Due May 11 as a Vertigo hardcover, Kubert's Dong Xoai
graphic novel follows a detachment of Special Forces soldiers on a simple recon mission into the village of Dong Xoai. Kubert based the story, set in the early days of the Vietnam War, on extensive information gathered from the surviving members of Special Forces Detachment A-342, 5th Special Forces Group. It details the deployment and build-up that led to a horrific encounter. Dong Xoai was a strategically critical position due to its proximity to intersecting roads where men and materials were vulnerable to attack as they moved between war zones. Detachment A-342 served as advisors, training the Montagnards to defend against the Viet Cong, but the American soldiers were underequipped and outmanned by the enemy.
In November 1967, Kubert illustrated a series of Veterans Day articles for the Chicago Tribune and New York News Syndicate. Colonel Bill Stokes, one of the Dong Xoai suvivors, contacted Kubert decades later in hopes of acquiring the drawing showing two of his fellow Special Forces operatives carrying him to safety during a Viet Cong attack.
Because the original art was lost, Kubert decided to redraw the scene. After reading a comprehensive 35-page document compiled by the surviving members of Detachment A-342 (included in the book), Kubert wanted to recreate the incident as a graphic novel and went to visit Stokes, who supplied him with photographic reference.
Kubert recalled, “When I learned of this occurrence from one of the principles involved, I could not keep my mind (or my pencil) from putting it into a graphic form. An incredible story of bravery and camaraderie that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. What I heard from Col. Stokes and read in that document moved me to drive down to North Carolina to see him and tell him I intended to do a graphic novel based on his experiences. I told him that this was something I just had to do. I worked in pencil because the story lent itself to a more spontaneous look, and with the dialogue, the stuff Stokes related was so real to me that I tried to adhere to whatever he told me. Overall, I tried best to convey the credibility and reality of what happened. These things that seemed totally impossible actually happened, and it all deserves to be remembered."
For Kubert slide show of art, plus Librado Romero photos like one below, go here
©2010 The New York Times Company
Labels: bill stokes, kubert, librado romero, vietnam