charlie Rizzo tells the true story about his father, Book blurb: "The Hunting Accident" is the true life story of a Chicago gangster who is blinded during a shootout and is sent to Stateville Prison where he learns to navigate life under the tutelage of real life thrill killer Nathan Leopold. The True Crime genre has been exploding over the past several years, so it's no surprise that it has spilled over into the comics arena. There are several interesting and intersecting narratives in this one. Charlie Rizzo tells the true story about his father, Matt, to the author, who researches the story and reports back with this book. The black and white artwork by Landis Blair is fantastic, and I could spent hours looking at all that hatching and crosshatching. Simply wonderful, and it's worth picking this up for the art alone. I didn't know about the sensational and horrible Leopold and Loeb crime, and it was interesting to learn about it, and Matt Rizzo's connection to Nathan Leopold. This is an interesting look at the crimes at the center of this story, the relationships between fathers and sons, and the power of books, stories, and unexpected friendships.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Skip

    I wasn't as thrilled by this book as others. It's a graphic novel biography of Matt Rizzo, who grew up in Chicago’s Little Italy in the roaring '20s, hung out with the wrong crowd, and found himself blind in Statesville Prison. His cellmate was notorious thrill killer Nathan Leopold, who got Rizzo interested in Dante’s Inferno and other classics, motivating Rizzo to become a writer when he got paroled even though his formal schooling after 4th grade. The story is told by his son Charlie, who is I wasn't as thrilled by this book as others. It's a graphic novel biography of Matt Rizzo, who grew up in Chicago’s Little Italy in the roaring '20s, hung out with the wrong crowd, and found himself blind in Statesville Prison. His cellmate was notorious thrill killer Nathan Leopold, who got Rizzo interested in Dante’s Inferno and other classics, motivating Rizzo to become a writer when he got paroled even though his formal schooling after 4th grade. The story is told by his son Charlie, who is reunited when his mother dies. Charlie is desperate to know his father’s history, and Charlie's own troubles with the wrong crowd and the law, force his father to divulge the truth as motivation to choose a better path. The black and white illustrations are powerful, setting a bleak mood and a bygone period setting. Highlights for me were: (1) Matt Rizzo's coming to grips with his loss of sight and (2) Leopold's reformative role as an educator in prison. A good cautionary tale to turn kids away from a life of crime, but I found the Dante storyline overbearing.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    The story begins in Chicago, 1959. Charlie’s mother has died, and he's come from California to live with his father, Matt. Matt is blind, and sends much of his time writing epic poems in Braille. He tells Charlie that he lost his sight in a hunting accident when he was young, but the truth, which later comes out, is that he took a shotgun blast to the face in the course of an armed robbery, and spent years in prison. It was in prison that he came to terms with his blindness and gained a new leas The story begins in Chicago, 1959. Charlie’s mother has died, and he's come from California to live with his father, Matt. Matt is blind, and sends much of his time writing epic poems in Braille. He tells Charlie that he lost his sight in a hunting accident when he was young, but the truth, which later comes out, is that he took a shotgun blast to the face in the course of an armed robbery, and spent years in prison. It was in prison that he came to terms with his blindness and gained a new lease on life thanks to the unlikely assistance of Nathan Leopold Jr., of Leopold and Loeb infamy … The story is somewhat complex, involving flashbacks within flashbacks. It doesn't ever get confusing, though, and the layers add depth. The artwork is lovely, lots of moody crosshatching and textures. I also liked the embossed elements on the cover, the Braille lettering in particular. This is one of the better graphic novels I’ve read in quite some time. Highly recommended!

