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May 17, 2006


Phenomenal reviews and comments have been pouring in online,for DEOGRATIAS, A Tale of Rwanda, by Stassen, confirming what we all believe here in the wings: this is a major, magnificent, important book.


A few notable reviews are to be found at The Low Road, Precocious Curmudgeon, and don't miss this is one at Pop Culture Shock, which ends with:

Deogratias proves that graphic novels do not have to simply be escapist entertainment, joining the likes of Maus, Palestine and Persepolis as representatives of more than just great graphic novels, but also as powerful, thought-provoking literature, too. (5 out of 5 Eisners)

So let's open up this conversation. Many of you out there have read this book. Comments please. I'm very keen to hear what you thought.

(And here's your chance, John Walsh!)



DEOGRATIAS is an outstanding and disturbing graphic novel that puts a loaded gun to the face of the popular refrain “never again”. The book really forces the reader to consider how very dark and evil humanity can sometimes be by not only highlighting those who commit genocide, but also those whose complacency allows atrocities to happen. It vividly portrays the slide of normally reasonable people into an absolute hell.

Stassen’s sequential storytelling skills are masterful and the way that he parallels the past with Deogratias’ current mind state is excellently done; the reader repeatedly sees panels side by side that show the pre and post genocide Deogratias. Also, by having the title character begin to envision himself as a dog Stassen drives home how far humanity can fall, as Deogratias has now become a mangy beast on all fours. The violence in the book is handled well and the reader is left to fill in many of the horrors with their own imagination. And the twist at the end is completely surprising…surprise being something that is lacking in many graphic novels.

The artwork is beautifully filled with expressive characters and stunning colors. Some panels even remind me of Gustave Baumannn’s woodblock prints. I would love to learn more about Stassen’s technique or to find out if he has some kind of presence on the web. Also, the production values on the book are exceptional.

DEOGRATIAS really does stake the claim that Stassen should be held in the same high regard as Spiegelman and Sacco. It’s an important story on it’s own, but also shows the amazing kind of work that can only be done in this medium. Can you imagine trying to show Deogratias turning into a dog in any kind of conventional film?

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