Brought to Light
The cover of the Brought to Light paperback
Date13 December 1988
Page count76 pages
PublisherEclipse Comics
Warner Books
Creative team
WritersAlan Moore
Joyce Brabner
ArtistsBill Sienkiewicz
Tom Yeates
Paul Mavrides
EditorsJoyce Brabner
Catherine Yronwode
ISBN091303567X

Brought to Light - subtitled Thirty Years of Drug Smuggling, Arms Deals, and Covert Action - is an anthology of two political graphic novels, published originally by Eclipse Comics in 1988.[1]

Creation

Both stories were based upon research by the Christic Institute, who initiated the work. Joyce Brabner, then married to Harvey Pekar, had already helped co-ordinate Real War Stories with Eclipse Comics and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, and planned Brought to Light as a thematic follow-up.[2] Eclipse publisher Dean Mullaney and editor-in-chief Cat Yronwode first attempted to get Chuck Dixon, writer of politically charged stories for Airboy, involved but he considered the Institute "far-left" and considered that a lot of their theories strayed into "aluminium foil hat territory".[3]

Alan Moore, Bill Sienkiewicz and Tom Yeates contributed to the book, which was co-published with Warner Books and was distributed to mainstream bookstores. In an interview with the British magazine Escape, Moore noted "I'm humanizing these vast subjects by having the story narrated by a shadowy figure in a bar... the CIA eagle. The reader sits next to this hideous representation of America’s covert warfare activities that spills its whole life story, as drunks are prone to do in bars." Sienkiewicz explained his involvement by telling Amazing Heroes "I think people are really turning a blind eye to [the CIA's involvement in foreign government affairs], the cocaine and everything else, and I think it's important that they be made a little more aware of what's going on. This book will do that, inform them, and hopefully do it entertainingly. I feel that if it's not the most important series or book I've done, it's damn near up there."[4] The novel brought coverage in Mother Jones, Interview and Vanity Fair, something Brabner felt was important to help spread word about the events.[5] The book was initially set to be published in 11 November 1988 before delays pushed it back to 13 December.[6]

Eclipse arranged for Tom Yeates to sign copies of the book in Cody's Books in Berkeley, California on the first day of the Oliver North trial.[6] There were rumors that Moore was unable to travel to America due to the CIA being annoyed at his contribution to Brought to Light; however, the real reason was Moore not renewing his passport.[7]

Contents

Shadowplay: The Secret Team

Written by Alan Moore; illustrated by Bill Sienkiewicz; introduction by Daniel Sheehan.

The narrative covers the history of the Central Intelligence Agency and its involvement in the Vietnam War, the Iran-Contra affair, and its relationship with figures like Augusto Pinochet and Manuel Noriega. The narrator of is an aging anthropomorphic American Eagle, presented as a bellicose, retired CIA agent who approaches an unseen character in a bar. The eagle proceeds to drink alcohol and, in a drunken stupor, divulge all the details of The Agency's past. Early on a reference is made to the number of gallons an Olympic-size swimming pool can hold, and the fact that an adult human body has one gallon of blood; from then on, the victims of CIA activities - directly or indirectly - are quantified in swimming pools filled with blood, with each pool representing 20,000 dead.

30 Years of Covert War

A two-page feature by Paul Mavrides, the "World Map of 30 Years of Covert Action" details what the Christic Institute purported to be election tampering, drug trafficking, assassination, and other crimes committed by the CIA.

Flashpoint: The LA Penca Bombing

Written by Joyce Brabner, based on an account by Martha Honey and Tony Avirgan; illustrated by Tom Yeates; coloured by Sam Parsons; lettered by Bill Pearson.

An account of the La Penca bombing during the civil war in Nicaragua in 1984. Honey and Avirgan were both present, and their investigation would lead to the Oliver North trial.

Reception

Reviewing the graphic novel for Amazing Heroes, Ed Sample found himself unmoved by much of the narrative due to its clumsy and heavy-handed storytelling, but reflected it was an important catalyst to thought and discussion.[8] More positive views came from more traditional literary journals, including Publishers Weekly and American Library Association's Booklist.[9] Bought to Light was nominated for the 1989 Harvey Awards in the 'Best Graphic Album' category but lost out to another Moore project, Batman: The Killing Joke.[10]

Audio version

Shadowplay was made into a spoken word performance by Codex Books in 1998;[11] Moore provided the narration himself, which was set to music by the composer Gary Lloyd.[1]

References

  1. ^ a b Armitage, Hugh (September 26, 2011). "'Brought to Light' digitally remastered". Digital Spy.
  2. ^ Bob Hughes (June 1, 1988). "Enlarging the Penumbra". Amazing Heroes. No. 142. Fantagraphics Books.
  3. ^ Chuck Dixon (w). "Airboy Volume 3" Airboy Archives, no. Volume 3 (March 2015). IDW Publishing.
  4. ^ Tom Powers & J. Collier (July 15, 1988). "Graphic Novels". Amazing Heroes. No. 145/Preview Special 7. Fantagraphics Books.
  5. ^ "Top of the News (advertisement)". Amazing Heroes. No. 148. Fantagraphics Books. September 1, 1988.
  6. ^ a b "Top of the News (advertisement)". Amazing Heroes. No. 158. Fantagraphics Books. February 1, 1989.
  7. ^ Beaton, Frank. "Snake Charmer: An Interview with Alan Moore," part II Archived October 26, 2005, at the Wayback Machine, NinthArt (April 7, 2003).
  8. ^ Ed Sample (April 1, 1989). "Comics in Review". Amazing Heroes. No. 162. Fantagraphics Books.
  9. ^ "Top of the News (advertisement)". Amazing Heroes. No. 164. Fantagraphics Books. May 1, 1989.
  10. ^ "Harvey Awards". Amazing Heroes. No. 170/Preview Special 9. Fantagraphics Books. August 1, 1989.
  11. ^ "Brought to Light". Codex Books. Archived from the original on 2005-12-01.