  10. 4 out of 5

    First Second Books

    As a child, Charlie Rizzo had been told that his father lost his vision in a hunting accident. It wasn't until Charlie found himself in a jail cell for his petty crimes that he learned the truth. Matt Rizzo was blinded by a shotgun blast to the face while working for the mob. Just a teenager and newly blind, he began his bleak new life at Statesville Prison. It was there that his life and very soul were saved by one of America's most notorious killers: Nathan Leopold. From David Carlson and Landi As a child, Charlie Rizzo had been told that his father lost his vision in a hunting accident. It wasn't until Charlie found himself in a jail cell for his petty crimes that he learned the truth. Matt Rizzo was blinded by a shotgun blast to the face while working for the mob. Just a teenager and newly blind, he began his bleak new life at Statesville Prison. It was there that his life and very soul were saved by one of America's most notorious killers: Nathan Leopold. From David Carlson and Landis Blair comes a moving biography of a remarkable man whose journey from despair to enlightenment mirrored the great works of western literature that ultimately saved him.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    A fellow bookseller handed me this book, we were lucky enough to be sent a copy. I wrote a recommendation for the store, but I just had too much else to say. Matt Rizzo was a real person, born on the West Side of Chicago in 1913. Kicked from the house of his parents at 16, he was arrested at 18 for armed robbery with a group of young men who were connected to organized crime in the area. Matt was blinded by the shopkeeper's buckshot. After refusing to turn on his accomplices, he was sent to State A fellow bookseller handed me this book, we were lucky enough to be sent a copy. I wrote a recommendation for the store, but I just had too much else to say. Matt Rizzo was a real person, born on the West Side of Chicago in 1913. Kicked from the house of his parents at 16, he was arrested at 18 for armed robbery with a group of young men who were connected to organized crime in the area. Matt was blinded by the shopkeeper's buckshot. After refusing to turn on his accomplices, he was sent to Statesville in Joliet, IL - the same prison as Nathan Leopold, one half of "Thrill Killers" Leopold and Loeb, infamous for the Nietzsche-inspired cold blooded murder of a 14 year old boy and the trial that would become the spectacle of the decade. The pair spent most of their time behind bars teaching fellow inmates, as well as getting shaken down by them. Eventually, when the money stopped coming in, Loeb was stabbed to death in the shower. Leopold was moved into "the bug," so called because the area was surrounded by guards with the prisoner in the center being watched like a bug under a glass dome, too depressed to teach. But this story starts long after the "crime of the century," after Clarence Darrow's famous 12 hour speech on behalf of the young affluent murderers, after the infamous duo had done a decade in prison. Matt arrived at Statesville having only been a blind man for a short time, the gigantic echo chamber of a building filled with danger and noise must have been immediately overwhelming and constantly terrifying. The prison had never housed a blind man, so they placed him in the bug next to their most infamous inmate. Leopold was intrigued and learned braille in order to teach this newly blind young man how to read without sight. Rizzo worked his way through Dante's Inferno, each night discussing it with Leopold - both men consumed with grief and using the words of Dante to process oppressive prison life and mutual tragedy. The narrator of the story, however, isn't Matt but his son Charlie Rizzo, who after having lived most of his life with his mother in California returns to live with his father in Chicago upon her death. The title "The Hunting Accident" refers to what Charlie believes blinded his father - something he understands as fact until he runs into some trouble himself in his teens. Possibly the most affecting part of this book is why it was written, how it came to be. Matt Rizzo died in 1992 wishing only for his work to be published - a request his son took to heart, and ten years later he got a small portion of his father's work and their story in the Chicago Tribune, for a father's day piece. The thought was nice, but the article didn't quite encompass the intricate web of events and personalities that made the lives of Charlie and Matt Rizzo so fascinating. Along with David Carlson's sensitive and thought-provoking narrative, Blair's illustrations move fluidly between reality and daydream, often conveying not only movement and actions but visual representation of emotion. He communicates Matt's blindness (p.99), Charlie's anxiety (p. 85), and Leopold's grief (p.242), so powerfully. The Hunting Accident is a moving account of a strange life; one that hooks into the mind, pulling it forward into the unbelievable truth with a stimulating mix of fact, embellishment, poetry, and confession. Leopold and Loeb: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopold... The Chicago Tribune article from 2002: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/20...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Shauna Yusko

    A hefty size that may limit it finding its way onto library shelves, but WOW. I really liked this one!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    This graphic novel is based on a true story, that follows a Chicago gangster, who is blinded in a hold-up and sent to Stateville prison. His cellmate turns out to be Nathan Leopold, of the infamous Leopold and Loeb murder case. They become fast friends. A fascinating story, highlighted by pen and ink cross-hatched illustrations, that are both gorgeous and expressive. It reminds me of David Selznick's work. This was such a nice surprise, since I knew nothing about, until I discovered it on a book This graphic novel is based on a true story, that follows a Chicago gangster, who is blinded in a hold-up and sent to Stateville prison. His cellmate turns out to be Nathan Leopold, of the infamous Leopold and Loeb murder case. They become fast friends. A fascinating story, highlighted by pen and ink cross-hatched illustrations, that are both gorgeous and expressive. It reminds me of David Selznick's work. This was such a nice surprise, since I knew nothing about, until I discovered it on a bookshelf at a bar. Happy accidents, folks!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ed Erwin

