Cuba My Revolution
Written by Inverna Lockpez
Illustrated by Dean Haspiel
Colored by José Villarrubia
Lettered by Pat Brosseau
Published by DC/Vertigo
The hope for a better world takes on many forms, many of them tied to the hope for a better, more compassionate government. Revolution. It’s a romantic notion, and a hard one to let go. Inverna Lockpez knows. Her graphic novel, Cuba My Revolution, recounts her story: Seventeen years old when Fidel Castro took power, the young idealist supported the cause through food rations, artistic censorship, and the flight of her family to the United States.
Lockpez dreamed of becoming an artist, yet put her ambitions aside to study medicine and support her country in the years immediately after Castro’s government took control of Cuba. Being a soldier brought her pain (on nearly every conceivable level), yet she believed in her country. After her military tenure, she found that art schools only taught “accepted” forms of art, yet she hoped. Her friends disappeared, yet her pride refused to buckle.
Cuba My Revolution is going to, properly, make many Best Of lists this year, and with all respect to Dean Haspiel’s strong artwork, Lockpez’s script – her first for comics – is the root of the book’s excellence. Lockpez’s running narration grants readers insight into her beliefs and hopes, and her rationalizations, while each scene builds inexorably toward the inescapable conclusion about Cuba’ future under Castro. Each character’s voice is crafted with care and depth; no slogans are spouted in lieu of honest characterization. Furthermore, Lockpez examines many aspects of Cuban society. Via her military career, her scholastic ambitions and her family ties, readers find themselves immersed in the experience from many angles, allowing them to understand Lockpez’s idealism and the slow crumbling of faith that leads to the book’s finale.
Haspiel’s artwork, angular and dynamic, matches the chaotic time period of the narrative. He’s comfortably able to convey explosive war zones and emotionally taunt family confrontations, while still capturing the heroine’s confusion and flagging resolve. The book’s real graphic star, however, is Villarrubia, whose use of crimson hues adds a touch of romanticism to the tale. Allowing most of the artwork to stand in black and white, Villarrubia’s classy work captures rage, the affection and the somber elegiac of a fallen ideal.
A cautionary tale about hopes and dreams, yet also a tribute to humanity’s ability to persevere and learn, Cuba My Revolution delivers unmistakable authenticity. Lockpez’s insight into herself opens the story up, enabling readers to relate to her journey. Dean Haspiel and José Villarrubia present a vision of old Cuba that is at once nostalgic and tragic, a world of might-have-beens. In short, this is a book you must read.