Cuba: My Revolution, written by Inverna Lockpez and illustrated by Dean Haspiel, may not be a revolution in the world of graphic novels, but stands as a strong and raw perspective in the times of the Cuban Revolution from the semi-autobiographical experiences of Lockpez herself.
The story revolves around the ever-evolving and fighting human spirit. Sonya, the main character, is a surgeon and aspiring artist who joins the revolution to remove Batista’s regime. Utterly captivated by Fidel’s speeches and daunting persona, she is convinced that she must join the militia. Her relationship with her family and her love Flavio becomes something she must leave behind until she fulfills what she feels is her duty to her beloved Cuba.
As the historical events play out, you see Sonya mold, adapt and reform her opinions on the revolution and as an individual. Although the story dotes on themes like the human spirit and its resilience, it also gives its own perspective on the revolution, which is not simply an idealistic barrage of propaganda. It leaves you with the bittersweet taste it left in Sonya’s mouth.
Inverna Lockpez and her partner Dean Haspiel took a story that would have been no more than a written memoir and turned it into a visually enticing graphic novel which presents the Cuban Revolution in all of its gore, chaos and intensity.
Lockpez, an accomplished artist in sculpture and painting, has participated in many exhibitions such as the first feminist exhibition “X12”, an anti-Vietnam War show, “The Flag show,” and an outdoor sculpture competition in New York. Dean Haspiel has won an Emmy for “Billy Dogma,” as well as contributed illustrations to The New York Times, Marvel, DC/Vertigo, Scholastic, Image, and Dark Horse.
Lockpez and Haspiel, being long time friends, made for this graphic novel to be a well-thought-out and laid-out story. The storyline lapses through time breaking it into small chunks of events that coincide with historical events that happen throughout the revolution — the first assault on the capital in 1958, the nationalization laws which removed private property, the Bay of Pigs in April 1961 and the1963 John F. Kennedy assassination.
Haspiel does a wonderful job of entertaining the eye with well-designed environments, page layout and characters. However, the content of the story isn’t child safe mind you so don’t go thinking you can educate your kids with a cool comic book. There are depictions of gore and some nudity, but all very appropriate for the context in which they are placed.
The only complaints I had w]were that at times the fluidity of the story feels broken by sudden shifts in emotion due to the jumps in time. In a graphic novel, much of the story can be played out with the reader’s eyes and the characters’ dialogue. However, as the story goes on, there is a large amount of narration boxes that make it feel like you are being led by the narration instead of the characters.
Beyond personal preference the story was still
written well and throughout the course of the story you gain sympathy for the characters and a strong personal perspective on the Cuban Revolution.
As far as super heroes and evil geniuses go, Cuba: My Revolution falls short of laser beams and giant robots, but where it does hit is on the real life level. The Cuban Revolution was a war, there was death and horrible situations that only seemingly could happen in a comic but in fact were all real life events.
This graphic novel is a raw and powerful glimpse into one person’s story during a very hectic time in Cuba, and I would recommend it to anyone comic fan or history buff alike.
Story by: Fernando Calles