    Beautiful B/W cross-hatch art. Fascinating real-life story involving a guy who is re-rehabilitated in prison through the power of art, including the Divine Comedy, taught to him by his roommate, the notorious thrill-killer Nathan Leopold. The fact that Stateville prison is actually designed after the Panopticon is an extra bonus for the artist to work with. Examples of the art are available on the artist own website here. Beautiful B/W cross-hatch art. Fascinating real-life story involving a guy who is re-rehabilitated in prison through the power of art, including the Divine Comedy, taught to him by his roommate, the notorious thrill-killer Nathan Leopold. The fact that Stateville prison is actually designed after the Panopticon is an extra bonus for the artist to work with. Examples of the art are available on the artist own website here.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    This is the story of the life of Matt Rizzo, a poet and father who lost his sight while committing a crime, as told to his son when their Chicago neighborhood starts pushing Charlie down a similar path. It is a story of two prisons, and a blind man discovering a life of the mind despite only beginning with a fourth grade education as Nathan Leopold Jr., of all people, tutors him in the classics while they are cellmates in Stateville. Poetry and picture interweave wonderfully in the telling of th This is the story of the life of Matt Rizzo, a poet and father who lost his sight while committing a crime, as told to his son when their Chicago neighborhood starts pushing Charlie down a similar path. It is a story of two prisons, and a blind man discovering a life of the mind despite only beginning with a fourth grade education as Nathan Leopold Jr., of all people, tutors him in the classics while they are cellmates in Stateville. Poetry and picture interweave wonderfully in the telling of this biographical graphic novel. Leopold tries to convince Rizzo not to commit suicide by teaching him to read Dante in Braille. As Dante explores the nine circles of hell, Rizzo explores Stateville prison and his own psyche. Blair's cross hatch pen and ink does a fantastic job of conveying the metaphor while Carlson not only tells the story well but works in the words of Rizzo's own poetry and the classic poets who influenced him. I highly recommend this book to readers of biographies, true crime, or comics.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    This is right up there with My Favorite Thing is Monsters. As the title says, this is a true story. It takes place in Chicago. It’s about a young man and his father, and that father’s story (revealed at last, almost a confession) of his youthful crime and years in prison and his cell mate, Nathan Leopold. (Yes, that infamous Leopold associated forever with Richard Loeb.) Dante’s Inferno plays a significant role in the story, which is especially interesting to me, having taught it for so many yea This is right up there with My Favorite Thing is Monsters. As the title says, this is a true story. It takes place in Chicago. It’s about a young man and his father, and that father’s story (revealed at last, almost a confession) of his youthful crime and years in prison and his cell mate, Nathan Leopold. (Yes, that infamous Leopold associated forever with Richard Loeb.) Dante’s Inferno plays a significant role in the story, which is especially interesting to me, having taught it for so many years. And like that classic work of literature, this story has multiple layers, makes repeated references to other writings and writers, and examines both sin and redemption. The work’s symbolic moments are conveyed both by the text and by the artwork, which is almost entirely black and white, pen and ink cross hatching. It’s an interesting read, divided into meaningful chapters, with pace and suspense and characters you come to know and care about.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    Exquisite and expansive, combining beautiful and mindbendingly intricate cross-hatched images with a surprisingly gripping and moving story. The interplay of Dante's inferno (and Matt Rizzo's original texts) with the narrative flow bring to mind the intertextuality of Alison Bechdel, but while this struggles with the burden of family the way Bechdel's work does, there's a whole secondary take of redemption in here about a figure I simply did not expect would play such a prominent role. I also di Exquisite and expansive, combining beautiful and mindbendingly intricate cross-hatched images with a surprisingly gripping and moving story. The interplay of Dante's inferno (and Matt Rizzo's original texts) with the narrative flow bring to mind the intertextuality of Alison Bechdel, but while this struggles with the burden of family the way Bechdel's work does, there's a whole secondary take of redemption in here about a figure I simply did not expect would play such a prominent role. I also didn't expect that I'd have my opinion of him challenged. In sum: well told, masterfully written, an enormous example of why graphic novels are moving beyond the constraints of traditional text AND comic narratives into something even more humane. Bravo.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    This is brilliant! A well-woven story that is tied to history (Leopold and Loeb) and poetry (Dante and others). Richly illustrated. I tried to make it last but.....

