Graphic novel ‘a work of outstanding talent’

A section of Joe Campbell's new graphic novel showing Earhart's plane approaching Derry. (1505JC5)
A section of Joe Campbell's new graphic novel showing Earhart's plane approaching Derry. (1505JC5)

A stunning new graphic novel commissioned by the 2012 Earhart Festival is launched this weekend, exactly 80 years since Amelia Earhart’s historic solo transatlantic flight that ended when she landed near Ballyarnett on May 21, 1932.

This Saturday, May 19, will see the launch event take place at the Tower Museum at 2pm against the backdrop of a photographic exhibition including previously unseen photographs from Amelia Earhart’s time in Derry.

‘Amelia Earhart - First Lady of Aviation’, produced by the emerging Derry-based company, Uproar Comics, is a two part graphic novel.

The first is a re-vamped and updated 2nd edition of the popular and critically acclaimed 2007 Story of Amelia Earhart by Joe Campbell and Felicity McCall. The book coincides with the 80th anniversary of the Earhart landing at Ballyarnett and concentrates on her 1932 solo transatlantic crossing. The graphic novel tells the story of Earhart’s early years and the lead up to her unplanned touch down at Gallagher’s Field in Derry 80 years ago. Many of the panels backdrop Derry of the 1930s with views of Foyle Street and Waterloo Place among others.

The second part, ‘A Day in May’, written and illustrated by Joe Campbell takes up the story from the landing at the end of that crossing, with a collection of eye witness accounts of Earhart’s 24 hour stay in Derry.

This second section takes the form of prose with pen and ink illustrations and is gleaned from first-hand accounts of the time, reminiscences from local people, Earhart’s own papers and history books. The result is the most definitive account of Amelia’s 24 hour stay in Derry ever produced.

Festival Director Oliver Green says: “We believed that it was time for a new publication, as the 80th anniversary has already created a groundswell of public interest. I am conscious that the original graphic novel has all but sold out and is in circulation in the US, UK and Across Ireland as well as in Australasia. It is in regular use in classrooms in the North West, and beyond. With this in mind, it seemed appropriate not only to ask the original artist Joe Campbell and writer Felicity McCall to revise and update their work, but to commission what is effectively the next chapter in the story.

“With ‘A Day in May’, Joe Campbell has produced a marvellous combination of prose and pen and ink illustrations which perfectly evokes the atmosphere and ethos of that very special 24 hours in Derry. It is a work of outstanding talent, creativity and empathy with his subject matter and I am confident the new publication will not only match but better the success of the original book five years ago,” he added.

This year, the Festival moves to its new dates of May 14-21 to coincide with the actual 80th anniversary of the historic landing on May 21, 1932. For information, contact the Festival Office at 65 Galliagh Park, telephone: 71. 357443 or email: donna@gscaderry.com.