  19. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    The Hunting Accident is a strong contender for my favorite graphic novel of 2017, although it actually was first published in a limited edition in 2015. Thanks to First Second for giving this book a wider distribution. You can read elsewhere about the story itself, but I can only tell you that this is a powerful multilayered text with astonishing artwork. I also think this could be a great book to put in the hands of people who think they've got their minds made up (negatively) about comics. A t The Hunting Accident is a strong contender for my favorite graphic novel of 2017, although it actually was first published in a limited edition in 2015. Thanks to First Second for giving this book a wider distribution. You can read elsewhere about the story itself, but I can only tell you that this is a powerful multilayered text with astonishing artwork. I also think this could be a great book to put in the hands of people who think they've got their minds made up (negatively) about comics. A tremendous work; don't miss it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mateen Mahboubi

    A book which takes the graphic novel to the heights of the medium. Carlson brings to life a mostly unknown true story and provides us a sympathetic view of all characters, despite mistakes that they may have made. The intellectualism on display, even if it sometimes goes over your head (as it admittedly did at times for me), doesn't leave you behind or hurt your enjoyment. Blair's masterful use of cross-hatching creates some magnificent images to pour over and enjoy.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jesse Richards

    This had a slow start but really picked up once the prison story started. I can't believe it's actually a true story. This has to be made into a movie at some point - it seems poised to become the next Shawshank Redemption - but true.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Secret Stacks

    This comic was discussed in The Secret Stacks Episode 42. This comic was discussed in The Secret Stacks Episode 42.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Randall Sutherland

    I confess I approached The Hunting Accident with apathy toward the graphic novel genre. I associated post-puberty comic book reading with the failure of public schools to impart literacy. I doubted the genre’s ability to convey noble ideas. The Hunting Accident changed my mind. David Carlson as writer and Landis Blair as illustrator have demonstrated what can happen when two artists share a grand vision. The story is of Matt Rizzo, told through the eyes of his son. The backdrop is the 1924 murde I confess I approached The Hunting Accident with apathy toward the graphic novel genre. I associated post-puberty comic book reading with the failure of public schools to impart literacy. I doubted the genre’s ability to convey noble ideas. The Hunting Accident changed my mind. David Carlson as writer and Landis Blair as illustrator have demonstrated what can happen when two artists share a grand vision. The story is of Matt Rizzo, told through the eyes of his son. The backdrop is the 1924 murder of a 14-year old by two brothers with genius-level IQs from wealthy, socially prominent Chicago families: Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. Newspapers at the time called it the crime of the century. Leopold teaches Rizzo to read Braille while imprisoned together. Rizzo reads many classics and then writes his own sublime Homeric prose. The Hunting Accident is enjoyable purely at the plot level. However, the story’s themes transcend the plot: the father/son relationship, the perseverance of the physically handicapped, class consciousness, the poetic impulse and Plato’s cave. The rendition of Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon alone is worth the price of admission. The Hunting Accident is a work of art that conveys noble messages and every page affords a visual treat.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    I had trouble liking this book as the first half is slow, meandering and filled with what seems like unnecessary psychedelic imagery for a pedestrian domestic drama and pages crosshatched to the point of being nearly completely black. Even the midpoint turn to being a prison drama and the introduction of a infamous murderer Nathan Leopold didn't pull the book out of its downward spiral. But slowly as the book neared its end, my boredom spiral synched up to the suicidal spiral of the main charact I had trouble liking this book as the first half is slow, meandering and filled with what seems like unnecessary psychedelic imagery for a pedestrian domestic drama and pages crosshatched to the point of being nearly completely black. Even the midpoint turn to being a prison drama and the introduction of a infamous murderer Nathan Leopold didn't pull the book out of its downward spiral. But slowly as the book neared its end, my boredom spiral synched up to the suicidal spiral of the main character and his study of Dante's Inferno and started to turn around as things turned around for him. The imagery and themes came together in the conclusion and lifted the whole book in my estimation. Unfortunately, the one part that finds no redemption in my opinion are the actual writing samples of the blind father, Matt Rizzo. I found those passages a chore to read and understand why they were repeatedly passed over for publication.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Minh D

    Fantastic graphic novel! Loved the artwork and style. It added so much dimension and created exceptional depth to the story telling. A true crime story which I had never heard of before and was fascinated to learn more about. The relationship between the son and his father was complex and interesting. Overall I would highly recommend this graphic novel!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    Wow. Biography of a blind man who was taught to read Braille in prison by Leopold, as in Leopold and Loeb. Compassion and education are the keys to rehabilitation.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Blue

    Just the amazing cross hatching is worth a stellar review, but worry not, the story of true crime and punishment, appropriately infused with Dante's Inferno, is also captivating. Charlie Rizzo grows up thinking his dad lost his sight during a hunting accident (which may be true, metaphorically speaking), but later he finds out that dad had been lying to him. What's perhaps most interesting is Rizzo Senior's years in prison with the infamous Leopold (or Leopold and Loeb fame) as his cell mate. In Just the amazing cross hatching is worth a stellar review, but worry not, the story of true crime and punishment, appropriately infused with Dante's Inferno, is also captivating. Charlie Rizzo grows up thinking his dad lost his sight during a hunting accident (which may be true, metaphorically speaking), but later he finds out that dad had been lying to him. What's perhaps most interesting is Rizzo Senior's years in prison with the infamous Leopold (or Leopold and Loeb fame) as his cell mate. In prison, Rizzo tries to end his life, though he's incapable of even walking around his own cell, so he strikes a deal with Leopold: if he can learn to read Braille and read Dante's Inferno, Leopold will help him get to the highest floor of the prison and jump to his death. There are three or four stories in the novel, all working in concert. There is the true crime story of Leopold and Loeb kidnapping and murdering a young boy for the thrill of it. There is Charlie's youthful misadventures, which get him in trouble with the police and force his father to tell him the story of how he really became blind and ended up in jail with Leopold. And there's Dante's Inferno, along with Rizzo's own writings. The Inferno stuff is a bit too heavy handed at times, but is also entertaining in some instances (for example, during the performances in prison). The Hunting Accident is an example of drawings enhancing the story to bring it to life more than simple words on a page can. The intricate cross hatching is just amazing. Dante's Inferno stunningly comes to life in full horror. Recommended for those who like art, old cars, stories of hobo life, tap dancing and cello music.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cheriee Weichel

    There are a lot of pages in this graphic novel but I anticipated it would be a relatively easy read. I was wrong. It is so intense that I could only read chunks of it at a time. It's the story of Matt Rizzo, a young blind man who in the 1930s ends up in prison. As much as he wanted to die, he connected with another nefarious prisoner who helped him find redemption through reading Dante's Inferno and writing poetry. After he was paroled, he kept his past a secret, married and had a child. The marr There are a lot of pages in this graphic novel but I anticipated it would be a relatively easy read. I was wrong. It is so intense that I could only read chunks of it at a time. It's the story of Matt Rizzo, a young blind man who in the 1930s ends up in prison. As much as he wanted to die, he connected with another nefarious prisoner who helped him find redemption through reading Dante's Inferno and writing poetry. After he was paroled, he kept his past a secret, married and had a child. The marriage fell apart when his secret was revealed. It's only when his son, Charlie, begins to follow the gangster path, that he tells the truth about his history. David L. Carlson has included Matt Rizzo's own words in this biography. Landis Blair's darkly detailed, gritty art integrates the text in such a way that you have to spend time absorbing them. It's the combination that makes the book so profound.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Drawn with a Blair’s cross-hatching style, this artwork is striking and mesmerizing. Continually returning back to the sounds of poetry, music, and even tap dancing, the metaphorical scenes are always thought-provoking. I enjoyed every page, I whizzed through the plot work, and challenged myself in Matt Rizzio’s poetry, which is tactfully placed throughout. The Hunting Accident drives home the idea that truth is relative. This is exactly what I like in my literature, add great art and you have an Drawn with a Blair’s cross-hatching style, this artwork is striking and mesmerizing. Continually returning back to the sounds of poetry, music, and even tap dancing, the metaphorical scenes are always thought-provoking. I enjoyed every page, I whizzed through the plot work, and challenged myself in Matt Rizzio’s poetry, which is tactfully placed throughout. The Hunting Accident drives home the idea that truth is relative. This is exactly what I like in my literature, add great art and you have an evocative and meaningful work. Highly recommended. For my full review: https://paulspicks.blog/2018/12/30/th... For all my reviews: https://paulspicks.blog/

  30. 5 out of 5

    John

    This is a great graphic novel with several layers. One story is a teenager who goes to live with his estranged blind father after his mother dies. The second story is his father's experience in prison, as another prisoner reluctantly helps him find a reason to live after his blindness. Dante's Inferno is used both as a way to introduce the narrator to literary fiction, but also acts as a framing device for his time in prison and eventual release, as well as the narrator's own journey to understa This is a great graphic novel with several layers. One story is a teenager who goes to live with his estranged blind father after his mother dies. The second story is his father's experience in prison, as another prisoner reluctantly helps him find a reason to live after his blindness. Dante's Inferno is used both as a way to introduce the narrator to literary fiction, but also acts as a framing device for his time in prison and eventual release, as well as the narrator's own journey to understand his father. It's an interesting analogy for how parents help their children do better than they did, while being stuck in their own circumstances. This is a well-executed and emotional book.

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